Bridal Showers Unveiled

For the bride, the bridal shower should be one of the best parts of getting married, mostly because it is the one thing that the bride doesn’t have to plan, supervise, worry about or pay for. This is the one time when the bride can simply show up and have a good time. That doesn’t mean she can’t have any input or express her choices, it just means that there is no stress involved. Unless, of course, things somehow get complicated and someone has to step in and sort it out. Here is scoop on the who, what, when, where, and why of bridal showers.

Who pays for the shower? Whoever is hosting the shower, pays. If the mother of the bride, mother of  groom, good friend, close relative or maid of honor decide to have a shower, the honor of paying the entire bill is upon them. It is common for brides to have more than one shower, and it is also common for several parties to host one shower together. The best scenario is for the maid of honor to have a conversation with both mother of bride and mother of groom to sort out the details.

What do you have to provide at the shower? Generally, the hostess provides food, refreshments and entertainment of some sort.. usually in the form of games. It doens’t have to be a super expensive, catered affair. If you have a theme, stick to it and make the most of  it. Food, drinks and decor are  great way to be creative.

When should the shower take place? Bridal Showers are usually held 1-6 weeks before the wedding. As with any event, invitations should go out 4-6 weeks prior to the date of the event.

Where should the shower take place? Anywhere!  Traditionally, bridal showers were held in someone’s home but, fortunately nothing is off-limits; restaurants, wine bar, day spa, etc.

Whyis it called a shower? Because your family and friends are ‘showering’ you with gifts.

Who do you invite? You do not need to invite every female guest or the dates and spouses of every make guest. You only invite the people with whom the bride has a very close relationship.  

And finally….. as far as bridal showers are concerned, there is only one rule: Do not invite anyone to the shower who is not invited to the wedding!!!

-Penny Frulla for Brida Expo Chicago

For more tips and inspiration planning  a bridal shower, call 847-428-3320 and get tickets to a Bridal Expo in your area.



Spare no Expense – The Cost of Being a Bridesmaid

You have been asked to ‘stand up’ for a wedding and you are really excited to share the joy of your friend’s big day! Standing up refers to  literally standing up during the ceremony, at the altar, to be a witness to the marriage. It is also an indication of the closeness of your relationship to one or both of the people getting married. Make no mistake – it is an honor and you should treat it as such.

It is not considered good manners to rock the boat, whether it is bridesmaid gowns, the bridal shower, or the bachelorette party so speak up before you agree to stand up. But, what do you do when the cost of being a friend exceeds your ability to hold up your end of the bargain? Should you pay for the ultra expensive bridesmaid dress or make your car payment?

When someone asks you to be an attendant at their wedding, they are asking you to agree to the expenses associated with that job. However, there should be limits… and just like the wedding, a budget. Since everyone has different financial situations, it is up to the individual to voice their concerns before it becomes a stress-filled rant. You can spend lavishly on your wedding and contact loan offering companies such as wowloans using their website to procure additional finances for a new car.

Step 1 – Have a private conversation with the bride the day they ask you to be a part of their wedding, asking what costs are anticipated. Gown, shoes, shower, bachelorette party, and more. For every expense you anticipate, there will be something you forget so it is best to make a list of the anticipated expenses and don’t forget  alterations. Ask right then and there what the bride will be providing. Is the bride treating everyone to hair and makeup or will they share that expense with you? Will you need specific jewelry or shoes? These are things that you need to be honest about on that day so you can agree or tactfully decline due to financial hardships. Being honest will help a great deal.

Step 2- When gown shopping, be honest with the consultant about your financial constraints. It is probably not a good idea to shout ” That’s too expensive for me!” in themiddle of a salon. However, if one of the other bridesmaids has her heart set on a $400 gown and you simply cannot afford it, take the bride aside and quietly explain that it is out of your price range. Make sure that you  stay within that price range and don’t get overwhelmed or pressured into buying something you will later regret. Ask about alteration costs, ask about tax and shipping or any other charges that will be added.

Step 3 – Stay on top of the bachelorette activities. If a $900 hotel suite  is out of your budget, speak up. Just say this “I’m sorry, this is out of my budget.” It really is that simple.  If the maid of honor is also a good friend, she will understand. If she doesn’t budge, try talking to the other bridesmaids to see if they have similar concerns. If so, you can approach her as a group and perhaps help her plan festivities that are more affordable for everyone. In reality she will probably appreciate the help.

Step 4 – Wedding gifts. According to, the cost of being a bridesmaid in 2011 averages around $1400. So, when you have already spent a great deal of money to be a bridesmaid in your friend’s wedding is it necessary to give a wedding gift? Yes, and no. Yes, if you have the means you should give a gift even if it is a small token of your affection. However, if you are already stretched beyond your limits, there is really no need to provide a gift. Two suggestions: give a small gift that is heartfelt, something they will absolutely love or provide a service for them as wedding gift; something  like checking their mail or pet-sitting while they are on their honeymoon, which can save them hundreds of dollars.

