Wedding fair set to wow East London

Bridal couples are expected to stream to the East London Golf Club on Saturday for inspiration on where to tie the knot and which vendors to choose to make their wedding dreams come true.

But with the economy sliding, are they opting for more affordable options this year, or are they splurging on the very best for the big day?

DREAMS COME TRUE: Lady Marmalaide owner Mandy Niland, who recently opened her Bonnie Doone wedding gown studio, will be one of the exhibitors at the East London Golf Club bridal fair Picture: STEPHANIE LLOYD

All Things Cake owner Carol May, who made a R9500, seven-tier wedding cake coated in hand-made sugar flowers for a wedding last year, said people were not cutting back.

“They are splurging. There is no sign of people wanting less and I have orders for R4000 cakes for this year. Very few want single cakes and most want tiers with with hand-made edible blossoms.

“Bling is in and some couples also want personalised edible fondant figurines of themselves on the cake – including a copy of the wedding dress and the bride’s hair-do.”

Lindy Lottering of the East London Golf Club said only about 10% of clients asked to discuss budget options. “I don’t see people skimping on weddings and most go for the R225 to R250 per head option which includes a starter and a big buffet.

“We offer standard draping and chair covers, but a lot of people don’t want standard. They want the wow wedding of the year and also spend extra hiring crystal glasses, lighting and special centrepieces.”

She said East London was starting to catch up with bigger cities with high-end wedding offerings.

“There has been an influx of vendors with more wedding planners and more dress companies. People have seen what’s out there and there is now more to choose from.”

Lottering said that while last year’s Bridal Fair sported 42 stalls, she had already booked 50 for Saturday’s event.

One of them will be Mandy Niland, who opened sophisticated bridal gown boutique Lady Marmalaide two months ago after her own wedding experience last year. “I bought my dress in PE because I wanted to walk into an elegant studio. I responded to a gap and built my own studio in Bonnie Doone.

“The entry level collection is about R10000 and the exclusive with layers of tulle and crystal is about R20000,” said Niland, who offers 90-minute R150 consultations for brides and their entourages.

“It is a very private, exclusive experience. It’s like [reality TV programme] Say Yes to the Dress.”

Gonubie Manor manager Georgia Georgiadis said the East Coast Resorts venue is almost fully booked for the year and couples were “going big” with only 1% requesting discounts. “But we don’t give discounts and our prices per head range from between R265 and R290.

“Some hire Tiffany chairs for R35 each and the decor can be quite over the top. Some brides arrive in helicopters and horse carts… ”

At 2 Swans wedding farm, owner Alison Henderson said although couples still wanted beautiful weddings, guest lists had shrunk.

“It’s gone down from 200 guests to 150 or 100 guests and people now request cash bars.” — barbarah@dispatch.co.za

lThe EL Golf Club Bridal Fair will be open 10am-4pm on Saturday with a R25 entry fee.

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