Antes Que Te Cases, Mira Lo Que Haces: My Experience @ Expoboda Barcelona 2018

Did you know that there are approximately 17 shades of white? And that depending on whether you have warm or cold undertones, the one you’re wearing can make you look as though you brush your teeth with coffee grinds or that your liver is threatening to pack up. No, neither did I. Until I was introduced to the world of all things nuptial, that is.

My first legitimate run-in with the ins and outs of wedding planning came in 2012, when my older brother asked my now-sister-in-law to marry him and she divvied out the organisational duties between herself, my mum and I. Instead of “white”, “pink”, and “beige”, it was oyster, blush, and nude. Instead of “puffy” or “slinky” or “retro-y”, it was A-line, and mermaid, and drop-waist. It was peep-toe, and slingback, and T-bar, and definitely not “toeless”, “strappy-backed” or “the ones women used to wear during the war…”

I began working at Zankyou Weddings in Madrid (Spain’s second-largest wedding company, and coincidentally, one of the sponsors of the event), where I was able to really consolidate all the prior knowledge and expertise I had accrued over the years. Now I am working towards becoming a wedding planner and stylist so all things bridal have become mother’s milk to me.

But, let me tell you one thing – planning a destination wedding, despite being thrilling and enjoyable in pretty much equal measures, isn’t easy. Especially when said destination is 6,000 miles and a completely different time zone away. So, when Expoboda Barcelona 2018 came around, guess who was one of the first to sign herself and her blissfully unaware anxiously excited husband** up for tickets 2 months in advance.

**Yes we are technically already married (legally), we just haven’t had our wedding yet!

We arrived at the World Trade Centre a couple of hours after opening and were greeted by a beautiful, vintage car that was parked on a square of purple carpet and delicately adorned with posies of gypsophila and roses. We did enquire as to the price of vehicle hire but the lady informed us that driving it from Barcelona to Southern California would be a bit too much of a stretch, apparently.

The venue itself was actually pretty small and intimate, so our previous concerns of losing each other in a sea of frosted cake samples, cascading centrepieces and personalised hip flasks quickly dissipated upon entering the expo. Rows of carefully decorated stalls filled the venue hall as booming disco music emanated from the back. The underlying theme of the event was definitely not hard to miss…

These light-up, beacon-like signs were cleverly distributed around the venue as a not-so-subtle reminder of the key sentiment for the big day – for those couples who’d managed to irk each other to the point of pre-emptive divorce between the destination wedding planners’ stall and that of the laser hair removal team.

Sweet Treats

There’s nothing quite like being greeted by a table of baked goodies as you walk through the door, is there? I keep trying to hint this to my husband, but I can tell he’s struggling with the concept. As we entered the venue we came across a table decorated with frosted cupcakes, biscuits sitting in little baskets, fluffy marshmallows and monogrammed sugar cookies strung up by tiny little clothes pegs – details that I think could potentially be lost on men, but ones that left my inner-stylist squeeing with delight. Each piece looked too good to eat, so much so that we didn’t dare touch anything! The lovely ladies at Sweet Creations informed us that they are able to customise their products to suit any bride and groom and reflect the feel of their big day. No task is too much – if you want a picture of hubby’s face plastered across a shortbread wheel, just say the word and they’re yours. Quite nifty, if you ask me!

With Eric being Mexican, and me wanting a very simple and minimalistic wedding cake, this cactus cake had my name written all over it! Not one for lashings of buttercream or radioactive-coloured piping, this is exactly how I imagined our wedding cake looking – minus the bite marks around the edge from when no one was supervising me…

Signs of Love

Before coming to the expo, I can assure you that Eric had little to no idea of:

a) The details that go into the overall “look” of a wedding

b) The significance of said details

For example, we arrived at the next stall along – one that was decorated with an array of witty and also informative wooden signs. What’s the point of turning up to the happiest day of somebody’s life if you’ve got no idea where you’re going, or worse yet, it’s not until the bride walks down the aisle with her father and the minister starts the ceremony in Swahili that you realise you’re sitting in on the wrong wedding because they didn’t have a sign up? There isn’t one, I’d say.

This is where Virutas Creativas comes in. Eric was particularly enchanted by this company’s USP, and despite the fact that I had shown him umpteen wedding signs on Pinterest prior to the expo, adorned with ivy and elegant cursive letters, the dazzled look in his eyes confirmed to me that this was the first time he had ever consciously come across such a concept. Sigh.

This company is great because it caters to any type of bride or groom, no matter what language (the signs present were in English, Spanish and Catalan), style or budget. They were available for hire, or purchase, if personalised with names/dates and so on.

