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It’s been a decade since the first same-sex marriages were performed in the United States, and since then there has been an ever-expanding market for ideas and options to plan weddings for two brides or two grooms.

 

Florida played host to its very first gay wedding expo in 2009, and since then many expos and showcases have been presented by various wedding planners and event planning companies across Central and South Florida. If you’re planning your wedding, you will find that there are many options to choose from when it comes to so many factors, such as selecting the right venue for the ceremony, or the right hall for the reception, all the way down to catering options and dresses for bridesmaids. Here are some events that will focus on making your wedding planning a bit easier.

 

wedding_expo_1We start off with the Equal Plan Wedding Expo, hosted by Diana Martin and her company Diana Marie Events. Hotspots profiled one of Martin’s expos last September, which she held in Orlando. This year she brings her expertise to Tampa. Couples will have a chance to meet with a variety of vendors, ranging from live entertainment to photography, to florists to jewelers. This event will be held at the Sheraton Tampa Riverwalk Hotel (200 N. Ashley Drive, Tampa) on Sunday, July 27 from 12 p.m. to 4 p.m. Tickets cost $10 and admit two people if purchased in advance via dianamarieevents.com, or they cost $10 at the door and admit one.

 

Martin will also be bringing her wedding show to South Florida this autumn; at the end of July people will be able to purchase tickets to the Sunday, October 5 Equal Plan Expo, which will be held at The National Hotel South Beach (1677 Collins Avenue, Miami Beach). For more information, e-mail dianamarieevents.com.

 

wedding_expo_2The Wedding Alliance, a daughter organization of MBA Orlando, the Gay and Lesbian Chamber of Commerce of Central Florida, will be hosting a mixer called “Get Your Mix On with The Wedding Alliance,” which will be held at Quantum Leap Winery (1312 Wilfred Drive, Orlando) on Thursday, July 24 at 6 p.m. The general admission cost is $10 at the door, while the event is free to MBA Orlando members. There will be light snacks provided by John Michael Weddings and Events, a key wedding planning company in Central Florida. The organization gives you a chance to inquire about John Michael Weddings and Events’ services, and also lets you admire the Quantum Leap Winery, which is a Wedding Alliance partner and has been used for many wedding ceremonies in the past. For more information about gay-owned and gay-friendly wedding vendors in Central Florida approved by The Wedding Alliance, read about them online at weddingalliance.org/find-vendors.

 

The South Florida community is excited for the first annual Gay Nuptials Wedding Showcase, which will be organized by Panache Style (2308 N. Dixie Highway, Wilton Manors) and will be presented with the help of the Greater Fort Lauderdale Convention & Visitors Bureau. This event will be held on Sunday, August 17 from 1 to 4 p.m. at the Community Center in Hagen Park (2020 Wilton Drive, Wilton Manors). Over three dozen vendors so far have signed on to give consumers informed opinions on how to plan the most special day of their lives. Tickets to the Gay Nuptials Wedding Showcase cost $20; they can be ordered online at mygaywedding.org or they can be purchased over the telephone by calling (954) 356-9377. All proceeds from the ticket sales go to The Pride Center at Equality Park.

 

wedding_expo_3Finally, the Rainbow Wedding Network is hosting their fifth annual “Same Love, Same Rights” wedding expo in Tampa, also at the Sheraton Riverwalk Tampa Hotel, on Sunday, October 19, from 12:30 p.m. to 3:30 p.m. Nearly three dozen wedding professionals will be on hand to advise couples. There will be free samples for people to take home, ceremony planning tips, food and drink, and a chance to win fun prizes in a raffle drawing! The event is free but a $5 donation is requested to keep future expo events at a high quality. For more information, e-mail events@rainbowweddingnetwork.com.

 

Want some tips on how to plan your wedding more smoothly? Be sure to read Ian Maloney’s tips in this very issue!

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Mike Halterman
Mike Halterman has been the editor of Hotspots Central since its launch in July 2016. He joined the Hotspots Media Group family as editor of Hotspots' South Florida magazine in June 2013. A former "40 Under 40" honoree in The Advocate magazine, Mike lives in the Tampa Bay area.