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Newly engaged? Head to bridal expo

From bouquets to banquet halls, the Lexington Bridal Expo will offer engaged couples everything they need for their big day but the vows themselves.

In its second year, the expo will be held from 1-5 p.m. Sunday at the Doubletree by Hilton along Bush River Road. With about 55 vendors, organizers call it a “boutique” show where brides and grooms can get a first-hand look at the full spectrum of wedding vendors.

About 95 percent of the vendors are located within 20 miles of the Columbia area, said Michael Koska, owner of Koska Productions, which has been producing bridal shows in the Midlands for about 15 years.

With everything from florists, caterers, photographers, dress and tuxedo shops, custom cake decorators, musicians and DJs, local reception venues and financial services, brides and grooms can do some one-stop shopping and planning.

Koska said wedding budgets declined over the past several years during a poor economy, but are showing signs of rising again. He said the national average cost for a wedding is $28,000. In the Columbia area, it’s closer to $20,000, he said.

Many brides and grooms have been keeping their budgets in check by coordinating their plans themselves rather than hiring a wedding planner, Koska said. And many of them have turned to Pinterest for inspiration.

“Pinterest has been a big deal for ideas,” he said. “They just need to make sure they are appropriate for their budget and venue.”

Koska said other recent wedding trends include outdoor weddings and all-in-one venues, that offer catering, music and decorations.

Admission to the Lexington Bridal Expo is $12 per person. Parking is free.

Bridget Winston, Special to The State