Pregnancy and Weddings…Before or After?

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It hasn’t been that long ago that when a woman found herself in a ‘family way’, the wedding date was moved up and the due date was a mystery. By ‘not that long ago’, I mean in my lifetime. Thankfully that practice is nearly outdated, for about a dozen really good reasons… mostly because nobody cares if you are pregnant or not. Now, the problem is not that you have to get married, but if you want to get married… then should you do it before or after the baby is born?

There are some advantages to getting married while you are pregnant; namely your hair and skin will probably be more radiant than ever and you will most likely have what is commonly referred to as a ‘glow’. It will show up in the pictures and you will love looking at photos of yourself all pregnant and beautiful!   I was 6 months pregnant when my husband and I exchanged vows. That’s just how it worked out for us. There was  no shotgun, no lying about the due date and no surprises. We were adults and did what we wanted. If I had waited, I may not have ever wanted to do a wedding of any sort because once the baby was born, I was too busy with my glorious son to worry about place cards and table settings and floral arrangements. You may feel the same way!

For others, waiting until the baby is born to have a wedding is the right choice for several reasons; You can fit into a more traditional wedding gown after some or all of the baby weight comes off, you can plan your dream wedding and not worry about morning sickness, swollen feet or being exhausted during the process, you don’t have to worry about hormones and mood swings during this stressful time when you are already stressed out about being pregnant in the first place!!!

Either way, before or after, the choice is up to you. No need to fudge on dates or make excuses because, when it comes to love and marriage - the truth shall set you free!!

-Penny Frulla for Bridal Expo Chicago

 

 

Avoid Makeup Mishaps!

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Whether you have decided to go full out glam or opt for a natural look, there is nothing that can spoil your wedding photos quicker than poorly applied or ill-conceived makeup. Countless wedding horror stories plague the internet  and makeup is ALWAYS  at the top of the list.

Most women agree that makeup is an essential part of getting dressed in the morning. But everyday makeup will not last for an event as exhausting as your wedding. In order to have a flawless look you will need to start planning early.

Hire a professional.  The best way to find a professional that you like is to see some of their work. If you really want a smoky eye and there is not one example of this in their portfolio, you may have to keep searching. Make sure your makeup professional can handle your skin color as well. Have they ever worked on African American or Middle Eastern skin tones? If not, keep searching. Just because your favorite cousin went to beauty school does not mean she can handle your wedding makeup. Find someone you are comfortable with who does the kind of work you like.

Schedule a trail makeup session to make sure you don’t leave the chair looking like a circus clown. Take an objective friend and a camera with you so you can see how you look on film, not just in person. Sometimes makeup that looks severe in person shows up fantastic on camera and vice verse.

Always have a backup plan for the day of your event in case of a serious emergency. What if…… your makeup artist has a personal emergency (ruptured appendix or worse) and cannot fulfill their obligations? How would you handle it? Make sure you have all of the products used in your makeup trial. Ask if they have a back up person who you could call in case something unfortunate happens. Make sure at least one of your attendants can be trusted with a makeup brush.

And last but not least, keep some products in your purse for touch ups. Your lipstick will be almost gone after dinner, you will robably have to re-touch your mascara so it is imperative that you keep those items close by.

-Penny Frulla for Bridal Expo Chicago

Having The Frosting And Eating It, Too!

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If you think picking out a gown is difficult, just wait until you have to decide on your wedding cake. The look, the taste and of course – what type of frosting? The cake and the frosting you choose will depend on many factors; the location of the wedding, the outdoor temperature, what style of cake you want… and (of course) your taste.

There are 3 main types of frostings used in wedding cake decorating:

Buttercream frosting is made from butter or margarine combined with powdered sugar, flavorings, and liquid. This is by far the most popular frosting because it is easy to work with and very adaptable, plus it holds up well to humidity and temperature variations. These characteristics are especially important in the case of an outdoor wedding where there is an uncontrolled environment. If you love the look of fondant but can’t live without  buttercream frosting, relax…. a skilled baker can replicate the look of fondant with buttercream.

