Spice Up Your Invitations!

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Wedding invitations have evolved into something so personal and unique that you can actually get a feel for the wedding itself just by seeing (and touching) the invitation. Whether you choose parchment, custom engraving or print the invitations yourself, there are dozens of things you can do to spice up your invitations without breaking the bank.

Photos – Consider incorporating your engagement photo into the invitation or save the date to make an impact.

Words - Using your own words, maybe some sort of prose, will add an artistic flair.

Be Creative - Use touches of your culture with color and font.

Sparkle – A little sparkle never hurt anyone, right? A touch of glitter, a rhinestone or iridescent ink is very exciting.

DO NOT  add confetti - no one likes opening an envelope with confetti in it.

Consider calligraphy instead of printed address labels, it really makes an impact.

Postage - Using a stamp with a specific theme is a nice idea. Take it a step further by using  custom photo stamps for all of your wedding postage. Also making sure you have the correct postage will save a ton of headaches. Can you  imagine having 150 invitations returned?

The most important thing to keep in mind when selecting your wedding invitations is that you don’t forget your personal style. Keep the event and location in mind and let that dictate the style of the paper, ink, font and wording.  With literally hundreds of choices, it can get very confusing but, don’t despair – there is a style out there just right for you. 

-Penny Frulla for Bridal Expo Chicago

 

 

 

 

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

 

 

Invitation Etiquette – Mistakes, Mishaps and Missteps

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Life is complicated. Weddings are even more complicated and proper etiquette is really, really complicated. Actually it’s not, it is really just common sense and it is not intended to make you feel better than other people, it is supposed to make other people feel comfortable with you. The most common etiquette mistakes are made with written correspondence.

When you begin to work your invitations, there are some fairly easy to remember tips:

-Save the Date cards, once reserved for only wealthy and important people, are almost standard fare these days. They should be sent 4 to 6 months prior to the wedding and only sent to people who will be invited to the wedding. Your wedding website ( if you have one) can and should be listed on the Save the Date.

-Never list any gift registries on your invitation. Save that for personal correspondences and your website. This is where a website comes in very handy for sharing information!

-Do not invite anyone to a pre-wedding event that you will not invite to the wedding. You can’t expect someone to come to your shower and give you a present if you’re not planning to invite them to the wedding. It would seem like they were good enough to give you a shower gift but not good enough to celebrate with you on the big day. The shower is meant to be a party for the women closest to the bride (and often her mom and the groom’s mom too). All these close female friends and relatives should also be invited to the wedding.

-Invitations with reply cards still need to have “RSVP” printed on them. This is just to remind them and it is a common courtesy. Many won’t send it back and someone will have to be delegated to make phone calls two weeks before the wedding to check on them. It’s a pain – but, there is one in every bunch… just be polite.

-Always add the right postage!!! Check and double check.

- It is not in bad manners to say ‘no children’ on the invitation. It would actually be bad to NOT mention it. Spell it out clearly and leave nothing to the imagination.

-Invitations should be sent out 6-8 weeks before the wedding. The RSVP date should be 2 weeks before the wedding date.

- Thank You cards should match the invitations and should be sent out as soon as you return from the honeymoon.

Invitation wording is trickier than ever; with blended families, multi-cultural parents, same-sex parents, all kinds of different combinations, it is hard to know where to draw the line. Your invitation specialist  should be able to help you with grammar, spelling and protocol. If you choose to DIY on the invitations, consult an etiquette handbook of some sort to walk you through the proper phraseology, you will not be sorry.

It’s a tough world out there, folks and etiquette makes it bearable for those of us who don’t answer the phone during dinner, who let old ladies sit on public transportation, who hold doors open for someone carrying a large package. It makes them feel more comfortable  and that’s the way it should be.

-Penny Frulla for Bridal Expo Chicago

 

Personalizing Your Wedding Invitations

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Wedding invitations have evolved into something so personal and unique that you can actually get a feel for the wedding itself just by seeing (and touching) the invitation. Whether you choose parchment, custom engraving or print the invitations yourself, there are dozens of things you can do to spice up the first impression your guests will get of your wedding.

Photos – Consider incorporating your engagement photo into the invitation to make an impact.

Verses – Using your own words, maybe some sort of prose, will add an artistic flair.

Incorporate – Use touches of your culture with color and font.

Sparkle – A little sparkle never hurt anyone, right? A touch of glitter, a rhinestone or iridescent ink is very exciting.

Do not add confetti - no one likes opening an envelope with confetti in it.

Address – Consider calligraphy instead of printed address labels, it really makes an impact.

Stamps - Using a stamp with a specific theme is a nice idea. Take it a step further by using  custom photo stamps for all of your wedding postage.

Postage -  Making sure you have the correct postage will save a ton of headaches. Can you  imagine having 150 invitations returned?

The most important thing to keep in mind when selecting your wedding invitations is that you don’t forget your personal style. Keep the event and location in mind and let that dictate the style of the paper, ink, font and wording.  With literally hundreds of choices, it can get very confusing but, don’t despair – there is a style out there just right for you. 

