Changing Your Name – For Better Or Worse

Taking your spouse’s last name can be as simple or as difficult as you want it to be. The most important thing is to have your facts in place and agree 100% on this before announcing it to family because (trust me) you will be questioned about it. 

If you do decide to go a less traditional route (other than changing your last name to his last name) there are options.

 How about a compromise?  You could use your maiden name as your new middle name. In fact, many women of a certain social stature have used their mother’s maiden name for the children’s middle names for decades. Rose Fitzgerald gave her son John Kennedy her maiden name as his middle name. His daughter, Caroline has her mother’s maiden name, Bouvier, as her middle name and the media rarely (if ever) refers to her as Mrs. Schlossberg, even though that is exactly who she is.  You can also consider changing your name legally and keeping your maiden name professionally.

Pros  of changing your name:
-It is easier. Maybe not today or tomorrow but, when children become involved there are always complications. It is easier when you all have the same last name.

-Having the same name as your new family makes you feel more a part of things. You are already bonded with your family,  use this as a stepping stone to bond with his.

– Your last name is complicated, un-friendly, hard to pronounce or you just don’t like it. Now is a good time to fix that.

One thing is for sure, this is a decision that needs to be made by the engaged couple and no one else. Who cares if Aunt Fanny doesn’t like it? It is your name, your life, your marraige, your choice. Once you (as a couple) have reached your decision, announce it to all and stick to it. If you are one of the 10% of women to choose to keep their maiden name, you may encounter some rough road but, stick to your guns. If you are one of the 90% who decide that change is okay, keep doodling.

Cons of name change:

– You have established yourself in the workplace and changing your name could likely become complicated and may make it difficult to re-establish your reputation. Harldy anyone will remember Elizabeth Warner but, she certainly made headlines as Elizabeth Taylor. There was  never a need for her to go by any other name and you may agree.

– You may feel like you have lost your identity. You have had this name for your entire life and now you are not the same person, anymore.

– It goes against your personal principle that a woman is expected to change her name and a man is not.

 Changing your last name is technically easy. Once you have the forms from the Social Security office you can get a new Social Security Card (the number is still the same) and then a new drivers license. After that, you are basically done. Take your new forms of identification with you to the bank and have your name changed on the account, call your credit card companies, and anyone with whom you have credit (mortgage, student loans, etc) and you are finished. If that is too complicated, you can buy a Name Change kit.

Getting used to a new name is a different story; you may have doodled your merged names a hundred times in your wedding planner, but having someone refer to you as “Mrs. Frulla” for the first time will stop you in your tracks.  You may ask youself why you had to change your name and he didn’t.  In reality, you didn’t.

 

-Penny Frulla for Bridal Expo Chicago

 

Glorious Garnishes For Captivating Cocktails

Having signature drinks at your event, whether they are alcoholic or not, has become a must have for an interesting, lively affair. Signature cocktails are the epitome of fun and creativity so, the garnishes and accoutrement you use to adorn them should be something that also shows your flair, fun and festivity!

How about fruity ice cubes and cocktail stirrers for summertime drinks? Blueberries, strawberries, raspberries will all light up a lemonade or sweet tea as well as a wine spritzer!

 

Why not serve chocolate drinks with an extra dash of chocolate ….  Try decorating the edge of martini glasses with chocolate sprinkles for a chocolate martini. A dash of mint? Why not!

 

Multi-colored sprinkles add color to a wide variety of drinks from shots to fruit punch!

 

Vodka-soaked, chilled cranberries add zest and pizazz to a Cranberry-tini or even a simple glass of champagne!

Your guests will adore a peppermint cocktail with a peppermint garnish for a winter wedding:

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Last but, not least – make sure the glasses are the right size and shape for the drink and the garnishes. It will make all the difference in the world!

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-Penny Frulla for Bridal Expo Chicago

Invited To A Wedding? Read This First.

Etiquette is one of those elusive things that seem to escape some people, one of those things you don’t really think about until  you’re in the “10 items or less” line behind someone with a full cart of groceries, or you are waiting (patiently) behind someone who is talking on their cell phone during a really short left arrow green light, or when someone is talking really loud in a movie. It isn’t until a social event like a wedding or funeral, where things are quiet and you have time to reflect, that these infractions of common manners become so imposing.

