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Stephanie Hill and Dewey Beene have sat around more bridal shows than they can count. Taking down names and numbers and handing out business cards at these events had become habit.
So when the Society of Edmond Wedding Planners was deciding its next marketing venture, another stodgy bridal show was out of the question.
The group, which includes metro vendors and marketers focused on the industry in the Edmond area, decided instead to do what they do best: put on a wedding.
Beene says his company, Innovative Event Solutions, provides the “wow factor” for weddings and other events with special lighting and decor options. And he figured there’s no better way to show prospective brides what they do than, well, showing them what they do.
“There’s just so many bridal shows in town. We were looking for something different,” he says.
That meant Beene and the other organization members would need to put their money where their mouths were. They each contributed their own specialties, ranging from wedding gowns, formal wear, rings, cakes, venues, music, a limo, a honeymoon and a wedding planner.
Through word of mouth, a public relations professional, the web and any other way members could think of, the society announced it would be accepting applications to give away a wedding.
From more than 200 applications, Wakana Kamesato and Matthew Sebacher were chosen. He’s from Missouri; she’s from Japan.
The event will take place Aug. 28 in the Boathouse District. The Oklahoma Marriage Initiative will provide premarital counseling services.
Hill publishes “Perfect Wedding Guide,” a franchise publication focused on all things nuptials. With eight years on the food and beverage side of the industry, she moved back to Oklahoma in 2003 to run the guide.
She’s seen the ups and downs of the industry, but says, it’s one that will last.
“I think it’s extremely important to see all these vendors working together for one common goal,” Hill says. “It means everything to the final product.”
Beene saw the economic writing on the wall several years ago. Specializing in corporate functions, Innovative Event Solutions began to transition to the social market just before the economic downturn.
As companyies spent less on Christmas parties and retreats, Beene noticed little drop-off in his bottom line.
“When your daughter’s getting married, you’re still going to find a way to make it happen,” he says.
Beene noted that until this year, the industry had been on the downturn. The average cost of a wedding three years ago was $32,000, he says. That whittled down to $28,000 last year, with an increase to $29,000 expected for this year.
Hill sat on the board responsible for narrowing the applicants to a list of 25. From there, it went to four, and a “Newlywed Game”-type format was used to pick the winners.
Throughout the process, she says most vendors have done more than they pledged.
Case in point, when the bride showed up at Naifeh Fine Jewelry, she mentioned that her engagement ring had had an encounter with the garbage disposal.
She left with a new engagement ring and a new wedding ring.
“So far, everyone has done over and beyond giving what we even anticipated,” Hill says. “Everyone has really wrapped their arms around this couple, and we’re really excited to see it come to fruition.”
So has the gamble paid off? “It did,” Beene says. “In fact, had it created more (interest), we would have been more inundated than we had hoped.”