United at the Union draws couples to Iowa State venue

The Memorial Union’s Great Hall was decorated to look like a mock wedding reception, and vendors surrounded the edges hoped to gain new clients on Sunday at the United at the Union bridal expo. Vendors included bridal boutiques, wedding dress shops, caterers, photographers, venues and even makeup artists.

Sierra Hoeger, Isabel Gebers

Rain on your wedding day is supposed to bring good luck, right? United at the Union is hoping that’s the case with their bridal expo that took place Sunday. With hopes of drawing in a crowd of 350 or more potential clients, the event also brought with it some rain. 

Umbrellas, rain boots and ponchos stood out among the glamor and elegance of wedding dresses, string lights and table settings. 

The Memorial Union’s Great Hall was decorated as a mock wedding reception, and vendors surrounded the edges, hoping to gain new clients. Vendors included bridal boutiques, wedding dress shops, caterers, photographers, venues and even makeup artists. 

Future brides and grooms, family members, current Iowa State students, alumni and those curious enough to wander in were present at the expo. 

Groups of people waiting outside the Great Hall were lined up minutes before the event started, eager to find out what was inside or how the Great Hall would look as a wedding venue. 

For Jessica Regenscheid, coming to United at the Union was about getting ideas for her wedding as well as looking at the Memorial Union as a possible venue.

“We’ve seen pictures,” Regenscheid said. “And I think I’ve had friends that have gotten married here and we thought it was gorgeous. Plus, we both met here; we thought it would be a fun idea to come back here.”

Regenscheid graduated from Iowa State in 2016 and met her fiance in her dorm. For the couple, returning to Iowa State for their wedding made sense, considering it was where their relationship began.

Multiple vendors have been involved with weddings at the Memorial Union in the past. United at the Union serves as a chance to gain new clients and reconnect with familiar faces as well. 

Compared to other bridal expos in the area, the Memorial Union provided a smaller space for event goers to connect with more vendors and get a better idea of what an Iowa State wedding could entail. 

“This one is a lot more intimate it seems like,” said Barb Danielson, a photographer at the event. “There’s less vendors, so I feel like it’s a little less overwhelming for brides.” 

Danielson runs her own photography company based in Iowa City, and while she loves doing sunset portraits of couples, she has photographed some of the more wild moments of weddings, including one where the bride did the worm in her dress. 

Andrea Mead, an independent sales director for Mary Kay, enjoyed the set up for the expo. 

“Honestly I love the environment, I think it’s beautiful in here,” Mead said. “I just think it’s spaced out well. I think it just gives women a lot of chance to roam and connect and find where they want to be.” 

Once a bride chooses to go with Mary Kay for their makeup needs on the big day, sales directors for Mary Kay will contact brides to set up a time to meet with one of their consultants to try the product and perfect the look, ironing out any kinks beforehand. This ensures everything runs smoothly on the big day. 

The chance to talk to potential clients one-on-one and creating personal relationships seemed to be the theme between vendors and clients Sunday. 

“It’s a little bit smaller, but it’s nice and intimate, and people seem to be a bit more comfortable with talking to vendors,” said Perry Bridal employee Kerri Heinz. Compared to other expos she’s attended with Perry Bridal, this one seemed to be more personal. 

Perry Bridal is located in Urbandale, Iowa, and offers dresses as well as alteration needs for brides and bridesmaids dresses. 

Celebrations Party and Rental is a one-stop shop for those planning a wedding. Located in Ames, Celebrations offers various decorating and retail needs for clients. 

We’ve done business with the Union for awhile, so they contacted us for different things and we’ve been doing weddings with them for a long time,” said Patty Tucker, Celebrations manager. “It’s beautiful [at the expo], the set-up is nice and there’s a lot of brides that have reserved, so it’s gonna be very beneficial for everybody.”

Another couple, who have dated since 6th grade and recently got engaged at a park in Ames, came to the expo to starting to gain ideas for their wedding. 

“We’re Iowa State students here, my mom saw it on Facebook and it seems like a good way to start getting ideas,” said Emily Carley, a junior in kinesiology and health. 

Carley and her fiance Cole Weitzel agreed the food samples from catering vendors were their favorite part of the expo, holding up the cake samples they received. Carley also added she was going to be trying on dresses here in Ames and was gaining dress ideas from various vendors at the expo. 

“There was a huge rush at the beginning, it was just really exciting to see everyone come in and be happy,” said Grace Nelson, special events assistant of the expo. “It’s going really good, we’re really excited about this whole thing.”

Although this is the first year United at the Union has been hosted at Iowa State, the Memorial Union is going to be home to more weddings as the year goes on, proving itself to be a top-notch wedding venue here in Ames.