Promise Rings – A Closer Look

A promise ring is a symbol of love and commitment made from one person to another during dating when the relationship turns more serious. Perhaps you are both in college and have no money or time for a wedding just yet but, you fully intend to make that commitment when you are ready. You want to make a stronger statement than mere ‘dating’ and a promise ring is just the thing to do that.  

When you give or accept a promise ring, you are promising to love the recipient forever and to be faithful. Commonly, a promise ring is given before engagement. It can symbolize sort of a trial period before engagement and the ring  is worn on the left hand until it is replaced by an engagement ring and then switched to the right hand.

Promise rings are not just for women. The popularity of promise rings for men has risen in popularity in recent years. If he gives you a promise ring, it would nice touch to give him one in return to cement your promise to him as well. ‘s meaning. After all, you both need to commit to the promise or it has no meaning. Get him something manly, perhaps in titanium.

Some promise rings have small diamonds, some have small gemstones but they don’t have to include a stone at all, some rings are simple bands with the promise engraved inside. In fact, there are many websites dedicated to romantic promise ring inscriptions, or you can choose your own sentiment.


My personal favorite is the Claddagh Ring. If worn on the left hand with the heart facing out, it signifies that you are spoken for. If worn with the heart facing in, people will assume you are already married. However, I doubt if the “Promise Ring” police will arrest you if you wear it either way. It is a traditional Irish band and many people have been known to use this in lieu of engagement ring or wedding band. It is highly sentimental, filled with Irish lore and has a variety of  romantic legends associated with it. I consider that to be quite special in itself.

Any way you look at it, the “promise ring’ is a sweet, sentimental gesture and one that should not be taken lightly.

-Penny Frulla for Bridal Expo Chicago




Tis the Season – Holiday Proposals

Whether you opt for the grand gesture, something private or somewhere in between…. this is definitely the most popular time of year to pop the question. But, before you rent the Times Square ticker on New Years Eve, make sure you know your fiance well enough to know what kind of proposal she will be the most likely to respond to in a positive manner. There are only 3 rules to popping the question:

RULE # 1 – Know your audience . I will admit that I watched the Kardashian Khaos long enough to see Kris Humphries on bended knee with rose petals scattered into the words “Will You Marry Me?” A seemingly intimate proposal with a twist: reality tv cameras rolling for the world to see their personal romance unfold.  Ladies, there is some accountablity on your part as well. Make sure your fiance knows your likes and dislikes and what she considers romantic vs. sappy.  The reality: Humphries proposal should have come with a stack of pancakes and it only reinforces my somewhat skeptical view of grand romantic gestures. However, this proposal was designed for a woman who loves the spotlight. He knew exactly what he was doing and who he was proposing to…. a quiet dinner without an audience would have left his future ( and now former) fiance wanting more.

RULE #2 – It’s your proposal, too. If you met at a Cubs game, went on your first date to a Cubs game, have season tickets together and named your dog Wrigley… getting engaged at the season opener is definitely the way to go. If you share hobbies like playing golf or wine tasting, these are great time to incorporate that into your proposal. If you are both wacky, go wacky! If you are both animal lovers – use that. Be careful, though, dogs have been known to swallow diamond rings.

RULE#3 – Never propose without a ring. Every woman is different, we all have different wants and needs, we all have different taste. And trust me, not every woman wants or needs a 10 carat diamond. The 3 month salary guideline was set by the diamond industry not by lawmakers. Spend only what you are comfortable spending, a proposal from the heart with a modest ring beats a sparkly reminder of debt every time. But, make no mistake a proposal without a ring is not a proposal.

One of the most exhilarating and romantic part of your wedding is the proposal; the story will be told re-told for years to come. Of course no matter how you decide to propose, it is important to wait for the right moment and always, always  make sure you know the answer.

-Penny Frulla for Bridal Expo Chicago

Bringing Sexy Back – What designers have in store for 2012

The music begins and the bride starts to walk down the aisle, bouquet in hand, escort on arm. Most of what the wedding guests see is from the waist up and what they remember is the look on the bride’s face as she begins her journey to the end of the aisle where her future husband waits.

However, once she reaches the end of the aisle there is plenty of time for the guests to focus on the gown. So, it is no surprise that designers have begun to put so much emphasis on the back of the gown.

