By Emily Wolfe Explore Big Sky Managing Editor

BOZEMAN – Now in its 10th year, the Downtown Bozeman Bridal Walk draws an estimated 1,000 people, including 200-250 brides, according to Ellie Staley, program director for the Downtown Bozeman Partnership.
The 2014 bridal walk is set for Saturday, April 12, from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Main Street, and will roll out the red carpet for brides, grooms and their entourages, says Staley, whose organization hosts the event alongside retailers and community sponsors.

About 40 businesses are participating this year, with offerings including dresses, rings, invitations, flowers, catering, photography and gift registries.

The downtown jewelry store Alara has been involved with the bridal walk since the first year, and its owner Babs Noelle says she’s seen it grow.

“Because of the quality of the retailers downtown, we have something very different to offer than the other bridal events in the area,” said Noelle, also president of the Downtown Bozeman Association.

Alara has partnered with the Leaf and Bean, the coffee shop across the street that will display cupcakes in the jewelry store, and Noelle will also offer giveaways, discounts and free champagne.

“For businesses, this is an opportunity to attract new customers,” Noelle said. “Instead of having a small booth setup at the MSU SUB or the mall, you can welcome the brides, their friends and their families into your business – your home – and say, ‘Look here’s what we’re about.’”

Most of the attendees are Montana brides, Staley said, adding that there is always a smaller group from out of state planning their weddings here.

“The Montana bride is certainly a little different, and I think the participating businesses certainly symbolize that experience,” Staley said, pointing out examples like yogo sapphires, which are mined only in Montana, and Western-themed wedding items.

Registration for the bridal walk will be at the Baxter Hotel anytime on the day of the event. There, attendees can pick up gift bags before strolling Main Street and perusing the participating businesses.

Each business offers something fun to interest patrons during the event, from wine tastings, mimosas, hors d’oeuvres and cake, to live music, raffles and giveaways.

There will also be a “Bridal Walk Photography Contest” that day, when nearly 20-plus bridal-themed images taken and framed by local photographers will be displayed inside most of the participating businesses. Bridal walk participants will vote on their favorites, then prizes and bragging rights will be given to the winners.

Same-day registration for the Bridal Walk will be held at The Baxter Hotel in the upstairs ballroom, at 105 West Main Street from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Attendees can pick up maps and booklets at any of the participating businesses by April 1. This event is free of charge and will go on rain or shine.