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

 

 

 

Politically Friendly Weddings

Supposedly, there are two things you don’t discuss at family gatherings; politics and religion. In truth, putting politics aside for one night might not be an option when the bride is a blue-dog-Democrat and the groom is a dyed-in-the-wool  Republican….and we are three days away from a major (presidential) election!

Given the current political climate where so many unflattering distinctions are made between left and right, red state and blue state, conservative and liberal, it is kind of fun to peek into how bipartisan couples make their celebrations come together without tearing them apart.

So how does a couple of differing political backgrounds and views put their differences aside for a night of revelry? It is a lot easier than you think.

Spotlight –Bring it out in the open. Without condescension or trivialization, openly address the situation. Have a  Election-themed affair with Donkey and Elephant favors at each table. Instead of numbering the tables, name them after your favorite politicians  of each party and mix it up. Put Republicans at the Clinton table and Democrats at the Reagan table. If you really want to have some fun,  how about large cut-outs of current and former candidates and let guests take photos with them…. just like on the street corners in Washington DC.

Seating Chart – As nice as it is to think that everyone will put their differences aside for one night, they won’t. Think about this when doing your seating chart. Unfortunately this means more work for the couple but, it will be worth it to make sure Aunt Sarah doesn’t go off on a Social Security rant to one of your dearest friends. We all have that one relative or friend who thinks their opinion matters more than everyone else… and they think they are much smarter, as well. Put them where they will cause the least damage!

Edit – Ask anyone giving toast or speeches to make sure they keep it light and fun. This is a great time to jab but, no name calling. Remember that humor goes along way… think of the White House correspondent’s dinner. If you have any doubts, ask an impartial (third party, if you will) person to take a look at what your speakers have to say.

Discuss –Talk to both of your families as a couple, at the same time if possible. Sit them down and tell them that you would like for them to behave for one evening and leave the Obama-care discussions for later. Explain  that they have a lifetime to blame Bush (or Clinton) for the current economic debacle but for tonight they need to check all snyde comments and opinions at the door.

Change –Don’t try to change everyone’s opinion to suit yours. Don’t marry someone thinking you will change their political views and don’t presume that your family will change theirs  either. Accept the differences and move on.

Topics to avoid are healthcare, immigration, and scandal, as each party is equally prone to having skeletons in their closet. For every John Edwards there is an Arnold Schwarzenegger so be careful when opening that door as it is not an easy one to close.

 There are many couples of opposite political views who make it work nicely without sacrificing their opinions. James Carville and Mary Matalin are two of the most opinionated political advisors of different parties and they have had a very successful marriage.

Now, if  politicians could only learn to play nice, we might get something done.  Maybe we should ask Mitt Romney and Barack Obama to plan an entire wedding……. without the help of their wives!

Penny Frulla for Bridal Expo Chicago

Horror Stories – Wedding Style

For most people, planning any event  can bring on nightmares of showing up in your underwear and all kinds of other things that probably won’t happen.  When planning a wedding, this can easily be magnified by the size of the event and level of stress you are able to handle. And if your imagination is vivid enough you will imagine fires being set by candles, gobs of food staining your bridal gown, the groom passing out, and some other equally horrific events. The truth is that some of your worst nightmares can come true if you don’t plan ahead.

ZOMBIE BRIDE – Not getting enough sleep, dirnking too much alcohol or caffeine or Red Bull can temporarily affect the way you look. To avoid dark circles, use the days leading up to your wedding to relax and implement healthier eating.

TEXAS CHAINSAW BRIDE – This is not the day to do a complete makeover. You want to look like a very pretty version of yourself, not a over-processed, over made-up, over-the-top version of yourself. If you look into the mirror and don’t think you look like yourself, you might want to tone it down a bit – leave the big hair to the Texas beauty pageants.

JACK O’ LANTERN BRIDE – Spray tans and self tans can turn out the be the wrong color for your skin and there is very little you can do to fix it at the last minute. Don’t experiment with a new bronzer on the day of your wedding, either. Orange is perfect for Pumpkins but not so much for bridal photos.

