Who Doesn’t Love Cake Pops?

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Remember last year when I was ranting and raving about the cake-pop and how it would be the biggest thing in wedding desserts since cupcakes stole the show about three years ago? Well, turns out I was right. Not only that – this little gem has inspired many to start an entire business catering to and serving only cake pops.

For those of you who missed my introduction last February to the darling of the dessert world, I would like to introduce you to the ” Cake- Pop”. For those of you who were with me while I extolled the virtues of the delightful smidgen of cake on a stick, lets re-familiarize ourselves with the cake-pop.

Cake Pops were ‘invented’ in 2011 by a woman who goes by the name ‘Bakerella’. On her website you will see a very happy young woman who says she was inspired to start blogging about her baking attempts after taking a cake decorating class.  I saw her website, I hope she got an A+. Maybe she didn’t invent them but she certainly is credited with bringing them into everyday conversation and to wedding sweet tables everywhere . Thank you, Bakerella.

In my quest to find out everything there is to know about cake pops I found that there are two different kinds:

1) Traditional cake-pops are made by crumbling an entire cake with some frosting into a bowl, smashing it into balls, inserting a popsicle or lollipop stick and dipping in hardening chocolate.

2) The newer version of the cake pop is made with a special baking pan that you fill with cake batter and cover with th accompanying  lid that completes the sphere to bake a  perfect circle every time. Insert stick, dip in chocolate and voila!

Of course cake-pops are not intended to replace the traditional wedding cake (but you could), they are adding another layer of deliciousness and pizazz to the sweet table (which they will). You can dip them in all kinds of toppings, sprinkles or have a great time decorating them. They are small and easy to work with, because they are on a stick and they are just the right shape. No mess, no fork, no plate, these little wonders will have you wondering…. what will they come up with next?

-Penny Frulla for Bridal Expo Chicago

It was just last year that the biggest trend on wedding sweet tables and at receptions was the cupcake. The cupcake was the hippest, hottest must-have for weddings in 2011 and I thought there couldn’t possibly be anything more fun or festive for a wedding sweet table. Guess what? I was dead wrong. I would like to introduce you to the ” Cake- Pop”.

Take a good look at this sweet little gem, you are going to be seeing a lot of it.

Cake Pops were ‘invented’ in 2011 by a woman who goes by the name ‘Bakerella’. On her website you will see a very happy young woman who says she was inspired to start blogging about her baking attempts after taking a cake decorating class.  I saw her website, I hope she got an A+. Maybe she didn’t invent them but she certainly is credited with bringing them into everyday conversation and to wedding sweet tables everywhere . Thank you, Bakerella.

In my quest to find out everything there is to know about cake pops I found that there are two different kinds:

1) Traditional cake-pops are made by crumbling an entire cake with some frosting into a bowl, smashing it into balls, inserting a popsicle or lollipop stick and dipping in hardening chocolate.

2) The newer version of the cake pop is made with a special baking pan that you fill with cake batter and cover with th accompanying  lid that completes the sphere to bake a  perfect circle every time. Insert stick, dip in chocolate and voila!

Of course cake-pops are not intended to replace the traditional wedding cake (but you could), they are adding another layer of deliciousness and pizazz to the sweet table (which they will). You can dip them in all kinds of toppings, sprinkles or have a great time decorating them. They are small and easy to work with, because they are on a stick and they are just the right shape. No mess, no fork, no plate, these little wonders will have you wondering…. what will they come up with next?

-Penny Frulla for Bridal Expo Chicago

 

Lavish Weddings – An Intimate Alternative

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 Many couples are opting for smaller, more intimate gatherings where their dollars are spent on quality vs. quantity; having  a luxurious, lavish affair for 75 people rather than a cookie cutter convention  for 350 people.  The problem is, where do you draw the line?

