Nonconformist Nuptials

The Northside Bridal Expo at bar/event space Mayday has gathered a group of local and independent businesses that understand the concept of different and put them all in one place so your unconventional, individual wedding ideas — from catering and flora

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click to enlarge Kim Buzek's wedding at Mayday
Kim Buzek's wedding at Mayday

When thinking of weddings, the concepts of “unconventional” and “traditional” tend to sit at opposite ends of the spectrum. But with the advent of the DIY craze and Pinterest, many more brides and grooms are daring to step outside the shadow of their parents’ 1980s cookie-cutter affairs to make their weddings truly unique and personal, whether that means conventional with a twist or something entirely eccentric. And nothing is more frustrating than trying to plan a wedding with vendors — who you’re paying — that can’t or won’t see your vision. 

So the Northside Bridal Expo at bar/event space Mayday has gathered a group of local and independent businesses that understand the concept of different and put them all in one place so your unconventional, individual wedding ideas — from catering and floral to planning and makeup — can come to life.  

“This is the opportunity to craft your own wedding that reflects who you and your partner truly are,” says Vanessa Barber, co-owner of Mayday. “If you are an artsy, indie gal, then you can meet the vendors and sample the products all in one place.” 

Hosted by Barber and Kim Buzek, also an owner of Mayday, the idea for the expo came about after Buzek celebrated her own wedding at the bar. 

“We had Kim’s wedding here and it was so beautiful and Mayday looked so great that we really wanted to showcase the space for weddings,” Barber says. “And we thought other local businesses would benefit from that as well.”

“The wedding industry is huge and [the expo] is a great opportunity for people to continue to invest in their community,” she adds.

Of course, these aren’t the typical vendors one would find at a convention center expo, but rather a finer breed of professionals that understand idiosyncrasy. 

“Brides are exposed to so much more than traditional bridal magazines and images these days,” says Courtnee Garr, expo vendor and owner of Paperwhites + Whimsy floral design. “I think outside-the-box vendors are much more willing to embrace the changes and trends that are happening in the bridal market.”

Sweet Peace Bakery will be on hand providing vegan treats for the bride with customized dining needs; Blink Makeup Studio, which creates custom handmade, hand-mixed cosmetics, will be showcasing their bridal makeup; and Hutch Tiers and Table Top Rentals will be displaying their unique servingware. There will also be nontraditional photographers, florists, caterers, coordinators and more. 

You don’t have to be that girl with the jet-black dyed hair and tattoo sleeves to feel like a bridal outsider,” says Casey Arnold, owner of Left Of Center wedding planning and a vendor at the expo. “It’s important for any bride to find vendors that they feel comfortable with and who understand them, whether they are traditional or not. This is just a really special opportunity to get all of those people together in one room who feel like they don’t fit the mold.”

Brides that want an atypical style or approach for their nuptials are going meet unconventional officiants at the event, and the self-doers who live for DIY artistry and design will be pleased with the array of vendors ready to provide help and guidance in new directions.  

“There are still a lot of couples who know they want something unique and ‘them’ but don’t know how to execute it or aren’t very crafty or just don’t have the time to get their hands dirty,” Arnold says. “It’s important for a lot of brides to have professional help, to have someone to bounce ideas off of or hone in on their vision as well as recommend other vendors who are on the same wavelength.”

And the expo is not just for brides. All walks of life are welcome at the event and the LGBT-friendly environment simply adds to its distinctiveness. Any “bride” or “groom” is welcome, Barber says, and so are those just interested in browsing the vendors’ wares.

The event will house intimate environments, with each room showcasing different vendors. This expo is all about the senses and guests will get to taste food from the caterers and sip on specialty drinks (cotton-candy champagne cocktails, strawberry-basil infused vodka martinis, plus a wide selection of signature cocktails and craft beers), listen to live bands and DJs, enjoy the floral scents and see the culmination of their vision coming together. 

“There are still traditional brides out there and probably always will be, but nontraditional weddings are definitely growing in number,” Arnold says.

The NORTHSIDE BRIDAL EXPO takes place 5-10 p.m. Saturday at Mayday (4227 Spring Grove Ave., Northside). For more info:

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