How Much For That Dress In The Window?

In the 20th century DeBeers introduced modern society to the idea that a woman’s engagement ring should cost approximately 2 month’s salary and no one seemed to blink an eye. The engagement ring will probably be worn every day for the rest of a woman’s life – barring no unfortunate circumstances.

By comparison, no one has ever come forward to say how much a  bridal gown should cost. What percentage of salary, wedding budget or any other indication of the amount of money one should spend. Of course the 2 months salary really was a genius marketing strategy and nothing more.

The best way to decide on how much to spend on your bridal gown is to first take a look at what’s important to you. First and foremost, determine your budget immediately. Before you open a bridal magazine, sit down with whomever is paying and have an honest conversation about price. Convey this to your bridal consultant when you enter the salon and it will help him or her determine what gowns you will be seeing.

After the budget is determined,  consider the  three F’s: Fabric, Fit and Finish.

Fabric:  The quality of the fabric will increase the price of the  gown greatly. Inspect the fabric… is it silk? Is it smooth  or does it have inconsistencies in the weave? High quality silk and low quality silk have one thing in common: they are both silk. However, the process they go through to become a garment is entirely different. The reason some fabrics are more expensive than others because they are more valuable. They are better in quality, they look better and they feel better. High quality fabric makes a difference in price. Does it feel good next to your skin or is the fabric itchy? A quality garment begins with quality fabric.

Fit: Each manufacturer has their own standard sizing. What does that mean? Not every size 8 fits the same way. Vera Wang’s size 8  maybe be cut slightly different from Monique Lhullier’s size 8. Also, a great fit for your body may not be a great fit for the bride standing next to you. The truth is that a  more expensive gown will have a better fit  because a lot of time has  been spent perfecting the pattern before it even becomes a gown. Maggie Sottero advertises her gowns as the best fit in the bridal industry. Is it true? Try one on and decide for yourself.

Finish: The quality of any garment is revealed in the finished product. The finish of a gown refers to the end stages of construction. My mother always told me that a garment should look as beautiful on the inside as on the outside. She was a smart lady. Look inside the gown: are the inside seams exposed? Are there any threads dangling out of seams? Is the hem even all the way around? The serged method is  the least expensive way of finishing seams. This is great for tank tops and denim. By comparison,  French seams are delicate and time consuming. Does this matter to you? A beautifully sewn garment will also be easier to alter and will look better as a result. The gown should feel smooth and comfortable against your body, nothing pinching or poking anywhere. The attention to detail is one of the most important factors in deciding how much your gown will cost.

A bargain is when you pay less for something than it is actually worth. Getting a beautiful gown of superior quality within your price range is a bargain. Buying ana garment for any price that is made and fits poorly is not a bargain.

When deciding on how much a gown is worth to you, remember that you will never be photographed in anything as much as you will be in your wedding gown and you will probably never be seen by as many people at one time as when you are wearing your wedding gown. Decide the value of that before your enter the first salon.

Remember, you always get what you pay for. 

-Penny Frulla for Bridal Expo Chicago

The Reality Of Wedding Costs

If you ever wondered what determines the cost of weddings… wonder no more! Here are the answers, broken down in a way that is easy for anyone to understand.

For a wedding and reception with 150 guests

The cost of an extravagant wedding in Cook County, IL is $72,000

The cost of the average wedding in Cook County, IL is $33,000

The cost of a simple, pared down wedding in Cook County, IL is $22,000

Want to save some money and have your wedding in Naperville? The location won’t make that much of a difference, which is a big shock to me since I always thought that having a wedding in the city had to be more expensive than in the suburbs. Using several zip codes with varying demographics, the cost of any of these three weddings is within a thousand dollars of the average given the same number of guests and style of wedding.

What does that mean? An extravagant wedding in Schaumburg costs about as much as an extravagant wedding in Chicago or Lake Forest or Oak Park or Burr Ridge. You will have to travel more than 75 miles from the city for the location to make any noticeable difference in price.

