Look, this column is about weddings and if you're not planning one then you and I both know you're not going to be attending this week's fifth annual Art of Weddings event. Even though it's an orgiastic celebration of over 40 local businesses from sake makers Saké One to caterers to the designers presenting bridal looks in the evening's fashion show, vying for your attention with complimentary booze and hors d'oeuvres, goodie bags, and giveaways, all for a dang reasonable $10.

I'm not planning a wedding either, but the latter half of winter's wedding-planning events still get me psyched (this is a warm-up for the annual English Dept bridal show later this month). The reason is that for most people their wedding day is the closest they will ever come to a couture experience, whether it's actually having a couture gown made or simply taking more care in the planning of your appearance than you ever have or ever will. Modern life for the unwashed masses affords few opportunities to be so vain without having to make excuses for the time, concentration, and expense, although the wedding world is rife with advice that strikes me as rather applicable to the everyday—rigorous workouts, facials, and manicures, sure, but also shopping.

Ideally I think you should buy all your clothing the way you're supposed to buy a wedding dress—which is to say very carefully, with the awareness that something you like in a magazine or online won't necessarily look good on you, the number of a good tailor in your address book, and some knowledge of what's out there before you plunk down and make a final decision. It's just common sense!

This year, four designers and one boutique are in charge of putting a bug in your ear with a fashion show that covers menswear and bridesmaid dresses as well as wedding gowns: Duchess Clothier, Amai Unmei, Sophie Bridal Couture, Sarah Seven, and Magnifique Boutique. Of particular interest is Sophie Chang's Sophie Bridal Couture—a recent graduate of Portland's Art Institute, Chang is also debuting a boutique of the same name this month in Hillsboro (1895 NW 188th). Likewise, Magnifique Boutique (8535 SE 13th) just opened in 2009. And Amai Unmei, Duchess, and Sarah Seven are known enough quantities for me to know I want to see what they're doing now!

And if I see something I like? I can always just wear it to the grocery store. (The Art of Weddings, Thurs Jan 7, Gerding Theater at the Armory, 128 NW 11th, 6 pm, $10 at artofweddingspdx.com, cash only at the door)