We all know how bridal showcases go – booths and stations of various photographers, DJs and florists hawking their wares at brides-to-be overwhelmed by the choice and eager to get their goodie bag. While those shows are a big part of the wedding industry and a tried-and-true business, we certainly don’t mind a new twist on that model.
EnterÂ The NotWedding. This eventÂ turns the traditional bridal showcase on its head by staging an entire (albeit) fake wedding. Brides-to-be attendÂ a cocktail hour and short ceremony, and are welcomed at a reception set up to exhibitÂ vendors in a way that showcases whatÂ they would normally do for an actual wedding,Â giving the girls something realistic to base their vendor choices off of.
The NotWedding has been popping up in dozen cities around the country in the last couple of years and we were invited to check out the recent April event in New York, where it returned for its 2nd year. To find out what this company is all about, we spoke to Callie Murray, Founder and CEO of The NotWedding.
How did you get inspired to launch The NotWeddingâ€™s unique concept?
Callie Murray:Â I have a background in wedding photography, and I got the idea for The NotWedding in 2008 when I was thinking through creative ways to advertise my weddingÂ photography business. I wanted to create an environment that allowed brides-and-grooms-to-be to truly see wedding vendors in action and to have an opportunity to meet andÂ get to know the vendor and their personality in a party atmosphere. I also knew how important referral business was (from other wedding vendors and even guests who saw me in action), so I thought this would be a way to recreate that.
Do you still use your wedding photography skillsÂ or is that your past life?
CM:Â I still shoot a handful of weddings each year, but my brother has taken over the bulk of that business. For the most part, I now reserve my camera time for my two toddlers (who donâ€™t love that quite so much!).
Ha! It must be hard to leave them to travel around the country doing shows. How do you go about choosing which cities to have a presence in?
CM:Â We know that the people are what make a great event, so we look for cities where we have strong connections to vendors and media. We love new and creative businesses, so itâ€™s important that we choose cities with great creative communities and an always-growing population of new businesses.
We love that each event has a media sponsor (New York’s was Love Inc). But how do you select the vendors to showcase at The NotWedding?
CM:Â Vendors apply online (thenotwedding.com/apply), and we look for vendors with products and personalities that we believe in. Our ideal vendor is either new or new to an area or product and is looking to gain exposure andÂ recognition in the wedding world. We look for vendors who are creative and willing to take risks, and we absolutely look for those that are team-players and networkers!
What has been your absolute favorite NotWedding so far and why?
CM:Â Ahh this is a tough one! The very first NotWedding has to be my favorite, because it is what launched this whole experience. It was such an experiment and I never dreamed that it would turn into what it has!
Now that you’re busy running NotWedding, what should we expect to see next?
CM:Â Our team is growing, and we are expanding into new cities. We aim to promote local businesses, to inspire brides and grooms and to encourage solid marriages, and we hopeÂ to bring these goals to fruition across the country.