Ideas in Bloom – Wedding Flowers made easy

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 Flowers are one of the most important aspects of a wedding. In fact, aside from the bride and groom they are just about the most photographed item of the entire event. They add color, vitality, and aroma to a wedding. To make the impact you desire, you need to make some smart choices early on but, before you even consider talking to a florist, book your venue so the florist knows what they are dealing with and help you make well-informed decisions.

#1 – Decide on a budget. It has been said over and over and over but, I’ll say it again: Choosing flowers that are in season during your wedding could save you literally hundreds of dollars.  When you plan your budget, keep this in mind.

#2- Do your background work. Ask to see photos, ask for references, ask if you can drop by one of their events so you can see firsthand what kind of work your florist is capable of handling.

#3- Trust your florist.  Once you have selected  your florist and  assuming you are not a trained florist  yourself,  use their expertise to help guide you through critical decisions. If you insist on something the florist opposes – there may be a solid reason.

#4- DIY is a big mistake. Many brides think they can go to a flower shop and put together professional bouquets and centerpieces from scratch. This is a big NO-NO! You will have a hundred things to think and worry about before and on your big day, don’t make this mistake. And by the way,  even if your favorite Aunt insists she does great table decor for the holidays doesn’t mean she can handle a task of this magnitude. Hire a professionally trained wedding florist!

#5 – Think Big. Huge blasts of color are a beautiful thing – just make sure it doesn’t clash with the decor of the venue or the table linens or the attendants’ gowns. Remember to keep the larger picture in mind : “How will the overall room look  in pictures?”

#6 – Don’t overdo it with the aroma. Its okay to use the strong smelling flowers for bouquets but, for the church and reception  it is best to use flowers that do not give off a strong smell. This will certainly prevent any of guests who are allergy sufferers to opt out of the reception early. The only exception is an outdoor venue.

#7 -Communicate. Always keep an open dialogue with your florist. Every single problem or question should be answered up front. Get everything in writing and make sure you know what you are paying for before you sign on the dotted line.

Call 847-428-3320 or log on to www.bridalshowexpo.comtoday to get tickets to our next show where you can meet some of Chicago’s best wedding florists and see their work first-hand!

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- Penny Frulla for Bridal Expo Chicago

You Might Be a Bridezilla if…….

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The first known citation of the term  ”Bridezilla” was in the Boston Globe in 1995 followed by a series of cartoons in Modern Bride magazine in 1999. But, it was the television series which aired in July 2004  that made the term ‘Bridezilla’ part of our modern vocabulary. 

Bridezilla is a portmanteau of two words: Bride and Godzilla. This type of morphing or blending words has become quite popular in modern culture, so much so that this one word evokes an images of an out of control, crazed, wedding obsessed woman who knows no limits.  Although rare, they are out there. Of course reality TV (aka staged, scripted versions of real life)  has tweaked the situation to make it worse but,  never underestimate the power of an engaged woman who wants to get her way. So, how do you spot these rare creatures and how do you know when your level-headed, intelligent, caring best friend has succumbed to ‘Acquired Situational Narcissism’?

 If you asked your attendant to change their hairstyle, remove a tattoo or lose weight to be in your wedding – you might be a bridezilla.

If you asked someone else to do the gift registry on your behalf because you are too busy – you might be a bridezilla.

If you have asked anyone  to address and fill in their own Thank You note – you might be a bridezilla.

If you have asked any male member of the bridal party to shave their beard, moustache or alter their appearance in any way – you might be a bridezilla.

If you are planning a wedding that is out of budget, insisting that other’s pick up the tab for things you want but cannot afford – you might be a bridezilla.

If you have had several confrontations with wedding retailers – you might be a bridezilla.

If you have told anyone what they can wear, how they can act, how much they can drink or to whom they may speak at your wedding or reception – you might be a bridezilla.

If you asked any of your attendants to gain weight so you are the thinnest person standing at the altar,  check into counseling immediately.

It appears that sometimes a wonderful, sweet, intelligent woman can turn into bridezilla for apparently no reason. The truth is that there is a reason, perhaps it is stress, family issues, work trouble and if you add all that into planning a wedding, almost anyone can let loose with a little odd behavior.

