'In-person wedding Pinterest'

Northwest Georgia Bridal Expo returns Jan. 27

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For Chad Oates and Tom Shinall, a teenage job has transformed into a flourishing, highly-acclaimed business.

Formed in 2002 as The Tom & Chad Show, the Cass High School graduates' entertainment company has expanded in scope, enhancing more than 320 events last year, 90 percent of which were weddings. Now referred to as The TC Show, the enterprise offers numerous services for engaged couples, such as a photo and video booth, DJ, emcee, videography, uplighting, and projector and screen rentals.

'Blessed' journey

"When Chad and I began this company, I don't think either of us ever imagined The Tom & Chad Show becoming what it is today," said Shinall, an Adairsville resident. "We were young, starting college and looking to make a living. As owners, it began as a job. Today, it is a successful business. It is cool to look back and reminisce. We [have] seen our fair share of failures but being able to learn from those experiences and turn them into positive successes is truly inspirational. When asked, Chad and I always say, 'We have been blessed.'

"Our legal business name is The Tom & Chad Show Inc. We rebranded as The TC Show during the recession — 2008 — as we saw a shift in our business model. From 2002-2008, we did a lot of birthday parties, school events and corporate functions. Following the recession of 2008, our business began to boom as we transitioned into the wedding industry, which seemed to be recession proof. People were still getting married despite the economy and if anything, less were booking bands and booking DJs to fit within their budgets. As business grew, so did our workforce. It wasn't necessarily always [me] or Chad at an event, so we transitioned into The TC Show."

Based out of Cartersville, The TC Show has garnered a host of awards locally and from the wedding industry over the past seven years. In addition to being named the Cartersville-Bartow County Chamber of Commerce's Small Business of the Year in 2012, the company captured  "Couples' Choice" awards by WeddingWire from 2014 to 2017, was listed among the "Best of Weddings" by The Knot from 2013 to 2019; and inducted into The Knot’s Hall of Fame in 2016.

"There are two industry leading web-based companies assisting the vast majority of brides and grooms across the country — The Knot and WeddingWire," Shinall said. "These companies provide tools, resources, content, products and services to those planning weddings. As a company in the industry, we chose to be a vendor in order to have access and control over our profile on both of these sites. We joined The Knot in 2013 and WeddingWire in 2014. As you can imagine, our industry tends to be very review-driven — who provided what and how was your experience. The Knot and WeddingWire accept reviews from couples based on the vendors they used and provide them for all to see.

"… The TC Show is a client-based referral company. We earn our events by providing the very best service, and we understand that. By exceeding expectations, we are earning more business," he said, adding The Knot and WeddingWire awards are based on client reviews. "The recognition of these achievements is vital for our continued success as a company, and we look forward to many more years of earning these type awards."

Northwest Georgia Bridal Expo

To help broaden its reach, The TC Show will once again embrace the opportunity to serve as a vendor at the Northwest Georgia Bridal Expo Jan. 27. Anticipated to draw more than 1,200 attendees, the event will feature a plethora of wedding providers at the Clarence Brown Conference Center, 5450 Highway 20 in Cartersville. 

"This year will mark our eighth consecutive year participating in the Northwest Georgia Bridal Expo," Shinall said. "We've participated in many bridal shows over the years across metro Atlanta and the Southeast region, but being a part of this event is special because it is the only bridal expo in our home community.

"We hope attendees of the bridal show realize that they do not have to go into Atlanta to book a DJ nor do they need to spend more money on a band. As a local company, even though we serve all of the Southeast, we love providing our services to those who call Bartow County home."

Echoing Shinall's comments, Oates also enjoys participating in the bridal expo and interacting with brides- and grooms-to-be.

"It is fun getting to meet those engaged couples within our home community and help them in planning their most memorable day," Oates said. "It is also really nice to be able to network and support our local community and vendor peers.

"Tom and I have seen The TC Show evolve from just the two of us — only being able to complete a single setup for an event — to the more than 15 of us who celebrate events every weekend of the year. Our setups have evolved from one that required two people, to a simplified setup that can be completed by one person, packed into a car. … Since inception, we have provided services for thousands of events — too many to count. As a perspective, in 2018 we provided services for more than 325 events. Over the last three years, we have provided services for over 1,000 events — about 90 percent of those events being weddings."

'In-person wedding Pinterest'

Ongoing from noon to 5 p.m., the Northwest Georgia Bridal Expo will be coordinated and produced by McWhorter Capital Partners.

"The purpose of the event [is to] introduce couples who are planning a wedding with as many of the region’s finest wedding vendors as we can fit under one roof without having to drive to Atlanta," said Deanna Berry, event coordinator and McWhorter Capital Partners’ chief operating officer. "I recently heard someone call it 'in-person wedding Pinterest.' Brides- and grooms-to-be can have one-on-one conversations with dozens [of] wedding planners, cake bakers, venue owners, DJs and so many other industry professionals without having to spend days searching through the internet and playing phone tag. They can get a feel for the personalities behind the product or service.

"For the exhibitors, the Northwest Georgia Bridal Expo gives them an opportunity to showcase new trends and promote the unique things they offer that might not be found in a big, commercialized Atlanta show. … What I enjoy most is hearing an exhibitor tell me at the end of the day that they booked actual business during the expo. To me, that is evidence of a successful expo. One of my favorite experiences was a comment I received recently from a [gentleman] who attended last year’s event as a father of the bride-to-be. I mentioned that I was getting ready for the next show, and he joked, 'Hey! We found most of my daughter’s wedding vendors at that thing last year … those people got a lot of my money!'" 

This year, the expo will feature more than 50 exhibitors, ranging from wedding planners to bridal shops; fashion shows at 1:30 and 3 p.m.; and prize drawings.

"We have a great mix of vendors this year from all over northwest Georgia," Berry said. "While many are from Bartow County, there are others from Rome, Acworth, Marietta, Woodstock, Calhoun and Kennesaw.

"There are a dozen venues this year. I love venues. Each one is very different, and they tend to bring their own team of vendors with them as well, which further adds to the variety. We also have several new caterers this year, florists, bridal boutiques, men's formalwear shops, wedding coordinators, party rental companies and more."

Serving as the administrator of the Northwest Georgia Bridal Expo's venue, the Cartersville-Bartow County Convention & Visitors Bureau's staff also sees the value of promoting its facilities at the gathering.

"The Clarence Brown Conference Center is delighted to have been chosen once again as the venue for the Northwest Georgia Bridal Expo," said Regina Wheeler, director of operations for the local CVB. "One of our top priorities is earning repeat business, and that has been the case with the expo. The CBCC staff works hard to make exhibiting at the conference center simple and 'headache free.' We take pride in the ease of loading in, attentive to issues that arise throughout the event and our convenient location.

"This year, our staff will be showcasing wedding venues available at George Washington Carver Park and the new Pine Acres Retreat, which is set to open in March. We think these venues will be of great interest to brides seeking lakeside wedding venues and they are naturally affordable, because they are under the administration of the Cartersville-Bartow County Convention & Visitors Bureau."

Tickets to the Northwest Georgia Bridal Expo cost $10 in advance at www.nwgeorgiabridalexpo.com or $15 at the door. For more information, visit the event’s website or Facebook page, www.fb.com/NorthwestGeorgiaBridalExpo.