Last week, Twilight fans were delighted with the wedding of Bella and Edward. Bella’s Carolina Herrera gown featured a simple silk princess cut, A-line  gown with a dramatic deep-V back edged in scalloped lace. For devout Twilight fans (Twihards) an exact replica of the gown is already  available by Alfred Angelo under the “Twilight Bridal” label.

Pnina Tornai, the famed Israeli designer whose creations are featured on “Say Yes to The Dress” showed several stunning gowns with intricate details in the back.

Designers from ‘Haute Couture’ to ‘entirely affordable’ are embracing this style.



If you are not comfortable with the extremely low back and all that skin being exposed, you can find a gown with buttons, lacing or another equally interesting detail. You can also opt for a modest keyhole back.

The best news of all is that brides have more choices than ever. Just make sure you have the correct undergarments so the gown is what people are talking about – not pantylines!

-Penny Frulla for Bridal Expo Chicago






Merging Finances – For Better or Worse

We all know that when it comes to money, people can get very strange. That’s why it is a good idea to be prepared for anything and everything when it comes to merging your finances before your wedding, especially if one of you earns significantly more than the other.

The best thing you can do is to have an open, honest conversation about money and bills and who will pay for what. This is critical if you are paying for your own wedding but important even if you aren’t. Although most people have a negative view of pre-nuptial agreements, they are a great way to tackle estate planning and cover the big question of what  to do in case of death, job loss or other unforeseen problems. I’m not a boy scout but I still think it is good to always be prepared.

Before your decide to merge all of your finances and go full force into joint checking, saving, home loan and credit debt, here are some things you will want to consider:

Get a copy of your credit report before you begin wedding planning. This goes for both of you. Sit down and compare your credit reports and find out what is on there that can be removed, offer to help your partner, if you are able. Focus on things like charge-offs, which can affect your credit score up to 200 points. A charge-off is an account that has gone unpaid for more than 180 days and generally the credit company has ceased trying to collect. Look at the amount, decide how much of it you can pay and call the company that issued the credit (not the collection agency) to dicsuss removing this from your credit report. This will be tricky since they may have to dig up old records and you may be put on hold and called back several times but, it’s worth it. Be persistent and polite (it is YOUR debt, not theirs) and make payment arrangements. Pay in full if you can or make monthly payments. Whatever you can negotiate with them will serve you well.

Make a monthly budget as individuals and as a couple. Use a calculator, pencil and paper – leave nothing to the imagination. Write down how much you make and what bills you have together and separately.  Decide who pays what and how. Did you know that you can set your due date on most bills? Yes! Contact utilities, credit cards, etc and ask them (again, politely) if you chould have your bill due on a certain date, they will comply if it is within reason and if you are current on all of your debt.   It is important to know what is going to be pulled out each month for bills and for incidentals so you may want to pad the budget a little. While you are at it- don’t forget the little things like tollway passes, lunch costs, birthdays of family and friends,  health care co-pays and other incidentals. Toll violations get reported to the credit bureau within 3 months and can drag your score down over 100 points. ONE toll violation can costs you hundred of dollars and render you unable to obtain a home loan if not handled properly. Myinstantoffer pre approval is a good option.

Joint credit cards are not always a  great idea. The main reason joint credit cards are not a good idea is because both of your salaries will be taken into consideration when determining the credit limit. The limit may be significantly higher than if you each applied solo. Although this sounds like a good thing it is the easiest way to get into debt. Credit cards are great but, try to maintain a balance you can pay off every month. Another reason they may not be a good idea is that if something happens and one of you loses your job or becomes unable to pay, you are both still responsible for paying the card. A better choice may be an authorized user. This  is someone who is not responsible for payment but can still use the card. Thats sounds great, right? Actually, this is only a good idea if you have firmly established trust and are assured that your spouse isn’t going to charge like there’s no tomorrow. The main reason this is a better idea is that you will be able to use the card in an emergency but will not have to sign on and be approved which sometimes comes with an additional fee. It is also a great help when one party makes significantly less money or is working on repairing their credit. However, being an authorized user will not improve your credit score . The best way to do that is to start with a card that has a  low limit and work your way up. You will slowly but surely get approved for more and more credit after you are prompt with payment and your credit score improves. Why did my credit score go down when nothing changed? You should take a closer look at this.

Combine balances, close accounts you never use and do not open a credit account at every store where you shop even if they offer you massive discounts on your initial purchase. Confining your credit usage in the beginning will lead to a brighter future. Keep the big cards  and  look for cards that offer incentives such as: miles, cash back on different services (like these listed in the 2019 review of Bestow term life insurance), lower interest, no annual fees, no interest if pai in full every month, etc.

