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Large turnout on hand for bridal show

January 25, 2009|By DAVE McMILLION

HALFWAY -- Limo services.

Check.

Photographers.

Check.

Wedding cakes and florists.

Got 'em.

Honeymoon packages.

Yes.

It was one-stop shopping at Valley Mall on Sunday for people planning upcoming weddings and proms, as the Bridal & Prom Expo got under way.

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And despite a sour economy that is causing many people to have cold feet about spending, organizers of the expo were pleasantly surprised by the turnout.

More than 100 gift bags were distributed at the expo hosted by The Herald-Mail Co., and organizers said the crowds were good at the mall Sunday.

Mall officials estimated the crowd at more than 11,000 in the mall as of 3 p.m.

The event, held from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m., was highlighted by a prom fashion show at noon and a bridal fashion show at 2 p.m.

More than 50 vendors also helped people with bridal needs like invitations, catering and video services, wedding gowns and equipment rentals, said Julie Rohm, general manager of the mall.

"We even have real estate here," Rohm said.

Vendors distributed fliers for houses on the market for couples looking for their first homes.

Spring and summer are popular times for weddings and proms, and planning for such events usually starts about six months in advance, Rohm said.

Christina Beer and Keisha Everhart, both of Martinsburg, W.Va., were at the expo to help firm up plans for their big days. They both said they are getting married this year.

"They had all kinds of cake places. There were samples everywhere," said Beer, who was looking for wedding cake ideas and florists.

Everhart said she was checking out caterers, florists and wedding cake possibilities.

"There was a lot of catering options. I haven't narrowed it down yet," Everhart said.

Beer said she liked the Bridal & Prom Expo because it offered mostly local vendors, which makes planning easier and less expensive.

Beer said she recently went to a bridal expo in Winchester, Va., where many of the vendors were from the Northern Virginia area and their prices were higher.

Although the expo's events were mostly in the mall's center court, vendors were spread throughout the mall.

People were crowded around one of the wedding cake booths at mid-afternoon, while others peeked inside a black Hummer limousine.

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