Make your guest ‘wish’ list and decide on the exact cut off number. This list is the closest people in your life, the people you cannot live without.  Decide immediately if you will be able to allow  single guests to bring a date or  parents to bring their children, stick to your guns and be prepared to have to defend this decision. These are people who have been with you for your whole life, people who will be there forever and ever, not co-workers or bosses or recent neighbors.

From the beginning, tell anyone who asks that you are planning a small, intimate gathering. This will prevent most from asking if they are invited. Be polite and tell them honestly, ” Jason and I have decided to have a small wedding and we will only be inviting family and our closest friends.” Of course, this means you should not be constantly talking about wedding plans to co-workers who are uninvited, save the juicy details for the maid of honor or your sibling. Remember, if you are having pre-wedding parties, they are restricted to invited guests only. Can’t invite people to a bridal shower and not invite them to a wedding, after all.

 Keep the wedding party small. There is no hard and fast rule for this but, if the guest total is 75, stay with one or two attendants. Kate Middleton had only one bridesmaid and her wedding was enormous, keep that in mind.

The benefits of a smaller wedding are many; you can spend more money on things that really matter to you like an exclusive location,  maginficent meal, extraordinary flowers, glamorous gown, extravagant shoes, elaborate invitations,  A-list photographer and a sumptuous sweet table. In the end it truly is a matter of quality versus quantity.

-Penny Frulla for Bridal Expo Chicago

 

 

Wedding Shoes – Summer Favorites

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There is something very special about the relationship between women and their shoes. For me, it is red shoes; anything from a light, orange-y red to a burgundy red, from a smooth patent leather to a buttery suede, I gasp every time! For wedding shoes it goes double. Almost as important as the gown is what to put on your feet. Because the right shoe will give you every reason to slightly lift the corner of your ball gown and show everyone your sassy little secret! If I had known then what I know now, I would have gladly worn red shoes on my wedding day … whether anyone noticed or not.

Without hesitation here are the hottest trends for wedding shoes for Summer 2012:

Bedazzled: Flawless, shimmering stones adorn shoes in every size, color and style. Whether completely encrusted with jewels, or merely a hint of sparkle  – get a pair and you won’t be sorry.

The Wedge – Once considered a casual style, the wedge has made it’s way into Bridal Fashion through sheer determination. That, and the fact that a wedge is probably one of the most comfortable styles of shoe if you plan to be on your feet for an extended period of time. You can have comfort and style!

 

Platform -  To add height, elongate your legs and feel like a showgirl, platforms are a fantastic solution. I various shapes, size styles and colors, platforms are everywhere!!!

Designer – The unprecedented success of the Christian Louboutin ‘red sole’ has seen an increase in designer shoe sales.  Ladies, if you allow yourself  one splurge, this should be it!!

Color - Brides everywhere are embracing the color trend and using it to express their individuality, style and love of shoes. My favorite? Something Red, or maybe even something Blue!

Can’t decide which trend is best for you? You don’t have to! This sparkle, wedge, platform, designer shoe by Benjamin Adams is dyeable in a multitude of colors and priced at under $400 retail, you don’t have to break the bank!

-Penny Frulla for Bridal Expo Chicago

 

 

The 2012 Golden Globes Red Carpet Roundup

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Last night was the first awards show of 2012 and my personal favorite of all awards shows. The reason I love the Golden Globe Awards is many but, the main reason is that although still a very formal awards ceremony, the nominees and presenters seem to be genuinely having a good time. Maybe it is because dinner is included, maybe it is because some see it is a dress rehearsals for the Academy awards but, personally I  suspect it is because they can drink in their seats! The one thing that really stood out to me was that all of the same trends we are seeing  in bridal fashions were right there on the red carpet; each of them  beaded, belted, sequined and accessorized to perfection. It was a glamorous and yet confusing night but, I walked away with a better knowledge of red carpet fashion! This is what I learned from last night:

How to wear an all over sequined gown- Laura Dern in Andrew Gn. While I am not a big fan of these tiny belts or all over sequins, this one works. Also, the neckline had some detail which broke up the ‘all-overness’ of the sequined dress and the plunging ‘V’ showed off her svelte figure.

