Fort Belvoir, Va. (Feb. 27, 2014) - Brides-to-be met a host of local wedding suppliers at the Fort Belvoir Officers' Club Saturday during the installation's 14th annual Bridal Fair.

Almost 40 vendors attended the Fort Belvoir Bridal Fair, which provided a one-stop location for engaged couples planning their weddings, according to Trinetta Bowen, Fort Belvoir Officers' Club catering director. The fair is sponsored on the last Saturday of February each year. The event also featured a fashion show, which highlighted a variety of wedding dress styles.

"We live for this every year, and we love it," Bowen said. "We love what we do."

The bridal fair featured wedding cake, photography, make-up and teeth-whitening vendors, among others.
A singer performed while Hors d'oeuvres were served, along with coffee and tea.

Vendors paid a small fee to participate in the bridal fair, but did not face any restrictions. Attendees did not have to register for the event. The goal of the fair was to let servicemembers know what options are available to them if they get married during their time on the installation.

Michelle Whyte, event coordinator for Ambiance Special Events and military spouse, said the event gives small businesses an opportunity to showcase products and services.

"I really like the Fort Belvoir Bridal Fair because it is a small, more intimate show," Whyte said. "So I feel it is less a cattle call of business cards and more a conversation that you get to have with the couples."

Paul McIlvaine, a retired servicemember, attended the event with his engaged son and future daughter-in-law. The newly engaged couple was looking for a wedding cake vendor at the bridal fair.

"The vendors are especially helpful and very nice," McIlvaine said. "I have nothing but positive things to say."

The Fort Belvoir Officers' Club did a great job of sponsoring the bridal fair for the community, according to Brian Shoop, a retired servicemember. His wife and daughter were involved with the fashion show. The event was nice, Shoop said.

"It looks like it is well-attended," he said "I'm sure anybody who wants to get married can find what they need."

Stephanie Wilkerson, Reese Studios lead photographer, said her organization received an overwhelming response from the show last year and that is why she came back this year.

"I think it is amazing that they are sponsoring this event," Wilkerson said of Fort Belvoir Officers' Club personnel. "There are not a lot of opportunities for the brides to see all of the vendors in one spot."