SUNDAY

The need to stage an elaborate storybook wedding might be traced to a desire to give that most important of high school dances a do-over. The wedding is just the senior prom uncensored: fewer, if any, condoms, nonexistent curfews, and much, much higher credit limits. Without a frugal mom pushing for an ABS knockoff dress over a designer original and with a stretch H2 instead of Dad’s Buick, couples are free to put on the bash of their dreams. They can spend as they see fit, hindered only by the guilt that they are frittering away the inheritances of their future progeny. And a nagging hunch that their bank-account-busting nuptials may outshine even their outsized love. But if brides and grooms can squelch those feelings, they are free to blow through retirement funds and condo-down-payment cash in a My Super Sweet 16–style blaze of excess. Here to expose the betrothed to the cornucopia of essential goods and services that they didn’t even know they needed is the Washington Bridal Showcase, which corrals 250 wedding-industrial-complex exhibitors under one roof. Learn about chocolate fountains, dove releases, and espresso-bar service! Learn more about cosmetic dentistry, oxygen bars, and fireworks! Personal trainers will counsel fiancées on thinning out their bodies before the big day, and financial planners will give similar advice in regard to their pockets. But best of all, the bridal show gives people a chance to network and build contacts with some of the finest wedding vendors in the area. A good thing, since, unlike the senior prom, a wedding isn’t necessarily a one-shot deal. Exercise unbridled spending power starting at 11 a.m. Sunday, Jan. 29, at the George Mason University’s Patriot Center, 4500 Patriot Circle, Fairfax. $10. (202) 397-7328. (Sarah Godfrey)