Cell Phones are the worst culprit in modern times. Texting, talking and (God forbid) playing games on your phone during a wedding is rude, don’t do it. Unless you are expecting an urgent call, you don’t even need your cell phone during the wedding…. leave it in the car. If you do need your cell phone with you, turn the ringer off and carry it in your pocket, when the urgent call comes through excuse yourself and go outside where you can converse without interrupting  everything. There is nothing more annoying than trying to carry on a conversation or eat dinner with someone who is glued to their cell phone.

Chewing Gum  is another no – no. Altoids, Tic-Tacs, Mentos work very well for a case of stale breath. Chewing gum in church ( or other place of worship), in the receiving line, giving a toast or dancing is tacky.  The worst part is when people forget they are chewing gum and it shows up in a picture…. YIKES!

Dressing appropriately is hard for some people so, this is a tricky one. I sat behind a man in a hoodie at a funeral this week and couldn’t stop staring at his bright red fleece garment the entire time, thinking to myself,  “Is that all you’ve got?” It was distracting to say the least. Giving him the benefit of the doubt, it is likely that he may have slipped out of work to be at this somber event and I know deep down that he had a really good reason for being inappropriately dressed. You don’t have to wear a pricey designer suits or gowns to be well-dressed. Too much cleavage, not enough skirt, anything denim are all good indicators that you need a wardrobe intervention. If you are unsure about what to wear, take a closer look at the invitation and it should tell you everything you need to know, if you are still stuck, call a wedding professional like a photographer or florist who has been to dozens of these events and they will be able to guide you.

Gossip is also a touchy subject. Asking questions about the cost of the gown, reception, gifts or anything wedding related is tacky, speculating on whether or not the marriage will last is morbid, and the most glaring offense of all is wondering (out loud) if the bride is pregnant. Unless the couple has announced that they are expecting, leave that commentary for another time. Basically, you are there to lend your support, not to openly critique every detail of the wedding. Save that for late , or not at all.

Let’s face it – you can’t legislate good manners. You can’t expect everyone to behave, dress, speak or act properly at all times. All you can do is lead by example and cross your fingers that they all follow your lead. By the time a person is an adult, they should know these few common rules of etiquette and if they don’t – there is nothing you can do to help them. Your best bet when faced with these offenses is to smile and politely excuse yourself from the situation. You will laugh about it later…. or not.

 

-Penny Frulla for Bridal Expo Chicago

Signature Cocktails Made Simple

Signature cocktails have become such a hot-ticket item for wedding receptions and other cocktail hour events that it has actually opened up an entirely new occupation: Cocktail designers. Once reserved for the extremely well-to-do, signature cocktails have been on the rise for several years and are skyrocketing to the top of the ‘must-have’ list for brides and grooms to be. According to the wedding channel, a ‘signature cocktail’  is “a custom designed drink (usually contains alcohol, but doesn’t have to) served at cocktail hours and wedding receptions.” How do you decide on the drink? Here are some hints and tips to make finding your signature cocktail easier.

 Bride AND  Groom need to work on this with either your caterer or bartender at your venue to create one together, although some couples insist on one for each of them. 

Choose one based on what kind of drinks you like. Although there are  a finite number of combinations, you can always add a unique garnish. If you love Hypnotique or Vodka or Limoncello, those should be the first ingredients you consider.

Choose a drink based on color if you want the drink to match your wedding theme. It may not be an exact match but if it is close enough it will make a huge impact. Imagine rows of  martini glasses filled with blue cocktails in a sea of blue flowers and bridesmaids gowns.

Make sure the ingredients are in season and readily available, especially if they are hard to find. Technically you don’t have to select the drink based on season but, a  pink-lemonade based drink will fare better in the summer months, just as an apple cider flavored drink is more suited for fall.

The best thing you can do is name it after yourself or something fun your guests will enjoy. Adding “-tini” or “-rita” is always fun especially if it illiterates nicely but, it must have the key ingredients of the base drink to be called that. Now that I think of it, ” Penny-tini” has a really nice ring to it!

Share the details with everyone; adding the recipe  to your wedding website, announcing it on place-cards and spreading the word in other ways always make a great conversation starter.

Any way you serve it, the signature cocktail has made it’s place at weddings and is hotter than ever before.

-Penny Frulla for Bridal Expo Chicago

 

 

 

Not Your Mother’s, Mother’s Dress – Find a Gown That Is Right For You

I am 50. Yes, I’m 50! I have two sons who are 10 & 12 years old. Mathematically they could be my grandchildren. It is difficult enough right now for me to find a dress to wear to a wedding or other function and I cannot imagine how hard it will be for me when they reach the age they are ready to get married. Why is it so hard for women my age to find just the right dress? How much time do you have?

