Planning A Balloon Release? Think Twice

I remember when I was a kid and I got a  helium balloon, I thought it was  the coolest thing ever. Then, mylar balloons came out in the late 1970’s and that was definitely the coolest thing…. ever! In the 1980’s people were doing massive balloon releases at weddings  and it looked so cool- all of those balloons going up at the same time! But, the 90’s hit with a eco-fervor (for me) and I started to ask “What happens to all this stuff after they land?” The answer is not  good. Maybe this is why balloon releases are out of fashion –  for good reason.

1) Bad for the environment. Although it is true that latex is a natural resource coming from rubber trees, it takes a long time to break down into the environment and can cause a lot of damage ( to various species) during that time.

2) Mylar is metalicized polyester and even worse- it conducts electricity. No real good reason to take part in this debacle.

3) Helium shortage – True. There is only a limited supply of helium on this planet and once it’s gone…it’s gone. Unless you want to go to Pluto.

4) Allergies. In case you haven’t heard of this;  there are people allergic to latex….. there are a lot of people allergic to latex. So many, that schools have signs stating that balloons are not permitted.

5) Chinese lanterns have the same impact, maybe worse.

In lieu of releasing dozens ( or hundreds) of toxic balloons into the environment, try these more organic alternatives:

Release trained doves– There are reputable facilities around the country that offer the release of doves. These birds are trained to return to the facility; no matter where the birds are released they will fly back home. No harm is done to the birds or their wild relatives.

Blowing bubbles– Blowing bubbles is always fun; watching them bounce around towards the sky and twist with the wind. It also requires you to exhale and breathe.

Although it is still perfectly legal and somewhat socially acceptable to release balloons, lanterns and other non-organic components into the environment in some areas, there are some cities and states that have already banned this activity.  Think about it, do some research and decide if it is really worth it for you before you sign up for a balloon release.

 

-Penny Frulla for Bridal Expo Chicago

 

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