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Alaska gets its first 'inclusive wedding expo' aimed at LGBT couples

  • Author: Michelle Theriault Boots
  • Updated: June 27, 2016
  • Published June 26, 2016

Mister Gay Alaska Tracey Wiese as “Dr. Feelgood” and Miss Gay Alaska Andrew Castelli as “Ivanna K.” took to the stage for a wedding-themed drag performance during “An Inclusive Wedding Expo” at the Egan Center Sunday. (Bill Roth / Alaska Dispatch News)

Alaska got its first "inclusive wedding expo" catering to LGBT couples on Sunday, a year to the day after a U.S. Supreme Court decision affirmed the right of same-sex couples to marry nationwide.

The "Love for All" wedding expo was held in a large meeting hall at the downtown Egan Center in Anchorage Sunday, at the end of a week of PrideFest celebrations. 

"We're celebrating history and making history," said Nicole Poole, the current Aurora Empress of the Imperial Court of All Alaska, the LGBT social club and charitable organization that put on the expo.

The group brought 24 vendors eager to sell wedding dresses, cakes, venues, DJ services, cupcakes and wedding jewelry to same-sex couples. Plenty of vendors wanted in, Poole said.

"There were lots of people saying 'we really needed this,' " Poole said. 

About 150 people walked through the expo on Sunday, according to the group.

Orainda Beile, the owner of Orainda's Bridal Boutique, said she had been hoping for an event like the expo for a year.

"Couples just need to know that we stand by them," she said. "I do this because I love weddings, all weddings."

The event featured a runway show of traditional wedding dresses and tuxedos as well as a drag performance set to "Just The Way You Are" by Bruno Mars.  The Imperial Court of All Alaska also published a vendor directory of companies eager to work with same-sex couples.

The Imperial Court of All Alaska, founded in 1972, is the state's oldest LGBT social club. That it is now hosting a wedding expo that vendors clamored to be a part of is a sign of how much times have changed, said Thomas Azzarella, whose club title is Denali Emperor.

"It's a testament to how inclusive the state has become," Azzarella said. 

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