Whipped Cream frostings are made from powdered sugar, flavorings, and whipped cream – what could be simpler? Unfortunately the whipped cream is sometimes a problem since this type of frosting requires refrigeration and does not hold up well to heat or high humidity. However, this is the sweetest and fluffiest of all frostings and is a real treat  if the conditions are right. As far as the design is concerned, the possibilities are endless with a talented baker.

Fondant creates a very smooth and elegant cake covering but is less sweet and more dense than other frosting types which have lighter whipped textures. The main benefit of fondant is that, unlike buttercream frosting, in a fairly short amount of time you can have a silky, perfect-looking cake. In just a matter of minutes you can roll out your fondant, cover your cake, and smooth. You can also use fondant to create interesting shapes and figures for your cake that you wouldn’t be able to do with plain frosting. Accomplishing the same thing with buttercream frosting can be nearly impossible, even for the most dedicated cake decorator. However, fondant doesn’t always taste as good as buttercream.

There are no clear-cut rules  but, consider the taste and temperature to be the deal breakers. You absolutely cannot have a cake with whipped cream frosting in the middle of July in Louisiana and you will never get the same texture and taste of buttercream frosting using rolled fondant. Figure out what is the most important thing to you and use your baker’s expertise and advice to be able to accomplish your main goal – having a beautiful cake that holds up at least until it is cut.

Last but certainly not least – arrange to taste cake samples. If the cake looks great but doesn’t taste the way you want - go back to the drawing board.   For a lot of us – this is definitely the best part of wedding planning!

-Penny Frulla for Bridal Expo Chicago

 

Spring 2012 – What’s in Store?

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As the New York Bridal market is about to begin, retailers anxiously await the unveiling of the new collections. Color, fabric, cut and style… who will be showing what and which gown will be the one that sets women’s hearts fluttering?

Since the Spring Collections will be available in Bridal Salons in January for the busy season, this is the big one. The trends for 2012 will be defined at the Spring Bridal Market.

My predictions are for more color in Bridesmaid dresses. I firmly believe that women are ready to come out of the dark ages and express themselves with a burst of color, getting away from the  little black bridesmaid dress. The most popular colors? Greens, Oranges, Yellows and Reds. White could be a big color for bridesmaids, having seen several examples of the monochromatic scheme done in spectacular fashion this year!

Continuing the hiatus from extravagant veils, I believe women will  focus more on  glamorous headpieces and more natural hairstyle with lighter veils. Accessories are big. The right necklace and earring can make or break the look  and accessories are a crucial part of the wedding ensemble.

As for Bridal gowns, I think this season is going to show us a lot of tulle. Tulle skirts, big or small will be popular. Also heavily encrusted bodices and perhaps (dare I say) a few designers will produce something other than strapless. The designs will probably first manifest  in the form of spaghetti straps but, its a start. Belts will continue to accentuate mermaid and other slim styles and corset tops will still be popular with voluminous skirts made from yards and yards of various ruffled fabrics.  I also think we will see less of the pick-up skirt which I personally think is difficult to manage, anyway so “buh-bye”.

I can’t help but wonder if any of the high-profile weddings this year have inspired copies. I will be waiting with baited breath to see how many designers will come forward with their version of Catherine Middleton’s gown! Since the Kardashian gowns are already being copied by Vera herself, there is no need for anyone else to follow suit. But this is where I think the heavy tulle influence will come in.

I am equaly sure as our fashion team gets photos they will be posting them from New York, so stay tuned to see if any of my predictions are correct- and don’t be afraid to tell me I was wrong!

- Penny Frulla for Bridal Expo Chicago

Show Me The Sleeve!

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In case you didn’t hear, there was a celebrity wedding last weekend. Not just any celebrity but, a  celebrity (?) who has 5 million twitter followers and has the rare  opportunity to change fashion. My hope was to  steer bridal fashion away from the bare shoulders which have completely dominated the first decade of the 21st century, sliding into the second decade still in first place. The Kardashian wedding had more security than a NATO conference and most of it was to ensure that no one took pictures and leaked anything in fear Mom Kardashian (Jenner) could not collect her 10% from the reported $18 million profit so, the only photo currently available  shows nothing but bare shoulders and a diamond (not swarovski) headband and veil. We’ll get back to the headband in a moment.