BRIDE OF DRACULA  – What makes a great photo? A great smile! Even Dracula knows that yellow teeth can ruin the best outfit. 

DISAPPEARING BRIDE – To be early is to be on time, to be on time is to be late. Plan ahead, traffic and construction can give you a migraine on the day of your event!

No matter what your worst nightmare may be, planning ahead and attending one of our Luxury  Bridal Expos will help you avoid the horrors of wedding planning.

-Penny Frulla for Bridal Expo Chicago

 

 

 

 

Blending Cultures At Your Wedding

If you think planning a wedding is hard, imagine how hard it is to plan a wedding with families from two entirely different backgrounds and customs. Even if everyone is in agreement about the specifics, there will be times when you will be worried about which traditions to use from each culture. Don’t sweat it… really. The truth is  that  the  absolute, hands-down best weddings are the ones where  couples incorporate customs from every aspect of their blended life and start their own.

There are no rules that say both couples cannot express their families’ wedding customs together. In fact, you may find that your customs are similar. This is nothing to argue about, this is a chance to open up to one another and to show your future in-laws you are willing to compromise.

Jumping the Broom is a custom that originated in Scotland or England among the Gypsy clans. It was adopted in the United States by African Americans during slavery and brought back into popular practice after several books and movies recognizing this (blended, borrowed) African American tradition. It is a symbolic gesture of togetherness. I wish it was a symbol that my husband was going to sweep the floor.

In Italy, either a roasted baby pig (porchetta) or roasted baby lamb (bacchio), depending on region, may be served, accompanied by two pasta dishes and assorted fresh fruit. As a symbol of the essence of marriage, newlyweds hand out sugared almonds representing the bitter and the sweet in life.

At a traditional Greek wedding, dishes are smashed on the floor for good luck and money is thrown at the musicians. Back to the broom – that is some cleanup!

Jewish weddings feature a lively Israeli dance called the Hora. While the couple holds on to either end of a handkerchief, they are lifted into the air on  their chairs and the dancing continues. Hold on tight so that no one drops you!

Hindu/Indian weddings are  lively affairs that can last up to four days. For a blended family you can go  traditional American for your formal wear but, consider using colorful reds, golds and deep orange for your wedding theme since they signify happiness and prosperity.

Korean weddings serve Kuk soo (noodles), which symbolize long life. To find out if someone is married, ask “Kuk soo mo-gus-soy-oh?” (“Have you eaten noodles yet?”)

Arras In the Mexican tradition, the groom gives the bride thirteen gold coins blessed by the priest. The presentation and acceptance signifies their bond and the coins are saved as a family heirloom. Have you seen the price of gold, lately? …..that is some gift!

If by some chance your family does not have any specific cultural background or no specific way they celebrate rites of passage other than traditional American customs, don’t come unglued when the other party suggests something you’ve never heard of. Open yourself up to new possibilities; the food, the music, the decorations – you may be surprised.

Start your own traditions as well; candle lighting, sand ceremony, even something as simple as writing your own vows or changing the music as you walk down tha aisle can make a huge difference.  Merging families isn’t just about sticking people in the same room and expecting them to get along. It is about making other people feel like they are important, and your actions will speak louder than words.

-Penny Frulla for Bridal Expo Chicago

Kids and Weddings – Yes or No?

The best part about your wedding is having everyone you love in one place at one time. Aunts, uncles, cousins, best friends and (may times) their significant others. People with whom you have shared experiences, and looking forward to adding this to your list of fond memories. Then, the subject of kids comes up. The subject of children at weddings is a buzzkill for almost everyone …with or without children.

People with children don’t understand why you don’t want their little darlings around, why they have to exclude their children (part of the family) from a family gathering. They do not always want to leave their children out of the celebration and if there is travel involved, how long do they have to make arrangements for their children’s well-being? They consider it a huge inconvenience and some parents will be resentful.