So what exactly are you supposed to do when this happpens to a friend of yours?

Smile and Nod - Remember that this person will return to normal shortly.

Offer help - She may be in over her head.

Distract – Maybe she needs a day off from wedding planning. Go for a nature hike, game of tennis, bike ride or find an amusement park. If she can unwind for one day – you will reap the benefits and you may be able to get through to her on a different level.

Intervene – Everyone who has been bearing the brunt of this behavior should come together and confront the bride with her outrageous demands. United you stand, divided you fall.

Exit – If the demands go too far and the bride will not retreat or give any concessions, you might have to remove yourself from the entire situation. This may be the only option if the bride’s demands have gone so far over the top that you have lost sight of the person you once knew. Warning: Once you go here, there is no turning back.

In reality, a very small percentage of women actually turn into the dreaded “Bridezilla”. To avoid becoming one yourself, remember what the day is really about: Your friends and family gathering together to share in your happiness. Don’t sweat the small stuff - the wedding  lasts only one day while the marriage should last forever.

-Penny Frulla for Bridal Expo Chicago

Big Beautiful Bridesmaids – Finding a Dress That Fits

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Everyone who has ever been a bridesmaid knows two things about bridesmaid dresses; you hardly ever wear them again and they run small.

For the average size 10 woman, she will need to purchase a size 12 or maybe 14 bridesmaid gown. The rule is that you always fit the biggest body measurement since the gown can be taken in everywhere and rarely let out anywhere. But, when your best friend in the world  is a size 24, what do you do? As the size 24 bridesmaid do you  tell the bride you are uncomfortable wearing the dress she picked? Is it fair to ask the largest woman, who is probably the least secure about her physical appearance to wear the same dress as everyone else? Do you ask her to lose weight?  Do you find a similar gown for her to wear? Trust me, I have seen every angle of this debate and it never changes, and  it is near impossible to make everyone happy with your choice. So what do you do if you love your friend and you really want her to look  and feel  her best? The first step is to have an open conversation about the topic. She will be so relieved that you are sensitive about this topic that you may have to pick her up off the floor!

Different gowns -Offering the bridesmaids gown choices of the same color and different styles dates back over two decades. It works beautifully then and it is still by far the best option for bridesmaids of all sizes. Here is how it works: each bridesmaid has  a different style of gown but in  the exact same  color and length. If you can find the same fabric, that’s even better – but don’t let this tiny detail deter you when selecting the dress.

Custom gown- If the bridesmaid gown you have chosen does not come in larger sizes, many bridal salons  have the capability to make a custom gown of the exact same style and fabric for a larger bridesmaid. Same fabric, same style, same everything. The upside is that the gown will almost always be exactly the same as the others, the downside is that it will probably double the price. Other factors are that  (as the bridesmaid) you will not know how you look in the gown until it is in production and all sales are final. Sometimes this is the absolute best option and everyone is ecstatic with the outcome.

No matter which option you choose as a bride or bridesmaid, consider these tips:

Fit - Most women do not want to be squeezed into a dress like a tube of toothpaste regardless of their size but it is especially important if you have an ample figure. Leave a little wiggle room by ordering the larger size and you won’t regret it.

Style: Find a gown that has an empire waist, fuller skirt or other components that are not too restricting.  Plunging necklines can sometimes bring the eye away from trouble areas and enhance the face but, remember that a bigger bustline  has disadvantages, too. Make sure everyone is comfortable with how much cleavage is exposed as this could be a personal catastrophe if there is not enough coverage. Absolutely avoid strapless.

Fabric - Avoid super-shiny satin and stiff taffeta. Find fabrics that move like chiffon, crepe and charmeuse. After you sit down in a tight satin dress you will stand up to a wrinkled mess.

Undergarments- Girdles are a thing of the past!  However, Spanx and other similar undergarments can provide not only some help smoothing out trouble areas but also help the dress fit better. If your bustline is the bigger problem, make sure you get a suitable bra that offers comfort as well as support. Better yet – find a one piece bodysuit that has the bra built in! Comfort and support are the key elements. The right undergarments will vastly improve the way you look and feel in your bridesmaid gown.

