A wedding fair with flair in Salida

Whether you prefer a traditional church wedding or want to say your vows in the beautiful Colorado outdoors, you’ll find the resources to customize your dream wedding at the Mi Amor wedding fair Saturday, Jan. 27, from 1 to 4 p.m. at the SteamPlant Event Center in Salida.

The wedding fair is hosted by Heart of the Rockies Wedding Association, whose members specialize in beauty consultation and salons, bridal registries, cakes and caterers, event rentals and linens, floral décor and hotels and lodging. They also include musicians, officiants and ministers, photographers, photo booths, venues and restaurants, and wedding and event planning, as well as recreational companies that offer “fun things to do and see” for visitors staying in town a few extra days.

The show’s new name Mi Amor: A Wedding Fair with Flair emphasizes love and inclusivity for all couples, says Cailey McDermott, who is in her fifth year as the association’s president. “All couples are welcome here,” she says. And even though it’s a wedding show, it’s also a great resource for anyone planning parties, reunions, corporate events or any kind of gathering.

Admission is free and everyone is welcome whether they are planning a wedding or not. “There’s no commitment to buy or book anything,” says McDermott, owner of Phreckles Photography.

Last year, a record 30 couples attended the fair, most of whom were planning destination weddings in the Arkansas Valley. “That’s a lot (of couples) for a little mountain town event,” McDermott says. Most were from the Front Range, but more couples nationwide are discovering the Ark Valley’s idyllic venues, first-class amenities and abundance of sunny days.

Instead of booths, the wedding fair is styled as a wedding reception so attendees can mingle with vendors. Guests can sample wedding cakes and caterers’ menus, sit at beautifully decorated tables, listen to live music, chat with wedding planners and win door prizes and giveaways, including discounts. New this year, a libations tasting area will give couples an opportunity to sample beers and other spirits they might like to serve at their weddings.

Aly Camerlo has been a wedding planner for 11 years and is owner of Knot Just Another Wedding. As part of the association’s planning committee, she designed the color scheme and floor plan for the wedding fair. “This year’s theme is neutral, natural tones such as white and champagne linens. And lots of candles and twinkle lights and garlands of fresh greenery along the centers of the tables,” she said. “People are getting away from big, floral centerpieces and going toward a more natural vibe.”

McDermott says the wedding fair is held in January to help couples get a head start on planning their weddings. “Even though we’re a small community, we’re busy,” she says. “You can no longer organize a wedding here in just a couple of months. Some vendors book up really fast, so you need to book early with them.”

Betsy Kolomitz, who owns Settings Event Rental with her husband, Christopher, said a current trend among couples is creating a rustic feel with wooden furniture and lots of greenery and wildflowers. The availability of portable dance floors, tents, fire tables and specialty linens means today’s couples can have it all, in urban or remote locations. And instead of rehearsal dinners, many of today’s couples are opting for casual welcome dinners at local bars and restaurants.

“The wedding fair is a great place to come and see all the talent and options available,” Camerlo said. “For a small county, we have so much to offer.”

“If you can dream it, we can do it,” McDermott says.

Those who pre-register at heartoftherockieswedding.com will receive a free glass of champagne.