But, some people with children don’t always want to travel with them or take them to a fancy event. They would like to have a night out without worrying about who ate their vegetables and making sure someone uses the right spoon. No highchairs, no temper tantrums, no whining…just a night out with your spouse and a glass (or two) of chardonnay.

People without children would often prefer you leave them at home, find a sitter and be done with it. They haven’t bonded with children, they don’t need or want the worry of children ruining their event with bad behavior,  out of control, touching things that don’t need to be touched. They are not as enamored with your children as you are.

Buzzkill.

Points to consider:

Kids are fun. they dance and laugh and eat cake. They will be all dressed up and probably not eat too much, anyway.

If you are paying $100 per person for dinner, how can you justify spending this much one someone who would probably rather eat McNuggets?

Kids are noisy – what if they can’t keep quiet during the ceremony?

Kids are messy. They will probably have filthy hands and want to touch the wedding gown or other things that don’t need to  be touched.

There is also the age thing: What is the cut off? There is a big difference between a 17 yr old and a 4 yr old.

The simple fact is that if you don’t want children at your wedding, state it on the invitation and make sure you are prepared for the fallout. If you are allowing children at your wedding, state it on the invitation and be prepared for the fallout. Either way you are not going to make everyone happy.

Make your decision (as a couple) and move on, you have nothing to explain and no explaining will make a difference, anway. It is your wedding.

-Penny Frulla for Bridal Expo Chicago

 

Paying It Forward – Wedding Style

If you’re like me, the day after a large gathering at your home there is always tons of leftovers and things that are going to potentially go to waste. If there is that much extra just at my house, imagine how much goes to waste after every wedding, at every venue, every single time. I think about those things.

I know I am not alone, especially since there are the David Rothsteins of the world who have the ability to take action… and do just that. David, of the award-winning David Rothstein Music began a program to honor his grandparents called “Share Your Love” and since April 2008 has donated over 4,000 floral arrangements to local nursing homes, post-wedding. The story is inspiring and amusing, it’s worth the read. http://drsmusic.com/sharelove.html

However, you don’t have to be an industry insider or a renowned music professional in Chicago to take part in this recycling extravaganza. Here’s how you can do something good and ‘share the love’ yourself:

First, this is not something the bride and groom could or should physically handle. Appoint a wedding ambassador to handle this. Utilize  an event planner, maid of honor, best man or whomever is the most reliable and capable of handling this this task. You can make the arrangements pre-wedding and then sleep better knowing you have given something extra life by donating.

Flowers certainly lift everyone’s spirits, so make arrangements with a nursing home near your venue to either have your flowers dropped off or they may have someone who can pick them up, post-wedding.

Food products can be donated through local food banks or through ‘Feeding America’. If you have a catered affair and the catering company presents you with trays of leftover food, whatever reclamation program you decide will be delighted ! Again, make the arrangements ahead of time and donate whatever you can.  www.feedingamerica.org

Donating Bridal Gowns and bridesmaid dresses is extremely generous and a great way to  give. Gowns can be donated to a variety of organizations which can be seen at http://www.donatemyweddingdress.org/ . If your gown is stained, ripped or damaged you can make other arrangements through  the Mary Madeline project which uses the fabric to make burial garments for stillborn infants. http://marymadelineproject.org .

Whether you choose to focus on donating one item or go all out and give everything you can part with to charity, the feeling of paying it forward is overwhelming. Remember to make all of your arrangements pre-wedding since post-wedding you will be busy writing thank you cards and settling in to your new life and the importance of giving may take a backseat to your daily tasks.