Maybe I missed something but, the one Vera Wang gown I saw (and the grainy photo of the bridesmaids) looked completely strapless. Wedding gown? Strapless. Bridesmaids? Strapless. Mermaid, ball gown, pencil skirt, satin, tulle or beaded -  it doesn’t really matter since what I was looking for was something with a little more style and coverage. Let me clear this up once and for all: I am not a prude. I don’t have any religious convictions that prohibit me or anyone from exposing their shoulders in church or during a religious ceremony. I don’t particularly care if someone wants to go topless, strapless or completely see-through. My (strong) opinions on this subject are strictly from a design standpoint. Strapless has been done to death and it has quite frankly become boring. Show me something with some style and class and couture detail, show me something other than your boobs! Don’t even get me started on how  few women really look good in strapless, especially larger busted or heavier women. Two words that should never enter your mind at a wedding: Backfat and Sideboob.

Last spring we witnessed Katherine Middleton become the Duchess of Cambridge in a Long sleeved lace gown. Her gown, no matter how beautiful, did not seem to make a bit of difference to designers. Last weekend Kim Kardashian had the opportunity  to  leave an indelible mark on fashion history, to send designers rushing back to the proverbial  drawing board in a  mad dash before next month’s Spring bridal market.  If the small photo I saw is any indication, I doubt if anyone is scrambling.  Maybe one of the other two gowns has some standout quality that I haven’t seen yet and I am completely wrong about the whole thing. I guess we will see when the pictures come out in People magazine.

Back to theheadband:  just like the strapless gown, the tiara seems to have run its course so it was nice to see somthing unique. The headband was unusual because it didn’t exactly frame the face – it was sitting in the middle of it. Unusual? Yes, and no. I’ve seen this before, many times but not for some time. This style was quite popular in the 1980′s and was often accented by a large teardrop shaped stone ( pearl or crystal) in the center. Of course back then it was flanked by dozens of yards of veiling with huge poufs of veiling in varying sizes scattered with sequins, crystals, pearls and everything but the kitchen sink. This was a  version of that and perhaps could inspire brides to revert back to this style. Of course most brides can’t afford $10 million dollars worth of bling. I wouldn’t place any bets on this since sometimes styles  find their place in history and stay there, like the fluorescent, bubble, lame bridesmaid gowns. They made sense in the ’80′s but not so much now and anyone who would dare to bring them back would be banished into bridesmaid hell…. for all eternity. My opinion? The headband was okay but looked costume-y and would have made perfect sense with Grecain style gown or a vintage 1920′s look. With the strapless gown (from  the limited amount I saw) it looked like a wedding scene from the early days of Dynasty. Actually Dynasty seems tame compared to the Kardashian /Jenner production.

So what does all this mean? Actually nothing. Not one thing has changed since Kate or Kim got married and even though a few designers are challenging the  strapless trend (Kudos) it will take the consumers to force the trend to change. I am excited to see what the designers have in store for the upcoming market since I have inside information that there are a few designers offering non-strapless choices. Hopefully instead of cleavage, we can talk  about sleeve-age.

-Penny Frulla for Bridal Expo Chicago

The Royal Wedding – Fashion Roundup part 1

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If I am writing with a British accent today, it’s because I am still totally immersed in the Royal Wedding.

My Fashion Round-up for the day:

HRH Princess Catherine emerged from her hotel under the tightest of security today wearing a simple, elegant gown by Sarah Burton of the Alexander McQueen label.  It was everything we thought it would be and less. Less?  It was simple and very refined,  it mirrored the sentiments of the worldwide economy -  modest and unpretentious. Her gown reminded me very much of the gown worn by Princess Grace of Monaco in her 1956 wedding  which suggests that fashion and good taste are indeed timeless.  Even the veil was similar, edged in lace and draped smoothly (not poufy) over her face. In reality it draped a little too close and seemed to flatten her hair en route to the ceremony. The reason? Veiling is very light and lace can be heavy, particularly the re-embroidered kind that edged her fingertip veil.  No real damage done since after the veil was lifted from her face it settled over the back of her head and cascaded from the simple Cartier tiara borrowed from the queen.  In case you didn’t notice, the lace also edged the hem of her gown, and was added in the folds which gave some much needed detail to the train which her sister Pippa fluffed and arranged beautifully.  Her bouquet was equally simple and understated.  A bit on the small side, it incorporated the traditional Myrtle from Queen Victoria’s garden, Lilac, Hyacinth and Sweet William, a tribute to her husband.

