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Save the Date

By Frank Ruggiero (

Article Published: Feb. 27 | Modified: Mar. 3
Save the Date

From left, ACES vice president CeCe Hampton, Hospitality House director of development Todd Carter and ACES president Elizabeth Hempfling invite newlyweds-to-be to the High Country Wedding Expo March 2, with all proceeds benefiting Hospitality House of Boone.

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Do you take this expo to be your one-stop wedding shop, to browse and peruse, to register and reserve, till 4 p.m. do you part?

If so, the High Country Wedding Expo could be love at first sight, especially for soon-to-be newlyweds.

Returning to the Summit Trail Solarium in Appalachian State University’s Plemmons Student Union from 1 to 4 p.m. Sunday, March 2, the High Country Wedding Expo offers current, future and “dreaming-to-be” brides the chance to explore all area wedding vendors have to offer — all under one roof.

“We have close to 70 vendors that are going to be there, promoting their services in the High Country, everything from cakes to planning to venues to photography, the whole gamut,” said event organizer Elizabeth Hempfling, president of the Association of Consultants and Event Services, which presents the annual event. “This is designed for the brides who are trying to seek out their vendors in one afternoon and knock ’em all out.”

But it’s not just for weddings.

“It could be for a bridal shower, baby shower; it doesn’t have to be a wedding,” Hempfling said.

Wedding planning doesn’t have to be stressful and arduous, she said, adding that the expo features plenty of entertaining aspects, from DJs and musicians playing their tunes to a bevy of caterers offering delectable samples.

“Each vendor will have their own area to interact and communicate with people asking questions, showing what their services are and what they have to offer,” Hempfling said, describing the expo as “the chamber of commerce of the wedding world.”

And she would know. Hempfling operates Events by Elizabeth Ashley and Wedding Resource Center on King Street in downtown Boone.

“I would advise (expo attendees) to come with an open mind and enjoy it, have fun, meet people, taste the food, interact and ask questions,” she said. “Try and enjoy the process and not let it get overwhelming.”

Soon-to-be grooms are also welcome.

“It could be the smartest move the groom could make, because they could potentially make a lot of decisions that afternoon, rather than have him dragged around throughout the whole process,” Hempfling said. “Then afterward, he can take her out for a nice dinner to celebrate.”

She offered another term for it: “Brownie points.”

“It’s nice, because in one afternoon, we’re able to again help these folks who are getting married, but also give back to the community,” Hempfling said.

She’s referring to the expo’s other purpose — fundraising. Admission costs $8 or five canned or dried food items, with all proceeds benefiting Hospitality House of Boone.

“These are essential items that are so important, but we take them for granted every day,” she said. “It’s a simple act, but a gesture that makes an impact on our community, and it’s much needed.”

The food-raiser comes just in time for Hospitality House, which has again accepted the annual Feinstein Challenge. Presented by the Alan Shawn Feinstein Foundation, the challenge divides $1 million among hunger-fighting organizations throughout the nation. Every dollar or food item raised is eligible for partial matching from the Feinstein Foundation.

“(The expo) will serve as our kickoff event, so everything we collect will be submitted for a partial match from the Feinstein Foundation,” said Todd Carter, director of development at Hospitality House.

“It’s important to ACES that we give back to our community,” Hempfling said in a news release. “While the High Country is home to some of the most scenic locales and experienced event professionals, we also have the third highest rate of poverty in North Carolina.”

Last year’s expo raised more than $1,000 and 500 pounds of food for Hospitality House, and Carter is looking forward to what 2014’s has in store.

“It’s just really fun,” he said of the expo. “I’ve got to hand it to ACES. They’re an incredibly fun, professional organization, but the fact that they want to give back and put a spotlight on hunger and poverty in our region is extremely commendable.”

ASU’s Plemmons Student Union is accessible via College and Locust streets. Parking in campus lots and parking decks is free during weekends, unless otherwise posted.

For more information, visit, email ( , or call (828) 919-6750.

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