190901scl BridalExpo

For the past three years, Bridal Shows by Kelly has hosted the “Rustic Bridal Show” at Camp Hoffman in South Kingstown. The event features dozens of wedding professionals in a variety of categories but is much smaller than other wedding-themed expos that take place in Providence and Lincoln. For many of the brides and grooms in attendance, the show offers a chance to speak on a much more personal level with prospective vendors about their individual wedding needs.

If you or a loved one is planning on tying the knot soon, you might want to stop by Camp Hoffman this month for a taste of rustic wedding bliss: Bridal Shows by Kelly will hold its fourth annual Rustic Bridal Show at Camp Hoffman in West Kingston on Sept. 29 from noon to 3 p.m. The show will serve as an expo for local businesses who can provide their services for weddings, especially those that specialize in a homemade, rustic style.

Kelly Carlini, owner of Bridal Shows by Kelly, describes rustic weddings as more intimate than traditional weddings, as well as notable for their outdoorsy, natural style. Carlini also said that rustic weddings offer a simplicity that makes them cozier and more affordable than more lavish weddings. Rustic weddings also allow a lot of room for creativity, as Carlini said that couples can narrow the theme of their wedding to something more specific than simply rustic. Carlini listed camping style weddings, woodland fairy style weddings and even “Star Wars” themed weddings as examples of rustic wedding themes she has seen in the past.

“Today’s bride does not want to follow tradition,” Carlini said when explaining why rustic weddings are so popular. “They want to put their own mark and stamp on the things that they’re doing. Not everybody’s doing the bouquet toss or garter toss. Today’s bride doesn’t always want to do what her mom did 20 or 30 years ago.”

The intimacy of rustic weddings extends to the expo itself. About 200 people attended last year’s Rustic Bridal Show at Camp Hoffman, and couples can speak with business owners face-to-face at the event. Camp Hoffman itself also serves as an ideal background for an event focused on rustic weddings. The Girl Scout camp is becoming a popular rustic wedding venue of its own. Carlini said the Rustic Bridal Show is more of a smaller event focused on making personal connections.

“I’m not trying to compete with the big bridal shows,” Carlini said. “I’m my own brand. It’s what I call a boutique-style bridal show.”

According to Carlini, she begins organizing wedding expos at least six to nine months in advance. Carlini recruits vendors through marketing or social media, or they contact her beforehand as she advertises her community marketing services online. Carlini makes sure that each expo has only a few of each category of businesses attending. For example, there should not be more than a one or two bakeries at an event in order to create diversity in the show.

This year’s exhibitors include Camp Hoffman, Majestic Beatz Entertainment, Clover Desserts, ThistleRose Bridal Shop, Paul J. Spetrini Photography, the band Mic Drop, Lock and Key Portrait & Boudoir, Kristin Griffin Photography, The Golden Acorn Design Co. LLC, Beetiful Photo Booth, Champion Windows, Allyson Dupont Designs and Paperie and Utrvl travel agency.

Carlini said that many vendors at wedding expos offer special discounts for those who attend, but the main draw of bridal shows is making connections between local businesses and potential customers.

“I think you want to like the people who are going to photograph your wedding or do the videography and all those things, you want to make a connection with them,” Carlini said. “You want to connect with those people that are really sharing your special day with you.”

Helping businesses grow is also a major part of the event, as many of the business owners who attend can attest.

“I do completely custom, handmade- from-scratch invitations, so I target a very custom market,” Allyson Dupont, owner and designer of Allyson Dupont Designs and Paperie said. “Any kind of event like this that targets particular niche demographics are a real draw to me. They’re people not looking for the typical catalogue thing, they are looking for out of the box.”

Admission is free for engaged couples, and $5 for others beforehand. Visitors can also buy tickets at the door for $10. The first 100 attendees will receive free goodie bags.

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