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Same-Sex Couples Get A Wedding Show Of Their Own

Brides, grooms and wedding planners are gearing up for this year's wedding season. A long-standing tradition in this preparation is the bridal fair where many couples get ideas for their big day. One local company hopes its unconventional wedding show becomes a tradition for many area couples. Wait staff circulate a ballroom of the Athletic Club of Columbus offering guests mimosas in champagne flutes and light hor' derves. Mock wedding cakes, floral arraignments and photography books line tabletops. Sound like a bridal show? Well, sort of. The event is called Fully Committed. It's a wedding show for same sex couples. J. Lauren Events' Jen Wooster-McBride came up with the concept. "Well, I had an increase in inquiries from same-sex couples, as well as I had a lot of straight couples, asking my position on marriage equality. They wanted to work with someone who they felt had the same values that they have. And so I kind of approached a few vendors and said, 'If I did this, would you participate?'" she said. That was a mere eight weeks ago. Twenty vendors, all of which are GLBT-owned or allied, signed on for the event. It's the first gay wedding show in Columbus. For Lindsey Aubel and Stephanie Bolek, who've been together five years, the event is a life-saver, or a wedding-saver. "We're here because we're in the short panic mode of, 'Oh my gosh do we have everything ready for our wedding?' which is going to be on June 15," Aubel said. Aubel said she would not have felt comfortable at a traditional wedding show because she says there it's all about the, "bride and groom, bride and groom, bride and groom. You know, we don't have the groom part of it. It always makes me feel uncomfortable when people kind of stereotype that and it's not always the case anymore." Brian Coovert owns a floral design company. He says it's about time Columbus had a gay wedding show. And he was excited to take part in the event as a GLBT-owned vendor. "We have to make everyone feel comfortable whether they're gay, straight, lesbian, bisexual, whatever. Everyone has to be comfortable coming in and know that there is a product there for them; we are there to help them in any way we can. But it's also a great way to connect with people in our community and to support each other as vendors even," Coovert said. Meeting others in the GLBT community was one of the reasons why Sabrina Powers and Brittany Hale of Columbus signed up for the show. But Hale said it's not the only reason. Their wedding is a year away. "To see what services that we can use that would be more accommodating to our lifestyle," Hale said. About 50 couples pre-registered for the event and just as many were expected to pay at the door. Currently, Ohio law does not permit same-sex marriages or civil unions. And Jen Wooster-McBride said she thinks because of the law, same-sex couples have a hard time seeing themselves going through the wedding planning process. But she said the event's turnout has shown otherwise. "As civil unions become closer to Ohio, so being legal in Illinois, Iowa, Washington D.C., Delaware's up for a vote right now. As that gets closer to our state, more and more couples see it as an option. And so I think that we're just kind of on the forefront of people really becoming interested in celebrating their marriage," Wooster-McBride said. Florist Brian Coovert envisions Fully Committed as an annual wedding show. "It's the first year and I guarantee you it won't be the last," he said. "And next year it'll be even bigger and better."