How to be boring and glamorous at the same time – Michelle Williams  in a beautifully fitted yet boring Jason Wu gown. The gown had no design interest and once again she  fell short for lack of proper accessories.  The tiny black belt and black headband were of no consequence and did nothing for the overall look.

How to wear Reem Acra. One of our favorite bridal designers had a great showing last night - Diane Lane’s gown was my favorite of the three and the most flattering on her. Madonna ‘s (too much material, girl) gown had way too much going on  and Julie Bowen’s gown didn’t have enough.

Why not to let your children pick your clothes- Sarah Michelle Gellar flopped in Monique Lhuillier. Tye dye? Really?

How to wear a simple geomtric look – Zooey Deschanel was adorable (as always) in Prada. Selma Hayek dropped the ball when she picked this Gucci getup.

 

  

How to wear silk chiffon – Kate Becksinsale’s Roberto Cavalli silk chiffon gown was embellished with beaded detail and a flowing skirt while the details of Charlize Theron’s Dior gown  were in the design and execution. Both looked incredible.

 

How to stop traffic at any age – Jane Fonda looked so incredible that she rendered George Clooney speechless.

 

Speaking of which, Stacy Keibler was all smiles as she shows how to perfectly accesorize.

 

How to do “Grannies Gone Wild” – Jessica Biel in Marchesa.

How to be a great host -  while it seemed a risky move having him return after offending so many A-listers in 2011, it paid off big time for the Hollywood Foriegn Press as the comedian showed us he really could emcee the event  in a relaxed, casual and confident manner. His tuxedo choice was smashing but I would have preferred to see a tie! What can you say about Johnny Depp? He is just so darn cool.

 

What did you learn from last night’s Golden Globes?

-Penny Frulla for Bridal Expo Chicago

Quality vs. Quantity – Small, Sumptuous Weddings

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Last week we unveiled one of the wedding trends that began developing in 2011 and will most likely continue into 2012 is downsizing. Many couples (not just those with budget restrictions)  are opting for smaller, more intimate gatheringe where their dollars are spent on quality vs. quantity; having  a luxurious, lavish affair for 75 people rather than a 350 person sit down dinner.  The problem is, where do you draw the line?

How to keep your small affair a small affair:

1) Make your guest ‘wish’ list and decide on the exact cut off number. This list is the closest people in your life, the people you cannot live without.  Decide immediately if you will be able to allow  single guests to bring a date or  parents to bring their children, stick to your guns and be prepared to have to defend this decision.

2) From the beginning, tell anyone who asks that you are planning a small, intimate gathering. This will prevent most from asking if they are invited. Be polite and tell them honestly, ” Jason and I have decided to have a smaller wedding and we will only be inviting family and our closest friends.” Of course, this means you should not be constantly talking about wedding plans to co-workers who are uninvited, save the juicy details for the maid of honor or your sibling. 

3) Be prepared to get some flak. Some people will a) not think this is a great idea and b) be offended they are not invited. This is your celebration, it is your choice to handle it as you see fit. Whatever reason they give you for their dissenting opinion –  ignore them.

4)  As soon as you have whittled the guest list to the desired number, find and book your location.  Once you have secured your location, everything will begin to fall in place and any negative feedback will be drowned out by the beauty of what you can accomplish for the same amount of money.

5) Keep the wedding party small. There is no hard and fast rule for this but, if the guest total is 75, stay with one or two attendants. Kate Middleton had only one bridesmaid and her wedding was enormous, keep that in mind.

The benefits of a smaller wedding are many; you can spend more money on things that really matter to you like an exclusive location,  maginficent meal, extraordinary flowers, glamorous gown, elaborate invitations,  A-list photographer and a sumptuous sweet table. In the end it truly is a matter of quality versus quantity.

