Symposium discusses destination weddings

Published 11:05 pm Tuesday, July 29, 2008

NATCHEZ — In a statewide effort to fortify Mississippi as a wedding destination, industry leaders gathered in Natchez Tuesday to discuss ways to do so.

A collaborative effort between the Mississippi Development Authority’s Department of Tourism and Bridal Guide magazine, the 2008 Bridal Symposium chose Natchez as the backdrop because it’s a prime example of a wedding destination.

“Natchez seemed ideal for this because they do a lot of wedding business,” said Associate Publisher and Vice President of Bridal Guide Jeff Hendlin.

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He said this was especially true with their choice of a meeting location — Monmouth Plantation.

Rene Adams, executive director at Monmouth, worked to bring the symposium to Monmouth.

She said she is well versed in the wedding destination industry, and was present when Natchez turned its eye to that avenue.

“When I (worked) at Dunleith, it became obvious that Natchez could become a perfect wedding destination,” she said.

Adams saw that bringing in weddings inherently brings in more money.

“People come here to spend money and have a great time,” she said when they come for weddings.

She stated that in April, there were five weddings going on in Natchez at the same time and vendors were claiming they were just as busy as they are during the balloon race.

Adams said she has spent 20 years in the tourism industry in Natchez and has worked closely with the state tourism division, which is one reason she was able to bring the symposium to Natchez.

She said not only is it beneficial to Natchez, but other communities that came to the symposium to learn.

“The whole purpose is to help develop Mississippi as a wedding destination and help other communities develop partnerships,” she said.

Moni Reynolds, with the Oxford Convention Center, said the symposium is very beneficial.

“It’s incredibly insightful,” she said. “It’s also a wonderful experience coming to Natchez. You look here and you can see what you can do, ideas just pop in your head.”

Hendlin said Craig Ray, tourism director for MDA’s Division of Tourism, has always been interested in marketing the state’s communities as wedding destinations as a way to drive people to the state.

Around 55 people attended the symposium.