For people planning a wedding, the task of hunting for inspiration and then the wedding professionals to pull off your ideas can be overwhelming. The internet is a great resource for wedding planning, but nothing beats the experience you get when visiting with wedding professionals in person.

You can expect to see all sorts of wedding professionals, including photographers, DJs, reception facilities, caterers, cake bakers, dress shops, tuxedo rentals, videographers, limos, hairdressers, makeup artists, jewelry companies, invitation designers, florists, musicians, gift registries, party suppliers, travel agents and much more.

Unless you have an unlimited budget of time, you can’t just go from shop to shop around town to visit each one – that would take forever. But what if there was a place where you can touch, smell, feel or taste what the best wedding vendors have to offer, be able to check out their style, sample the products and talk to real people all in one place – all in one day?

Well, that is what bridal shows are for. These shows go out of their way to make the bride feel special, and you will be surrounded by people who want to hear all about your wedding plans, and you will be able to sample food, cake and confections, and gather valuable information. Even if you’ve already chosen your wedding professionals, the cost of admission is worth it just for the experience – and it makes a great day to be out with your mom, bridesmaids or spend special time with the man you are going to marry.

Bridal shows are also for those who are planning any other special event, such as quinceanara, renew vows, anniversary, birthday, retirement party or any special occasion.

Bridal shows offer brides the opportunity to win valuable door prizes worth sometimes hundreds of dollars. To make registering for those prizes easy, bring along return address stickers so that you do not have to fill out numerous entry slips. On the label, have your name, the groom’s name, wedding date, email address and phone number.

Finally, there’s a fashion show toward the end of the afternoon. It is a great chance to see different styles of dresses and tuxedos, dresses for prom and quinceanara, mother of the bride/groom dresses and special occasions. So, kick back and enjoy the show! And remember, organizing your wedding can be a huge job, but with the assistance of services such as bridal shows, it cuts down on some of the work.

While at the show, plan on having lunch in the newly remodeled restaurant or watch the NFL playoffs in the bar, or just relax and go over some of the information that you collected from the wedding professionals. You may want to participate in some of the fun games before the fashion show starts.

“A Bridal Odyssey” is a nationally recognized show and receives many benefits from national companies that are at the shows. Each paid registered bride will receive a one-year subscription to Brides Magazine, one of the most recognized magazines in the country; also a gift card valued at $200 from Symbolic, and the first 150 brides will receive a gift card for matching wedding bands from JVL Jewelers. Also, there’s a chance to be in the “Sweet Treasures” wedding cake dive loaded with valuable prizes.

For more than 20 years, the Mancinis have organized and coordinated these shows twice a year as a means to join brides and businesses to aid in planning that very important life event. The shows have proven to be one of the finest bridal events in the county and have become a vital element in providing both brides and professionals with a common ground to provide information, share ideas and answer questions that always prevail in planning weddings. 

Debbie Mancini is a member and serves on the Board of Directors of Bridal Show Producers International (BSPI). “A Bridal Odyssey” is registered as a national show among some of the prestigious shows in the country.

The first bridal show of the year in Tulare and Kings counties, “A Bridal Odyssey,” produced by Mancini Productions, will be held on Sunday, Jan. 20, at the Visalia Wyndham Hotel. Admission is $12 at the door. Register online and receive a $2 discount for you and your guest. Hours of the show are 11 a.m. to 4 p.m., with a fashion show at 2:30 p.m.