-Penny Frulla for Bridal Expo Chicago

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Counterfeit Couture – How To Avoid Fakes

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In difficult economic times most people look to save a few dollars on the pricier items they need for their wedding. Since the average wedding gown costs about $1500, I would estimate that the average designer gown is about $3000. Although this seems like a great place to shave off a few dollars, it is also the place where you are most likely to be scammed when you don’t know what you are looking for.

Designer merchandise is more expensive for several reasons; a lot of time has been put into  fit, fabrics and materials are higher quality and the construction is considerably better. Considering that almost all ‘replica’ merchandise is made in China, that should tell you something.

Christian Louboutin shoes  are extremely popular right now and are about the easiest fakes to recognize. For a while, the flagship store sold the designer shoes with a baby blue sole to represnt the ‘something blue’ for brides.  If you are thinking of purchasing a pair of those rare limited edition blue soled shoes, I can offer no help as I have not seen the real or fake in person. However, the red soled Louboutins have a shiny red, flexible sole with no other color present. Fakes almost always have a thin black band at the shoe part of the sole, have a matte finish and are more stiff than the real ones. Another hint is that the back of an aunthentic Louboutin will have a smooth, straight seam with no tab or overlap. I just finished reading a shopping alert telling the story of  unscrupulous shoppers  who buy, wear and return merchandise all the time. Here’s how it works: they buy the real shoes and return the fakes. Many times the unsuspecting store employees don’t even know the difference until it is too late. Can you imagine buying a $700 pair of shoes and getting dime-store knock-offs? The word furious comes to mind, along with a few others.

Designer Bridal Gowns -Tags means nothing. A long, long time ago I used to work in a salon where we removed every tag from every sample gown the minute they arrived… I still don’t know why. The point is that we had (on hand) large containers jam-packed with authentic designer labels. If someone were not honest, they cold pass off a replica as authentic simply by sewing this into the gown of an uneducated consumer. I do not know of any reputable salon that engages in this practice but, if someone were so inclined- it is very easy to accomplish.  The best way to spot a fake is to see it in person, ask to see the sample and compare as many of the details as you can. The best way to avoid this in the first place is to shop  only with authorized retailers of the gowns you select. Contact the designer or look on their website for recommended retailers in your area. An even better way to avoid this is to purchase your gown at a trunk show where the designer or a representative is present.

Accessories -Headpieces and jewelry are harder to spot since they are not as often copied. Shop on the internet if you will, but purchase in person. When you come across a high end headpiece or jewelry designer like Maria Elena or Cheryl King you will want to make sure you are getting what  you pay for. Again, ask for an authorized dealer in your area and avoid the internet.

Purses -Glad you asked. Purses are the most often copied merchandise and the hardest to spot. It is all in the details. Sloppy stitches, buckled material, crooked stones are all signs of a fake. If you are buying a Judith Leiber bag, remember they DO NOT have serial numbers embossed like other designer bags. They are lined with leather, usually silver or gold metallic and the stones are sizes 7-12.

WORST OFFENDERS: The internet is a hotbed of fraud. Anything that seems too good to be true, probably is. If you care about the label, about the construction, fit and fabric, purchase only from  a reputable retailer. This is true for any of your wedding merchandise. Ebay has cracked down on counterfeit merchandise, at one time hosting hundreds of counterfeit items claiming to be real. Now the counterfeit items have to be sold as such. There are some legitimate, authentic designer items for sale on the internet but these items are usually  samples or have been previously worn or used. Know what condition the item is in before you buy.

How to avoid fakes:

Remember- You get what you pay for.

Never buy an item missing tags or labels.

Always purchase from a reputable, authorized dealer.

If you think you have been sold counterfeit designer merchandise, contact your state’s attorney general and file a report. Make sure you have all pertinent information including date and point of purchase, name of seller and the form of payment used. You may also have recourse through the credit card company if you purchased using  a credit card.

-Penny Frulla for Bridal Expo Chicago