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Marriage, Nevada County style

In the old days when Cathy Whittlesey got married, “it was cake and punch” after a formal church ceremony, laughed the director of the Nevada City Chamber of Commerce.

Thirty-eight years later, as Grass Valley native Christine Austin plans her wedding, it’s garden services, sit-down dinners and a carriage ride through town.

Weddings have become much more complex, with brides often a bit older and financially well off than decades ago. Options also have expanded. As a result, costs for a wedding today – assuming 150 guests and a catered dinner – start at a minimum of $20,000, said wedding planner Donna Hoekstra, of Joy of Life Events in Penn Valley.



With western Nevada County offering a popular venue for both locals and out-of-towners getting hitched, the area’s wedding industry is flourishing. But area vendors often watch in dismay as couples from Sacramento and the Bay Area bring their weddings up here – and their D.J.s, photographers and caterers with them.

“They think we’re not sophisticated enough to give them what they want, so they come up here with their people from San Francisco or San Jose,” said Kathy Niesen, formerly of Kathy’s Hallmark in Grass Valley.




Even local people still think they need to drive to Roseville to find what they want, Niesen added. “We don’t want them to spend their dollars down in Roseville,” she said.

Sunday’s Wedding Fair, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the Miners Foundry Cultural Center in Nevada City, will give couples the chance to meet local photographers, disc jockeys, florists, video recorders, printers, caterers and representatives from area venues and formal wear outlets.

And Hoekstra and photographers Ingrid Nelson, of Myrtle and Marjoram Photography in Grass Valley, and Michelle Young, of Nevada City Photography, are organizing mixers for brides and others planning weddings to learn more about what area vendors offer. The first will focus on tips for better wedding photography: It starts at 6 p.m. April 2 at Myrtle and Marjoram. For details and to make a reservation, call Hoekstra at 432-4030.

Ann Austin, mother of the bride, will scout Sunday’s Wedding Fair for fashion trends, options and budget parameters for her daughter, who teaches in Turlock. When the elder Austin married, brides often made their own wedding gowns. Cotten eyelet and daisy bouquets were popular choices.

“Things were very simple … more earthy,” Ann Austin recalled. “What’s popular now? I have no idea what’s in vogue.”

Lynnette Chentnik and daughter Lanna Lewis, of Lynnette’s Bridal Boutique in downtown Grass Valley, offered some clues: Strapless taffeta gowns, tufted skirts, lots of beading and embroidery, taupe tuxedos set off by pink-and-brown bridesmaid dresses, vests instead of cummerbunds, and black shirts or shirts without pleats for the guys.

Bright colors also are hot, even red, blue or gold wedding dresses, and pinstrips for the men, Chentnik said.

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To contact City Editor Trina Kleist, e-mail tkleist@theunion.com or call 477-4230.

KNOW & GO

For the first time, the annual Wedding Fair – western Nevada County’s only full-service bridal event – will be hosted by the Miners Foundry Cultural Center.

The free event brings together many businesses offering wedding services – including gowns, tuxedos, cakes, catering, flowers, photography, printing, venues, video recordings and planning. Live music, door prizes and food samples will be offered.

It’s from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sunday at Miners Foundry, 325 Spring St., downtown Nevada City.


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