Most women my age who are not 100% comfortable with their bodies hide behind their clothing. They wear baggy sweaters, mom jeans and/or frumpy clothing most of the time. When it does come time to find a dress for the wedding of their child, they panic and all wind up wearing a long dress with a jacket. Here is a tip: THEY ALL LOOK THE SAME!. Satin jacket with crepe dress or crepe jacket with satin dress – it is nearly a uniform of the wedding mother who just can’t find anything else. There is also a double standard: we are told we can’t wear short dresses anymore no matter how great the legs but, designers consistently show strapless gowns for women who shouldn’t have worn them when they were 20 , much less when they become AARP members. Hardly fair, is it?

As a woman over 50 I can tell you that there are other options. Here are a few things to remember before you buy anything for your adult child’s wedding:

#1) Forget everything you read or see on TV. If you have great, shapely legs and want to wear a shorter dress, wear it! 4″ above the knee is about the limit for a host of reasons but, short skirts are not limited to the X or Y or Z generation.

#2) Accessorize. Find a dress you love in your size and forget about being perfect or looking like a supermodel. Make the most of a simple, elegant dress by accessorizing to the max! Great necklace and earrings, beaded scarf, or even a hat will draw the eyes to your face and away from the mid-section where you may be a little thicker than you used to be. A great pair of heels will also do a lot for your self -image.

#3) Wrap it up. Consider a wrap dress if your tummy isn’t as flat as it used to be. A wrap (around) dress can hide 10-15 lbs easily. If the fabric is right and you accessorize properly, you will look stunning. Diane Von Furstenberg gave us the quintessential wrap dress in the 1970’s and it has evolved into a garment that can literally be worn for any occasion depending upon the fabric.

#4) Who are you? Don’t forget your personal style. If you have always liked a certain type of dress, don’t shy away from it because you are older. Underneath the laugh lines, next  to the spanx, lies the same woman who ran cross-country, captained the cheerleading squad, pledged a sorority and later attended every PTA meeting. You are what you are and what you are needs needs no excuses.

#5) Undergarments are everything. You don’t need to wear a girdle or a corset, you don’t need to wear extra tight super control top pantyhose.  But, wearing the right panties and bra will make any gown look better.

I know how you feel. Every day someone tells you that you don’t look your age, in fact you don’t really feel your age.  You walk confidently down the street in shorts in the summer, you play tennis, ride horses, swim, or run. You feel like you get better each and every day until you are confronted with that hideous mirror in the dressing room and the fluorescent lights! Let me tell you – those lights are lying. You are better! You don’t need a face lift  butt lift or liposuction….. all you need is the right dress, just ask Helen Mirren!

-Penny Frulla For Bridal Expo Chicago

 

Weddings Are Not Casual Friday

The other day my son asked me why men used to wear suits to baseball games. Isn’t it interesting that even a 9 yr old noticed that people don’t dress properly anymore?  There have been those occasions when I wear pajamas to drop my kids off at school in the morning, knowing I am not getting out of the car but, if my foot steps out onto the pavement you had better believe that I am fully dressed in a (somewhat) presentable fashion.  Which is why it is so odd to me that when I go to a wedding, I always see someone underdressed. In order to help you understand how to be the perfectly dressed guest at a wedding, I have put together some guidelines: 

Daytime Casual –  does not mean wear jeans and flip-flops. Wedding casual is different from ‘running to the grocery store’ casual. Wedding Casual means you could get by with a floral dress, sweater and skirt set, or even a sundress (weather permitting). For men open necked shirts with no tie are perfectly acceptable, in fact a nicer Hawaiian shirt for a beachfront venue is striking.  Men and women both need to take note of the location of the wedding – if it is beach or grass, make sure you are wearing shoes that can handle nature without aerating the soil or sinking into the sand. For evening casual just kick it up a notch -no need to break out your finest but, perhaps a touch of sparkle wouldn’t hurt, either. Always keep the setting in mind.

 Semi- Formal – Dress as if you were headed to the theater. A flirty cocktail dress and heels, or a dressy pantsuit. You want to be comfortable, able to move easily and to dance, of course. Avoid long dresses, it is too formal. For men- your suit  doesn’t have to be  black even though it is always a safe choice. You can also wear a blazer and slacks as long as you have a tie.

