The marquee on the old State movie theater announced a new event playing.
“Bridal Show 2021,” the sign announced alongside Texas Avenue in downtown Mercedes.
The movies may be long gone at the State, but there’s new life inside the former movie house and the adjoining First National Bank building. The two historic Mercedes buildings now house Jose’s Cafecito Courtyard & Catering. On a late August evening as summer waned and fall weddings called, the Cafecito was set up one for one of the first bridal shows of the year in the Rio Grande Valley.
It was a long time coming for the Cafecito’s owner, Janie Rodriguez, who worked for days with her staff to set up the event. Twenty-five brides looking forward to their big day registered for the event, as did a dozen vendors, who were eager to get back into the swing of wedding planning.
The Mercedes event was an indication of things winding back to normal.
“Brides need to feel special again,” said Julie Valbuena, a manager at David’s Bridal of McAllen. “We’re excited to get invited to an event like this one. It’s wonderful to see everyone here after everything was shut down last year.”
Katheryn Ramirez had her cosmetic and makeup display stylishly arranged next to the David’s Bridal setup.
She was representing LAB PRO Studios of Edinburg. Ramirez spoke of the “need to find balance” where people can enjoy public events like weddings again while taking the proper precautions to protect their health.
“People need to celebrate precious moments,” said Ramirez, a manager at LAB PRO. “We’re finding a new normal and we’re in the middle of it.”
For Ramirez, the bridal show in Mercedes was an important step forward.
“It signifies a little bit of progress,” she said. “We’re excited to be here and we’ll see where it leads. We’ll do anything we can to support our community.”
There was a feeling of solidarity among the small business owners at the Mercedes event.
Helping each other out through tough times was a theme heard between meetings with the prospective brides.
“It has been challenging for sure,” said Yessenia Garcia, who works for Jose’s Cafecito and worked with vendors attending the bridal show. “We feel like we’re here for each other as small businesses. To go this long without an event like this, that’s a long time for a small business like ours.”
Garcia’s boss, Ms. Villarreal, agreed with that assessment. The business owner had her food items prepared and set up in hopes of getting catering business for an upcoming wedding.
“We need people to taste our food again,” Villarreal said. “We’re doing what we usually do. It feels good to be doing it again.”