Here Come the Brides ... and Grooms
By Megan Wadding, November 2017 Web Exclusive.
As part of it's mission to promote LGBTQ-friendly businesses within the arenas of weddings, travel and relocation, Pride Guide Arizona has changed up the theme of its annual wedding expo to include a more festive atmosphere combined with resources for planning your big day, as well as other events.
Under the slogan “Not Your Mama's” Wedding & Event Expo, Pride Guide Arizona will host its fifth annual event Nov. 4 at the Hilton Garden Inn in Midtown Phoenix.
According to its website, gayarizona.com, Pride Guide Arizona's idea that an LGBTQ-friendly wedding expo was needed in order to eliminate same-sex couples' fears of discrimination or being turned away by a wedding vendor because of personal beliefs let to its first wedding expo in 2013 – two years before marriage equality was even legal in the United States.
“We have found an amazing amount of LGBTQ-friendly professionals who really want to serve our community but did not have the resources to reach them,” said Michael McFall, Pride Guide Arizona publisher, adding that the brand now also hosts gogayweddings.com, a national LGBTQ wedding-specific online resource guide.
Now in its fifth year, event organizers at Pride Guide Arizona decided it was time to "shake things up" for this year's expo.
“Everyone knows mainstream wedding expos can be boring, large scale and extremely lengthy,” he said, adding that the previous expos all followed a traditional format, but this year. But it will be slightly different with hear, he promised.
Boasting the theme, “Not Your Mama's" Wedding & Event Expo, this year's event will be aligned with the Halloween and Day of the Dead celebrations by encouraging attendees and vendors to come dressed in costume.
“The 'Not Your Mama's' [slogan] basically represents the fact that our expo is nontraditional and basically anything goes,” McFall said. “Whether you're planning your wedding, anniversary party, housewarming, birthday bash or holiday party, our expo covers it all.”
The expo will kickoff with a high-energy DJ who will lead karaoke as well as a costume contest for attendees.
“We are including, not only wedding [vendors], but also event vendors," McFall said, "[and we will be] holding contests with some amazing prize giveaways.”
According to McFall, contest prizes will include such items as stay at Hilton Sedona Resort at Bell Rock, a hot air balloon ride courtesy of Rainbow Ryders Hot Air Balloon Company, VIP tickets on the beautiful Verde Canyon Railroad and a stay in Prescott at Hassayampa Inn.
A big factor in changing to the new party atmosphere of the expo, McFall said, was moving the event (which has taken place on a Sunday in past years) to Saturday instead.
“We’re hoping [moving to Saturday] will increase our attendance and more of the community will be able to attend," McFall said.
Thirty-five premier wedding and event vendors from all over the state of Arizona and even from New Mexico, will be in attendance, along with ticket-holders, so McFall said he expects a full house.
While event organizers expect the size of the expo to be slightly smaller than years past, McFall explained that this will give vendors a more intimate setting to meet with attendees.
“We always want to direct our readers to the premier LGBTQ-friendly companies, whether it’s through our printed guide, our websites, e-news, social media or wedding expos,” he concluded.
The Pride Guide is an gay-owned print and online resource that's published each January for Arizona's LGBTQ community. For more information, visit gayarizona.com.
Pride Guide's Not Your Mama’s Wedding & Event Expo
2-5 p.m. Nov. 4
Hilton Garden Inn, Midtown Phoenix
4000 N. Central Ave.
Tickets: $5 online or $10 at the door