 Designers finally figured out that beautiful bridesmaids come in all sizes and offer gorgeous gowns in every shape, size and price range. You don’t have to break the bank and you don’t have to settle for anything less than fabulous!

-Penny Frulla for Bridal Expo Chicago

Wedding Planning 101 – Bridal Expo

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I am sure you ‘ve often heard that sometimes the truth hurts. The fact is – sometimes it doesn’t hurt at all. Sometimes the truth is easy and painless. I can give you one perfect example: The BEST first step you can take to planning your wedding is to attend one of our luxurious bridal shows. That’s the truth.

However, there are some ways to make it easier and even more painless than you could imagine. I am thrilled to pass along these tips to you so you can save time and money and have a great time at our events.

1) Make a day of it! Don’t plan to come to a show when you are in a hurry. Make this one day very special, plan a fantastic breakfast or brunch beforehand and stay for the entire show. You will not be sorry. You will save more time visiting our vendors in that one day than driving to and from every single vendor we have at our shows. How much time and money would you like to save?

2) Plan ahead. Before attending, bring a checklist of what services you need.  This will avoid confusion and save time. You won’t need to spend time shopping for vendors that you have already booked.

3) Bring your support team. Mom, Maid of Honor, Groom? who offers you the best advice and gives you the most support? Bring those people with you to keep you on task and focused on your needs.  You don’t want to bring ‘Debbie Downer’ with you and ruin an otherwise awesome event.

4) Bring contact labels. At each of our shows, you will have the eopportunity to sign up for amazing prizes and specialdeals from Bridal Expo and each of  our vendors. It saves so much time, not to mention writer’s cramp) if you have address labesl pre-printed with your contact information. Dont forget your email address ! Make sure all the information is current.

5) Bring a digital camera. Yes, we not only allow but, encourage our brides to take pictures. A picture is worth a thousand words. There will be flowers, cakes, gowns,  and all kinds of other things that you will want to remember. This is the best way to document your preferences. Later you can print those pictures and place them in your wedding planner for quick referencing.

6) Leave the kids at home. If you have small children, this is the best time to cash in a favor from a good friend and ask them to watch the kids for the day. Small children will be overwhelmed by the crowds and you will want to be able to stay focused. Plus, there are no strollers in the vendor area. The kids will thank you!

7) Arrive Early. This will give you time to register, and after you have visited every vendor you will be able to find a great seat for the Couture Runway Fashion show. No where else can you see this many luxurious designer  bridal gowns, headpieces and attendant gowns in one place.

8) Come for the show, stay for the prizes.  At each and every Bridal Expo there are fabulous prizes given away on stage before, during and after our luxurious runway fashion show. Large prizes (fabulous getaways, diamond earrings, photogrpahy packages) and smaller prizes (countertop appliances and gift certificates). Either way, you will not win the prizes if you are not there to claim them. If the bride is not present when called, our Fashion Director and show commentator, Carol Tardi, will call another name. Don’t be the one that got away!

9) Be ready to save money. Many of our vendors  offer booking specials. Dont be afraid to save money. If you are not ready to make a decision,  ask for their information so you can contact them later. They will be happy to oblige. 

10) Relax. The wedding planning process should be fun and Bridal Expo will help make it easier.  Organization is the key to staying stress-free and focused.

Call 847-428-3320 today to get  tickets to a Bridal Expo in your area, you won’t be sorry!

-Penny Frulla For Bridal Expo Chicago

Technology vs. Tradition – Wedding Planning With Your Cell Phone

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If you are planning your wedding without the help of a  wedding consultant, technology has come to the rescue with Bridal Planning applications  for your smart phone. For less than the cost of lunch, (and many of these are free) you can add an app to your cell phone and have all of your information at your fingertips at all times. This technology will not be wasted on your fiance, either. While you may think that all men see is flashing lights, rest assured that your gadget-guru will be caught up in the wedding planning a lot sooner than if you hand him a large binder crammed with swatches and post-its.

