Margo Kramer said she was surprised when her new fiance Kevin Godell proposed on Christmas Eve. But truthfully, "like every little girl," she says, she's been planning this wedding for years.
The newly engaged Carol Stream couple was one of many who got a jump on planning Saturday morning at the Naper Settlement Bridal Showcase.
The showcase, which started Friday evening, brought dozens of vendors to the Naperville site to offer consultations to couples planning their nuptials.
Caterers, bagpipers, disc jockeys, bakeries and airbrush makeup artists were among the professional organizations on hand.
"You hate to use the term 'one-stop shopping' when you're talking about your dream wedding," Kramer said. "But hopefully that's what it will be for us today."
"If I only have to do this once and we can lock some things up, that would be awesome," he said.
For soon-to-be Naperville bride Susan Morton, the expo was expected to be the last stop on her way to the altar later this year.
"I've got everything but a florist. I just haven't been able to find one that I'm happy with," she said. "Some friends suggested I try here so I'm hopeful I can be done after today."
Many of the more than 50 vendors appeared ready to meet the needs of brides in both situations.
Stacey Jackson, of At your Service Limousines, said she has earned great business from the Naperville expo in recent years and made some new business relationships.
"You come to these events and you meet the other vendors and next thing you know, you've got a partnership that can offer the bride and groom a package deal on their transportation and venue or transportation and flowers," Jackson said. "Everyone wins when that comes together."
Naperville wedding photographer Scott Pfeiffer said he participates in the expo to keep up with the trends in the photo industry. Currently, he's seeing brides who want just as many candid photos as traditional shots. And everyone wants to own the images.
"It's been a drastic change," he said. "Everyone used to want the great shot to enlarge and hang on the wall. Now they're more worried about having the fun photos to post on their Facebook wall."
In addition to providing advice to local brides-to-be, the Bridal Showcase has served, for 11 years, as a way to showcase the Naper Settlement itself as a wedding site, said organizer Becca Atkins.
"Hosting this event early in the new year definitely gives us a nice head start on our bookings for the season," Atkins said. "The brides are here, they see the grounds and the chapel and more often than not, they'll call soon after the event and try to book a date."