-Penny Frulla for Bridal Expo Chicago

 

 

 

 

Reply Card Roulette

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 Unlike some future grooms, my husband helped with a lot of the wedding planning. He picked the menu, the cake, the venue and he singelhandedly documented receipt of the reply cards. Every day he hurried to he mailbox to collect the replies and took great delight in making the necessary notations on the master list. I could tell when the cards began to dwindle because he started to walk a little slower to the mailbox. For us, the reply cards were an exhilarating experience, and eventually an exhausting one, since not everyone replied in a timely manner, replied appropriately or replied at all. Believe it or not, the reply card is fraught with  places for guests to make errors and faux pas and for some reason, this is where guests make the majority of blunders. Your part is simple: You address the invitation to the person(s) you are inviting and make sure that you have a place on the reply card for the number of invited guests. So, what do you do when it all goes awry despite your best plans and intentions?

-When you sent a reply card that is obviously intended for the invited guest +1 and the invited guest returns the card, adding +2 or more without having previously discussed this with you, including adding their own children without your approval or acceptance of the idea, it is time to pick up the phone. Simply tell the guest that their invitation is intended for them and one guest only and leave it at that. There are exceptions but, those exceptions are totally up to you. What if they show up with the +2 or more, anyway…? You have to be prepared how to handle this, just in case.

-When you have received no reply card and it’s one week before the wedding? Time to pick up the phone and make a call to this guest and ask if they will be attending. Be specific about the reason you are calling; so you can ensure all of your guests have a place to sit and a proper meal.

As for those who reply, “YES” and then don’t show, there must be a very good reason. Of course you don’t expect  someone with a serious illness or broken leg to jump out of a hospital bed to attend your wedding but, wait until after the wedding to then call and see if they are doing better. Don’t wait for them to call you, they won’t.  They will probably feel you are too busy to talk and will wait for action on your part. This is not a snub or lack of concern, and this is one of those tiny little things that can ruin a lifelong friendship. Pick up the phone, call and see what happened. You are the only person who can decide if their reason for being a no-show was adequate.

-What if the reply is “NO” and they show up anyway? This is tricky. Speak to someone at the venue and see if there is a place they can be seated (there is usually some wiggle room) Of course they won’t have an assigned table or a place card or a favor but, they will be able to sit and that is all that matters. If there really is no room, you will have to be the one to deliver the news as gently as possible. I know firsthand how difficult this can be, I actually had a couple show up after having replied “NO” and there were no additional seats available anywhere in the room. Our solution was to ask them to sit at the bar and we paid  ’a la carte’ for two additional meals. Tricky but not unmanageable.

There may be no single solution that works for everyone but, planning ahead will avoid hurt feelings and possible blowups. Consider posting information regarding seating on your wedding website if you have one, emailing people who you think may be having trouble with the reply card concept and possibly having specific instructions printed on the reply card. Some couples have resorted to adding “We have reserved ___ seats for you”  (or similar text) to the reply card. In my opinion, keep it simple and limit the possiblities of error. Although going above and beyond is a nice gesture,  I doubt if some people will even notice.

-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

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Most Common Wedding Etiquette Mistakes

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The purpose of good manners is to make other people feel comfortable. For centuries, manners have been dictated by society’s standards of conduct and this has worked out pretty well. Unfortunately some people never got the memo. In order for your wedding guests to feel comfortable, try to avoid these ‘most common etiquette mistakes’.

 1) Watch – I know that being late to your own wedding may seem inconceivable but, sometimes outside forces take over and you can’t control them. However, there should always be a plan in place to avoid being late. If something unforeseen occurs, make sure you are in contact with someone at the ceremony site to make an announcement at the time the wedding is supposed to start and give updates until you arrive. Being late for no other reason than you can’t keep track of time is rude in any situation, especially your wedding.

2) Save the Date – Sending someone a “Save the Date” card means they are also invited to the wedding. Both lists should be in sync. If you make a mistake and send someone a Save the Date and do not invite them, call them once you find out you have erred and apologize. If you send them an invite but had somehow omitted them from the Save the Date list, a call would be nice. In reality, Save the Date cards are a relatively recent custom so there is nothing that says you have to send them. Although nice, they are  not completely necessary so dont fret if you choose not to send them.

3) Invitations - Send the invitations 6- 8 weeks before the wedding. Sending the invitation two weeks before the wedding is rude and it makes the guest think they were an afterthought. If the invitation you sent came back to you for any reason, call the invited guest and explain to them what happened.

4) Church – Having a boombox instead of live music (strings or organist) is a huge mistake. This small expense will ‘class up’ your affair by leaps and bounds. Having boxed music at the ceremony seems a bit tacky, no?

5) Thanks – Sending Thank You Notes in a timely manner shows that you care. It shows that you are aware of your guest’s gift and you appreciate it. Waiting for nearly a year (or more)  to send out a Thank You Note is completely inconsiderate.

