What goes into a UN-wedding show … Q&A with ROUGE

ROUGE champions itself as Ottawa’s “ultimate bachelorette party,” where brides-to-be can take the wedding show experience out of the conference centre and into the nightclub. In fact, ROUGE calls itself an un-wedding show! Featuring local-only vendors, ROUGE takes place on March 26 at Mansion Nightclub, with proceeds from the $10 tickets going to support the AIDS Committee of Ottawa. Amy Karlin, of Splendid Events, lets us know what goes into planning a sexy, sultry bridal bonanza.

Where’d the idea for ROUGE come from?

Last fall I was having coffee with local photographer Vanessa Dewson, and she mentioned she’d been wanting to get involved in a red-carpet event and wanted to know if I could lend a hand on the planning side. She wanted to give women a chance to get dolled up, have a great night out, and have some professional, high-fashion photos taken with their BFFs — an updated 2011 version of Glamour Shots, if you will!  We got talking with the ladies at Luxe Bridal who had been dreaming up something similar, they brought in the incredible team at Clould in the Sky Studios, and after a lot of coffee and brainstorming, Rouge was born.

Ottawa’s wedding show season sees a half-dozen bridal shows come through the city. Why do you think an ‘unwedding’ show is needed? And what is an unwedding show anyway?

An un-wedding show is an opportunity for brides to meet wedding pros outside the typical trade show environment.  Instead of going from booth to booth to meet vendor after vendor and collect business cards, they’ll actually get to see us at work as we throw an amazing celebration.  They’ll try delicious cupcakes, have incredible photos taken with their best friends, and see us flawlessly coordinate a great party, rather than just hear our sales pitches.  We’re letting our work speak for itself!

You’ve assembled a team of Ottawa-only vendors for the event. What type of wedding talent does the city offer? How do you think our local businesses vary from those in other cities?

The amount of top-notch wedding talent here in Ottawa never fails to amaze me.  In the past two to three years there’s been an explosion of small businesses — many owned by women — who truly focus on quality and client experience rather than quantity or sheer sales numbers.  Luxe Bridal, Auntie Loo’s Treats and Flowers Talk are a few of my personal favorites.

I think Ottawa’s local businesses are unique compared to those in other cities because we’re all so supportive of each other.  We all want to have a competitive edge but we’re also eager to help each other out, share our experiences and tackle challenges together.  That’s something I haven’t heard of in a lot of other cities, especially in the wedding industry.

We’ve all heard tales of, perhaps even experienced, a Bridezilla. Being an event planner yourself, how do you calm those nerves?

As a planner, I have to say that the best remedy for nerves is often good planning.  Knowing that a trained professional knows all the details of your wedding inside out and backwards goes a long way to maintaining piece of mind.  But everyone has a moment or two where they feel a bit overwhelmed.

To deal with those nerves, I always recommend that my client couples go out on a date a few weeks before the wedding where all wedding talk is strictly off-limits.  Sharing a few hours together with a great meal, a bottle of wine, and the love of your life is probably the best thing you can do to regain perspective and remember what’s really important: your relationship!

What’s been the most memorable wedding you, personally, have been involved with in Ottawa?

Great question!  The most memorable Ottawa wedding I’ve been involved in was last spring at the National Gallery of Canada.  The bride and groom were from two different backgrounds and created their wedding day in such a way that both sides of the family had a chance to learn a bit more about the other.  They wrote the entire wedding ceremony themselves, including only the traditions that were important to them as a couple: some from each side of the family and some new traditions they had started together.

The couple also relied 100 per cent on local businesses, from caterers and florists to artisan bakers and cheese makers. Since many of their invitees were from out of town and even from other countries, their guests really got to experience a made-in-Ottawa wedding. Basically, the couple’s personalities were evident in the entire day from start to finish, which made their wedding both meaningful and intimate.

ROUGE has partnered with the Aids Committee of Ottawa for this event. Tell us a bit about that charity.

From the very beginning, we knew we wanted to partner with an AIDS charity for ROUGE.  Even today, people suffering from AIDS often feel marginalized and stigmatized, so we were eager to work with a charity that provides hope and support to those same people.  We chose the AIDS Committee of Ottawa because they have such a long history here in Ottawa: Since 1985, the ACO has offered support, prevention and education services to the local community.

The ACO also operates The Living Room, a drop-in centre that provides free, confidential, practical and support services to people living with or closely affected by HIV/AIDS.

What will be the most special thing brides-to-be can expect from ROUGE?

I think the most special things brides can expect from ROUGE is that they get have a truly memorable night out with their best friends, meeting top-notch vendors and trying their products and services without feeling sold to. Plus they get to support a great cause, the ACO.  We like to add a little sass to the mix so there will definitely be a few sultry surprises that night — this is not your mamma’s bachelorette!

Are you planning to attend ROUGE on March 26? Send us a note!