Many women dream about their wedding day for decades. Pulling it all together in reality, though, can be a bit of a nightmare.

Finding vendors and sticking to budgets are just a few of the issues couples encounter en route to the altar.

But a group of professionals who provide wedding services have banded together to make the planning process a little less painful.

Known as the Matrimony Mock-Up, the staged wedding event began with Pam Ahrens, who owns the Horse Stamp Inn with her husband, Tim, and Veronica Howard, a local wedding planner. They approached Brunswick-based photographer, Leslie Hand with the idea of a wedding themed photo shoot.

“Pam and Tim had just stepped into the Horse Stamp Inn last August and did a ton of renovations. They really updated the place and now it offers a lot of new opportunities for weddings. So we spent some time together, about three hours, and talked about ideas for a styled shoot,” Hand said. “That just started kind of evolving.”

That idea morphed into what became the Matrimony Mock Up. Hand, Howard and Ahrens, along with the owners of the Rose and Vine in downtown Brunswick, decided to pull together any vendor who wanted to participate to essentially stage three mini weddings within one evening. They invited a flock of the brides and grooms to be to come and give it a try.

“We wanted to have the vendors ‘walk the walk’ to be able to prove themselves to the brides,” she said. “Our main goal is to pair brides with vendors.”

Hand said the Mock Up, which was held March 12 at the Horse Stamp Inn in Waverly, with roughly 46 in attendance, was not designed to be a competitive venture. She said the core group of hosts hope to add as many service providers as possible to future events.

“We started out looking for vendors in every area ... this is not a competition thing at all. We’re not limiting it to one trade or any certain vendors. We wanted to put as many options on the brides’ plates as possible,” Hand said. “For this event, we had 24 vendors who came out. It was totally free and we had a full catered dinner, dancing, corn hole and a DJ. We actually cut a cake and had a sparkler send off. It was three mini weddings within one. We wanted the brides to leave full of inspiration.”

While they weren’t sure how it was all going to shake out, by all accounts the first event was a rousing success. Hand said the attendees filled out comment cards which noted how surprised they were with three wedding run-throughs, she said.

“We are hoping to really expand it and hopefully open it up to 300 seats,” she continued. “We will probably just be doing one wedding next time, but we won’t repeat any of the looks. We are really going to go all out. It will be significantly larger than the last. We’re just so excited.”

While the idea is new to the area, the group is hoping to generate a lot of energy and create relationships between couples and vendors.

“We had heard of ‘fake weddings’ before, but we had never really looked into it that much. What’s different for us is that we pair the brides directly with the vendors,” she said. “We let them exchange information and it’s completely free. We had 24 vendors who came out for the last one. They all donated their time and services because they believed in this vision. We hope to expand it by at least 10 next time.”

That is slated for July with no specific date set. Hand and the rest of the team hope that other vendors will get on board. They operate a Facebook page where those interested can send message and get more information.

“We are looking for vendors and actually attendees too. Everyone is welcome to apply which they can do through our Facebook page or by emailing me at,” she said.

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