The seventh annual Ultimate LGBT Wedding & Anniversary Expo, hosted on Sunday by Between The Lines at the MotorCity Casino Hotel in Detroit, drew a crowd of more than 600 people who came out to visit with more than 100 LGBT-friendly vendors. In addition, the Expo featured three fashion shows, live entertainment, special guests, food and cake tastings, and plenty of giveaways.
“There were a lot of goodies,” said Christy Amon, who attended the Expo for the first time with her fiance Michelle Abraham. “It was a lot of fun. We’ve been to other expos and there were not as many giveaways.”
Amon, who plans to marry Abraham in October, said she found both a cake bakery and a photo booth she was interested in using for her ceremony, but that she appreciated the entire Expo.
“I enjoyed it all,” she said.” The Expo, which returned to MotorCity for the second year in a row, is still the region’s only LGBT-specific destination for couples planning their wedding to meet with inclusive vendors who respect their unions. It’s also the perfect place for straight allies to show their support for these vendors and the LGBT community.
One of those allies was Shannon Abraham, who is actually Amon’s mother.
“I thought the Expo was fabulous,” said Abraham. “I appreciate the love that’s in the room and how everybody is coming together for this purpose.”
Steve Armes and Brandon Crawford are planning to marry in September of 2018. The couple expressed their appreciation for the wide range of vendors that took place in the Expo.
“We found a lot of things to take into consideration,” said Crawford. “I’d have to say the variety was great. There was everything from venues to different styles of suits to photo booths and DJ’s. It’s like an all-inclusive one-stop shop.”
Jamie Ebaugh and Darren McGhee, who have been together 17 years and plan to tie the knot sometime in 2018, agreed.
“I just liked the variety of vendors that were out there,” said Ebaugh. “It’s all about making sure we find the right choice.”
Alex Myers and Jacob Pollet, together for almost four years, walked away from the Expo with several vendors in mind for their ceremony.
“I think we found a wedding band, a jeweler, a florist and a couple of different options for venues,” Myers said. “We already had our minister picked out.”
Venue vendors appeared to be very popular this year, according to Mary Seigle and Alexandria Oswald, who attended the Expo for the first time.
“There were a couple of venues that looked really nice, and possibly the bridal salon,” said Oswald. “Everyone was just very friendly and willing to help with the questions we had. It was a great starting point for us.”
Shannon D’Annunzio and Danielle Turner are also planning to marry in the fall of 2018. While it was Turner’s first time at the Expo, her fiance had last been two years ago.
“The first year I came was right before we were going to find out that marriage equality was going to happen,” said D’Annunzio. “There was definitely a lot of excitement then. But now it’s just a big relief. A lot more people are coming out. It’s really nice to see the community coming together. It’s just a different atmosphere compared to what it’s been before. Shoot, I even won something.”
At the beginning of their wedding planning journey, Turner said she picked up lots of good tips and ideas.
“There were a lot of really good venues, plus a lot of cake that I like,” she said. “Bombshell Bridal was here, which I really appreciated because as a plus size lady it’s hard enough to find any kind of formal wear as it is. So to see the representation of not only different identifies but different bodies and different types of people as a whole was great.”
Knowing the vendors were all LGBT-friendly made the Expo special for Turner.
“It’s a relief to know that I can reach out to these people and I know that they’re not going to say ‘I’m not going to make you a cake,'” she said. “It’s nice to know that they’re all here by choice. It’s just a very nice atmosphere and a lot of fun to be here.”