Packed inside Laird Hall at Wilson College for the J&B Bridals Show on Sunday, about 500 people were treated to some of the latest fashion trends in gowns, but also got to talk with 35 professional vendors that specialize in making that special day perfect.
Jim Resh, co-owner with his wife, Barb, of J&B Bridals, said the show has been held annually for about the past 25 years, including 15 years at Wilson.
“We have people who are truly dedicated wedding professionals,” Resh said. “We even have a cosmetic plastic surgeon out there. We have a winery, we have venues, photographers, DJs … it’s like one-stop shopping. It’s phenomenal.”
The main event of the day was a New York City-style runway show, featuring about 30 new pieces from designer Madeline Gardner, a national award winner with the Mori Lee dress line.
Gardner, who is from Hoboken, N.J., and has an office in Manhattan, brought three of her runway models to show off the newest in wedding fashions for brides and bridesmaids in all kinds of upcoming nuptials.
“We’re very happy to be here and preview our new collection,” said Gardner, a 17-year veteran in the bridal- design industry. “We’re trying to represent all the new fabrics that we’ve added to this collection.”
All of Gardner’s designs on display Sunday can be seen at J&B Bridals, which carries the full line of Mori Lee wear, Resh said.
“She is the pinnacle of bridal design,” Resh said of Gardner. “She has won many awards … but she is very modest. To have her here in Chambersburg, it’s truly an honor.”
Although the show wasn’t a high-profile affair like New York fashion events, Gardner said “this is as big as it gets because you have the real bride out there.”
“You don’t get a better critic than that,” she said. “That’s who we target, and our success comes from the relationship with people like Jim and Barb (Resh).”
Attendees learned about everything they need on their wedding days, including clothing, photography, makeup, food, spirits and florists.
Rick Grove, co-owner of Everlasting Love Florist in Chambersburg, said representatives from his business started coming to the show about four years ago, adding that it is great way to meet potential clients. The shop prepares flowers for about 60 weddings each year, he said.
“The more they see our name out there, the better,” Grove said. “It really helps a lot.”
Another vendor, Rodney Clark of Clark Photography in Waynesboro, Pa., was walking around taking photos of the day’s event. Clark agreed with Resh that the show is a one-stop shop for everything wedding-related, calling it the “premier bridal show” in the area.
“It’s very nice because it helps promote local businesses,” he said.
Sara Hagans of St. Thomas, Pa., was standing in the vendor area with her mother, Angie Hagans, as the show was coming to an end. She is set to be wed May 21, and is beginning to feel the strain of planning for the big day.
“It was very nice,” she said of the show. “It was helpful for a lot of people.”
Another bride-to-be, Hilary Jardin of Clear Spring, also came to the show with her mother, Michelle Jardin. Hilary Jardin said she hasn’t set a date yet with her fiance, who is serving overseas in the military, but found the show useful for future plans.
“It was very nice, very helpful,” Hilary Jardin said. “The food tasting was helpful for planning.”
After the fashion show, one lucky bride-to-be was awarded a free Mori Lee dress. Laura Bosak of Biglerville, Pa., who is getting married July 2, was the winner, but already had purchased one of Gardner’s dresses.
“We plan on giving her a store credit,” a smiling Resh said while standing with a vendor after the show.
Resh said it was their biggest event yet.
“Wilson College has just bent over backwards to help us, so it makes our job much easier,” he said. “We love it.”
To learn more about the Mori Lee line, go to www.morilee.com. For more information about J&B Bridals, go to www.jbbridals.com.