By Alexa Epitropoulos | [email protected]
The Alexandria Wedding Showcase kicks off its second year this Sunday at the Westin Alexandria in Carlyle.
This year the showcase is giving away a free wedding valued at $50,000 at the
Westin for up to 100 guests as its grand prize. The event will also include panel discussions, a fashion show, live entertainment and bars that will offer guests specialty cocktails and champagne. The event is also giving away 20 gowns to nonprofit Brides Across America.
Visit Alexandria’s Megan Hosford, who organizes the event, said they expect between 500 to 550 guests in the event’s second year. The event will feature more than 50 vendors, including newcomer Sugar Shack Donuts. Hosford said, since last year’s event, the team has gotten the opportunity to try out new features and events.
“Last year was such a big hit. It was great to have a little history and be able to get more creative this year,” Hosford said. “… We have different vendors than last year, but we also have a lot of the same ones. One of our biggest focuses is to stay local and stay in Alexandria.”
The major aim of the event is to encourage and attract destination weddings, especially from within the region.
“Alexandria isn’t just a place to have a wedding. It’s a destination. It’s not just about the reception, it’s about the cocktails, the rehearsal dinner, the post-wedding brunch. It’s a whole weekend,” Hosford said. “We have the historic charm and waterfront views. We have the top vendors in all of D.C. right here in Alexandria.”
Multiple vendors have cashed in so far on those seeking to marry in Alexandria,
including Alice Carr, owner of Velvet Moss Floral Design, which is based in Mount Vernon.
“I was just kind of blown away by the vendors that were there. I haven’t been in the business for very long, so I learned so much from the other vendors,” Carr said. “It was a wonderful experience for me personally, but it also helped me promote my business. I landed some weddings as a result of it.”
Annee Gillett, catering director at Eat Good Food Group, is participating in one of the
showcase’s panels this year. Eat Good Food Group participated in the event’s inaugural year in 2017 and Gillett described it as a lucrative experience.
“I think the great thing about the showcase is there are so many knowledgeable people. Even if you’re not sure exactly what you have in mind, or if you just got engaged over Valentine’s Day, it’s a good place to start,” Gillett said.
Sarah Marcella, a photographer who will lead a workshop at the showcase, said it’s a truly local experience.
“I have gone to expos in the past and it’s a totally different experience. It’s very
much personalized, especially to Alexandria, and it’s very upbeat and a pleasant experience,” Marcella said.
For couples seeking to get the most out of the showcase, Hosford recommends saving time for panel discussions.
“Don’t miss the stage events – we have so many great vendors that everyone can go visit, but I would tell attendees to not miss what’s going on onstage. There are really good tips and tricks and panels that people can really learn a lot from,” Hosford said.
Tickets for the event, which takes place from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m., are available for $20 apiece.