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 2012 Golden Globes Red Carpet Roundup

Last night was the first awards show of 2012 and my personal favorite of all awards shows. The reason I love the Golden Globe Awards is many but, the main reason is that although still a very formal awards ceremony, the nominees and presenters seem to be genuinely having a good time. Maybe it is because dinner is included, maybe it is because some see it is a dress rehearsals for the Academy awards but, personally I  suspect it is because they can drink in their seats! The one thing that really stood out to me was that all of the same trends we are seeing  in bridal fashions were right there on the red carpet; each of them  beaded, belted, sequined and accessorized to perfection. It was a glamorous and yet confusing night but, I walked away with a better knowledge of red carpet fashion! This is what I learned from last night:

How to wear an all over sequined gown- Laura Dern in Andrew Gn. While I am not a big fan of these tiny belts or all over sequins, this one works. Also, the neckline had some detail which broke up the ‘all-overness’ of the sequined dress and the plunging ‘V’ showed off her svelte figure.

How to be boring and glamorous at the same time – Michelle Williams  in a beautifully fitted yet boring Jason Wu gown. The gown had no design interest and once again she  fell short for lack of proper accessories.  The tiny black belt and black headband were of no consequence and did nothing for the overall look.

How to wear Reem Acra. One of our favorite bridal designers had a great showing last night – Diane Lane’s gown was my favorite of the three and the most flattering on her. Madonna ‘s (too much material, girl) gown had way too much going on  and Julie Bowen’s gown didn’t have enough.

Why not to let your children pick your clothes- Sarah Michelle Gellar flopped in Monique Lhuillier. Tye dye? Really?

How to wear a simple geomtric look – Zooey Deschanel was adorable (as always) in Prada. Selma Hayek dropped the ball when she picked this Gucci getup.

 

  

How to wear silk chiffon – Kate Becksinsale’s Roberto Cavalli silk chiffon gown was embellished with beaded detail and a flowing skirt while the details of Charlize Theron’s Dior gown  were in the design and execution. Both looked incredible.

 

How to stop traffic at any age – Jane Fonda looked so incredible that she rendered George Clooney speechless.

 

Speaking of which, Stacy Keibler was all smiles as she shows how to perfectly accesorize.

 

How to do “Grannies Gone Wild” – Jessica Biel in Marchesa.

How to be a great host –  while it seemed a risky move having him return after offending so many A-listers in 2011, it paid off big time for the Hollywood Foriegn Press as the comedian showed us he really could emcee the event  in a relaxed, casual and confident manner. His tuxedo choice was smashing but I would have preferred to see a tie! What can you say about Johnny Depp? He is just so darn cool.

 

What did you learn from last night’s Golden Globes?

-Penny Frulla for Bridal Expo Chicago

Wedding Planning 101 – Bridal Expo

I am sure you ‘ve often 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 attend one of our luxurious bridal shows. 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 at our events.

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. Mom, Maid of Honor, Groom? 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 specialdeals 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 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 gowns, headpieces and attendant gowns in one place.

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.

Call 847-428-3320 today to get  tickets to a Bridal Expo in your area, you won’t be sorry!

-Penny Frulla For Bridal Expo Chicago

Here comes the Bride, again – Simply Second Weddings

Lets take a look at some numbers for a moment. If 50% of marriages end in divorce, and roughly 25% of the population is getting married for the second time, that means that for every two weddings at least one-half of the couple is having their second wedding. Make sense? If not – think of it this way: If you attended two weddings this year, statistically one of the people in one of those weddings should be enjoying their second trip down the proverbial aisle. Depending upon the age of the participants, it will be more or less.

In the old days,  the second wedding was a toned-down affair, small ceremony ( or none at all) and casual  location for the reception. Many times there are children involved and back then no one wanted to make a big deal of the second wedding particularly if the first ended in divorce.

Second time brides and grooms are generally a little older and wiser and as a result make different ( no one said better) choices as how to spend their money. The first wedding is uncharted territory; priorities are different and the budget is probably being managed by one or both sets of  parents.

Women who are about to become a bride for the second time used to wear a less formal, more toned-down look. Not true anymore. Although the choices are different, they are many times less than toned-down. You are definitely older and more than likely paying for this gown yourself. Kim Kardashian will take the plunge for the second time later this year and her second wedding will out-do her first by a long shot. A $2 million wedding outshines Vegas given any odds.

If the bride is considerably older she will probably want to take that into consideration when trying on gowns. Strapless, corset style dresses might just be a little too youthful for an older bride and lets face it –  after 40 you are no longer considered the sexy ingenue. I suggest that brides 40 and over to ask for a consultant that is closer to your age so she will be able to better understand your needs both emotionally and physically.
Color of the gown is not really important. The concept of only a virgin-bride wearing white is outdated and unrealistic. It is almost medieval! At any age, good taste should prevail. Recent celebrity bride Reese Witherspoon opted for a pale pink gown by famed bridal designer Monique Lhullier, which was the epitome of good taste for her casual affair. The late Elizabeth Taylor, undoubtedly the queen of matrimony ( she was married 8 times)  had the good sense to wear a canary yellow Valentino gown for her last marriage. Yes, it was a lace ball-gown, yes it cost over $25,000 and yes it had a sweep train but, it was also a highly publicized affair at Michael Jackson’s ranch and it was Elizabeth Taylor. Take everything into consideration when shopping for your gown. Designers are taking all of theses statistics into consideration and it shows in the style of their gowns.  If you shop for a gown during a trunk show you will most likely meet the designer and be able to discuss changes and color options.

