A lot goes into planning a wedding. Plenty of help was available Saturday at the 11th annual Something Blue Bridal Fair held at the General Morgan Inn.

More than 20 vendors offered a variety of services. Participants pre-registered and attended the bridal fair in small groups at set times to encourage social distancing during the COVID-19 pandemic, rather than the general admission crowd that usually fills the General Morgan dining room for the annual event.

Some brides-to-be with upcoming weddings said they delayed tying the knot in 2020 because of COVID-19. Many vendors experienced a slowdown in business last year and are looking forward to a surge in post-pandemic matrimonial activities.

“Definitely. A lot of my business last year got pushed to the fall, so I actually didn’t lose a lot of business,” said Victor Conner, proprietor of Musicality! Mobile DJ Service.

Allison Pruitt, a Mary Kay independent sales director, provides cosmetic and skin care services for wedding parties, including “bridal pampering packages” and “bachelorette get-togethers for skin care and makeup products.”

“I help (clients) pick out what colors to wear for their wedding day,” Pruitt said. “This is a chance for them to see what kind of colors to use for their wedding.”

Like many at the bridal fair, Pruitt is optimistic about 2021.

“This year is looking really good and it seems like things are almost back (to normal),” Pruitt said.

Many of those who attended Saturday’s bridal fair are planning well in advance.

“A lot of the ones coming through today are planning for 2022,” Pruitt said.

VIRTUAL PLANNING

Vendors said the pandemic prompted them to think outside the box and use virtual technology as it applies to services they offer.

“It was in person, then the virtual world. We were able to meet people from out of state,” Pruitt said. “For me, it offered a lot of opportunity to meet people. (Business) actually got better. I’m excited I can offer the person another option.”

Garrett and Jessica Nunn were busy at the Nunn Photography table. The husband-and-wife team specializes in wedding photography and videography. They have operated the full-time business for six years.

“Tennessee did not shut down. There were two differences,” Garrett Nunn said. “(There were) much smaller weddings and extra precautions taken.”

Jessica Nunn said some couples plan weddings later in 2021.

“I think a lot of people waited,” she said. “We’re blessed. We already have a lot of bookings.”

Among those getting information were Hannah Crocker and her mother, Kimra Crocker. Hanna Crocker is planning a 2022 wedding. The pandemic remains a consideration.

“It affected us a little bit, especially with the friends we plan to invite,” Crocker said.

Katarina Knight and her mother, Brenda Knight, also attended the bridal fair Saturday. Knight’s wedding is set for May 2022.

“I’m in the process of planning,” she said. “I got engaged in September and I definitely was more apprehensive about having a wedding later this year because I didn’t know what it would look like.”

Knight said most wedding guests will be local, although some may travel to Greeneville.

By May 2022, “Hopefully it will be more normal,” Brenda Knight said.

The bridal fair helped the Knights with wedding details they hadn’t considered.

“There’s things I never would have thought of. They were very helpful,” Katarina Knight said.

Crystal Brooks, whose company is called TaylorLee Creations, is a wedding and event planner.

“I basically coordinate the entire wedding day to take all the stress off the bride,” she said.

The pandemic resulted in the cancellation of “a lot of weddings” in 2020, along with other spontaneous approaches.

“A lot of them eloped,” Brooks said. “It’s a lot more normal now.”

DJ Robbie Britton and wife Julia operate Now Event Group. Britton said they offered expanded services in response to pandemic-related challenges.

Now Event Group offers sound systems, streaming media, virtual “photo booths,” casino parties, event lighting, corporate events and other themed entertainment.

“This is awesome, considering what is going on in the world,” Britton said of the bridal fair.

Britton has been a DJ for more than 30 years. He became an innovator in 2020.

“For me, everything I do is social. I did streaming events and they hired me to come into Zoom events and make it interesting,” Britton said. “In my world as an entertainer, I had to pivot to entertain by streaming. It’s a totally different thing. You have to be more animated.”

Britton anticipates a very busy year, including traditional entertainment and using virtual technology.

“It’s coming back. People are ready,” he said.

Beckah Harrison is an onsite hairdresser. She recently married and moved to Greeneville, bringing her professional expertise from Michigan. Harrison’s mobile business is called Panache Hair Studio.

Harrison does hairdressing for brides and members of bridal parties.

“I go to wherever the wedding party is,” she said. “We’ve had quite a few (bookings), especially in the last few weeks.”

Travel and honeymoons were among traditional practices most affected by the pandemic. Jim Small and wife Kristen Small operate a Cruise Planners franchise. The full-service travel agency is based in Greene County.

People are eager to travel again and do things like go on cruises and stay at resorts, Small said.

“The industry suffered” in 2020, he said.

“The last four months the industry picked up,” Small said. “People are itching to travel. Honeymoons, that’s the connection. You can do a destination wedding on a ship and you can do a destination wedding on a beach. We help plan ahead.”

‘STILL GETTING MARRIED’

Vendors said bridal fair organizers did a good job of putting the event together. The General Morgan Inn plays host to many wedding receptions and dinners.

Fewer people attended the 2021 bridal fair than in previous years, said Patricia Bohon, hotel sales and marketing director. The bridal fair is usually held in January, but was moved to April because of the pandemic. The event was not held in 2020.

Bohon said people look forward to resuming normal practices, especially with significant events like a wedding.

Participants registered to attend the bridal fair in advance and a virtual option was offered this year.

“I think people are still getting married, COVID or not, and they’re definitely planning their weddings,” Bohon said.

Some weddings were postponed last year, or couples did “smaller boutique weddings,” she said.

One-on-one interaction has the benefit of more personalized service, Bohon said. The bridal fair included 21 vendors, including eight new to the event. Forty-one brides registered to attend.

Vendors donated door prizes for attendees. The grand prize, a six-night resort stay in Cancun, Mexico, that includes airfare, was won by Morgan McIntosh in a drawing Saturday at the conclusion of the bridal fair.

The grand prize was sponsored by the bridal fair show.

Every registered bride attending also received a “swag bag” with items provided by vendors.

Plans are already in the works for the 2022 bridal fair.

“Under the circumstances, we’re lucky to have the brides we got and their families,” Bohon said.

In addition to the General Morgan Inn, participants included Angeez Catering & Custom Cakes, Flowers by Tammy, Southern Belle Bridal & Tuxedo, Creamy Cup, MK Photography, Musicality! Mobile DJ Service, Artistic Printers, Katrina Serene Photography, Nunn Photography, Rocky Top Smokehouse and Now Event Group.

Also, Cruise Planners, Simply Elegant Catering, Panache Hair Studio Inc., Mary Kay (consultant Allison Pruitt), Greeneville Real Estate & Auction, Greenwood Oaks Farm & Event Venue, TaylorLee Creations, Rural Resources Farm & Food Education and Gateway Mortgage Group.

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