In 2016, Doris Crawford, the owner of Soul of the Rose Floral and event planning service Lake Minnetonka Area Event Professionals (LMAEP), launched the first-ever Lake Minnetonka Wedding Expo. It was an immediate success, and Crawford even had to turn away some prospective vendors due to limited space; the 2016 expo was held in January at Pique Travel in Excelsior. In fact, the vendors who did attend were so excited they asked Crawford to consider holding an expo twice a year. While the twice-a-year option isn’t feasible at the moment, Crawford looked forward to making the expo an annual event. This month, on January 29, the second annual Lake Minnetonka Wedding Expo comes to the Cast & Cru Restaurant at Greenwood’s Old Log Theater.
Why a wedding expo in the lake area when there are so many large expos in Minneapolis and St. Paul? “The big fairs are very expensive, and the vendors don’t get the exposure they deserve,” Crawford says. “I love this area, and I know so many great venues and talented people here.” She notes that January is a great time for wedding planning, since the winter holidays—from Thanksgiving to Valentine’s Day—are prime engagement season. “That’s when people are getting engaged, and they’re excited [to start planning],” she says.
Last year’s inaugural event offered a wide variety of vendors for brides and grooms. “We had vendors for cakes, catering, lodging, dresses, venues, rental companies, DJs, musicians, books, limos, wedding coordinators, hair salons and makeup specialists, local stores” and more, Crawford says. She hopes that holding this year’s expo in the larger space will provide even more options for attendees.
Last year’s expo drew crowds not only from the Lake Minnetonka area, but also from the rest of the metro. “We had lots of people from the surrounding area—Victoria, Waconia, Chanhassen,” Crawford says. “But we also had people from all over the Twin Cities. We even had some coming from out of state,” including parents visiting their Twin Cities-based kids to help with wedding planning. “All the vendors were so great, so friendly,” she says. “The scale of the expo gave them more intimacy with the attendees.”
That’s something vendor Megan Latterner of Megan Mary Events appreciated. “It was so much more intimate than the big expos,” Latterner says. “I think the couples coming to the Lake Minnetonka Expo were looking to be able to make a connection. It wasn’t as overwhelming as a bigger show could be, and the couples were relaxed and making conversation.” She hopes to return to this year’s expo.
How about some advice for first-time expo visitors? Doris Crawford says brides and grooms “should try to visit as many vendors as they can, and gather as much info as they can. They’ll be able to take home plenty of information to consider.” She also suggests bringing small labels preprinted with contact information. “Many vendors have sign-up sheets or even door prizes, and if you don’t have to stop and fill them out at every vendor, it will save you a lot of time.”