The reviews are in for The Louisville Palace’s first foray into the wedding industry, and it’s two-thumbs up for The Louisville Palace Wedding Show, which it made its world premiere Friday evening within the confines of the historic theater. For five hours, from 6 to 11 p.m., brides and grooms, as well as their friends and family, could get to know potential vendors for their wedding, enjoy appetizers and samples, and take in live music, all within the entirety of The Palace.
The Palace Wedding Show, produced by Palace Director of Sales & Marketing Sydney O’Bryan with co-producers Ryan Armbrust of Boudoir Louisville  and Brittany Murphy of Four Leaf Photo , was meant to stand out from the traditional bridal shows held at the beginning of the year, aiming for a younger audience looking for more modern, personalized weddings. Around 500 brides pre-registered for free entry to the first-ever event, with a high turnout of brides, grooms, and their friends and family coming through the doors.
Amanda Chiara was one of the 500 brides to attend the show, along with her fiancé Michael, her parents and her bridesmaid. “We heard good things about the music and the food,” Chiara explained to Louisville.com when asked about what had brought her and her group to the venue, where she and her fiancé had become engaged in August 2012. However, the University of Louisville students plan to marry elsewhere. “We actually are getting married at the [Four Roses Bourbon Barrel] Loft at the BBC downtown, and our ceremony is at Julian Chapel in J-Town,” Chiara said, though the couple do plan to have photos taken at the venue for their nuptials in July.
For the grooms who weren’t into all things bridal, they could walk up to the Groom's Lounge on the second floor for appetizers, bourbon tastings, hand-rolled cigars, and, as Adam of Derby City Chop Shop noted , have some barbering done while picking up a gift certificate. Like many of the vendors and performers on-site, including PartyZone Entertainment , Bourbon Barrel Rehab , The Brown Hotel  et al, the men’s barbershop in The Highlands was invited by O’Bryan to attract potential customers, though with Derby City, Adam explained that they had offered their services during the Jane’s Addiction show at The Palace in March of 2012, which then led to their return for the Palace Wedding Show
While the grooms were shooting pool and being shaved on the second floor, The Crashers  were rocking the first floor, with lead vocalist Mark Maxwell singing covers from Neil Diamond, Journey and The B-52s to attendees throughout the venue, thanks to the power of wireless. In between sets, Crashers drummer and booker Max Maxwell told Louisville.com that though they’ve been at bridal shows in the past, the Palace Wedding Show “was the first bridal show [they’ve] played… everyone is so worried about how loud [their sets] would be. [We’re] real conscious of all the other vendors, so we wanna make sure that they’re able to do business, and not driving them crazy.” Guitarist Howard Gittli added that a lot of brides had asked about the band, including bookings through the end of 2014.
The co-producers also had success for their photography businesses. “I’ve talked to probably 20 or 30 brides so far,” said Murphy, “that are really interested. I could not have expected this to be any better,” noting to Louisville.com that when she arrived to set-up, there was a line waiting to get into the show. Armbrust said he had “a bunch of people through the [Boudoir Louisville] booth, and a bunch of appointments. Everybody seems to be having a good time,” he continued. “There’s more food than you can shake a stick at, so that’s a good problem to have.”
“I thought the show was wildly successful,” O’Bryan stated at the end of the night. “I’ve really not ever seen so many happy vendors and excited brides to be at a wedding show. And I am blown away by the success of our first show… almost to the point [that] it makes me a little verklempt… I think the vendors saw some great success with the attendance. I think the brides are very engaged, and I think that we brought the brides out that would court these vendors.” Regarding future plans for next year’s show and beyond, she said that she does plan to make this an annual event for the historic theater, especially now that there is a template in place to help smooth the rough edges from the first year. As for the Palace itself hosting weddings, O’Bryan said that she had “a handful of brides” she thought would be interested, with plans to bring them in and book them, allowing the venue to be “the next premiere wedding venue in the city.”
Photos: Louisville.com /Cameron Miquelon.