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Bride Meets Wedding offers online planning

SOLON– Aubrey Secrest’s fondness for weddings began at a very young age.
She spent her childhood in her mother’s floral shop and, in high school, began helping her make arrangements and bouquets for brides-to-be. Her brother also owned his own disc jockeying company that often performed at receptions in the area.
“I’ve always been around weddings and loved them,” Secrest said.
After moving to Dubuque in 2011, she helped a friend plan her own wedding as a way to meet people in the wedding industry. But her planning was complicated when she realized there were few online resources to help local brides. Secrest started the wedding website, Bride Meets Wedding, in 2012 to give Iowa and Illinois brides a more local, boutique-style resource when planning their weddings.
“I was having a hard time finding stuff online that was relevant and up-to-date. There wasn’t just one spot to find vendors and information,” Secrest said. “People could be planning from afar or locally and there was nowhere to go and find that information.”
It was a glaring need, but with her background in wedding planning, Secrest felt poised to fill it. Work on the website began in fall of 2011 and Bride Meets Wedding went live the following spring.
The website offers couples from the Rockford, Dubuque, Galena, Iowa City and Cedar Rapids areas planning tools for their big day. From approved vendor lists, to tips and tricks to make the planning process easier, to photos of past weddings, Secrets proposes to make Bride Meets Wedding one of the go-to bridal websites in the area.
“There are thousands of blogs and websites, but they all focus on the larger market. With that local feel, people can relate to it,” Secrest said. “So if brides see a wedding and it’s at Celebration Farm, they can get excited because maybe that’s where they’re having their wedding and they can do that same thing, rather than seeing a wedding at a beach.”
Secrest also plans and designs stylized wedding shoots that highlight trends in the wedding industry. A recent shoot was themed around the Iowa Hawkeyes, with photos of tasty black and gold cupcakes and Hawkeye-inspired centerpieces and table numbers.
For these shoots, Secrest works with local vendors, who provide décor, dresses, and more. The relationship is a mutually beneficial one. In return for their services, they get to use the resulting photos for their portfolios and advertising.
Travis Newell, of Unique Events in Iowa City, has partnered with Bride Meets Wedding several times for photo shoots and also advertises on its webpage. Newell feels that Bride Meets Wedding fills a niche in the market.
“Her site has a more intimate, local appeal than the ones for the bigger markets,” he said. “It has a more personalized feel.”
Unique Events will be one of the over 14 vendors participating in Secrest’s latest project, Veils + Cocktails. The event puts a unique spin on the typical bridal show by giving it a “girls night out” feel, offering food, cocktails and makeover sessions to local brides and their friends.
“It’s almost like a bachelorette party, where everyone can have fun and celebrate the bride,” Secrest said.
This year, the event will take place both in Dubuque and Solon. The Dubuque Veils + Cocktails will be held Friday, Jan. 9, 2015, at Stone Cliff Winery, while the Solon event will take place Jan. 17 at the Palmer House Stable Art and Event Center. More information can be found on Bride Meets Wedding’s website, bridemeetswedding.com and veilsandcocktailsevent.com.
Talking with brides and learning about their big days is one of the biggest joys Secrest gets out of working with Bride Meets Wedding. She loves hearing their stories and hearing how enthused they are while discussing their weddings.
“Brides always say ‘thank you so much for letting me relive my wedding again.’ It’s kind of neat to hear they get so excited, whether it’s been a couple months or almost a year,” Secrest said. “They get to look back on the day and share it with friends and family. It’s probably my favorite part of whole website.”