Pippa Middleton, maid of honor was also dressed in Sarah Burton. Her slender, ivory mermaid gown with shoulder pads ( are they back?) and a deep V cowl neck, appeared to be a bias cut gown made of 4 ply silk crepe.  Bias cut  is extremely hard to wear unless you have a near perfect figure, which she does. At first it seemed a bit tricky for her to navigate the steps since it was very close fitting around the knees and at one point I was afraid she was going to have to hop up the stairs but, she shortened her step slightly and paused before each step. Very clever of her, and exactly the kind of move you need to anticipate if you plan to wear this type of gown.  I absolutely loved the flowers in her hair!

Carole Middleton was stunning in pale blue. When I heard pale blue I winced slightly thinking it would resemble a washed out Robin’s egg. This was more of a cornflower blue which worked out beautifully with her tanned skin. The cut and style of her entire ensemble was dynamic on her svelte figure.  Good news, it  looks like the  Dukan Diet works! 

Camilla wore a two- tone, hand embroidered ensemble by Anna Valentine which was well suited to her frame. I am not sure I understand the color combination but, I was slightly distracted by the size of her hat. I really wish she would tone down her hair a bit since she is getting older and the bat-winged hairdo is a little dated.  Jimmy Choo shoes….. good choice!

Queen Elizabeth was dressed head to toe in yellow. The primrose dress, coat and hat were all designed by Angela Kelly. The hat was a bit square and I have seen her wear more flattering colors but she was all smiles and hardly seemed to be able contain her joy. Bonus: She was perfectly color-matched to the Dean of Westminster,  was that planned? My favorite QE moment was when she was escorting the bridesmaids (flower girls) onto the balcony. At that moment I hardly saw the Matriarch of  one of the most revered Monarchies, I saw a grandmother doting on her flock.

The bridesmaids’ dresses – ivory with ballerina length pleated skirts, puffed sleeves and gold sashes tied in a “sumptuous” bow – were created by bespoke childrenswear designer Nicki Macfarlane. Again, the term bridesmaids here is used to describe what we refer to as flowergirls. Bespoke is a term used to describe anything custom-made to the buyer’s specifications.
Prince William chose to wear his royal guard suit. Since he has trained in all branches of the military, he could have chosen to represent any of  those in the official military regalia with great pride. His choice was especially touching since the sole  job of  the Royal Guard is to protect members of the Royal Family.
Prince Harry not only looked truly handsome  donning full military regalia but, maintained his mischievous grin the entire time. Perhaps he was thinking of how he would ask Pippa to dance at the reception. Is it just me or would they make a cute couple?
For me, the best part of the day was when they came out onto the balcony for the  ‘kiss’  first made famous at their parents’ wedding 30 years ago. It was quick, of course.  PDA is out, and now (it seems) so is opulence. Simple is the new black and less is once again more!
Tomorrow Part 2:  Hats and Misses
-Penny Frulla for Bridal Expo Chicago

The Royal Wedding Workout – guilt free viewing!

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The wedding of Prince William and Catherine Middleton is less than 24 hours away! My alarm is set for 3 am and the DVR is set to BBC America for commercial free, uninterrupted, live coverage of the events. I have even designed a mini-workout so I won’t be tempted to doze off since 4 am is a little early for me,  I don’t want to miss a thing and I don’t want to turn into a couch potato! My phone will be charged and by my side in case I need to compare notes with a kindred spirit.

I am sharing my workout with you so we can all get our day started shaking things up and not gluing our butts to the sofa for the wedding marathon!

Items you will need:
Water (bottled or otherwise) … LOTS of it!

Sneakers or shoes suitable  for movement!

Lets get started!  When the coverage begins, or when you begin watching, you can start the workout right away. Find a comfy seat with lots of room around you and you are ready!


Every time the host  says ‘Prince William’ you must take a drink of water. It is important to stay hydrated so you can stay focused and not be tempted to curl up and doze off.

