The perfect dress, tuxedo, food, flowers and music are only a few key components to planning the perfect wedding. Whispering Pines of Carlisle hosted Tamzen’s Bridal’s first bridal expo to help brides-to-be find exactly what they need for their special day last Sunday.

Exhibitors included wedding essentials such as florists and salons, but also a runway for models to feature dresses from Tamzen’s Bridal and a live dance lesson to give the audience tips for the after-party.

Tamzen’s Bridal owner, Tammy Butler-Sonntag, is a retired Shippensburg teacher who  opened her bridal shop in downtown Carlisle last year because she said it has always been a dream of hers.

“I spent 29 years teaching at James Burd and my last several years at the intermediate building,” Butler-Sonntag said. “I thought I’d live and die in the classroom.”

According to their website, she and her husband, Robert, decided to open a bridal store when they began planning their own wedding. Tamzen wasn’t enjoying wedding dress shopping as much as she had hoped; having both positive and negative experiences with both customer service and options. She was a teacher for 29 years at the time and had always said that if she wasn’t a teacher, she’d open up a wedding dress shop.

“Her passion for fashion and the wedding industry grew as she began researching her own bridal gown possibilities. Her fiancé Robert (Doc) had been in Hospital Administration and started a Medical Consulting Firm. His experience with building medical facilities and finding funding spurred the idea that he and Tamzen should actually follow their dreams and open up a Bridal Shop, marrying his business background and her lifelong goal,” the website reads.

Butler-Sonntag said she and her family dove head first into the entrepreneurial world by opening her bridal shop the day after she retired from teaching. She said Tamzen’s Bridal is a family-run operation with her husband, Robert, overseeing the business side of the shop, her son, Teagan Staver, modeled on the runway at the expo, her daughter, Alannah Staver, manages the shop’s Instagram account and her son, Colton Staver, oversees the event planning with Pencil Me In.

Pencil Me In is an event planning service that can also be found within Tamzen’s Bridal to help destress brides-to-be by taking care of all of the behind-the-scenes work in planning a wedding.

Staver explained that Whispering Pines was recently taken over by new owners and they wanted to showcase their freshly renovated venue. His mom had mentioned that she wanted to have a bridal show.

“My mom wanted to show off her dresses and I wanted to show off my event planning skills,” Staver said, explaining how Tamzen’s Bridal’s first expo was born.

Ever since Butler-Sonntag opened her shop, she made connections between her gowns and the classroom.

“Window displays are like 3-D bulletin boards and I educate my customers on the different types of fabrics of the dresses,” she said, adding she also sees many of her former students in the shop.

The expo helped area brides-to-be learn the values of Tamzen’s Bridal:

“At Tamzen’s Bridal, you’ll get the attention to detail and personalized care that you won’t find at other stores. Your consultant will take the time to learn about your special day and help you complete the vision you’ve been dreaming of for years. Our clients are our top priority, using our experiences throughout our wedding planning process to make sure that this part of your wedding story is a positive and happy one. Our goal is to provide you with choices and designers that you can’t find nearby so you’ll feel special, like a celebrity or royalty!” the website reads. “From the moment you walk through the doors at Tamzen’s Bridal, you’ll get that warm and cozy feeling to set your mind at ease and to be able to enjoy your wedding shopping experience. We will do everything we can to help you find the perfect dress, the perfect tux and the perfect accessories for your most perfect day!”


Kelsey Gentilini, of West Fairview, attended the expo and said she saw dresses she liked in the flower girl dress show on the runway for her 1 1/2-year-old daughter, Deziree Seilhammer, when she gets to be the flower girl in Gentilini’s August 2018 wedding.

“The most rewarding part of everything is when they say yes to the dress!” Butler-Sonntag said, beaming.

Lauren Miller, a recent graduate of Wilson College, said she attended the expo because she bought her dress at Tamzen’s Bridal and wanted to see what else she could add to her purple and glitter themed wedding in November.

“[My dress is] champagne colored and strapless … I was looking at the bridesmaids’ dresses here and at the lighting service, and deejays too,” Miller said.

Miller left the expo as the winner of a $200 SpiritSound gift card, which she said will help her and her fiancé cover their entertainment expenses.

Daniella Shcherba, of Carlisle, said the bridal expo piqued her interest because she heard a lot of positive things about the venue Whispering Pines and she is getting married in three months.

“I got a lot of ideas for some DIY stuff like the table decorations and food,” Shcherba said as she was leaving the expo.

Tamzen’s Bridal not only sells wedding gowns, but also has tuxedos for rent, dresses for flower girls, a bridesmaid line, jewelry and veils at the shop, located at 11 S. Hanover St. in Carlisle.

“We’re very thankful for the family and friends who make events like this happen,” Butler-Sonntag said.