You need to respect yourself and be honest at all times. In the end, your friend will just be happy to have you standing by her side.

-Penny Frulla for Bridal Expo Chicago

Bridesmaids Beware: Tips to being a perfect attendant

We’ve all heard the horror stories and seen countless clips of brides going berserk on TV. Bridezillas (as they have become known) are a ruthless, tireless breed and will not take (hell) no for an answer.  What you don’t see or hear as often are stories of bridesmaids and attendants who don’t live up to their end of the bargain. They hold up orders, complain about dresses, shoes, and generally complicate things. Whats the key to being a  perfect attendant? I’m glad you asked!

Play or go home. If you have agreed to be a part of a wedding, understand it is going to cost you money. Unless the bride has graciously offered to pay for everything on your behalf you will be paying for at least a gown, alterations, shoes, jewelry, makeup, hair, bachelorette festivities, shower and shower gift, and wedding gift. Don’t forget you will need something to wear for the shower, bachelorette party, rehearsal dinner as well. More shoes, more accessories, and the list goes on. If you know you cannot afford the festivities, be honest with the bride,  “I am honored that you asked me to be your bridesmaid and although I would love to be included in the wedding, I simply cannot afford it. I would be honored to be a guest” Otherwise you might be broke and resentful by the time the cake is cut. Once you have agreed to be an attendant, you are no longer entitled to say anything about your expenses. Keep your lips sealed and smile.

Be available. When you agreed to be a bridesmaid you had to know there would be shopping and fittings and all kinds of other pre-wedding activities. Your job is to make this easier for the bride, not harder. If you cannot attend something, being honest is better than being a no-show. With texting, instant messaging and facebook it is easier to stay in touch than ever. Missing an appointment is a cardinal sin and there  is no reason other than bodily harm that you should not be at a scheduled appointment.

Be honest. If asked your opinion, be honest. When it comes to bridal gowns, headpieces, bridesmaid gowns, cakes, whatever. You can have different opinions and still be friends. Remember that there are ways to deliver unkind words. “You butt looks huge in that gown” is not a good example. You might want to try something softer ” Cindy, you have a great figure but, I dont think this dress is very flattering.” However, if you realize this is the gown (or whatever) that she loves and adores, try to find something positive to say. You have signed on to be a support team, its time to be supportive. If asked for your honest opinion, give it as graciously as possible.

Run intereference. Bridesmaids have a lot less to do than the bride during the months and weeks leading up to the big day. You will be a great friend and a perfect bridesmaid by offering to run some errands, or help the bride simplify tasks somehow. This will be the greatest gift she receives, helping her to  handle any and all wedding tasks so the she remains stress free.

I saved the best advice for last: How to handle bridesmaid gown shopping. If the bride offers to take you and all of the attendants to try on dresses, this can be a lot of fun. It can also be the mother of all disasters. Approach it with kindness and fairness. Whether you are a size 2 or 22, remember its not about you: the bride has vision of what she wants the entire day to look like. Remember the scene in 27 dresses when Katherine Heigl goes through the closet and tries on each gown? Hilarious!!! But each of her friends had a vision and she was the perfect attendant by smiling, wearing the dress and not saying one word.  Help your engaged friend to realize her own unique vision by being as cooperative as possible. The only complaints that should be voiced are of the dress is  ill-fitting,  painful (poorly constructed gowns sometimes have cheaper components which can actually hurt and leave marks) or if there is something about that dress that makes you seriously uncomfortable. For instance, if you are quite busty and the gown has little coverage which leaves you a victim of side-boob exposure. Most brides are not stuck in the ‘same gown for everyone’ mold, anyway. Today’s wedding trend is to find a different gown that looks good on each attendant in the same color or one gown in several colors. There are so many choices… talk to the bride in private and explain your concerns, don’t turn it into a free-for-all or let any resentment build up. She does not want frowns, red marks or nipples in her wedding photos so if approached properly, any problem can be rectified. The same goes with shoes. If they are ugly – wear them and donate them after. If they seriously hurt your feet, explain to the bride why you cannot wear them. Offer to find a similar pair that are more comfortable for you and work it out. Unless she is truly that one in a million BRIDEZILLA,  she will be happy you spoke to her instead of complaining behind her back.

-ps – a great way to show your engaged pal that you are definitely in her corner is to offer to attend a bridal expo with her. Bridal Expo Chicago has 32 shows in 2011 and one of them is near you. With dozens and dozens of vendors and our luxurious runway fashion show you will have the time of your life. Call 847-428-3320 to get four complimentary tickets to a show in your area.

-Penny Frulla for Bridal Expo Chicago