Walk-Around Wedding Event Comes To Bracebridge Fairgrounds On Mother’s Day Weekend

Wedding decor
Wedding decor from Richi Muskoka. Photo courtesy of Kimberly Rideout

When event organizer Kimberly Rideout got married in Muskoka, she felt lost trying to find local vendors, so she’s hosting the event she wishes she had as a bride: a one-stop shop for every wedding need.

After being slowed down for years by cancer and COVID, Rideout and her husband moved up to Muskoka permanently after her final round of chemotherapy in 2021. Not long after, the two of them got married at their home in Bracebridge. Her business, Richi Muskoka, revolved around creating live edge and driftwood home decor, but given her upcoming nuptials, she pivoted to making wedding decorations at the time. She got positive responses immediately, with people asking to rent the various decor pieces, so she shifted into running a wedding decor rental business. Things only grew from there.

“Last year, when I went to go put myself on the map, literally on Google Maps, they didn’t have a category for wedding decor rentals, so I had to list myself as a wedding planner because that was the closest category,” Rideout said. “I was getting calls left, right and centre to be planning people’s weddings… I had a wedding booked every weekend of the summer.”

She continued to receive inquiries from brides, and many of them were hoping to visit a showroom to see all of her decor. Without a permanent place to showcase her work, Rideout decided the next best thing would be to stage it all for photos. Since it would take some space to accommodate all the decorations, she immediately thought of expanding the event.

Rideout was already working with the team at the fairgrounds on several weddings, so it was an obvious choice to host a bridal showcase. She started to break down weddings into categories, eventually landing on over 30 different groupings. 

Wedding decor
Photo courtesy of Kimberly Rideout

There are currently between 90 and 100 vendors for the show on May 13 and 14, and virtually all of the categories will be represented by at least two vendors, she said. She chose a weekend in early May so that brides can book services for both this year and next year before the busy season starts at the end of the month.

“Inside the actual fairgrounds building, it’s being set up as a wedding reception,” Rideout said. “When you open the doors, the first one-third of the building will be set up like you’ve walked into an actual reception… There’s going to be over a dozen different tables, so each one will have its own theme and feel.”

In addition to displaying different wedding themes, the walk-around will also present options for events like graduations and children’s parties. For the kids, there will be bouncy castles, laser tag, wax hands and more, as well as three themed tents to showcase possible party ideas. One of those themes will be jungles, and a reptile specialist will be on-site to show off some exotic animals.

For the adults, there will be a beer garden courtesy of several local breweries as well as a range of food trucks, caterers, DJs and other vendors. The back two-thirds of the fairgrounds building will be set up like a trade show with rows of booths for visitors to peruse.

“Bring your whole family because it’s not just for brides,” she said. “It’s going to be for any kind of event, for graduations and family reunions and stag and does and bar mitzvahs, you name it. We really want everybody to come.”

While there are bridal and event shows down in Toronto, they don’t offer the same chance to see local vendors, Rideout said, so all of the businesses at the wedding walk-around will be vendors from Muskoka that serve Muskoka. She’s also planning a vendor meet-and-greet the night before the event so that they can network among themselves and help each other by giving out referrals.

Photo courtesy of Kimberly Rideout

Tickets cost $4.75 when purchased in advance and $5.50 at the door, but brides and grooms get a $1 discount and there are group discounts available as well. Parking costs $1.50 in advance and $2.50 at the door. Rideout will donate the proceeds to a local charity, but it’s up to the community to decide which one. 

She started an online vote on April 23, asking for charity suggestions, and the poll will be open until 8 p.m. on May 7. She’s received at least half a dozen suggestions so far, including charities like Gravenhurst Against Poverty and Carter’s Rescue, and she’s hoping to host some of them at the event, even if they don’t win the contest.

“All the ticket sales proceeds are going to be going to a local charity, and the community is currently deciding where that’s going to be,” Rideout said. “I think that’s wonderful for people to know as well that their money to come and spend the day there is going to help somebody.”

Rideout has been handling the bulk of the planning for the event with over 1,400 hours logged so far. She hopes that simplifying the planning process for brides and other locals will make the many late nights worth it, and based on the overwhelmingly positive feedback so far, she seems to be on the right track.

“We’ve already got it booked for next year,” Rideout said. “We’ve got the 11th and 12th booked again, so we’re hoping it can be a Mother’s Day weekend tradition up here in Muskoka.”

Contact Kimberly Rideout at richimuskokaweddings@gmail.com to purchase tickets in advance, and visit the event page on Facebook for updates.


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