First ever event goes off without a hitch

By Allyson Oken
Of the Paso Robles Press and Atascadero News


NORTH COUNTY — With just over 300 brides and their guests and 40 vendors in attendance at the North County Wedding Expo, event chairman and Advertising Manager for the Atascadero News and the Paso Robles Press Michael Bartlett said it was a great success for its first year.

“We are very happy with the turnout at our first North County Wedding Expo, and were very excited to see so many vendors and community members making those valuable connections,” Bartlett said with zest. “This is what we do, highlight business services and help them to make lasting connections with their clients into the future. If this year is any indication, next year’s event will be bigger and better than its predecessor.”

Bartlett added that this is the first event the Paso Robles Press and Atascadero News have hosted and there are plans for more on the horizon. As the event opened, there was a long line at the doors to the Atascadero Pavilion on the Lake (an event sponsor) of brides ready and waiting to find all they need to make that special day a dream-come-true fairytale.

Samantha Harrington, soon-to-be blushing bride, was waiting patiently in line with her mother to see all that the Wedding Expo had to offer. She said, “I came to see what services the event will offer because I am getting married June 18 and I have just a few services that I am missing.”

Many other brides were in line with the same intention to find those few last-minute necessities for their special day. Janelle Lowe said as she entered the expo, “I am getting married Sept. 24 and I have all the major stuff pinned down, so we are looking for the fine-detail things, things we may have forgotten. My theme is giraffe, so I hope to find things that suite the theme.”

When entering the expo, brides and their parties were given a glass of complimentary champagne sponsored by Grocery Outlet and walked around the Pavilion, alight with twinkling lights with yards and yards of white drapery and stunning vendor displays and even silk acrobatics.

Bride-to-be Mercedes Celbert and her bridesmaids Mindy Dotzler and Carrie Cook came to the Wedding Expo to prepare for her wedding Oct. 1 and were very impressed with the number of vendors to connect with.

“There are a lot of vendors here and a lot to think about. I am very impressed and hope that I find some great things here before I get married Oct. 1,” Celbert said.

Duo Vicky Farley and Debbie Hernandez said they have found the caterer with the best tri-tip in Popolo Catering. Farley said, “That tri-tip right there is to scream for, and the Mexican wedding cookies from the Carlton Hotel were wonderful. These are my favorite booths so far.”

Jennifer and John Ritoli were in attendance to see the vendors and enjoy the event. Though they are already married, the duo said they were really impressed with the vendors and the turnout.

Many vendors saw a great response to their services and made some really valuable connections that paid for the cost of signing up and then some. Rianna Janowicz and Heather McCormick with Something Bridal were seeing many brides sign up for their mailing list as well as inquiring about the specialty wedding dresses they offer and said they will be back next year.

“We had so much fun at the expo and have had a great response from our booth here,” Janowicz said. “We will definitely be back next year.”

Bottles and Ice owner Anissa Hedges said, “We are called Bottles and Ice and provide a private bottling service. I offer coordinating packages and am a mixologist. I have already had people booking. This event is going really well for us.”

The Kiwanis Club, which recently began offering its hall as a wedding venue, was very impressed with the way the event came together. Angelina Almodova said enthusiastically, “I am amazed with the turnout. It is amazing, especially for the first year. We’re letting people know about the new Kiwanis hall that is here to serve as a venue to all wedding type events and more. We are really excited to be here.”

Elizabeth Phillips of Luke and Liz’s Photography was not only a vendor at the event, but also one of two graphic designers for the Atascadero News and Paso Robles Press that designed the Wedding Guide as well as helped plan the event. She said it was awesome to see the event come to fruition.

“It has been awesome,” Phillips said. “It has been a great turnout. I am loving this and it seems like a show that has been around for a while. Everyone is having a good time. It is a great environment, and people are enjoying the free champagne.”

Jennifer Tallent, part owner of Groves on the 41 in Templeton, said the North County Wedding Expo was going really well for her.

“I already have seven people that are interested in taking tours and getting quotes and two that have signed up to host their weddings at our venue, and it is only an hour and a half into the event,” she said. “I am very impressed with the turnout and will be back next year.”

With so many happy brides and vendors in the first year of the North County Wedding Expo, the event is bound for success in the future. To learn more about becoming a vendor next year and to register as a bride in advance for the event, visit