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Ideas flourish at bridal expo at NIU's student center

DeKALB – Halley McLean isn’t getting married until 2015, but she couldn’t resist admiring the wedding dresses on display Sunday at the 2013 Bridal Expo.

“I know my bridesmaids, that’s about it,” McLean said, as she toured the different booths set-up in the Duke Ellington Ballroom of Northern Illinois University’s Holmes Student Center with her maid of honor.

The bridal expo featured 55 exhibitors boasting a wide-range of services and vendors a bride such as McLean might want for her wedding.

Flowers? Check.

Disc jockeys for the reception? Several were on hand.

Bakers to make the cake? A number were there, each of them with free samples of their work.

“You could do your complete wedding package in one day,” said expo organizer Karen Villano said, who also is director of food services at NIU.

Motioning to a checklist the expo hands out, Villano said, “I wish I had this kind of stuff when I was getting married.”

Beth Martin, who will be marrying Edner Gonzalez in September, toured the bridal expo with her sister, Vickie, best friend, Nicole Wester, and mother, Gail, looking for a DJ and flower arrangements for her big day. But they found other things, too.

“We’re getting lots of ideas for possible bridal shower locations, rehearsal dinner locations, transportation,” Gail Martin said. “Things we didn’t necessarily think about before we came here.”

Another one of those things was insurance.

Anjali Sud, a Liberty Mutual Insurance manager based out of Geneva, said marriage is the time to think about things such as policy consolidation or taking a policy out on the rings.

“Any time you have life-changing events, it’s a good time to review insurance policies,” Sud said.

In addition to the exhibitors, free food and dessert samples, the bridal expo featured free giveaways, including two all-expenses-paid wedding packages – one to Cancun, the other to the Caribbean. It also included a professional bridal model walk.

Engaged women and their entourages were not the only ones roaming the booths. Single-yet-committed women, including Alex Molina and Lindsay Roberts, attended.

“I’m planning a future wedding,” Molina said, who graduated from NIU in December. “And I’ve always wanted to go to this.”

Both Molina and Roberts said they want to have a church wedding with a big reception, and that both of them are not expecting their boyfriends to pop the question until after graduation.

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