Wedding Planning Made Easy

I am sure you’ve heard that sometimes the truth hurts. The fact is – sometimes it doesn’t hurt at all. Sometimes the truth is easy and painless. I can give you one perfect example: The BEST first step you can take to planning your wedding is to make plans to attend a Bridal Expo Chicago/Milwaukee Luxury Event. That’s the truth.

However, there are some ways to make it easier and even more painless than you could imagine. I am thrilled to pass along these tips to you so you can save time and money and have a great time.

1) Make a day of it! Don’t plan to come to a show when you are in a hurry. Make this one day very special, plan a fantastic breakfast or brunch beforehand and stay for the entire show. You will not be sorry. You will save more time visiting our vendors in that one day than driving to and from every single vendor we have at our shows. How much time and money would you like to save?

2) Plan ahead. Before attending, bring a checklist of what services you need.  This will avoid confusion and save time. You won’t need to spend time shopping for vendors that you have already booked.

3) Bring your support team. Only bring those who offers you the best advice and gives you the most support.  Bring those people with you to keep you on task and focused on your needs.  You don’t want to bring ‘Debbie Downer’ with you and ruin an otherwise awesome event.

4) Bring contact labels. At each of our shows, you will have the eopportunity to sign up for amazing prizes and special deals from Bridal Expo and each of  our vendors. It saves so much time (not to mention writer’s cramp) if you have address labesl pre-printed with your contact information. Dont forget your email address! Make sure all the information is current.

5) Bring a digital camera. Yes, we not only allow but, encourage our brides to take pictures. A picture is worth a thousand words. There will be flowers, cakes, gowns,  and all kinds of other things that you will want to remember. This is the best way to document your preferences. Later you can print those pictures and place them in your wedding planner for quick referencing.

6) Leave the kids at home. If you have small children, this is the best time to cash in a favor from a good friend and ask them to watch the kids for the day. Small children will be overwhelmed by the crowds and you will want to be able to stay focused. Plus, there are no strollers allowed in the vendor area. The kids will thank you!

7) Arrive Early. This will give you time to register, and after you have visited every vendor you will be able to find a great seat for the Couture Runway Fashion show. No where else can you see this many luxurious designer  bridal fashions on one stage.

8) Come for the show, stay for the prizes.  At each and every Bridal Expo there are fabulous prizes given away on stage before, during and after our luxurious runway fashion show. Large prizes (fabulous getaways, diamond earrings, photogrpahy packages) and smaller prizes (countertop appliances and gift certificates). Either way, you will not win the prizes if you are not there to claim them. If the bride is not present when called, our Fashion Director and show commentator, Carol Tardi, will call another name. Don’t be the one that got away!

9) Be ready to save money. Many of our vendors  offer booking specials. Dont be afraid to save money. If you are not ready to make a decision,  ask for their information so you can contact them later. They will be happy to oblige. 

10) Relax. The wedding planning process should be fun and Bridal Expo will help make it easier.  Organization is the key to staying stress-free and focused.

 

-Penny Frulla For Bridal Expo Chicago

 

Cover Photo

Photo: Here is a photo taken during the finale of one of our recent luxury bridal shows.  Special thanks to Just Love Me { Photography + Design } and Tamara Makeup + Hair Artistry.To see more from our runway, click here: http://www.bridalshowexpo.com/video_gallery.html

Spice Up Your Invitations!

Wedding invitations have evolved into something so personal and unique that you can actually get a feel for the wedding itself just by seeing (and touching) the invitation. Whether you choose parchment, custom engraving or print the invitations yourself, there are dozens of things you can do to spice up your invitations without breaking the bank.

Photos – Consider incorporating your engagement photo into the invitation or save the date to make an impact.

Words – Using your own words, maybe some sort of prose, will add an artistic flair.

Be Creative – Use touches of your culture with color and font.

Sparkle – A little sparkle never hurt anyone, right? A touch of glitter, a rhinestone or iridescent ink is very exciting.

DO NOT  add confetti – no one likes opening an envelope with confetti in it.

Consider calligraphy instead of printed address labels, it really makes an impact.

Postage – Using a stamp with a specific theme is a nice idea. Take it a step further by using  custom photo stamps for all of your wedding postage. Also making sure you have the correct postage will save a ton of headaches. Can you  imagine having 150 invitations returned?

The most important thing to keep in mind when selecting your wedding invitations is that you don’t forget your personal style. Keep the event and location in mind and let that dictate the style of the paper, ink, font and wording.  With literally hundreds of choices, it can get very confusing but, don’t despair – there is a style out there just right for you. 

-Penny Frulla for Bridal Expo Chicago

 

 

 

 

Cancellation Crisis – When Vendors Let You Down

Imagine for a moment that you have been looking forward to your first meeting with  a particular florist, or  baker, or  wedding planner. You have done your research; called referrals, made sure they are accredited and have a good rating with the BBB. You make your appointment well in advance and then, suddenly, they cancel at the last minute. What do you do? Although I’m usually  in favor of giving everyone the benefit of the doubt, there are cases when a cancellation might be a red flag. 

