We all love free stuff. Well, unless you genuinely enjoy flaunting your "straight cash, homie" every time the opportunity presents itself, you probably don't care for free giveaways that mere, peasant folk like me can sniff from miles away and tend to flock to in a shameless manner. For example, Sam's Club is a gold mine for frugal, money-hoarding cheapskates who would rather wander around the warehouse for over an hour plotting schemes on how to get seconds on the free samples than dole out 5-6 bucks on lunch at a fast food joint (Also Shout Out to Trader Joe's, job fairs for yourself, job fairs that you take your students to job/college orientations, random open houses for houses that you are totally uninterested in, the coaches' tent at track and cross country meets, the handouts before a 5K race-BTdubs don't need another water-bottle or extra-large shirt, the food spread after a 5K race, and free-donut day at church for all trying to live up to Sam's Club's expectations!). That being said, I was totally unaware of the Holy Grail of Free Stuff that I was about to encounter as I began my journey toward nuptial bliss. Bridal Shows.
Now that I was "engaged" (see previous blog to understand the quotation marks), I decided to take advantage of this opportunity to do some preliminary research on wedding venues. Laptop in hand, my scrutinizing endeavor to find the perfect place for the reception (Ohh emm gee!!) was now in the hands of Google. I typed. "Wedding + Venues". Hmmm…too broad. I tried again. "Raleigh Wedding Venues in a Barn That Have Plenty of Room for Outside Activities Like CornHole, Badminton, and KanJam And Maybe Have a Small Pool In Case Guests Get Hot". Too Specific. My unrealistic parameters for the Perfect Place were beginning to put a damper on this search. I was about to take a much needed break when my cell phone rang. The caller was my mom who announced that there was a bridal show to take place at the Fairgrounds and that I should go to get some ideas. My initial thought was the following: Oh gag me. I don't want to be trapped in a room with hundreds of people tantalizing me with products such as napkin calligraphy or an ice sculpture of the bride and groom when a.) I don't give two hoots about that crap and b.) I can barely survive the Guy In the Middle of the Mall trying to get me to buy some cream to make my skin stop aging without making awkward, unbreakable eye contact. How will I be able to outlast a multitude of those guys and ladies? Nevertheless, I agreed to my mother's suggestion.
The day finally arrived, and I was prepared if by prepared you mean I had a loose leaf sheet of paper with three questions scribbled on it. 1.) How much is your service? 2.) How many people does your venue hold? and 3.) Can you play corn hole at your venue? I must have really wanted to play corn hole. Prior to entering, I got a text from my friend who was already there. "It's $10 to get in", it read. ABSOLUTELY NOT! LIKE HELL I AM GOING TO PAY THAT TO GET IN. HOW DARE THEY CHARGE ME TO GET IN AND THEN CHARGE ME SOME MORE TO BUY THEIR PRODUCTS. After realizing that ranting to myself about a measly $10 fee would not get the Bridal Gods to change their minds, I stubbornly debated to myself about whether or not I should go in. I called my mom.
Me: "I'm not going in."
Mom: "You're going in."
That settled I timidly made my way into what was soon to be an Intimidation Zone. Of course, I was right. Upon entering, there were hundreds of vendors with their displays all waiting to lure in their next unfortunate prey. There were high-heeled Brides To Be rattling off orders to their posse as if they were all about to embark on some sort of covert military operation. "Stacey, you're on flowers. Jill, you look for a photographer that is within my budget. She must be cute and chic but, like, not too cute and chic that she is more cute and chic than me, ammiright? Hehe. Megs, find me those adorable mason jars with the monogrammed initials. Socute. Clarie, my maid of honor, you and I are going to look for THE DRESS!!!!! Woooooooo. One-two-three. Break."
Frozen into place, I did not know where to turn until, alas, something caught my eye. Little lines of people were forming throughout the show. What could these people be gathering to see? I wondered. Lo and behold, these people were walking away with plates, napkins, and cups full of FOOD! What was once a war zone had become the Sam's Club of all Sam's Club. My legs couldn't move fast enough to get into these queues. There were cheese trays, cupcakes, cake pieces, ice-cream samples, meats upon meats, bruschetta, dainty little chocolates, teeny flavored mints, popcorn, and all kinds of treats. Ohhh but wait there was more. The drink lines. There were wine samples, mimosas, lemonade cups, and many other quenchers. Ohhhh but wait there was more. SWAG. Coupons, binders, free pictures at the photo booth, massages, magnets, bags, light-up glow rings, a garter that now I didn't have to buy, and at one bridal show a 2-night stay at a resort in Sedona.
I left there with a full belly and bags of stuff in both hands. Needless to say, that was worth it. In fact, I went back the next day and later researched upcoming bridal shows in the area. That search turned out well for me. Oh and P.S. I did end up finding a venue that allowed people to play corn hole but more on that next time.