HALFWAY — Tulle, sequins and silk graced the catwalk Sunday at Valley Mall, where flocks of brides-to-be came for inspiration before strutting down the aisle themselves.
This year's annual Bridal & Prom Expo, sponsored by The Herald-Mail and the mall, attracted 85 vendors, including DJs, photographers, florists and hairstylists.
"It's to bring brides out and introduce them to all the business and services within the Tri-State area," said event coordinator Kristie Sundberg. "Vendors who come back have told me that this bridal show brings them the best results."
The expo's main event this year was a bridal and prom fashion show. The 17 female models wore dresses from David's Bridal and received makeovers courtesy of Simplicity Salon. The seven male models' tuxedos were provided by Men's Wearhouse.
"It's very hectic during the show. There's a lot of nervousness since these aren't professionals. It's very similar to wedding day jitters," Sundberg said.
Although some of the models were professionals, many were novices to the fashion industry.
"They all looked beautiful and did really well," said David's Bridal Service Supervisor Kristy Spickler.
Smithsburg resident Erin Connors has attended the expo before, but this is the first year she's come as a bride-to-be. She hoped to talk to florists and makeup artists in preparation for her October wedding.
"It's pretty exciting. The wedding's only 8 1/2 months away, and it's crunch time, so it's very nice to have all the vendors in one place," she said. "I get to go around and see the options."
The event was particularly exciting for the staff of David's Bridal, one of the event's many returning vendors.
"This is the biggest expo we've ever had in the Hagerstown area," Spickler said. "We've gotten a lot of referrals. It's brought us clientele and improved sales. We've gotten great responses from brides."
Along with consultations and samples, the vendors donated door prizes, including a two-day vacation to New York City. Other events included a hair and makeup exposition, wedding etiquette tips and a demonstration on how to get in shape for the big day.
Coordinating the event is a major undertaking. Sundberg said vendors start reserving spaces two months in advance, and this year, the mall was more crowded with caterers and decorators than ever before.
"It's grown in size each year," Sundberg said. "This is the largest show we've ever had. Next year, we expect it to be even bigger."