Ashley Steimle, right, of Toms River, registers with one of the many vendors at Red Bank’s first Wedding Walk Saturday. (Photo by Dustin Racioppi)
By DUSTIN RACIOPPI
If there’s one thing a bunch of brides to-be can agree on, it’s that when taking a day to map out a wedding, 65 degrees and sunny in downtown Red Bank beats climate-controlled and crammed into a hotel lobby or V.F.W. hall.
Had it not been for the borough’s first Wedding Walk on Saturday, women from all over New Jersey said they might have gone the traditional route of mass wedding planning, usually held in banquet facilities.
“I’ve been to the wedding conventions in hotels, and this is a far better experience,” said Tara Fantini, of Ocean.
Cynthia Perez, of Staten Island, peruses boudoir and wedding albums by Red Bank photographer Brandi Grooms at Sweetest Sin. (Photo by Dustin Racioppi)
Like so many others who flocked here, Fantini said she saw a whole different side to Red Bank, aided by tour guides and bows on storefronts to show participation in the event.
“I didn’t even know some of these things were here,” she said.
That was the point Wedding Walk planners had in mind when they thought up the idea. RiverCenter Executive Director Nancy Adams said the purpose was to expose all the wedding-related businesses the town has to offer and give people the idea that Red Bank is a destination for wedding planning.
At least 300 prospective brides and in-laws came out for the walk, Adams said.
Adams had her hands full Saturday, directing foot traffic and playing roving liaison. It gave her a chance to get some immediate feedback, she said, noting that she ran into a group of people who had never been to Red Bank before.
“They all went nuts. They were like, ‘Oh my god, this is the best thing. You should do this more often,'” Adams said.
Already, there’s been talk that the walk may become an annual tradition, perhaps even biannual, Adams said.
Judging by the reaction of downtown merchants, another walk or two each year seems likely.
Matt Fisher, a manager at A.H. Fisher Diamonds, said business was brisk Saturday, but the store was also able to make connections with many people they’ll be able to follow up with. Undoubtedly, the walk was a boon for his business, he said.
“Absolutely. Saturday is our busy day, especially with weather like this, but clearly this is more than an average day by a longshot,” he said.
One young bride to-be tries to find a wedding ring at A.H. Fisher Diamonds. (Photo by Dustin Racioppi)
Downtown, the scene didn’t appear over the top. Many non-Wedding Walk couples and families took advantage of the nice weather to take their dogs out, pop into stores and sit outside to eat. Oddly enough, a couple stores downtown weren’t even open, Adams said.
But others, like Ballew Jewelers, took advantage of the crowds and stationed employees with neon yellow signs to direct people to the store for a retirement sale.
Overall, it was, in the words of many, a successful day. Toms River resident Ashley Steimle said the walk was a welcomed alternative to your run-of-the-mill planning day.
“I like the freedom of the event,” Steimle said, and gushed how one business laid out rose pedals on its floor. “Some of the vendors took it seriously and really made it special.”