6) Gifts – Never list where you are registered in the invitation. You can put this information on your website if you have one but listing on the invitations is like saying “Come to my wedding and bring a gift.”

7) Flow – Make sure you have a qualified, trained and experienced DJ to keep things running smoothly during the reception. The last thing you need is to have  people introduced incorrectly or, even worse, not at all. The DJ  should have a script to work from and be well-versed on your specific wedding customs as well. A great DJ will almost certainly ensure a great reception.

The best thing you can do for yourself and your guests is to ‘forecast’ problems and plan ahead. A good wedding planner and a checklist will help. If all else fails, pick up the phone and ask for help… or forgiveness, whichever you feel is in order.

-Penny Frulla for Bridal Expo Chicago

 

 

 

 

Who Makes The Cut? How To Trim Your Guest List

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Once the budget  is determined for your wedding it is time to start planning! Of course it sounds like fun but, the devil is in the details and when it comes to whittling down a  guest list – be prepared to feel some stress.

If you are planning a large wedding with a limitless budget and an over-sized guest  list this can be even harder since everyone you have ever known (even peripherally) will expect to be invited. Look at all of the media attention devoted to the supposed ‘snub’ of the Obamas at the recent royal nuptials in April.

So how does one go about keeping their guest list under control without offending ?

1) Keeping your budget in mind, decide how many guests you will be able to invite.

2) Make a  list of everyone you would like to invite and see how close you are to that number. Remember that roughly 25% will be unable to attend so factor that into the equation. There are several ‘guest list’ templates available for computer use.

3) To begin eliminating immediately, use the one year rule for friends and extended family. If you have not seem or spoken to them in over a year, you are not obligated to invite them to your wedding.

4) Eliminate children. Address the invitation to the parents only and spell out very clearly that it is an adults only reception. You can do this in many ways but the easiest is through the save the date cards.

5) Ask both sets of parents to help you  reduce your list.

6) You do not have to invite co-workers unless you have a close friendship outside of work. Also if you invite one co-worker that you are very close to, you do not have to invite everyone. You shouldn’t have to defend your decision so if someone mentions the fact that they weren’t invited and another co-worker was, look them squarely in the eye and say “I am close friends with Sandra, of course she is invited!” If they are too thick to understand your implication, just walk away.

7) Unless you are of some political or social stature, every one of your parents’ friends and co-workers do not have to be invited. Keep the ones with whom you have a special relationship and move on. Of course it is good manners to allow the parents to invite a few guests.

8) You do not have to reciprocate. If you were invited to some one’s wedding fifteen years ago, this does not mean you have to invite them to your wedding. Things change and they know this as well as you do.

9) Don’t worry about inviting the same amount of people from both sides of the family. If he is from a large family and you are an only child there will be a difference in numbers.

At the end of the process, you should have a guest list that is within your budget and everyone is satisfied. Use this list as a master list and make changes as they occur. Never invite anyone to a shower or send ‘save the date’ cards unless they are invited to the actual wedding. Remember, an open dialogue will solve everything and you do not have to feel bad if you cannot invite every single one of your ‘facebook friends’. The most important people are your immediate family and closest friends and the two of you.

-Penny Frulla for Bridal Expo Chicago

“You are cordially invited” – Stationery made simple

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If the eyes truly are the window to one’s soul, your invitations are a window to what guests can expect at your wedding. Traditional or modern, conservative or funky, there is an invitation style for everyone. The question is: With so many choices, how does one find the right style for their nuptials?  Here are some easy steps to help you decide on your invitations.

 Do you have a specific style to your wedding? Formal, ultra-formal, casual or somewhere in between; find a style of invitation that suits the occasion. Your paper professional should be able to help you through this process, guiding you as to any specific rules governing each style.

Is there a theme to the decor of the wedding? Whether you have decided on a grand technicolor  scheme or if you opted on black and white everywhere, you’ll want to include that into the design of the invitation. Don’t be afraid to incorporate your colors and style  into your stationery choices and try not to be overwhelmed by all of the extras. Ribbon-ties, calligraphy, engraved, photographs… and the list goes on.  Take a deep  breath and keep your venue, color selection and your personal style in mind.

Budget is also a consideration so make sure you have all your needs in place before you decide on a particular invitation so you don’t get caught without some of the essentials. Save-the-date cards, Invitations, programs, inserts, placecards, table markers, guest book and thank you notes are all part of this important package.

If your wedding has some unique elements and you are not sure how to handle the wording, always consult your invitation specialist. Don’t forget to proofread everything before you put it in the mail and check with the post office to make sure you have proper postage on the envelope. You don’t want 150 invitations coming back to you because a square envelope ( no matter how small) requires extra postage.

According to all  planning resources, your wedding invitations should be in the mail no less than 6 weeks before the event.  Save the date cards are a whopping 6- 8 months in advance. This means it is never too soon to make plans to attend a Bridal Expo in your area.   Visit www.bridalshowexpo.com  for links to our vendors and to get four complimentary tickets so you can find an invitation specialist near you.

- Penny Frulla for Bridal Expo Chicago