 

-Penny Frulla for Bridal Expo Chicago

Sponsored Weddings – Tacky or Tasteful

From ads on craigslist and eBay begging for sponsors to “C” list celebrities and reality stars getting gratis goods or  magazines paying millions for exclusive photos , sponsored weddings have become not-so-tacky as they once seemed when Star Jones got married in 2004. For those of you who don’t remember Star Jones ( insert ironic joke here), her motive was as follows: in exchange for extolling the virtues of  all of the freebie vendors by name in public at every turn of the conversation and tons of high-profile referrals, Ms. Jones was given the’ Star’ treatment  at  little or no cost. Being a co-host on a highly rated daytime talk show, her salary was beyond what most Americans make in a decade but she opted for the freebie route instead of paying… and a trend was born.

In all fairness celebrities have been getting freebies since there were celebrities. Interesting since those who can afford it the most generally wind up paying the least. Kim Kardashian’s wedding  put Star Jones to shame in terms of cost, viewership and donated goods. In all fairness, the reality star televised event was profitable for every single  sponsor, especially Kim Kardashian (to the tune of millions)….unless of course you are talking about the ‘happily ever after’ part.

For the average bride or groom, the chances of getting that kind of coverage for your wedding is out of the question. For some people it is unthinkable to even speak of having ‘sponsors’ and the idea of asking for anything free is just, well….. tacky (just ask Barbara Walters). However, if you have all the right ingredients and are willing to swallow just a tiny amount of pride, you can get a lot of freebies. There are hundreds of websites offering tips and ideas on how to go about getting sponsors, some veterans even selling their plan in e-book form.

According to Andrea Hermitt of Yahoo.com, there are several tips to get sponsors for your wedding, including:

1. Make a list of everything you will need for your wedding.

2. Plan your wedding well in advance, making sure you have plenty of time to devote to this task.

3. Make plans for a unique wedding that will turn heads.

4. Make your wedding list large (larger weddings are more likely to be sponsored).

5. Create a spectacular wedding website and make it really active to show that you have connections. The knot.com has great templates for wedding websites.

6. Get everything in writing. The last thing you want is a 50 ft banner across the aisle that announces “This wedding is brought to you by Dr.Pepper”. Interestingly enough, most ‘sponsors’ require name placement in the invitation itself. This is tricky and potentially a deal – breaker. Make sure you know what you are agreeing to before you sign on the dotted line .

7. Look for prospective sponsors who are new to the business.

8. Have something valuable to trade with them. Consider your occupation, and what you can trade personally.
 
9. Youtube it! Make a creative video, perhaps a flash mob surrounding your engagement using product placement. Perhaps a commercial parody using your wedding details. Put it on youtube and share it in Facebook.
 
10. Consider making a donation to a charity in sponsor’s names.
The bottom line when looking for sponsors is incentives. What can you offer them that will equal the value of their goods/services? How can you bring customers to their business in a positive way? Some call it sponsors, but essentially it is bartering.
 
Whether you are paying full price or getting everything for free, make sure to check out each business you are dealing with; either by referrals, the BBB or whatever resource you generally use because unfortunately,you get what you pay for. 
 
-Penny Frulla for Bridal Expo Chicago

Making Wedding Favors Count!

Take-home favors have  been a staple at weddings for decades. A simple box of chocolates, a ribbon-tied group of Jordan almonds, a framed photo of the married couple.  The goal is to present your guests with a small token of your appreciation  with  a personal touch. Deciding on what favors to give  in a  creative manner seems to get harder all the time.

Budget – When deciding on what type of  favor to bestow upon your beloved family and friends, first you must consider your budget. Break it down by numbers.  If your budget is $800 and your confirmed guest list is 150 (add an extra 10 for overflow), you will only be able to spend $5 on each favor. It is easy to see how quickly these things add up, right?  Decide on your budget first before you get locked into a pricey favor that you cannot afford. Whenever you can, buy in bulk and do the work of assembling and gift-wrapping your wedding favors yourself.

Stay with one theme – After your budget is squarely in place, determine the style of your event. Vintage, rustic, modern or beach…. whats the overall theme of the day? It is important that your guests feel like you have put some thought into this. Mugs filled with coffee & cocoa samples would be adorable for a winter event but would make no sense at all if presented at a beachfront affair, no matter how well put together they are.

