White Glove Weddings Bridal Bar will be rolling out the red carpet for an April 27 grand opening of the Tri-Cities’ first bridal bar — a community resource for wedding and event planning.
Inside the newly renovated Kennewick storefront — which features white furniture and crystal chandeliers — couples will receive recommendations about local products and services to suit their individual needs.
“My goal is to inspire the community and promote the existing market, all in one place,” said Alexandra RoseLee, owner of White Glove Weddings Bridal Bar.
“White Glove Weddings Bridal Bar will be styled and managed to promote itself as a unique boutique, specifically targeting local clientele who have elevated expectations and to attract those celebrating a destination event locally.”
She said the bridal bar “also aims to attract vendors to participate … who can consistently deliver the highest level of service, are experienced, established, reputable and have been personally vetted by me.”
Clients will be able to sip wine at the bridal bar while discussing the vision for their event with RoseLee, who then will be able to direct them to the vendors best able to meet their needs.
Vendors can join on a month-to-month or yearly basis. So far, more than 60 local businesses have signed on.
“No one is ever successful alone. It takes a community of entrepreneurs to support one another and collaborate to grow an industry,” RoseLee said.
RoseLee intends the bridal bar to be a one-stop-shop for local wedding resources and also will be establishing a website for the previously uncharted Tri-Cities wedding and event industry.
Currently, the Tri-Cities is not a standalone wedding destination on either The Knot or Wedding Wire, two of the biggest wedding planning websites in the world, she said.
Tri-City vendors are lumped together with other cities, such as Seattle, Portland, Spokane, cities in Idaho and nearby Yakima and Walla Walla, making wedding research difficult for Tri-City couples, she said.
As a result, RoseLee said the Tri-Cities is losing millions of dollars in local wedding business to other cities.
“Why aren’t we having people come here for their weddings?” RoseLee said. “It is a ripple effect – if we can capture money here and expose our consumers to the talent and the resources that we actually do have here, it is better for our economy as a whole.”
Weddings are a strong segment of the Tri-City region’s tourism industry, said Karisa Saywers, director of marketing for Visit Tri-Cities.
“When a couple hosts their wedding at any one of the local venues, they’re bringing friends and family into the region,” Saywers said. “These visitors stay in hotels, dine in restaurants and perhaps fly in and out of the airport, all of which contribute to the more than $444 million visitors spend in the Tri-Cities region annually.”
Wendy West, co-owner of Sash wedding rentals in Kennewick, said she thinks the bridal bar will be a great starting point since many couples don’t have a true sense of what their budget should be in relation to the cost of wedding goods and services.
“A lot of people just want that easy button,” said West, who is a White Glove Weddings vendor. “I think Alexandra will offer that easy button. … I think it will help people tremendously.”
RoseLee plans to launch a website that includes a free directory of local wedding and event services. She added that the bridal bar will include only local purveyors of goods and services and venues, as opposed to big chains.
“It’s important that we support our local businesses,” she said.
She added that social media platforms such as Instagram (#wgweddings) and Facebook (@wgweddings) also will connect customers with local vendors and services.
“These advances in our social media presence will help facilitate growth in the bridal community and provide another access point to local Tri-Cities vendors,” she explained.
But ultimately, RoseLee said, it’s going to take a paradigm shift on the part of the community to create a cohesive Tri-City wedding industry online.
“We believe in community over competition,” RoseLee said. She said that’s part of the reason why 10 percent of what White Glove Weddings makes will benefit Safe Harbor Support Center and My Friends Place.
She said there’s no set pricing standards for different levels of event services, and there’s no baseline threshold in the Tri-Cities.
“When you walk into the bridal bar, it’s not exclusion; I will have diversity within all of the offerings that we have, but the reality is that you are going to pay a fair price for quality products and services. I am going to set the record straight on standards,” she said.
Population estimates indicate the Tri-Cities will continue to grow and that means competition is going to continue to get stiffer, RoseLee said.
“I encourage businesses—from an advertising standpoint—to brace for impact,” RoseLee said. “If you think what worked for you yesterday will work for you tomorrow, in regards to advertising and marketing yourselves, you’re probably going to become extinct.”
RoseLee began her career as a wedding planner 16 years ago in San Diego with the establishment of White Glove Weddings and has coordinated some 500 weddings, including multimillion-dollar productions in exotic locations, she said.
After moving to the Tri-Cities, RoseLee worked with vendors to encourage owners to offer a wider variety of options geared toward more elevated tastes. Though initially apprehensive, the owners agreed and have seen success, she said.
“We’re very traditional here,” she said. “But the people (who) are coming here are a lot less traditional and are going to want to invest in services and products that are unique and different.”
Experiences like that informed RoseLee’s decision to open White Glove Weddings in Tri-Cities, and now, the bridal bar, which will be open by appointment only, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday.
RoseLee said the 650-square-foot bridal bar will be used for free, private consultations with perspective clients, as well as provide space for partner vendors to advertise their wares and services and for meetings with clients.
Elegant, carved white custom furniture from Dubai and crystal chandeliers, complemented by velvet damask-print, pearlescent wallpaper and other accents will decorate the suite.
The total cost to renovate the retail space is $75,000.
“Everything in the space is custom, really custom,” RoseLee said. “Everything was ordered with the intention to create a ‘wow’ factor. … I didn’t want any of this to be familiar. I didn’t want any of it to be ordinary. I wanted it to be a completely different experience because that’s really how luxury brands are making their money.”
The April 27 grand opening and ribbon-cutting starts at 4:30 p.m. and features a vendor fair where bridal bar partners will provide samples, advertise their services and gain exposure.
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