If the vendor cancels because they have overbooked, you might have cause for concern.  This could mean there is a time management problem.

However, if the vendor cancels because another event had a legitimate crisis that had to be handled immediately, this says the vendor is as concerned with keeping their existing clients happy as they are booking new clients.

If the vendor cancels because of weather, health or personal family issues, we can all understand… these things happen. Of course, if it happens more than once, this could be someone who has a lot of drama in their life and it could be time to take a closer look at whether or not you  can handle their drama.

In essence, when a vendor cancels you need to use your best judgement to decide whether or not they deserve a second chance. If the reason is weak or there really is no reason,  you should begin your search for another vendor to replace them … someone who is able to keep appointments. This is especially true for a bridal or wedding consultant. You are hiring them to manage your entire wedding and this is no easy task – there must be total faith and trust.

The last thing you need to be doing on the day of your event is chasing vendors  or worrying if things will be done properly. 

-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

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

 

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

 

 

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

Choosing The Right Photographer

Your wedding pictures are the most important thing you will have to remember your day.  Choosing the right photographer is as important as having the right gown, or venue, or (dare I say) spouse! When making your selection, price shopping is the worst mistake you can make. There are many factors that go into the cost of your photography package; experience, skill, training, overall quality of the product and the overall style of pictures you want to express your wedding.  

First, you should define the style of photos you prefer:

Photojournalism is a style of photography that captures the events of the day   truly candid style.  Very few, if any, of the shots are posed. This is by far the most popular style of photography according to market trends. There are some drawbacks involved – especially if your photographer is inexperienced in this field. Make sure  the photographer has ample references and photos for you to check before you even consider wedding Photojournalism. In addition, without some of the posed shots you may wind up with a wedding album where  quite a few people are missing.

Traditional Wedding photography is exactly what it sounds like. All of the shots are posed, there is very little creativity involved with various settings and events. There is usually a ‘shot list’ and every detail must be mapped out in advance; lighting, background, placement of flowers, etc.You will have an album that your parents will love: filled with photos of your entire bridal party, family and guests but, you might not have that one beautiful photo that is found so often in a candid moment.

Artistic Photography (also illustrative Photography) is a great mesh of the two other styles. Some candid shots, some posed. Many of the shots are ‘staged’ in various places to look candid – but, are in fact posed. The Artistic Photographer will not be cheap since you are paying for an artistic vision which requires more time and work than snapping photos.

Before booking your  wedding photographer:

-Make sure the photographer you hire is the one who will be at your event.

-Do not accept a substitute unless you have seen examples of his/her work.

-Always remember to get everything in writing!

Bridal Expo Chicago is home to dozens of the finest photographers of all styles. For 4 complimentary  tickets to a show  in your area where you can see example of their finest work ,  log on to www.bridalshowexpo.com or call our office @ 847-428-3320 today!

-Penny Frulla for Bridal Expo Chicago

Timothy Whaley photography

Carasco Photography

Angela Swan Photography

Destination Weddings – More Popular Than Ever!!

It only takes a few days with single digit temperatures for couples to open up to the idea of a destination wedding.

For many years,  destination weddings have been on the rise.  Usually held at tropical locations, they combine the honeymoon with the wedding itself. Guests travel to the location and can spend up to a week celebrating with the couple.

 There are several reasons that couples opt for a destination wedding… one of which is  to save money! Believe it or not, couples who  have destination weddings typically spend less overall.

According to Travel & Leisure magazine, the top wedding destinations are as follows:

1) Mexico. No surprise here. Mexico is close and  entices couples with its warm, sunny weather, colorful culture, extensive coastline, spicy cuisine, and wide choice of accommodations. You will not be disappointed.

2) Jamaica. A lush island, Jamaica has beaches, waterfalls, mountains to explore. With more all-inclusives than anywhere else in the Caribbean and a reggae beat, and it’s no wonder it’s so popular!

3) Dominican Republic. With fine boutique hotels and price-competitive all-inclusives, this is a wonderful place to begin your lives together.

4) Bahamas. Just off the coast of Florida you can find everything you want whether you opt for developed Nassau, Freeport, Paradise, and Grand Bahama Island or one of the low-key Out Islands.

5) Hawaii. You don’t have to bring a passport to enjoy a tropical paradise, just ask anyone who has ever been to Hawaii.

Honorable Mention goes to any of the U.S. Virgin Islands. Whether you choose St. Thomas, St. Croix or St. John, you will not have any problems except deciding which of these islands is best for you. They are all magnificent and they are all U.S. territories so there are no legal hassles.

No matter which destination you choose   it is important to use a reputable Destination Wedding Specialist. They will know all of the in’s,  out’s and pitfalls of the particular resort you have chosen. They will also more than likely be able to get you a better deal and more extras.  You can do it all by yourself but, it can be quite a bit of stress.

Better to sit back, relax and stick a little umbrella in your drink!

-Penny Frulla for Bridal Expo Chicago