Brides-to-be browse gowns and more at wedding expo

Six months.

That’s all the time Crystal Cornine has to book a venue, choose a caterer and design invitations, not to mention find the perfect dress for her dream wedding.

When she heard about the inaugural Brides and Bouquets expo at the Augus­ta Convention Center, she thought Sunday was as good a day as ever to kick off the whirlwind of planning.

“We just want everyone to have a good time,” Cornine said of her big day.

Hundreds of brides and grooms-to-be attended The Augusta Chronicle’s Brides and Bouquets expo Sunday, where more than 40 vendors offered wedding ideas and products to make the planning process easier. The event closed with a fashion show where women showed off dresses from The House of the Bride and men modeled suits and tuxedos from Simon’s Formal Wear. Halo, Salon and Spa did the hair and makeup for the fashion show. 

The expo was created to give local vendors more opportunity to reach couples who are planning a wedding, said Ashlee Duren, the Chronicle’s director of marketing and events.

Brides were serenaded at the door by the violins and cello of the Magellan String Quartet, members of the Augusta Symphony. Inside, they were able to browse everything from bridesmaid dresses to different types of whiskey.

Simple Bliss event planning company co-owner Misty Cooper said planning a wedding can be one of the most overwhelming and expensive decisions in life.

Cooper said many local weddings can average between $10,000 and $20,000, so couples want to be able to assess all their options.

“People are really leaning toward more traditional weddings now,” Cooper said. “The big Paris Hilton-type movie star wedding isn’t in.”

Engaged for about a month, Tonya Sheppard, 32, said she was trying to get all the ideas she could get for her wedding, set for September 2014.

So far she has only chosen the colors – black, white and green apple. After that, she and fiancé Ezra Hatcher are lost.

After seeing dozens of brides faced with the same momentous decisions, she realized she wasn’t alone.

“It’s like the blind leading the blind,” Sheppard said. “We’re trying to get our heads together.”

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