By Kaitlyn Spinney
When the Alerus Center in Grand Forks, N.D. wanted to position the arena and convention center as a go-to wedding destination — as well as showcase several dozen wedding vendors — they married a local couple in front of a room full of “wedding crashers.”
Shelby Looker and I were ready to step out of a 10’ x 10’ vendor show booth and really show what our facility can do for weddings and receptions.
On November 8, the sales department at Alerus partnered with The White House Co. to host the inaugural “To Have and To Hold: A LIVE Wedding Show,” but several months before the event, the venue launched a social media campaign inviting people to nominate a couple (or self-nominate) who would not only be willing to get married in front of strangers but also have no control over the planning. After reading more than 70 applications and conducting in-person interviews, the team selected Carly and Tyler.
Truthfully, when we met Carly and Tyler, it felt like a first date and a proposal. They were the perfect couple for the event because they were willing to sit back and let us make all the creative decisions, which was a must.
Next, the Alerus sales department signed on 27 local wedding vendors, ranging from photography to flowers to attire, to contribute their talent and creativity to create a perfect wedding for Carly and Tyler.
Because this event was so new, the Alerus team was tasked with explaining the unique event to each vendor, but most were on board to try something new. Vendors were required to bring their newest ideas and products to showcase during the event. The room set up for the day of the wedding highlighted each vendor’s contributions and provided them with a small cocktail table around the outside of the room where they could meet interested brides. Additionally, one of the DJs for the evening gave tasteful shoutouts throughout the night to point out vendor contributions.
The event was geared toward two target markets: brides and wedding crashers. Potential brides could come see their vendors in action, and shop for new ideas. Wedding crashers were invited to buy a $20 ticket so they could enjoy the wedding, champagne toast, a three course meal, and dance the night away. The evening was perfect for a date night, or people who love weddings but don’t want to deal with family drama or bringing a gift.
At the end of the event, the bride and groom could not have been happier. They danced the night away, and their families complimented the whole process. As an added bonus, each vendor received a number of high-quality photos that showcase their work, which was an important selling point.
Couples and vendors are already asking if this will be an annual event!
Kaitlyn Spinney is Director of Conference Sales & Marketing for Spectra Venue Management’s Alerus Center.
Photo by Fernweh and Lieb Photography