Wedding expo draws crowds to Hickory Knolls

Published: Monday, Jan. 20, 2014 8:01 a.m. CDT • Updated: Monday, Jan. 20, 2014 8:03 a.m. CDT
(Charles Menchaca –
Sue Peterson, owner of Sue Peterson Designs Unlimited, wraps flower bouquets with her granddaughter Lexi Leifel at a wedding expo Sunday at the Hickory Knolls Discovery Center.

ST. CHARLES – Brides-to-be gathered in the Hickory Knolls Discovery Center on Sunday to get ideas and meet vendors for their big day.

A total of 12 vendors were on hand to display their services, which included food, DJ, photography, jewelry, flowers and more. The expo brought in 45 separate families on Sunday, up from 19 during its first event in 2013, said Tricia Claypool, the center’s wedding and event coordinator.

Claypool attributed the growth in attendees to the inclusion of the expo in the latest St. Charles Park District winter brochure and also mentions of the event in local media.

The center did not really starting promoting itself as a wedding venue until 2012, and then an expo site until 2013, Claypool said. The center can host a variety of events, including wedding ceremonies, with seating for 125 people in the main exhibit hall. There also are the conference-style Twin Leaf rooms east and west, which together can hold about 160 people.

“After several of the events that we had, we then decided that we needed to have the expo to draw attention to the venue and also local businesses,” Claypool said.

Chris Bethel of St. Charles is considering Hickory Knolls as the rehearsal wedding dinner site for her son, who is marrying Bridget Orkfritz of Elgin. Bethel came to the Sunday expo with her daughter, Lindsay Hutchins, and Orkfritz to also look into a caterer for the dinner.

Orkfritz said she hasn’t done too much wedding planning yet, so she enjoyed visiting with the vendors. She is leaning towards having a photo booth after meeting with Tiffany Kufer of Wheaton-based Best Booth Plus.

Other vendors included Sue Peterson Designs Unlimited, who returned for a second straight year at the expo. Owner Sue Peterson handed out sample bouquets for the guests and answered questions about color trends and average prices for flowers.

Wedding budgeting is one thing that newly engaged Missy Sulita of Naperville is learning. She completed her first expo visit at Hickory Knolls on Sunday with her friend, Kelly Olen of Aurora.

“Some places can be very crowded and large,” Olen said of other expos. “The amount of vendors here is the right size.”

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