About bill@bridalexpochicago.com

Bill Brennan is President and CEO of Bridal Expo Chicago and Milwaukee which produces 31 bridal events and fashion shows. Our attending brides and grooms-to-be live busy lifestyles and are looking for a variety of unique products and services to use for the most important day of their lives.Local and National Retailers exhibit at our shows to connect with our attendees. Our bridal events delivers a mutual benefit between the exhibitor and the bride; an opportunity to interact on a face-to-face and grass roots level. It is a win-win for both to-be-weds and wedding professionals.Bill has a diverse background in special event and meeting planning, bridal marketing and advertising, and sales training.

Glorious Garnishes For Captivating Cocktails

Having signature drinks at your event, whether they are alcoholic or not, has become a must have for an interesting, lively affair. Signature cocktails are the epitome of fun and creativity so, the garnishes and accoutrement you use to adorn them should be something that also shows your flair, fun and festivity!

How about fruity ice cubes and cocktail stirrers for summertime drinks? Blueberries, strawberries, raspberries will all light up a lemonade or sweet tea as well as a wine spritzer!

 

Why not serve chocolate drinks with an extra dash of chocolate ….  Try decorating the edge of martini glasses with chocolate sprinkles for a chocolate martini. A dash of mint? Why not!

 

Multi-colored sprinkles add color to a wide variety of drinks from shots to fruit punch!

 

Vodka-soaked, chilled cranberries add zest and pizazz to a Cranberry-tini or even a simple glass of champagne!

Your guests will adore a peppermint cocktail with a peppermint garnish for a winter wedding:

candy cane cocktail winter cocktail unique cocktail wedding ideas wedding cocktails reception ideas for your wedding white cocktail winter drinks winter wedding wedding party blog

Last but, not least – make sure the glasses are the right size and shape for the drink and the garnishes. It will make all the difference in the world!

pretty-cocktails unique cocktail ideas wedding ideas wedding cocktails wedding decor reception ideas cucumber cocktail yummy cocktails unique drinks wedding party blog

 

-Penny Frulla for Bridal Expo Chicago

Blush Pink – A Year-Round Choice!

There are some colors that are timeless, colors that transcend theme and season, that magically work in almost any venue and seem like the decor was planned around the event instead of vice verse. Blush is one of those colors.

Blush is defined as a warm, delicate, rosy color. Definitely one of the most diverse colors in the pink family, blush can be worn by almost every skin tone from Olive to fair to African American to Asian.

 

Designers have been showing bridal gowns in blush for years!

Blush goes perfectly with a Victorian or Vintage themed event.

Sumptuous flowers with crystal accents create a French Art Deco mood.

Belts, table accents, shoes, jewelry and  other wedding accessories make a beautiful and delicate statement when featured in blush. This includes  desserts and cakes.

The greatest benefit of blush is the versatility. You will never find another color that is as easy to match or blend as blush, and with blush as your main color, you won’t have to worry about an accent color, since everything goes with Blush!

-Penny Frulla for Bridal Expo Chicago

Red Carpet Roundup – 2013 Grammy Awards

The Grammys are always so much fun to watch because musicians  seem to have so much fun with their fashions…. they don’t hold back – they have such a flair!!  Last night was a tad more high brow ( no one showed up in meat or laid an egg) but, rest assured there plenty of red carpet hits and misses!

Starting with the worst of the worst

10) Jennifer Lopez – Everything about this dress by Anthony Vaccarello is wrong, the slit, the fit and the overall boringness of the “I have to expose myself to be relevant” mentality. 

Jennifer Lopez

9) Adele wearing  floral draperies. This is a common mistake; your dress does not have to match your shoes excatly. She would have been better off picking one bright color to go with the floral shoe!

8) Kelly Clarkson wins big in the singing department but, unfortunately is a huge fashion fail. It seemed like a safe choice, a non-descript little black dress but, this one is not the right one. Blah and ill-fitting. Kelly has so much going on for her in the talent department,  but, girl needs some fashion advice…  badly!

kelly clarkson grammys dress 2013

7) Lisa D’Amato in a really strange dress fit for a hoe-down.I can’t stop humming Entrance of The Gladiators. I’ll wait while you google it…..

 

6)Florence Welch vs. Godzilla. Wearing a green sequined Givenchy gown is a great idea, unless it has spikes made of _______!  What?

5) Kimbra in Jaime Lee Major. In many ways , I think this dress is adorable…. Fun, sparkly, silly, youthful  and just a little of this and that. But, the color combination is all wrong. Seriously….. it’s the Grammys – don’t be shy!

Kimbra and Gotye

 

4) Kelly Rowland in this unbelievably well-fitting and show-stopping gown by Georges Chakra.

