Figuring out how to plan a wedding during a pandemic

Bridal Extravaganza of Atlanta owner Shelly Danz said her show normally draws 1,000 brides-to-be along with bridesmaids or family to Hotel Avalon in Alpharetta. Courtesy Lora Sommer
Bridal Extravaganza of Atlanta owner Shelly Danz said her show normally draws 1,000 brides-to-be along with bridesmaids or family to Hotel Avalon in Alpharetta. Courtesy Lora Sommer

The pandemic caused an annual bridal show at Hotel Avalon to be remade into a virtual event with interactive experiences taking place for nearly a week.

Shelly Danz, who operates the show, Bridal Extravaganza of Atlanta, said it normally draws 1,000 brides-to-be along with bridesmaids or family to Hotel Avalon in Alpharetta. Vendor booths are usually set up with wedding cake samples or floral arrangements and brides-to-be can try on wedding dresses or seek out musicians to perform at their reception.

But new requirements for social distancing and the inclination for many people to stay home due to the coronavirus led Danz to change the show. “When someone asked me ‘Do you think you could go virtual’ it didn’t seem like it was feasible,” Danz said. “We just kept digging and trying to be creative.”

This year, visitors will enter virtual rooms where they can see vendor items displayed and ask business owners questions. Instead of the usual fashion show of several models in wedding dresses, boutique owners in individual virtual rooms will present one or possibly a few people modeling dresses, Danz said.

The virtual event takes place July 19-24. Tickets for the event are $10 for general admission, and $20 VIP and can be purchased at the website: atlantaweddingconnection.com.

Hotel Avalon will still have a role for people who register as VIP attendees. Danz said she will have gift bags handed out by men dressed in tuxedos in the hotel driveway entrance.

“We’re really trying to make brides feel special,” she said.

The event planner said future brides will be able to decide on specialty drink recipes for their reception, food and catering, intimate wedding ideas, even how to put on a wedding during a pandemic.

According to the Wedding Report, a research company that covers the wedding industry, more than 59,000 weddings took place in Georgia in 2019.

Kelly Kush, 27, plans to attend the virtual show and hopes the pandemic will be over before her wedding in April 2021. Shopping for wedding dresses in face masks was different but fun, she said. Kush met her wedding planner, photographer and videographer through video conferencing.

“We’re going forward with hope and positive thinking that everything will be fine,” Kush said. “We will make adjustments if we have to.”