Fail to Plan? Plan to Fail.

As someone who has worked in the wedding industry, I know that the number one regret most brides have is thinking that they can orchestrate the entire wedding themselves, with the help of an aunt or two, and not incur a whole head of grey hair and a couple of extra crow’s feet in the process. In my opinion, a wedding planner is one of the greatest investments you can make for your wedding, especially if you’re working full-time and/or have little to no experience of event planning prior to organising your own. (I’d even go as far as saying that it’s more important to have a wedding planner at your wedding than the groom…)

Why? Because it’s more than just the rings and the veil and the Jimmy Choos you can finally justify buying. It’s what happens if your Hawaiian Tropics paradise wedding becomes Monsoons”R”Us while you’re in the church and you haven’t got a Plan B for your outdoor reception. It’s what happens when the 5-tier cake you ordered to feed your 450 vegan guests arrives as 4,500 cream-filled cupcakes that say “Happy Birthday Harry” on top. You get the idea.

The team at Lovely Rice are just the people you need to manage the nitty-gritty of your big day so that the behind-the-scenes runs like clockwork. This wedding planning company offers a variety of packages to suit your needs so that you are free to enjoy a stress-free wedding day without any glitches.

It’s the little touches

You definitely don’t have to be a princess to wear a crown on your big day. If you’re into vintage style and floral accessories then why not don a flower crown and channel your inner fairy queen as you take your vows? Colada’s stall had me feeling like I had stumbled onto the set of Thumbelina. Whimsical, feminine dresses hung delicately in the back, adorned with exquisite lace, beadwork and buttons.

Perfect for a wedding in nature, their range of accessories is guaranteed to suit any bride, bridesmaid or flowergirl – especially if the idea of a frou-frou, marshmallow fluff wedding sends you running for the hills. You could even include them as gifts in your bridesmaids’ boxes or use them as classy and elegant props to snazz up your photobooth.

Hey, Mr DJ

So I’m a massive fan of music. Massive. I remember travelling to school in the car with my dad when I was little and listening to some of music’s greats – Paul Simon, Madonna (circa The Immaculate Collection), The Fugees, Luther Vandross, Ladysmith Black Mambazo. Music, for me, is one of the most important elements of any wedding – it’s what takes people from the “hi-hello-there’s” to pistol whipping and challenging each other to the jazz splits. So, it is essential to have a decent DJ to ensure that the dancefloor is never empty and that everybody boogies the night away.

As we approached the back, or rather, were summoned by the vocal talents of the resident singer, we came across Charly Ruiz‘s DJ set-up, which consisted of flashing lights, booming bass and a couple of spectators choreographing a waltz.

They also provide customisable photobooths and props for couples who want to inject a bit of fun into their big day and make memories to cherish for a lifetime with their guests.

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As far as wedding dresses go, I was honestly expecting to see more. There weren’t many stalls dedicated entirely to bridal and bridesmaids gowns, which made the ones that were there seem a lot more exclusive. Having said that, throngs of anxious brides leafing frantically through racks of dresses would’ve changed the feel of the whole event, so that’s understandable. Plus, let’s be real, which bride out there hadn’t chosen her dress before the proposal, I mean really? Exactly.

I was very kindly given a selection of magazines and brochures from the people at Noa’s Weddings after I stood there fawning over their stunning blue and white bridesmaid dress for about 15 minutes. I think they must’ve thought I was bonkers when I made a beeline for the dress like a crazed fan at a Beyoncé concert. They had brought a collection of dresses, which were displayed at the back of the hall and sparkling in the afternoon sunlight. Now, I’ve definitely considered wearing a second dress for the reception, and this one was giving me priceless chinaware chic.

I also considered purchasing it and having it taken up to knee-length for a more daytime look. Eric thought I’d lost the plot, naturally.

All in all, my experience at Expoboda Barcelona 2018 was a very positive one. I felt a lot more enlightened after leaving, and fortunate enough to have experienced a taste of another country’s wedding culture. I would urge any bride to visit as many bridal expos as she can, in order to take inspiration from the little details here and there and create a wedding that is unique to her and her fiancé’s tastes. I also think it is a nice opportunity to get your partner a lot more involved in the planning process, as they’re able to see some of the more tangible factors that go in to making it the happiest day of your life. If not, then they’re always there to carry the leaflets, business cards and brochures you accumulate so that you have more hands free to run swathes of tulle through your fingers and sample flutes of champagne.

Just a thought.

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Are you currently planning a wedding, or have you planned one in the past? Leave a comment and let me know!

 

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