‘Fake Weddings’ Are the Hot New Way to Plan Your Actual Big Day

When you spend upwards of $30,000 on one day of your life (albeit a very important one), you’d better make sure you’re getting your money’s worth.

Actually, let’s be real — it’s your wedding day. No matter how much you spend, a lot of decisions have to be made. Narrowing down a guest list is complicated enough. By the time you’re thinking about flowers or cake, or what to buy vs. DIY, it’s understandably overwhelming.

Wedding photographer Callie Murray wanted to make wedding planning a fun experience for brides and grooms to be. So she turned it into one big party — the fake wedding of your real dreams.

A phony ceremony may sound strange, but it lets couples try out wedding vendors in a fun setting that at least approximates what their own big day will actually be like. Cakes? Decorations? Invitations? You can check it out.

Murray’s business, The Big Fake Wedding, invites guests to a ceremony, followed by dinner, drinks, and dancing. Tickets, which are exchanged at the event for an invitation, cost $25 — a steal compared to the average price per guest for dinner alone.

While the ceremony is staged, the model bride and groom are real. The Big Fake Wedding picks an already-married couple, and the ceremony serves as an opportunity to renew vows.

For LaBruce Trammell, it was actually a “vow refresher,” she jokes. She had only been married to her husband for three years when they agreed to be Charleston’s first fake wedding couple in June 2012.

“It’s very rare I get to sit down and really tell my husband all the things I appreciate about him. So it was fun to have the opportunity to say it in front of a room full of strangers,” Trammell said.

Trammell’s experience led to a vow renewal and a new job. The fake bride left a real impression on the company, and she was quickly hired as marketing director.

Each wedding incorporates an average of 30 local vendors, ranging in category — everything from florals, cake, seating, lighting, etc. Some categories have more than one, so guests get variety.

The vendors are given free range and decide the flow, provided it fits the evening’s theme. (Trammell was in Denver preparing for a Roma Red-themed wedding when we talked to her on the phone.) They receive a one-page PDF inspiration board with the theme, the color scheme, and a fun mood-setting song to listen to while they plan.

There are 31 events annually across 25 cities. Because of the geographical location and because some categories have more than one vendor, Trammell did not have an average cost for the event. But the event is not supposed to serve as a prepackaged wedding for couples to buy, but rather as an opportunity to weigh their options and think outside the box.

“We have three goals: Inspire brides and grooms to do something different, support small businesses, and encourage a solid and committed marriage,” Trammell said.

Annually, the events attract 6,000 guests of all budget types. Trammell said every event has “a handful” of DIY brides, who are encouraged to check it out. They could leave the event without booking any vendors but still get a sneak peek at the next big trend to inspire them.

“You see things that aren’t on Pinterest yet, because we encourage vendors to really push the creative envelope,” said Trammell. “We’re here to inspire, hands down.”

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