3) Katie Perry is all grown up and very sophisticated in this beautiful Gucci gown. Top to bottom perfection.

Katy Perry

2) Justin Timberlake has never looked better than in this Tom Ford suit.

Justin Timberlake

1) Rihanna  is RED HOT, sheer perfection in Azzedine Alaia. It doesn’t get any better than this!

Rihanna

Finding A Dress For Mom… Definitely Harder Than You Think!

 I have learned a lot in my life. But, there is one question that I have yet to find the answer:  Why is it so hard for women over 50  to find just the right dress for a special event – ?  
First of all,  most  are not 100% comfortable with their bodies anymore and hide behind their clothing. They wear baggy sweaters, mom jeans and/or frumpy clothing most of the time. When it does come time to find a dress for the wedding of their child, they panic and all wind up wearing a long dress with a jacket. Here is a tip: THEY ALL LOOK THE SAME!. Satin jacket with crepe dress or crepe jacket with satin dress – it is nearly a uniform of the wedding mother who just can’t find anything else.

Secondly, there is a double standard: we are told we can’t wear short dresses anymore no matter how great the legs but, designers consistently show strapless gowns for women who shouldn’t have worn them when they were 20 , much less when they reach senior ‘citizenship’. Hardly fair, is it?

 Here are a few things to consider before you buy anything to wear to  your adult child’s wedding:

#1) Forget everything you hear, read or see on TV. If you have great, shapely legs and want to wear a shorter dress, wear it! 3″ above the knee is about the limit for a host of reasons but, short skirts are not limited to the X or Y or Z generation.

#2) Accessorize. Find a dress you love in your size and forget about being perfect or looking like a supermodel. Make the most of a simple, elegant dress by accessorizing to the max! Great necklace and earrings, beaded scarf, or even a hat will draw the eyes to your face and away from the mid-section where you may be a little thicker than you used to be. A great pair of heels will also do a lot for your self -image.

#3) Wrap it up. Consider a wrap dress if your tummy isn’t as flat as it used to be. A wrap (around) dress can hide 10-15 lbs easily. If the fabric is right and you accessorize properly, you will look stunning. Diane Von Furstenberg gave us the quintessential wrap dress in the 1970’s and it has evolved into a garment that can literally be worn for any occasion depending upon the fabric.

#4) Who are you? Don’t forget your personal style. If you have always liked a certain type of dress, don’t shy away from it because you are older. Underneath the laugh lines, next  to the spanx, lies the same woman who ran cross-country, captained the cheerleading squad, pledged a sorority and later attended every PTA meeting. You are what you are and what you are needs needs no excuses.

#5) Undergarments are everything. You don’t need to wear a girdle or a corset, you don’t need to wear extra tight super control top pantyhose.  But, wearing the right panties and bra will make any gown look better.

I know how you feel. Every day someone tells you that you don’t look your age, in fact you don’t really feel your age.  You walk confidently down the street in shorts in the summer, you play tennis, ride horses, swim, or run. You feel like you get better each and every day until you are confronted with that hideous mirror in the dressing room and the fluorescent lights! Let me tell you – those lights are lying. You are better! You don’t need a face lift  butt lift or liposuction….. all you need is the right dress, just ask Helen Mirren or Jane Fonda!

-Penny Frulla For Bridal Expo Chicago

 

Jane Fonda - The Red Carpet at the Cannes Film Fest

Real or Fake? What’s The Difference?

“You get what you pay for”… it’s true in many cases, and we all know it.  If you have your heart set on designer gown, buying a knock-off will never be the same. Not only the designer tag, some key elements may be missing. The same goes with jewelry, shoes, and just about everything else. Here are the facts  surrounding the  real vs. fake argument.

Gown– Buying a  copy of a designer gown is never a good idea. Can you spot the fake in this picture?

Headpiece– The same headpiece for less money (made poorly)  is usually a disaster. Once your hair is done, having a headpiece that is poorly made can fall apart and will most likely destroy your hairstyle.

Eyelashes – Applied by a professional individually or even in strips is fine. Doing it yourself is probably a bad idea unless you have tons of practice. Otherwise, they will look like caterpillars stuck to your eyelids. Three words: Professional makeup artist.

Hair – Even the best hair extensions can ruin your hair for a period of time. The good news it is rarely permanent damage, bad news is that it escalates permanent hair loss if you are already prone. Bad hair extensions look like hair plugs and can fall out in clumps at any time for no reason. If you decide on hair extensions for your wedding, make sure it is done professionally and short term only.

