Two friends have seen an idea they came up with during a casual chat balloon into a community event they said fills a much-needed gap in Powell River.
Powell River Wedding Expo organizers Kelly Lefler and Modena Warman began what turned out to be a very pivotal conversation last fall while Lefler, who runs a home-based hair salon, was giving Warman a makeover.
“I was sitting in her salon one day and she was doing my hair and I said, ‘Is there a wedding fair here?’ because we were going to get tables for our own businesses, and she said, ‘I don’t think so,’” said Warman. “So we talked about it and we said, ‘Why don’t we just do one ourselves?’ It just snowballed from there.”
Both women do sales work from their homes, Warman in health and wellness and Lefler in skin care, and their work planning the wedding fair, scheduled for Sunday, March 5, at Town Centre Hotel, began soon after that initial conversation.
What the pair did not anticipate was the huge amount of support the idea would receive from local businesses. Soon, a large number of those who provide wedding-related services signed up to showcase services and products at the expo.
“We ended up with more support than we expected,” said Lefler. “We weren’t sure; we wanted to keep it small, because we didn’t know how many businesses would be interested, but as we started talking to other businesses, they showed so much interest that we had to make it bigger than we were first planning.”
Warman said she and Lefler have been overwhelmed by the response, something they believe is due to a gap in events for would-be brides and grooms.
“There hasn’t been a wedding fair in over a decade; no one can really remember the last wedding fair, so everyone’s been really excited,” said Warman.
Warman and Lefler said they believe the Town Centre Hotel ballroom is an ideal venue for the fair. Meanwhile, the hotel’s general manager Shelley Halliday said her staff is very excited to host the event.
“We’ve long hoped there would be a wedding fair in Powell River, because there are a lot of people who automatically go out of town, but we think Powell River has a lot more to offer than is often recognized,” said Halliday. “This is a perfect example of how we can feature it.”
Lefler said she can still remember planning her own wedding and wanting to check out bridal fairs for ideas. After moving to the area with her husband and two young children two years ago, Lefler said she began to hear feedback that some Powell River residents had struggled planning their weddings because they did not know where to start.
“I was younger when I got married, so I didn’t actually have many friends who had gotten married before me,” she said. “Even though most of my planning had already been done, I was still looking for things like a photographer and I wasn’t sure where to start. Sometimes you go from word of mouth, but sometimes you don’t even know who to ask.”
Modena said planning the wedding fair with Lefler has become a huge part of her daily routine the past couple of months, including taking models over to a Nanaimo bridal shop for gown fittings for a fashion show during the event.
“To be honest, it’s been rather hectic. I didn’t expect it to be almost a full-time job on some days,” says Warman. “It’s taken up a lot of time and we still have lots to do, but we’re feeling really good about it.”
Halliday says she and Town Centre Hotel staff have been very impressed so far with Lefler and Warman’s hard work and organization involved with planning the event.
“Sometimes it just takes the right people to come in and organize something like this. There is a lot of work involved and it’s just wonderful that a couple of people have taken the initiative to do it this year,” said Halliday. “They seem very professional and enthusiastic and I’m really looking forward to working with them.”
Warman, who was born and raised in Powell River and returned to the area in 2012 to be closer to her family, said she and Lefler had to take a leap of faith with the wedding expo and they hope this first event will be something to build on for future years.
“We crossed our fingers, basically,” said Warman with a laugh. “We just said, ‘Let’s do this and see what happens,’ and honestly we weren’t expecting a lot. We just thought we’d keep it small and go from there, and now we’re already thinking of what we will do next year. We didn’t expect to make it an annual thing, but it’s looking like there is a definite need.”
2017 Powell River Wedding Expo takes place Sunday, March 5, from 11 am-4 pm in Town Centre Hotel’s banquet room.