Every time they say ‘Catherine Middleton’ (or any variation of her name prior to the nuptials) you must stand up, bend over and touch your toes. This reminds you that you must bow before the queen. They will be saying this a lot BEFORE the wedding but, not much after since she will have been bestowed a title by the time the affair takes place.

Every time they mention the ‘late Princess Diana’, stand up. With your feet planted shoulder width, stretch your arms up into the air five times.

When the Queen arrives, stand up and do ten jumping jacks. If she is wearing purple, do 20 more jumping jacks. I am actually excited to see what she will wear. She is known for her love of weddings and extreme love for her grandchildren, so I would bet this is probably the happiest day of her life, so far. She may be an aging monarch but she is still  a woman so, I would be willing to bet she is pulling out all the stops. Jewelry? Yes, please …..and lots of it!

When the bride’s parents arrive,  stand and bring one knee at a time up to your chest. Do this five times for each leg.

When Prince Charles arrives, do five lunges. First on the left side and then the right.  This is just to remind us all not to rush into anything no matter how good of an idea it seems at the time.

When Camilla arrives, run in place until she is seated.

When Prince Harry is shown,  stand one one foot, balancing for five seconds and then do the same with the other foot. If you can do this without picturing him in that unfortunate NAZI Halloween costume, you get an extra slice of wedding cake.

When Catherine’s car arrives, stand up once again. You are now in the presence of a future queen. Remain standing until she is at the altar.

When William and Catherine emerge from the church, stand up again.  Run in place, stretch, jog or whatever you wish. After the couple enters the carriage and begin their journey to Buckingham Palace, you can sit down.

The wedding day will more than likely begin around 2:30 am Central Standard Time so any time after that when you join, you can start right away. You can also add your own touches. I just wanted a way to get energized that early in the am without killing myself! 

For me – there is really no place I would rather be than watching this lovely couple exchange vows ….. even at that ungodly hour and from thousands of miles away!!

Since television around the world will be fixed on this wedding , so I encourage everyone to raise their glass to toast the happy couple!

Cheers!  Mazel Tov! Slainte! Prost! Salute! Skaal! L’Chaim! Kampai! Sante’!

-Penny Frulla for Bridal Expo Chicago

The Royal Fruitcake with Royal Icing

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Details have been revealed about the Royal Wedding Cake! Or should I say cakes? Cake #1 – (the main cake) is being designed by  Fiona Cairns and it is described as a traditional, multi-layered fruitcake decorated with royal icing in the Joseph Lambeth method using cream and white. Cake #2 was requested by Prince William and is described as a chocolate biscuit cake by McVities, who has been baking for the royal family since 1893.   Two cakes is really not  excessive  considering  William’s mother and Father had 27 cakes at their reception in 1981.

That is a lot of information. To most of us here on the West side of the pond, it doesn’t really make sense. Fruitcake? Chocolate biscuit cake? What is going on? Where’s the fondant? What about buttercream? Forget everything you know about American wedding cakes for now and open your mind to some new, international  possibilities.

Fruitcake – I have to admit I was taken aback when I heard the words Royal wedding and fruitcake in the same sentence.  I remember the fruitcakes my mom used to get as gifts at Christmas and make us  eat a piece to be polite to whomever gave it to us.  No thanks.  Now I did a little research and it seems that the bastardized version of fruitcakes is like that of anything else… inferior. The fruitcake that William and Kate will be sharing with their guests is something we would consider ‘bread’ or, more appropriately,  a muffin.  Imagine a dried cranberry, apricot, almond, raisin muffin! Possibly infused with some kind of alcohol, brandy perhaps? Now, thats more like it! Add frosting? Yes, please!

Royal Icing is a pure white icing that dries to a smooth, hard, matte finish. It colors beautifully and is really the best frosting option when you need intricate piping or ornate scrollwork done. When you see those beautifully decorated, intricate cookies on the covers of magazines, they are decorated with royal icing. The application is similar to spreading room temperature butter over the entire cake.