Even if your first attempt at marital bliss ended eons ago, there are some things that are considered faux pas such as hosting a large wedding shower for yourself for a second or third wedding or wearing full bride regalia over the age of 50. You also  don’t need daddy to walk you down the aisle for the fourth time, and half a dozen bridesmaids are not necessarily in order. Walk yourself down the aisle and have one attendant to sign the marriage license. Your daughter or son (if they are of age) or a close friend or family member will suffice.

There is no need to be shy about having a large second wedding, always ask for advice from trusted professionals and don’t be afraid to have a grand affair. The best way to avoid criticism from others is not to ask for their opinions. “What do you think of this?” can lead you down a path you may not want to go.

My best advice is  go to www.bridalshowexpo.com and get tickets to one of our shows There you can meet with our seasoned professionals and  help answer questions for your first or second trip to the altar.

-Penny Frulla for Bridal Expo Chicago

The Oscars 2011 – Best Dressed

No, it wasn’t just you, the Oscars were little odd this year. It was as if there was a huge inside joke that everyone knew and as everyone waited for the punch line with great anticipation ……. it never came. However, this years fashions did not disappoint. 

 I loved seeing Tim Gunn on the red carpet. This is exactly where he belongs. He asks all the right questions  and he saves the acting talk for the interviewers with bigger chops.  I have been tuning in since I was a small girl merely to see what the stars will be wearing so,  the red carpet is my favorite part of the show!

Penny’s Picks for  best dressed:

Mila Kunis – The biggest shocker of the night for me was how much I loved this Elie Saab couture gown. The only reason so many design elements (lace, ruffles, draped chiffon, blouson top) work on this gown is because it was constructed impeccably, like a work of art. Every fold, every drape, every small lace ruffle is sewn to perfection.  Mila made every one’s top ten list in this designer gown, and the top of my top ten list. Surprised? Me, too!

Natalie Portman – Although I feel she lost it in the accessory department (hello, beaded tassels?), the purple Rodarte gown looked magnificent and comfortable enough for the mom-to-be to carry home a  small statuette and a  bun in the oven. 

Anne Hathaway – Most critics were all over her red Valentino gown, accusing the star of wearing her window treatments, etc. I disagree for two reasons – the fit was perfect and it was pure Valentino couture.  In addition, each and every gown that she wore during her multiple costume changes was A+ with the exception of the midnight blue Versace. I thought it fell flat.

Gyyneth Paltrow – Again, I disagree with most critics. Her gown was sleek, cool and totally retro. She was not nominated and was there to look good. She did!

Sharon Stone – Carried off  the Black Swan theme to perfection in this one-shouldered Christian Dior gown, regardless off how the critics slammed her smoky eyes. I thought she looked magnificent for a woman of any age.

Jennifer Hudson -Was a vision in Versace. The tangerine color looked marvelous with her skintone and the fit was unbelievable. The side drape and fitted bodice showed off her stunning slim physique.  In all fairness, she was stunning when she won her own Oscar and was much heavier. *Memo to her stylist – “make sure the cleavage is the same color as the chest.”

Mandy Moore – Her Monique Lhullier gown was breathtaking. The fit and the detail  of this champagne/nude gown reminds us that this little girl is all grown up and also that Monique Lhullier can do no wrong. Her bridal gowns are equally as impressive.

Hailee Stanfield – Also wow’d the crowd in her champagne/ nude creation by Marchesa. She opted for a fuller, ballerina-length skirt which is extremely flattering and appropriate for a young woman at the age of 14.

Sandra Bullock – America’s sweetheart proves once again that she can  look red hot on the red carpet with this  amazing red Vera Wang gown. But, we already knew that. Her makeup and accessories were  toned down leading me to believe that she and her stylist agreed -when you look this good in this gown, you don’t need any extra help.

 Hilary Swank – This Gucci Premiere couture gown is pure Hollywood glamour. Hand sewn crystals,  ostrich feathers – who knew this much detail could be so sexy?  Grey is not an easy color to wear but,  Ms. Swank pulls it off effortlessly.

Celine Dion – She had twins? In this simple, fitted Armani Prive gown it is hard to imagine she has given birth to one child, much less three.  The slim fitting gown had an absolutely perfect fit for her, the horizontal darts accentuated her toned physique and the only detail on the gown (other than the silk shantung fabric) was a small band that seemed to help the gown curve perfectly over her bust-line.  Was it just me or did this necklace remind anyone else of the gargantuan blue diamond stunner she wore when she sang the theme from Titanic?

Tune in tomorrow for my picks for the Worst Dressed at the 2011 Oscars. In the mean time, you can click  on this link  to view Bridal Expo’s very own red carpet couture runway show!  http://www.bridalshowexpo.com/fos_video_bride.html?PHPSESSID=c2893cac5707631701337f218a200fd2

 – Penny Frulla for Bridal Expo Chicago