TSA hates sequins: lessons learned at NY & Philadelphia Lovesick Expos

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This weekend was the kickoff of the 2016 season of our Lovesick Expo, and it started with a bang (and a gag!) in New York on Saturday, and then Philadelphia on Sunday. I flew out for both shows, and over the course of the two days, met almost 800 people including some faaaabulous Offbeat Bride readers. I also learned a few things that I want to share…

When a sword swallower pulls a sword out of his gut, it is covered with something called “Stomach Boogers”

At the NY show, a sword swallower named Ray Valenz did a show for us all… and when he pulled the swords out they were kind of goopy (EW!) and he was like “oh, stomach boogers!” and we were all HORK! But then we applauded.

Some readers will ride trains for two hours to come say hello

Offbeat Bride readers are pretty much THE FUCKING BEST. I got to meet couples who'd traveled hours on trains, see skull rings, ogle Doctor Who corsets, gossip about groom gear with guys, and hug so many people and smell their yummy hair smells.

Meeting readers at Lovesick Expos really is the best part of my whole year. I can't even tell you. You guys are fucking amazing.

When my developer Kellbot and I pose with her week-old baby, we look like the most mismatched lesbian couple with our sperm donor baby


Kellbot, the web developer who keeps this here website up ‘n' running smoothly, had a baby a week ago! Very exciting stuff, and she and her husband bundled up the baby and their older daughter to come to the Philly Expo and say hello! Of course then we hit up a photo booth (because it's a wedding expo, so of course!) and the resulting photo cracks me up.

Some vendors will let you kiss their boobs


This is Sarah Acconcia Baltimore chef/CEO of Wild Thyme Event Studio. She was at the Philly show and her boobs were amazing, and so she let me kiss one. This kind of thing just doesn't happen at typical bridal fair… WHICH IS THEIR LOSS! Boobs are awesome.

TSA scanners can't see through sequins

I went straight from the Philadelphia expo to the airport to fly home to Seattle, and was just the right mix of rushed for my flight and “Zero Fucks to Give” that I opted not to change out of my J. Von Stratton floor-length gold sequined gown until I got to the gate.

This resulted in a free upgrade to premium seating (thanks, Alaska Airlines!), a very amusing 20 minutes  waiting in line at security, and then the biggest lesson of the weekend: TSA scanners cannot see through sequins. When TSA saw me coming, they were like “Oh man, you're going to light up like a Christmas tree,” and when I saw the body scan… yep. Exactly that.

Apparently this is a known thing for TSA: sequins reflect the scanners. If you have a few sequins on your shirt, it looks like polka dots. If you're wearing neck to floor sequins, you are essentially a glowing security hazard and so you get a mandatory pat down.

So there I was, barefoot in a gold sequined mermaid gown, getting the full pat down from a TSA agent who was cracking up the whole time, even as she's telling me how she's going to use the back of her hand to pat down my gold sequined butt crack.

I laughed with her through the entire thing, because why not? I'd spent a weekend meeting some of NY and Philly's most amazing wedding vendors and hugging hundreds of readers… it was all pretty hilarious.

And I'm doing it all again this weekend in Boston!

And then Atlanta. And then Seattle. And then LA and Denver. And then San Francisco! Please come meet me at one of the shows. I promise you will also meet dozens of awesome vendors, be entertained by burlesque dancers and circus freaks, have some drinks if you want them, and have a great time.

I think there are few discounted tickets to use with coupon code OFFBEAT2016, even?

Lovesick Map 2015

Boston, 1/17/2016
Buy Boston tickets!

Seattle, 1/24/2016
Buy Seattle tickets!

Atlanta, 1/31/2016
Buy Atlanta tickets!

Los Angeles, 2/20/2016
Buy LA tickets!

Denver, 2/21/2016:
Buy Denver tickets!

Bay Area, 2/27/2016
Buy SF tickets!

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Comments on TSA hates sequins: lessons learned at NY & Philadelphia Lovesick Expos

  1. Damn, Ariel! That dress is amaze-balls! You look hot!

    Also, I’m so sad that the Seattle Expo isn’t the first week of February. I’m going to be there, from Edmonton (Canada), and I would love to say hi!

    • Oh man… Foiled! You can always swing by Ada’s Technical Books for a coffee though…. I work upstairs!

      • Ah, I didn’t know you were based in Seattle! It’s our first pregnancy/baby free trip in the three years since our wedding and two since the arrival of The Munch.

        If we ever actually *ahem* leave the hotel, we will pop by. I’ve been an OBB reader, and was a Tribesmaid, forever!

  2. what a gown! I am so looking forward to Boston on Sunday! I became an officiant because at last year’s Boston Lovesick one of your compatriots told me it’s still difficult for couples to find inclusive, accepting, people to perform their ceremonies. guess that means I’m easily influenced… still, looking forward to working with some great couples in the coming year

    • Yay! Can’t wait to meet you. I was so bummed to miss Boston last year… It was my favorite show of 2014.

    • Really? I would love to be an officiant, especially of offbeat couples! We should meet up, I’d love to pick your brain!

  3. I had a wonderful time at the NYC Lovesick expo. Everyone was so nice. Thanks for the tip about sequins, I hate the idea of going thru the scanner and will follow your lead next time I fly out.

    • Yeah, that open hearted niceness is the magic of the shows… So much love, it’s sick!

  4. I wish there were some Mid-West dates for this! It’s hard being an Offbeat bride in the Mid-West…I’ve only even seen 1 LGBT-friendly (or at least advertised as so) bridal expo, and it was so tiny with hardly any vendors. CRAZINESS!

  5. Ahhh, yes! The sequins! Last Christmas, I had to take the last flight out of Tampa to Burlington, VT to see my fiance’s family, so a friend and I thought we should dress up like elves and hand out candy canes. I even played a christmas carol on the ukelele (christmas present for the man). We also scored a free upgrade! It was all fun and games until security. The lady that patted me down spoke very broken English. I didn’t understand at first, then she finally pointed at the screen, and my silver sequin skirt was also a christmas tree. Oops!

  6. Youuuu should come to Toronto. Like next year so I can go while I’m still planning a wedding. 😀

  7. Thank you Ariel! Awesome show in Boston yesterday ~ I got to meet THE Ariel Meadow Stallings WOO HOO! for those who have not had the pleasure, she is SUPER COOL and very genuine, just like her writing. looking forward to the 2017 show now

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