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Mother of the Bride Reviews East Texas Bridal Expo by Missy Ticer, Mother of the Bride!

By Joyce Crawford, Aug 6 2018 08:30PM

My daughter is getting married. Every time that thought crosses my mind I feel this electric jolt with too many emotions to untangle.

I’m proud of the young woman she’s become and a little puzzled about how it happened so fast. I’m worried about the wedding. Will it be everything she hopes? Will family members have a good time? Can we keep it within the budget?

I’m also pretty overwhelmed. Emily is my oldest. I’ve never organized a wedding before.

Her wedding isn’t until 2020, but we’re eager to start planning. This past Sunday we went to the East Texas Bridal Expo presented by East Texas Wedding Extravaganza at Harvey Convention Center. Here’s what we found.

One Stop Shopping

Harvey Hall is a large convention center. The East Texas Bridal Extravaganza filled both of the main halls for a combined total of more than 26,000 square feet of exhibits, with additional vendors in the main entrance and hallways.

Emily and I had talked some about what she was looking for in a venue and a family member will officiate, but we needed information on everything else to do with the ceremony. At the Bridal Expo we found the following:

• Photographers

• Florists

• Videographers

• Venues

• Bridal and wedding party gowns

• Travel agents with honeymoon packages

• Caterers

• So much more

Most the vendors provided information and took down Emily’s dates and email address. When we got home we pulled out what they had given her and organized what we had gathered.

East Texas Venues

This has been keeping me up nights. Before the Bridal Expo I did some online shopping and glazed over pretty quickly. Venues are expensive, and in photos they all start to look the same. They’re spread out all over East Texas, and I was already dreading the process of trying to narrow the long list down to our best options.

The Bridal Expo was helpful because we got to talk to each venue owner on the same day. We had the chance to compare not just their pricing and grounds, but the people in charge. Everyone was nice and eager to help so we were able to identify the ones we most wanted to tour.

Emily was hoping and praying she would win the grand prize venue package from The Landing at Joshua Farms. She didn’t, but we still enjoyed visiting with the owner Debbie. Emily is an animal lover, so she wants to tour this 100 acre venue between Tyler and Longview because it has Longhorns and horses. The venue has indoor and outdoor spaces and the owner has a genuine desire to help each bride achieve her vision for her wedding day.

Bella Vista is one of the newest wedding venues, and what makes it unique is its 20 acres of lake front property on Lake Palestine. I think a lakefront wedding would be stunning there, especially with sunset, then the reception could have fireworks.

We’re also interested in following up with Eagle’s Bluff Country Club. Their room rental includes the table linens, china, silverware, tear-down, setup and service workers. They also supply chairs, a dance floor and other items couples often have to rent separately.

Bella Sera Ranch has a historic style chapel that appeals to this traditional mama. Goodman-LeGrand is another option I never would have thought of for a wedding. The historic landmark is available for weddings and bridal showers.

There were several other excellent choices available, and we came away feeling we had a basic grasp of what we might find at each one.

East Texas Caterers

Many of the venues also cater, and the ones that do offered samples. Venue 31 had delicious cake balls.

Fresh was there with sandwich trays and chips with fresh guacamole. Traditions had a huge spread that included assorted fruits and cheeses.

One option I hadn’t thought of was a coffee bar. When we arrived Piney Woods Coffee had a booth with a long line in front of it, and we were eager to look at dresses and cake, so we didn’t stop. However, an hour and a half later I needed the caffeine so we backtracked. I wasn’t sure though how a coffee bar might fit in at a wedding if it wasn’t early in the day.

The vendor offered some great ideas. She pointed out how coffee goes beautifully with the dessert course. Emily hasn’t decided whether or not she wants to serve alcohol at her wedding, and if she doesn’t coffee would be another beverage choice.

The vendor also suggested offering a signature bride’s and groom’s drink with their favorite flavors like vanilla, cinnamon or fresh whipped cream.

Piney Woods Coffee is locally sourced. And, we found as we strolled over to the next table that offered samples of wedding cake with buttercream frosting, it does pair very well with dessert.

Tons of Good Advice

Obviously the vendors were there to provide information on their products and services, but each one seemed invested in helping Emily plan her wedding, even if she didn’t use them for her event. Here’s some of the best advice we took home.

• Have a plan B if your event is outdoors. East Texas is unpredictable, and you don’t want severe weather or extreme heat to ruin your day – Susie Hart from 5S Sales in White Oak

• For the best bridal photos, keep your hair out of your face, and don’t wear shiny makeup – Martha Escudero Martin and Lee Martin of Martha Escudero Photography

• Find a venue that fits you, not one that’s cookie cutter. Talk to planners and choose one who has handled everything from A to Z so you know they can put out any fires, but also is willing to offer a blank slate you can fill with whatever you choose – Dan Huggins of Park Hill Farm

• Have fun with it. One of the best things I ever saw at a reception was when the wedding party came out with a dance routine – Joseph Cardenas of Adalante Catering and Events

• Do not go broke over your wedding. You cannot start a marriage in debt – Paddy Fitzpatrick of Fantasy and Fairytale Floral Design

• I steer couples toward booking lodging for out-of-town guests at smaller hotels. They get lost at the bigger ones. And make sure you book rooms near each other – Cassandra Snyder of Homewood Suites by Hilton

We’ll be processing the information we gathered in the months ahead, but I feel like we made a huge amount of progress. The East Texas Bridal Expo at Harvey Hall provided an excellent resource for wedding planning. There was so much to take in I feel like we still didn’t see it all.

I’m putting the next event on Saturday, November 10 on my calendar so we have another chance at an East Texas Wedding Extravaganza event.

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