Black Tie Optional – this indicates that you can go  formal if you want, but you don’t have to. Women can wear a dress that is long or short, as long as it indicates elegance. Some beads and/or sequins are acceptable. Men can wear a tuxedo or a nice dark suit.

Black Tie – this is when you can bring out your finest and not feel over-dressed. If the invitation says Black Tie – its time to bring out the beads; beaded accessories,shoes,  sparkly earrings and perhaps a long silk wrap you have tucked away in a closet somewhere. Although in the past long dresses were required, it is acceptable to wear tea-length gowns but, avoid  short cocktail gowns. Dress as if you were invited to aPresidential Inaguration Ball or the Academy Awards!  For men it simple: Wear a tuxedo. Wear the tux with studs and bow tie and don’t forget to shine your patent leather shoes since no tuxedo is really a tuxedo without the right shoes.

 If the invitation does not specify what type of event it is, look for clues so you aren’t over or (God forbid) under-dressed. The venue, the type of invitation, the time of day will all give you insight into what you should be wearing. If all else fails, call the bride or groom (if you feel comfortable) or a close member of the wedding party.

The most important thing is to feel comfortable in your choice. If you can’t move, sit or eat one bite – you will be miserable not able to enjoy this lovely event!

For more great tips and ideas on weddings, be sure to get tickets to one of our bridal shows in your area. Call 847-428-3320 for complimentary tickets to show in  your area.

-Penny Frulla for Bridal Expo Chicago

 

 

Tips For Picking A First Dance Song

You can check any list of the most popular first dance songs from this week, last year or ten years ago and the same songs will sprinkle the list, with a few current popular songs poking their way through to the top ten. The top ten almost always includes: Unchained Melody (Righteous Brothers), Can’t Falling I Love With You (Elvis Presley), Unforgettable (Nat King Cole), The Way You Look Tonight (Frank Sinatra) and rounding out the list, At Last (Etta James). There are a lot of other really popular songs but these are ALWAYS in the top five.

So what do you do if you don’t want the MOST popular song? What if you don’t choose a ballad or a classic or even a well-known song?What if you and your fiance have a song that made you connect but, it isn’t exactly what other people expect for the first dance? According to industry experts – you should go for it, as long as it is not offensive. The first dance will set the mood for the entire evening so it is an important choice.  Here are some points to consider:

Think about what relates to your relationship. One of the first steps of choosing a first dance tune is to try to find a song that matches the way that you feel about each other or relates to a past moment in your lives together. It nay not be a ballad, and that’s okay. A song that makes you connect, a song that brought you together, a song you share with one another (spiritually) and no one else. It should reflect your taste and your own personal style.

Choose a danceable song. It’s important to remember that you’ll be cutting a rug to whatever song you choose. Even if you have the perfect lyric, a song with an off tempo can cause trouble. Choose a rhythm that fits your own rhythm as a couple, and make sure  to practice a few times to see how you feel with the track. You may want to take dance lessons or you may be comfortable swaying to the music. Remember that most country music is 3/4 (waltz) tempo, this can be off-putting for some people. Songs that are too slow or change tempo can also be troublesome.

Make it memorable. When you have your potential first dance song list in mind, think about which of these melodies will stand out to you years down the road. Pick a song  that stands the test of time. It doesn’t have to be an oldie but, it should be a goodie.

Talk to your DJ.  Make sure you have discussed your first song with the DJ and he or she is aware of the significance.  If there is some history that could be shared, that is even better! Don’t forget to let the DJ  know if you want a particular version since many artists ‘cover’ classic songs. You may like the cover version better.

Listen & Feel. Make sure you are aware of all the lyrics. Some lyrics will surprise you and even though it sounds like a love song- it might actually be a breakup song…. or worse.  I had been dating my (now) husband for about 6 months when he reminded me that we didn’t have a song (seriously). So we sat down and went through playlists, we spent hours listening to music that meant something to us, it took several days because every song was better than the one before – plus the fact that we had to weed out the ones that belonged to prior relationships. By accident we came across a song we both loved, one that really meant something to both of us, the lyrics were perfect and we literally started dancing when it came on. It’s only funny if you know my husband.  “You’re The First, The Last, My Everything” by Barry White. I get a rush every time I hear it and that’s how your wedding song should feel.

Save the funny, irreverent and inappropriate songs for later in the evening, after everyone is half in the sack. Making “I like Big Butts”  or “Like a Virgin” your wedding song may seem funny but, unless every one of your guests is in on the joke – you can expect some fairly odd expressions.

 -Penny Frulla for Bridal Expo Chicago