Planning the day, Whidbey style: Wedding show puts island vendors on the map

Valerie Heggenes presents her cake toppers during the Weddings on Whidbey and Events Tour on Saturday, Nov. 9. Heggenes designs and creates cake toppers by hand.  - Celeste Erickson / The Record
Valerie Heggenes presents her cake toppers during the Weddings on Whidbey and Events Tour on Saturday, Nov. 9. Heggenes designs and creates cake toppers by hand.
— image credit: Celeste Erickson / The Record

Buses full of newlyweds, mothers, and wedding and event enthusiasts toured the Coupeville area Saturday for the inaugural Weddings on Whidbey and Events Tour.

The occasion featured more than 45 vendors ranging from the island’s premier venues to catering services and wineries.

Shuttle buses took the 200 ticket holders to five locations across Central Whidbey where vendors showed off their best work.

The tour began at the historic Crockett Barn in Coupeville followed by Willow Pond Lodge and Lakehouse, Ciao, bayleaf and concluded at Garrison Hall at Fort Casey Inn. Each stop featured a handful of vendors for people to browse.

Deborah Jacoby and her mother, Marilyn, attended the event for her upcoming Labor Day weekend wedding at Fireseed Catering.

Jacoby, a Seattle resident, chose Whidbey because she wanted a destination wedding that was convenient for her guests. She also wanted to show off her love of the area to her out-of-state visitors.

“The island provides a nice representation of the Northwest,” she said.

The tour gave her the opportunity to meet some of her current vendors including Tobey Nelson of Vases Wild. 

Jacoby had been emailing Nelson and said it was nice to meet her in person.

She had a couple of vendors lined up before the event, but she said it was hard to do Internet searches of potential vendors in the area. Before coming to the tour she was relying on word-of-mouth recommendations. Jacoby said the tour was also helpful in identifying other services offered on the island for her wedding.

One innovative vendor on the tour was Valerie Heggenes, owner of Cake Toppers in Langley. Heggenes showed her hand-made cake toppers for the first time at a wedding show.

It was nice to see such a good representation of vendors on Whidbey at the tour, she said. Heggenes makes each topper using a polymer clay. She begins with a photo of the couple to make a caricature and then captures details of their personalities and the planned wedding day. She said she often gets requests for sporting accessories and props.

The toppers are also made for other special events and can include animals. Each topper takes between two to three weeks to create and costs start at $300.

Heggenes has been making cake toppers for 10 years. She said she enjoys working with such joyous people.

“The best part is the happy occasion of a couple in love,” she said.

Danielle Lafleur-Dutta of Dutta Photography in Everett said the tour had a good, relaxed vibe, which was different from past wedding shows she has attended. She said being at other shows is like trick-or-treating with the vendors. Here the crowd “ebbs and flows,” allowing her to enjoy more time with each person who comes to the table.

Lafleur-Dutta said she often photographs weddings on Whidbey Island and the tour gave her a good opportunity to have more personal time with potential clients.

Gloria Mickunas, owner of Whidbey Party Girls! and organizer of the event, said the first year of the tour was phenomenal.

Mickunas is already planning next year’s tour showcasing venues on South Whidbey.

She said the tour provided a lot of newlyweds some meaningful communication with potential vendors.

“(The tour) was a great day for Whidbey to get up to bat,” she said.


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