According to Forbes, the  most common mistake couples make when they are about to be married is opening joint accounts for everything. It is always  good to keep an additional account in your name only to protect yourself in case of illness, job loss, bankruptcy,etc. You are not protecting yourself from your partner, but you are protecting your partner from unforseen, unknown factors and outside influences.

When it is all said and done, the single best way to merge two lives is through honesty and determintaion.  Relationships are hard work and finances can be  a touchy subject especially if one of you has had financial trouble in the past. This is the perfect  time to put that all those negative reports behind you and work together to build a platinum  future!

-Penny Frulla for Bridal Expo Chicago

Wacky & Tacky – Good weddings gone bad!

I don’t know when it happened but a while back someone decided that weddings were a good time to make bad choices. Almost as if masses of people simultaneously had the same thought “Let’s turn our wedding into a sideshow!” and then it spread like wild fire.

I am not talking about some of the god-awful wedding or bridesmaids gowns or even the ridiculous theme weddings that some people think are clever and unique. Generally these folks know exactly what they are doing and are trying to make a statement or prove something. More power to them for decimating a somber moment. I am referring to weddings that appear to be  tasteful and then – BOOM! The tacky shows up and has no where to hide.  

After having watched one of the most tasteful weddings in my lifetime on BBC America, I thought it was a good time to cover the other end of the spectrum.

Eleven tackiest things you can do at your wedding:

#1-  Brides do not smoke in their wedding gown. Invest in nicorette.

#2- It is not acceptable to have the wedding cake look like anything other than a cake.

#3- Wedding gowns with logos on them are  advertisements and unless the owner of the logo is sponsoring your entire affair – leave the patches on your windbreaker . Either way it is completely tacky. The only thing on your gown should be lace or beading.

#4- Keep shoes on during the reception.  No one wants to see your feet. It is also a safety issue since there may be the chance of broken glass. If your feet hurt, buy a second pair of lower heeled matching shoes and wear them. Or better yet – buy a pair of shoes that are comfortable to begin with.

#5 – Buy a gown that fits. Exposing too much cleavage does not make you sexy or more attractive. Having rolls of back fat spilling over a strapless gown is not appealing. Wearing a dress so short that you  need to invite your gynecolgoist is not a good idea, either. This is not a money issue, brides will spend thousands of dollars on designer gowns and then even more money to have them altered only to look like a Vegas Showgirl.

#6- Garter removal. I get it – you guys are married  and in love and you want everyone to know that you get to ‘do it’ tonight. But, for the love of God –  someone please get rid of this awful wedding ritual. No one uses garters anymore and the whole pulling up the dress thing is downright creepy, especially when it goes just one tiny bit too far.

#7 – Toasting should be a time for raising glasses and spirits. The best toast can bring the guests to tears of joy in two sentences. The worst can last forever and mention things that are way to personal.

#8 – The first dance or any dance is a bad time to crank out a tacky tune.  Boyz II Men, “I’ll make love to you” comes to mind. Check and re-check your playlist and try to save the make out dance party music for another time.

#9 – No bare midriffs for bridesmaids, guests or (heaven help us) flower girls. You have your entire life to show everyone your smokin’ body and I think gramps could live a little longer without life support not having to worry if his 4 year old great-granddaughters nipple is showing.

#10-  Cash Bar. You heard me. A cash bar says “I really only care about  me and not you”.  If funds are low, have a smaller affair. If you can only afford a small amount, restrict it to bottom shelf liquor or wine and beer. Or wine only. Or just have the reception at Olive Garden with the immediate family.

#11 – Having any conversation with any guest about the cost of the wedding. This is prior to the event, during the event or after the event. Unless said guest is one of your nearest and dearest, they don’t need to know firsthand how much your nuptials set you back. Before the event it makes you appear to be asking for money, during or after it is bragging and both are unacceptable. Let everyone speculate about your lavish affair and smile, knowing it was well worth it.

Whether your wedding budget is $10,000 or $10,000,000 you can avoid most of these mistakes by using reputable professionals. At each and every Bridal Expo you can rest assured that our vendors have your best interests at heart.  Take their advice and use their ample experience to avoid being featured on a tacky wedding website!

-Penny Frulla for Bridal Expo Chicago