Joseph Lambeth method- Who is Jospeh Lambeth?  No surprise here, the Lambeth method is very popular in Great Britain and has been around since Joseph introduce his first book in 1934. What makes this method unique is the use of over-piping to create lacy, floral and ornate patterns and is is easy to recognize. Imagine a  cake with piping and scroll-work. Now imagine you added a layer of piping on top of the piping and scrollwork. On top of that piping  and scroll-work you added thinner piping and even more details. The end result is a very 3-dimensional cake that has so much depth you wonder how deep the icing really is and if there is any cake at all. Between the fruitcake and the icing and considering it is multi-layered (probably 6 or 7 layers) I would imagine this cake is going to weigh well over 500 pounds, in weight … not currency.

Chocolate biscuit cake is a no-bake cake that is described as one of his childhood favorites. He shared this cake with his mother and grandmother for afternoon teas throughout his childhood. This is more of a “grooms cake” which, until now has strictly been an American custom, that will be served alongside the main cake. Back to the no-bake part since this is right up  my alley. I won’t go into the recipe details even thought it is so simple I could make a few of these without blinking. Just imagine breaking up a bunch of shortbread cookies and basically gluing them together with melted chocolate in a buttered cake mold. After it is removed from the mold, drizzle it with white, semi or milk chocolate ( or all three) and serve with tea. My only question is : Will they be serving seconds? YUM!

The price tag for both cakes has been reported as $80,000 GBP and is being covered by Prince Charles, personally. If your currency converter is broken, that is roughly $132,000 US for the two cakes. With a guest list for the casual afternoon reception totalling  1,900 guests that is about $70 per slice.

My best guess is that even the cakes will set new trends. American Brides and fruitcake? Anything could happen!

-Penny Frulla for Bridal Expo Chicago

Losing weight before your wedding? Consider this

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Are you one of the millions of men or women who would like to shed a few pounds before a big event? Would you like to decrease belly fat, eliminate cellulite and have no back fat whatsoever? If so, read on.

Losing weight is difficult. Working out  can be painful and we all know that food is our best frenemy. What to do? I hoep you are ready for this life-changing secret: diet and exercise are your only options. 

If you want to lose weight before your wedding, you need to begin your lifestyle change the minute the ring is on your finger. The sooner you start, the sooner you will see results. 6 months before the big day is the suggested time frame for maximum results, 6 days before is still not too late to lose a pound or two.

There have been hundreds of diet books written and equally as many exercise programs designed specifically for quick weight loss. Do they work? Yes and No. It is possible to lose massive amounts of weight before a big event by deprivation but this is a quick fix and the weight will probably start to come back on the minute you taste the first piece of wedding cake.

The single best way to lose weight is to find a diet and exercise plan that sounds like something you could stick to and proceed with caution. Always consult a physician first. Why consult a physician? Just as every single person has their own unique fingerprint, each person has specific metabolic and nutritional needs. I can personally tell you weight loss horror stories that include shortness of breath, fainting and hair and tooth  loss. True stories from personal experience, not the kind of thing that is made up and emailed to five thousand people.

Diet – The Duakn Diet is the latest diet to receive a ton of media attention due in large part to Carole Middleton ( Mother of future princess Kate). There is also the Wedding Day Diet, Weight Watchers, Jenny Craig, South Beach Diet, Atkins and so on. They all work to some degree, and of course individual results vary.  The common thread is the fact that they ALL demand you drinks lots and lots of water. In addition some boast that you can re-train your way of thinking about food and some aim to re-train your body to burn calories in a specific manner.

Fitness – Almost every fitness center or gym offers a cardio program. Enroll. Try out one of the Bridal Boot Camps offered at many gyms, they work! If you can’t join a gym for whatever reason, try a workout CD or video game. Wii and Xbox 360 both have some very strenuous workout regimens where you can actually see your body on TV, in the privacy of your home. The good news is that Bridal workout tapes are targeted specifically for losing inches and toning in the areas that will be the most critical to look and feel better in gowns that are still tending to be strapless. Arms, waist and back are the three most complained about.

The last thing you need before you begin your diet/exercise regime is a realistic goal. Don’t expect to come out on the other end with a 22 inch waist if you never had a small waist to being with. You will be disappointed. Your basic shape will remain the same, only tighter and more tone. You will also reap the benefits of healthy eating by enjoying clearer skin and healthier hair and nails. Its a win/win!

-Penny Frulla for Bridal Expo Chicago