The iBride application is available for most smart phones and has comprehensive wedding planning, budget and shopping tools. The graphics and visuals on iBride are stunning and the screen looks easy to navigate, plus this application gets overall great reviews.

The Bride Guide handles it all. Tons of features including a countdown timer, to-do lists, budget calculator, and tons of informative articles that will take you from I will to I do.

Bridal Gown shopping goes high tech with iBridal Gown. Designed by a salon owner, this handy app keeps tabs on your top picks and lets you make notes and store pictures of your faves. The app stores all the pertinent info regarding each of your wedding gown hopefuls like style, designer, cost, location, and photos. You can also share the photos and details of your wedding dress choices privately in email or publicly on Facebook. 

WeddingScan is an intuitive wedding registry application that allows you to register for ANY item, at ANY store simply by scanning a product’s barcode with the WeddingScan iPhone app. If a product doesn’t have a barcode, WeddingScan allows you to take a picture of it and add a brief description.

theKnot wedding 911  Designed by the editors at the Knot magazine and the Knot.com this free iPhone app is your on-the-go source for expert wedding advice. You can even post questions and get instant answers from other brides-to-be.

Although not all of these applications are available for all phones just yet, it will happen. Very soon, all smart phones will have the technology to handle most of these applications and by then, there will be more.

 Do a little research to find out which apps are best for your phone, which ones you like the best and which ones suit your needs.

Most importantly: Have all information backed up on your computer in case you (God forbid) lose your phone or it gets ruined somehow.

-Penny Frulla for Bridal Expo Chicago

If the Shoe Fits – Buy It!

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If diamonds are a girl’s best friend, shoes are her lover. Closer to your heart than any other accessory,  more personal and more complicated than any one piece of clothing. This makes buying shoes for your wedding very tricky. You want to wear the 4 inch platform pumps that you fell in love with but, can you manage those shoes for this long period of time?  You want to be stylish and comfortable at the same time but, it doesn’t always work out that way. There may have to be some compromise. 

The trend toward self-service has led to an unfortunate side-effect: not knowing what size shoe you should buy. Almost 20% of all women do not buy the correct size shoe so it is important before you set your heart on a pair of shoes that are not suited for your feet, have your foot properly sized up. In addition to the actual shoe size you will want to make note of the width of your foot and (oddly enough) the length of your toes and the arch.

Buying shoes that fit:

 If you put on a sandal and it feels comfortable but your toes are hanging over the front, the shoe is too small.

If you are trying on a  pair of mules and the back of your foot hangs over the back of the shoe, they are too small.

If the shoe has more than 1/2 inch of space between the end of your toes and the end of the shoe, it might not be the right size or style.

If you can’t wiggle your toes, move on. The ‘toe box’ area should have enough room to wiggle your toes.

If there is space around the back of your heel, this might not be the right style for you.

Consider a wedge heel since it offeres more support for the entire foot.

If you are not comprtable wearing 3 or 4″ heels, don’t buy them for your wedding day. You will be miserable all day long. Try a kitten heel instead.

Dont buy shoes that are snug thinking you can break them in to fit your foot. They should fit comfortably at the time of purchase.

Always try on shoes in the aftenoon or evening. You’ve been walking around all day and your feet are more likely to let you know what feels good or bad.

Do wear the shoes a few times to avoid getting blisters from any new stress points. This will relax them a bit and although it will not change the siez, they will feel more comfortable on your wedding day.

To really avoid foot pain for your wedding, consider buying a second pair of shoes that are attractive and more comfortable. At  he point when your feet become exhausted you can inconspicuously change into the other pair to provide yourself some relief.For the second pair of shoes, select something  that will be comfortable for dancing.

Just like clothing, shoes are made differently and cut for different shapes of feet. A pair of size 7 shoes can fit two pair of size 7  feet very  differently. Talk to the salesperson about how that brand runs. Stuart Weitzman are notoriously narrow and  even buying a bigger size won’t solve that problem.

Style does not have to be thrown out the window to be comfortable if you shop smart and if the shoe fits…… BUY IT!

-Penny Frulla for Bridal Expo Chicago