 

Tan – Over exposure to the sun in tanning beds and in real life has a negative affect on your skin. Self spray tans have a distinct odor and can streak or come off on your clothes plus they usually come out looking orange. The best idea if you must tan before your wedding is a professional spray tan  no less than 5 days before the wedding. Even if your tan is just perfect – don’t forget to exfoliate the day before your wedding to avoid discoloration of the gown.

A good spray tan should look like this:

Not this:

Nails – Artificial nails, either gel or acrylic can look very natural so if you break a nail shortly before your wedding, this is an excellent option. Having extra long nails when you aren’t used to them makes things difficult to maneuver but, having extra long nails applied too long before the wedding runs the risk of  breaking one or more shortly before ( or during) the wedding.

This is a suitable manicure:

As opposed to this:

Shoes – Knock off designer shoes are the absolute biggest mistake you can ever make. Your shoes should be comfortable, well-fitting and made of natural materials. Buying a copy of designer shoes in pleather is a mistake. Find the shoe that feels and fits the best on your foot without worrying about the label and you will never regret it.

Makeup – A lot of research and testing goes into cosmetics. Well, not all cosmetics. Although it may  possible to find less expensive makeup that does the same thing as a really great (probably expensive) foundation or Bare Minerals, the chances are you won’t.

At the end of the day what really matters is how you feel. If you are so bedazzled and bogged down with tips, extensions, weaves and spray tans that you are hardly recognizable or if you are so worried about designer names that the quality has become an after thought, it might be time to re-think your priorities. When it is all said and done spending a little more money for quality products may sometimes be the only option to avoid becoming a knock -off of yourself.

After all , you get what you pay for.

-Penny Frulla for Bridal Expo Chicago

 

 

 

Who Doesn’t Love Cake Pops?

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

 

Over The Top Proposals – Enough or Too Much?

How far is too far when it comes to orchestrated proposals? Just ask “Hector ‘Tank’ Martinez, who proposed to Paige Hernandez in front of his family and friends,” the description on the YouTube video reads. “Big ups to the 710 Bikerz and everyone else who took part in this event.”

The California Highway Patrol said on Wednesday it is investigating the incident and that felony charges for impeding traffic could be filed.

To view first hand – click here http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mWGlqmrGQ44.

Think that’s the worst? Oh, no…..

How about Ryan Thompson who pretended the tiny little plane he was piloting with his GF Carlie Kennedy as the only passenger was about to nosedive into Lake Shore Drive. There are a lot of words I would have for him, if I were her… “YES” is not one of them. She probably said yes from being nervous ( I hope). Personally,  I don’t want to be married to someone who thinks its funny to scare me to death. You can see his (awesome) sense of humor in this video. For me, it is hard to watch.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=kxTAjVGN4CE

Last but,  not least there’s the one  guy ( who wishes to remain anonymous) who decided to stage a ‘kidnapping’ to propose to his girlfriend. Well, it seems his friends who were roped into helping him got a bit carried away and police were called by a woman walking past, who saw a bunch of young men pull a young woman out of a van and into another car.

 

I get it. You want to be funny and clever, and original…women love that kind of stuff. But, eventually women want the kind of guy they can really count on. Someone who doesn’t think a practical joke is cutting their brake lines or filling our gas tank with explosives.

Gentlemen, please remember that this is not a competition, you don’t have to have the biggest, baddest,  proposal of all time. Just be sensitive, kind and if you have to do a public proposal, try your best to make sure you are not breaking the law.

-Penny Frulla for Bridal Expo Chicago

 

Have Your Cake and Enjoy It!

Deciding on your wedding cake sounds easy, right? WRONG!  Between the look, the taste and of course – what type of frosting… you will want to pull your hair out!  There are dozens of choices and endless combinations, not to mention that the cake and the frosting you choose will depend on a lot of factors; the location of the wedding, the outdoor temperature, what style of cake you want… and (of course) your taste. Having a great looking cake that tastes bad is  just as much of a disaster as a delicious cake that looks awful.

For me , the most important part of the cake is the frosting so I have broken it down into three main types:

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  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 together. Finding a cake you both love will be a lovely memory.  This is definitely the best part of wedding planning!

-Penny Frulla for Bridal Expo Chicago

 

 

 Tipsycake, Chicago,IL

 

Leeson’s Cakes, Tinley Park, IL

Sharon’s Custom Cakes, Crete, IL

Oak Mill Bakery Chicago, IL

 

 

Red Carpet Roundup – 2013 Sag Awards

At the Screen Actor’s Guild awards last night, there were a slew of stars gearing up for the Oscars. But,  with a massive outbreak of the flu nationwide, more than a  few big names were left at home with the sniffles.