Personalize everything. Whether it is ribbon printed with your names or a simple monogram stamp, the personalized touches add a dramatic flair that definitely gives each gift some “WOW”! Imagine this : You place a candy bar next to each plate at every table…. Big Deal, right? Instead you could place a small box with three hand made truffles, tied with a personalized ribbon and a tiny, monogrammed gift tag that says “For Robin.. we love you”.  Which would you rather receive? Between boutiques, stationery stores and on-line resources, there are hundred (thousands) of places that can help you with rubber stamping and laser printing. Of course  some time, planning and effort go into this but, they are also things you can do as a couple, with your bridesmaids or your family. It can be a fun group activity, unless you are master do-it-yourself-er, then it is called therapy! It is well worth the end result.

Remember, this is a keepsake and a touchstone for you and your guests. It is intended to be a token of your appreciation and not an afterthought. Put as much planning into this as you would any other aspect of your wedding and your guests will be “WOW”-ed by your sincerity and thoughtfulness!

-Penny Frulla for Bridal Expo Chicago

Going White For Your Wedding?

Are you one of the many brides and grooms considering teeth whitening? Consider this: your smile is the first thing that people notice about you and the last thing you want to overlook on your big day!

Both bride and groom should schedule a dental checkup about  six months before your wedding day. This allows time to handle any pesky problems and to see if teeth-whitening is something for you to consider. Remember, you will be photographed more on this day than in any other time in your life.

There are several types of teeth whitening, none of which are terribly expensive and can make a huge difference in your appearance and confidence level for the day.

Laser Whitening–  Done in the dentist’s office, allow 3 hours and approximately $400. It is not a painful proces and will leave you with Movie Star teeth after one visit.

Trays – The dentist makes a mold of your teeth which takes about a half hour and then you can do the whitening at home. Expect to spend roughly $20o for the tray and initial whitening solution. The bonus is you can keep getting refills of the solution and keep your teeth white forever!

Strips  – Many over-the-counter strips boast dentist office results. Yes, they do work and the price varies. With these strips, it may seem like you are saving money but, over the course of time you will spend nearly as much as if you had visited the dentist. The bonus is that it can be done at your convenience, some can even be done while you are sleeping.

It is extremely  important for  brides and grooms-to-be to do a little research, talk with your dental professional and come up with a solution that works for you.

Make sure to check our Wedding Directory links to find a smile professional in your area.
Reference: https://www.glosshairboutique.com.au/teeth-whitening-service/

-Penny Frulla for Bridal Expo Chicago

Surprise!! It’s a Wedding!

Most brides are so excited to share wedding planning with their friends and family that it is hard to imagine keeping the whole thing a secret until the last minute. But, this is exactly what some couples do when a surprise wedding is in store for their guests. 

The legality is that only the guests can be surprised at a wedding since both parties being married need to have a valid marriage license in order to have the union recognized by the state.

Surprising your guests may seem like a great, fun idea. However, there are some guests who will not be pleased to be left  out of the planning process. Parents, siblings, and close friends may not find it amusing and much older guests who have weak hearts probably don’t  find a surprise as much fun as they used to.

Try to incorporate another celebration. Mark Zuckerberg and Priscilla Chan told their guests they were coming for a graduation party, only to find out it was really their wedding. Surprise!

Keep the whole affair low key. Guests will feel they would have liked to dress up a little more unless it is a casual, relaxed atmosphere.

Make sure you tell your guests there will be some sort of special entertainment at a certain time. Party guests often arrive late… you don’t want them to miss out!

 Have a DJ or Emcee announce what is about to happen and then give some time for the guests to digest the news, chat and laugh.

People want surprise weddings for many different reasons. It can be a way of holding the reins over what happens, it may be a way to keep the costs down, for others they just don’t want any fuss; and well, some people just like to stage a big surprise. As a guest, it is your job to honor this and not to judge, to be happy for them and not make it about you.

-Penny Frulla for Bridal Expo