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Wedding market to feature more than 50 businesses at Civic Center
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Wedding market to feature more than 50 businesses at Civic Center

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Tuxedo-clad men with roses in hand will welcome guests to the masquerade-themed Black Hills Wedding Market. The second annual event celebrates brides and the region’s small businesses.

From the old-fashioned simplicity of cotton candy to interactive wedding apps, brides can find an array of services for their celebrations. The wedding market will include more than 50 small businesses from the Black Hills and beyond.

Black Hills Wedding Market takes place Thursday from 5 to 9 p.m. at Rushmore Plaza Civic Center. Admission is $5, or free for those 12 and younger. Event organizer Rachelle White said protective facemasks are optional for guests and vendors and hand sanitizer will be available. Booths are spread out to provide space for social distancing and for displays of all sizes, including a limousine.

“The most creative and talented wedding professionals you will find will be at the wedding market. It’s open to anybody. You don’t have to be a bride to attend,” White said. “We’re trying to elevate the bridal show so it’s more like what you see in a bigger city.”

“Each vendor has the room and freedom to be creative and showcase what they have to offer,” she said. “I want vendors to feel like they’re valued, and I’m going to do what I can to connect them with the right client.”

COVID-19 prompted many couples to reschedule their weddings to later in 2020 or in 2021, White said. A trend brides will be seeing is weddings taking place on days other than perennially popular Saturdays.

“I think there’s going to be date restrictions. Brides might have to be more creative about the days of the week they’re having weddings. They might be having more Sunday afternoon weddings,” she said.

Photographers, caterers, designers and more will be at Black Hills Wedding Market to help brides plan their big day. Brides can sample foods from local catering companies and beer from Rushmore Brewing. There will be a cash bar, prize giveaways, and a photo booth with masquerade masks in keeping with the evening’s theme, White said.

The traditional fashion show is going high-tech this year, White said. Rapid City designer Justin Straw of Justin Straw Designs has developed an interactive gallery for brides to see the latest bridal fashions, White said.

“It’s going to be a walk-through, and exciting for brides like they’re in the moment,” she said.

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Technology is another growing trend in weddings.

“Brides are looking into how they can stream their weddings so family members who can’t make it or travel can be part of their day,” Rachelle said.

If grandma can’t come to the wedding, for example, couples can use an interactive app that lets faraway family members request songs during the reception or upload photos during the event, White said.

“I think some wedding professionals are getting super creative about how they can still make a bride and groom feel like they can have all their family there during this time,” White said. “For (family members) to still feel like they can be part of something is really important.”

White also launched and owns an online women’s boutique, Styleocracy (styleocracy.myshopify.com/). Her event-planning business, R. White Events, and shows like Black Hills Wedding Market have evolved as White saw the need for small businesses like hers to promote themselves and their services.

“My boutique is focused on serving women of all sizes and ages. Finding plus-size fashion has always been hard. It’s a hit to your confidence. I wanted all women to have a place where they can shop and they feel beautiful,” she said.

“There are so many talented individuals who can’t afford a storefront. It’s important for the community to meet them and see what they have to offer,” White said. “It’s cultivating relationships with other people who think it’s important to shop small.”

White’s next event, the second annual Winter Marketplace Pop-Up, is coming up Nov. 14. Openings are still available for vendors who would like to participate. Visit R White Events on Facebook or contact White at rwhiteevents@gmail.com.

The Winter Marketplace will be from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Nov. 14 in the Barnett Arena at Rushmore Plaza Civic Center, with 100 or more vendors participating, White said. Admission is free.

“It’s a great place to get a jump on Christmas shopping. You can find anything from an insurance agency to small hand-crafted items,” White said. “You can find really awesome things.”

“They’re local vendors so you can support them year-round,” she said. “That sale you give them, buying their barbecue sauce or handmade item is life-changing for some of them.”

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