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Wedding World then to now

Kaitlyn Riley



Even after being around for decades, the honeymoon phase of Wedding World in La Crosse never fades.

Wedding World is a staple that has brought brides and bridal parties to the La Crosse area since the 1970s. Samantha Strong, the morning show host with Classic hits 94.7, said for many, it became a family tradition.

“I remember back in the day when Keith [Carr] and I were hosting Wedding World and being models,” Strong said. “We would run into people who came to Wedding World in the 70s, and then they were bringing their child to Wedding World. Some of the charm of it was seeing those people who came for their wedding and then their daughter or son was getting married.”

A one-stop shop to connect with local businesses, Strong saw how trends and tastes evolved over the years.

“For a while, things got bigger and bigger,” she laughed. “The larger bows, the bigger shoulder pads, and you would end up with these wedding dresses that were enormous with the giant bows on the back end. That was really quite something.”

She also saw color schemes change from bright fuchsias, lime greens, and tangerine in the late 80s and early 90s to more of a subtle phase of muted colors like creams and browns.

“Sometimes, those colors were a little difficult for some people in the wedding party to wear,” Strong joked.

Susie Carlson, agency and event specialist with Mid-West Family La Crosse, fondly remembered seeing cakes literally blossom in the late 80s and early 90s.

“It was the first time ever flowers were on cakes,” Carlson said. “It had not been done before, and it was stunningly beautiful. Before that, the cake was just cake with tiers and frosting. All of a sudden the trend was to use real flowers, and it just took cakes to a whole new level.”

The women saw shoes shift from expensive heels to casual tennis shoes, as well as tuxedos that were suddenly available with camo or blaze orange vests, and grooms embraced cowboy hats and western-style tuxes.

Regardless of what style, color, or flavor wedding parties are looking for, Wedding World La Crosse presents a chance for brides and grooms to talk with local businesses and put plans to paper after a year of disruptions because of COVID-19.

“The businesses that I’ve been working with are very excited to get back to doing what they do,” Carlson said. “This is the lifeblood of who they are.”

Wedding World will look different than in years past to respect safety guidelines in the pandemic, but organizers anticipate success from the show.

“I think you’ll get a little bit more time with the exhibitor that’s there,” Carlson said. “If you’ve got questions, you can spend a little bit more time with that person. We always tell our exhibitors to come prepared to do business. I would invite the brides to also make sure you have your calendar with you. If you haven’t booked a caterer yet, maybe Wedding World is the day you book a caterer, or maybe it is a photographer.”

A full list of the vendors who will be at Wedding World 2021 can be found online. The event is Sunday, March 7 at the La Crosse Center. Free tickets are still available online.

Charlotte’s Bridal will host a virtual fashion show at wedding world 2021.

Kaitlyn Riley’s passion for communications started on her family’s dairy farm in Gays Mills, Wis. Wanting to share agriculture’s story, she studied strategic communications and broadcast journalism at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. In college, she held officer positions with the Association of Women in Agriculture and Badger Dairy Club while volunteering as a news reporter for the college radio station. She also founded the university’s first agricultural radio talk show, AgChat. In her professional career, Kaitlyn has worked in radio, print and television news doing everything from covering local events to interviewing presidential candidates, and putting back on her barn boots to chat with farmers in the field. Today, Kaitlyn can be seen covering local stories that matter to you in the La Crosse area.

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