Wedding bells were in the air at the weekend as more than 3,000 people flocked to the Norfolk Showground for the EDP wedding show.

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Couples and families on a quest to find the perfect car, cake, dress or venue poured into the hall which was packed with more than 150 exhibitors.

Models took to the catwalk four times each day to show the latest dresses and trends for brides, grooms and bridesmaids while The Voice Star, Bill Downs, entertained people who were taking a break at Brasted’s coffee shop.

Emma Lakey, 27, from Ludham, who works as a cardiac physiologist, has been engaged to her partner, Craig Hunter, for a year.

“We have been together for 10 years,” she said. “It was coming up to our 10-year anniversary and I wasn’t expecting a proposal. He set up a table at the end of the garden with champagne and food and asked me to marry him.”

The couple are getting married on July 26, 2014, at Ludham church before celebrating in a marquee in their garden. Later in the evening, the couple are having a reception on a steam paddle boat.

Although Miss Lakey has already chosen her cake and dress, she said her main reason for going to the show with her bridesmaid, Sarah Butcher, was to source favours and a caterer.

Gemma Coombs, from King’s Lynn, who went to the show with her mum, Joy, and two friends, got engaged to her fiancé, Chris Teanby, on New Year’s Eve.

“We got engaged just before midnight in Times Square in New York. It was really good,” said Miss Coombs, a PE teacher.

Although she has booked her venue, she said she came to the show to find ideas for flowers, cakes and cars.

“So far wedding planning has not been very stressful and I am really looking forward to getting married,” she added.

“We decided to wait a year because we already have a few weddings to go to this year and it gives us longer to save.”

Making sure brides find the perfect dress is a job which falls on the shoulders of Kirsty Taylor, owner of La Belle Angele, based in Bridewell Alley, Norwich.

She said: “Lace is still really popular and we are seeing a lot of floppy, satin dresses coming in. This has always been a busy show for us and the catwalks are great.”

Ms Taylor said that despite the recession, brides were still prepared to splash the cash on their big day.

“Brides are still spending,” she said.

“A lot of brides factor in a budget of £1,000 for their dress. The dress is one of the most important parts of their day. Other family members will help out and pay for bits and pieces.

“There’s a bit in the trade press that says getting married has increased during the recession. People are looking for good times.”

Charlotte Wilkes, owner of Charisma Beauty, based in Cattle Market Street, Norwich, said: “This was our third year at the show and every year it has worked really well for us.”

Ms Wilkes, who has owned Charisma for nine years, offers body treatments, hair and make-up for brides and bridesmaids.

“A lot of brides want nail art and glitter at the moment,” she said. “A few years ago you would be certain that brides would ask for a French manicure but now they want different things.

“A lot of brides want their hair up as well. Vintage is in at the moment.”

From brand new Bentleys to vintage drop-top Daimlers to horses and carriages, there was a wealth of wedding transport on display.

Sean Davison, who owns Brooke-based Mini Solutions, was exhibiting his stretched mark one Mini.

Mr Davison, a mechanic who specialises in Minis, said: “My friend bought the car and started the work and then I bought it from him and finished it off.

“We needed three Minis – one for the front, one for the back and then a spare one for parts.

“It’s like Marmite – you either love it or you hate it.”

Mr Davison said the car often caused a commotion on the roads with other cars and motorbikes pulling level to have a closer look.

“I have been to a wedding where the car has outdone the bride, she was a bit miffed.

“I’m thinking about stretching a BMW Mini as well,” he added.

Brides were spoilt for choice when looking for a venue to host their wedding.

Sue Dedman, a wedding planner at Park Farm Hotel in Hethersett, said she had seen a shift in the wedding season.

“We are busy at different times of the year,” she said. “We are still busy throughout the year but people are looking for something a little bit different.”

Mrs Dedman said brides had smaller budgets and were opting for an intimate ceremony with close family and friends and larger receptions in the evening.

Diana Sims, from the EDP weddings team, said: “This has been the icing on the cake for four years of long, hard work and we have finally got things where we want them to be.

“We grow every single year and we are changing things to keep them refreshed.

“We have already had some great feedback from clients.”

To see a video from the weekend, log onto www.mustardtv.co.uk

To see a photo gallery from the weekend visit www.edp24.co.uk

lucy.wright@archant.co.uk

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