Did you see Justin Timberlake debut his professorial look?  Talented? YES! Funny? You bet! This suit is a moderate loser but, he is getting more and more adorable with age! Oh, wait – Jennifer Lawrence is in this photo with JT and Bradley Cooper? Let’s just think about how that feels for a moment….. nice.

 

In the Navy:
Amanda Seyfried rocked the red carpet in Zac Posen. Love the hair on one side, love the necklace, love the pose… “My hand on my hip says I’m sassy- but, my head is tilted (slightly) down so I am humble about it!”

 

Nicole Kidman in Vivienne Westwood. Love is a strong word and so is hate. This look makes me feel ambivalent, nothing particularly striking but not a  mistake. “I’m a mom, I’ve had work done – but, here’s my leg.”

Nicole Kidman - SAG Awards 2013 Red Carpet

Jennifer Lawrence – The best thing about this gown is that there is not one detail other than the cut and fit of the garment itself. Plain? Yes… but, beautiful because of or in spite of the fact! Although her hand is perched gently on her hip and her head is tilted in an ‘ever-so-sweet’ fashion, I would not want to get on her bad side. She exudes confidence and a badass quality I cannot even fathom.  ” I am posing, I am sweet ( see my head is turned ) but, do not make me mad. I will rip off this couture gown and chase you in high heels!”

ps – Not a wardrobe malfunction, the gown is made in layers to eliminate bulk. The underlayer is attached to  silk chiffon so,  when she walked/lifted the top layer to take a step/ caught her  heel on the gown,  the chiffon peeps through and it make the gown appear to have been ripped.

 

Jennifer Lawrence, SAG Wadrobe Malfunction

Jessica Lange wore a beautiful gown by  J. Mendel. Soft, flowing and her hair and makeup were flawless. Really a great look for a lady of her … (whats the word?)…. talent. 

Back in Black:


Sigourney Weaver, are you high on cold medicine?  I get it – you aren’t a size 2 anymore  and maybe you want something a little more loose fitting… but, this is a disaster. Who you gonna call? A stylist!

Jane Lynch must have been taking the same cold medicine as Sigourney Weaver – this  looks like something that she might have found in the back of Madonna’s closet. She has a terrific figure but this dress is all wrong for this occassion. Maybe Halloween in the Village. Maybe.

Best of Black:

Tina Fey in Osacr de la Renta and Amy Poehler in Zuhair Murad, our favorite funny gals from the Golden Globes were spot on with their fashion choices last jnight. Wit, looks and good taste … those girls are on fire! Sizzle!

Amy Poehler & Tina Fey - SAG Awards 2013 Red Carpet

Did you have any favorites from last night’s SAG awards?

-Penny Frulla for Bridal Expo Chicago

Salute To Bangs! – 2013 Hair Trends

Ever since the First Lady, Michelle Obama, showed up with bangs last week , the media has gone wild! The truth is that all it it takes is something as simple as one very  highly visible person to modify their appearance for a trend to slowly take hold. On the other hand, this style change was more like the “Shot Heard Around The World.” Every program, every channel was asking the burning question, “What do you think of the First Lady’s bangs?” For a brief moment, there was no debt ceiling, no fiscal cliff and no gun control ….. just bangs. In honor of Mrs. Obama, here is my salute to bangs- of all lengths and kinds!

Long bangs – Defined as long bits of hair  that frame the face but come to the middle of the eye …at least! Long bangs look great with layered hair . It all  frames the face at the same time and is very slimming.

Long Bangs  look equally great with short hair.

Side bangs – Any length of bangs that are swept  to one side. Side bangs are great if you have a cowlick in the front of your hairline and they are soft and flattering to the face.

Pixie Bangs –  This is what my bangs looked like when I cut them myself as a young girl and also the last time I got my haircut and wanted to strangle the hairdresser. Really great on small faces or with short, wispy hair… not on me!

 

Blunt Bangs are cut straight across with no feathering. Blunt bangs are difficult to wear for some and absolutely perfect on others. Bunt pixie bangs are an odd choice but, there is something for everyone.

Amelia Lowe Short Haircut with Blunt Bangs

 

Which brings us to the most popular style, the current style worn by the first  lady, the Curved Bangs. Curved bangs frame the face on the sides and look really flattering on almost everyone.

They are tapered into layered or blunt cut hair.

Most importantly, they are long enough  to be incorporated into the hair or slicked back  if necessary but, no so long that they obscure your eyesight.

The right bangs will make you look and feel 10 years younger. Be careful, though and DON’T Experiment with bangs unless you have a solid 3 months to completely grow out any mistakes!! My advice: Start early if you are feeling the ‘urge to splurge’ on bangs!

 

-Penny Frulla for Bridal Expo Chicago