What makes the biggest difference in the price? The extras; wedding planners, couture gowns and tuxedos, exceptional video, location photography, custom wedding rings, artistic cakes, extraordinary flowers, top notch musicians, anything that goes above and beyond. Oddly enough, one of the biggest factors that will affect your total cost is wedding favors!

Thanks (in part) to Pinterest, DIY wedding are very popular. But, that’s not going to save you nearly as much as you think. Why? Because the same flowers that a florist could provide for $6,000 will cost you nearly as much in materials alone and if you add your time ( if your time is as valuable as mine) you have spent nearly double the amount. You will never get the same discount or special rate as a professional florist and you will never be able to do the same arrangements for the same cost. The same formula goes for musicians, photographers, invitations, bakeries, bridal ensemble accessories and so on.

For the best DIY wedding, do only the simple things yourself; the add-ons, the small touches, table numbers, favors, etc. Tackling the big projects will leave you breathless and broke.

In the end, the only real way to save money is to have a smaller affair. Inviting 75 guests rather than 150 will allow you to spend more on the things that are important to you and less on the overall (per person) package.

If you have a few minutes and would like to play around with some numbers, here is a link to a simple, fun and fairly accurate wedding cost calculator that will  give you an idea of what to expect in your area.

 http://www.costofwedding.com/index.cfm/action/costest.index

-Penn Frulla for Bridal Expo Chicago

Angry Brides vs Rude Guests

Although the spelling is very close, ‘Angry Brides’ are quite different from the wingless birds of the game variety. They are both of varying sizes, they are both on a mission  to accomplish their task. Fortunately, there are no brides ( no matter how angry) that explode upon contact. So, as a guest, how can you avoid being the giant pig in a hard hat? Here are the top six things that can really get under a bride’s skin:

1) RSVP. The reply card should already have a stamp so, send it as early as possible and don’t make any changes like adding a guest when one is not invited… and don’t change it after the RSVP date or (God forbid) just show up. How hard is that? Do that for every wedding related event and you will be just fine.

2) Put a card on the gift. If the gift has no card, how is the couple supposed to know who it is from? To be safe, always enclose a small card inside the wrapped gift. If it is being sent directly from a website or store, bring a card to the reception that indicates a gift was already sent. “Best Wishes on your wedding, I (we) hope you enjoy the ________ that was sent previously from ________”. This way the bride and groom know a gift was sent, where it came from and if it didn’t arrive, they can let you know.

3) Don’t inundate the bride with tons of questions about the wedding. Cost, number of guests, what kind of flowers, location, date, ring, gown, etc. Most brides are very excited to talk about their wedding but, asking too many questions all the time may seem intrusive and is downright rude. Furthermore, the cost of things is no one’s business unless the couple  publicizes it and then it is equally tacky.

4) Don’t show up late or not at all. Whether you are a vendor, a bridesmaid or a friend; showing up late, missing important appointments and forgetting wedding related events is out of the question. If you have a problem attending, let the bride know as soon as you get the invitation, not ten minutes before. See #1.

5) Don’t ask to alter the menu. If you have severe food allergies, inform the bride right away so concessions can be made on the menu, or decline the invitation. However, be prepared with an epi-pen just in case, since no matter how hard you try, mistakes can happen. Some allergies are severe enough to be triggered by the smell of the peanuts, it’s better to be safe than sorry. Keep in mind – food allergies are a lot different from food preferences. Your preferences are not the bride’s concern but, your health should be.

6) Becoming inebriated at the reception. Have a drink or two, unwind a little, have some fun – but, end it there. If your speech is slurred, it is time to stop drinking alcohol and go home.

As a guest, attendant or family member at a wedding you aren’t required to make sure every detail is executed flawlessy but, it is your job make sure your conduct is on point. Try to remember how much planning, expense and stress is involved and be mindful of your place in the wedding.

-Penny Frulla for Bridal Expo Chicago