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LGBTQ couples shop around wedding expo
by Melissa Wasserman
2018-03-21

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RainbowWeddingNetwork hosted its 10th annual LGBTQ Wedding Expo at the Hotel Chicago on March 18.

RainbowWeddingNetwork launched, in 2000, at the hands of partners Cindy Sproul and Marianne Puechl and, in 2003, expanded to begin producing LGBTQ wedding expos. The group's headquarters are located in Asheville, North Carolina, and is currently operated by a four-person team. RainbowWeddingNetwork does events all over the country with an event almost every month.

This was the 10th annual expo in Chicago, providing a space for people to check out a variety of LGBTQ-friendly vendors, including food, music, wedding venues, photography, floral, wedding officiants and property for future homes, among other areas and services.

"The mission of our expo is to connect LGBT couples with businesses who support equality and support the community," said Lauren Stockard, event planner and marketing assistant of RainbowWeddingNetwork. "We like to have more of a boutique expo. We feel that it's more personal and as you can see, it's a smaller expo, but the vendors and the couples get more one on one time with each other."

This year's Chicago expo, a free event, welcomed about 30 vendors with over 400 people expected to attend ( based on online RSVPs ).

"I know sometimes at larger shows, vendors can feel like they're just throwing business cards at people because there are so many people, so this way they can talk and have a conversation and really get to know the couple and get an idea of what they're planning for their wedding and things like that," said Stockard.

RainbowWeddingNetwork holds expos and also has an online directory with all LGBT-friendly, equality-supporting businesses.

"We reach out to businesses and field businesses and really make sure they are supporting equality," said Stockard of how vendors are vetted for RainbowWeddingNetwork expos and the directory.

This year's event raffle had eight prizes including gift cards and gift baskets from different vendors that were present. The grand prize raffle giveaway was a full wedding ceremony valued at more than $2,500 for 30 guests at Pine Manor, courtesy of GayWeddingChicagoSite.com and Rev. Pam Magunson's wedding partners.

"I thought it was great," Stockard said of the 2018 Chicago expo. "I love doing the events because everyone's just so happy and they're planning such a special day and it's cool to have a little, tiny part in being able to help them meet these vendors and to plan such a big, special moment."

For more information on RainbowWeddingNetwork, visit RainbowWeddingNetwork.com .

'March for Our Lives'

events March 24

On March 24, Chicago will be among the many cities taking part in the student-led "March for Our Lives" movement—a national day of action organized in response to the recent school shooting in Parkland, Florida.

Almost 700 "March for Our Lives" sibling marches are planned across all 50 states, with the flagship event taking place in Washington, D.C.

The official Chicago event will start in Union Park, 1501 W. Randolph St., at 11 a.m. Other marches are slated to take place in Downers Grove, Glen Ellyn, Frankfort, Huntley, Vernon Hills, Elgin, Schaumburg and Oswego as well as the Indiana cities of Valparaiso and Highland.

In part, the Chicago webpage states, "March for Our Lives Chicago includes the experiences of people of color, women, and LGBT individuals in our fight to make the streets safe for children again. In 2017, 3456 Chicago citizens were victims to gun violence. We cannot have one more."

Visit MarchforOurLives.com/events or email mpianta@gpg.com .


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