EAST OF FLORENCE — Set back from a winding dirt road, in a stone chateau overlooking a 35-acre vineyard, four fashion models showcased glistening pearl bridal gowns in front of about 70 people.

At Sunday’s 2013 Summer Bridal Show at The Vineyard at Florence, prospective spouses perused 13 vendors from photography, floral design, gown, catering and wedding planning companies.

“It’s not a really huge event, but the people they brought in are pretty good vendors,” said Cliff Sanchez, who plans to marry Tammy Bailey in December 2014. “We’ve been to convention centers and it’s a little overwhelming. This is a lot more intimate. There are less vendors, but they seem to be of higher quality, and the setting is very inviting.”

Chris Cowan, designer and owner of Harker Heights’ Confetti Rentals, said her company allocates 60 percent of its funds to six yearly bridal shows, and arranged a wedding display on the side grass, which consisted of chairs, a stage and silk cordons.

“It took 12 man-hours to set this up,” she said. “It’s very labor-intensive. … I never just go with one little table. I bring it.”

Cowan and her 10 employees dedicate about 29 percent of their time to wedding preparation and breakdown, and Cowan works about 85 hours a week October to June, she said. The weddings pay off the time investment.

“That’s what makes it all worth it to me,” Cowan said. “For the couple, it’s the one day they can call theirs. We’re going to create this atmosphere that helps you as a unit, and individually as well. We try to coalesce everything into a small amount of time.”

Round Rock’s Catering with a Twist offered sweets to attendees. Sales associate Tara Shepherd said the company offers complete same-day planning in cases of emergency.

Along with magazines, bridal shows effectively advertise the company.

The open house included vendors from Austin, gowns provided by Coccinella Bridal in Salado, and free champagne.

Organizer Brittney Rettig-Hidalgo said The Vineyard at Florence hosts two bridal shows a year.

“It’s a great way to showcase everyone’s talents.”

Contact Brian Bradley at bbradley@kdhnews.com or (254) 501-7567

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