Adding Up The Add-ons: The Dangers of Hidden Fees

When you plan your wedding budget there are dozens of factors that can increase your costs and before you know it, your $30,000 budget is now $10,000 over.  Not planning for extras and add-ons can put you into a deficit quicker than you think.

1) Remember to take your time into consideration. For instance, if you will have to take time off from work to handle fittings, tastings or sign contracts and will not get paid for the time off; you have just ‘spent’ money by not earning it.

2) When looking online at pricing, the numbers can be deceiving. $35 per person sounds like a great price for a reception until you realize that doesn’t include an entree, a napkin or a fork. Make sure the price is for a complete meal.

3) One of the biggest costs is for alcohol, so some couples try to sidestep this  and be thrifty by providing their own alcohol and bartender (an option at some reception venues). This will save you very little money. Between corkage fees and the retail costs of alcohol, you would be wiser to offer an open bar and not use top shelf  liquor… or limit it to just wine and beer.

4) When buying your wedding gown, ask about the cost of alterations up front. Just as the salon will make you sign a contract agreeing  to purchase the gown, pay the 1/2 deposit and the balance when the gown arrives – you should require the salon to give you an alterations quote in writing. A good place for this is on your receipt.  Expert alterations can cost hundreds of dollars.

5) The cake is another quagmire. Having a wedding cake large enough to slice off a piece for 200 guests is costly and can be difficult to maneuver. Consider having a smaller (more manageable) wedding cake for the cake cutting and having your baker make sheet cakes of the same exact cake and frosting  to serve to guests.

6) Speaking of cake, check  this out: Cake cutting fees can be as much as $3.50 per slice.  This is just the fee that the reception site charges to cut your cake, put it on a plate and serve it. Add this onto the cost of the cake and you could increase the cake budget by 50% or more. Consider the options of mini cakes or cupcakes to serve to guests. Cupcake bakeries are super chic right now so why not get in on the fun?

7) Service professionals often rely on tips. If it is not added into your total automatically,  make sure you allow for this at the end of the event.

Overall it is estimated that individual wedding costs increase by 25% from the original quote. In order to avoid this happeneing to you… don’t forget to factor tax, tips, add-ons and fees into your budget and make sure you get everything in writing!

-Penny Frulla for Bridal Expo Chicago

 

 

 

 

 

Politically Friendly Weddings

Supposedly, there are two things you don’t discuss at family gatherings; politics and religion. In truth, putting politics aside for one night might not be an option when the bride is a blue-dog-Democrat and the groom is a dyed-in-the-wool  Republican….and we are three days away from a major (presidential) election!

Given the current political climate where so many unflattering distinctions are made between left and right, red state and blue state, conservative and liberal, it is kind of fun to peek into how bipartisan couples make their celebrations come together without tearing them apart.

So how does a couple of differing political backgrounds and views put their differences aside for a night of revelry? It is a lot easier than you think.

Spotlight –Bring it out in the open. Without condescension or trivialization, openly address the situation. Have a  Election-themed affair with Donkey and Elephant favors at each table. Instead of numbering the tables, name them after your favorite politicians  of each party and mix it up. Put Republicans at the Clinton table and Democrats at the Reagan table. If you really want to have some fun,  how about large cut-outs of current and former candidates and let guests take photos with them…. just like on the street corners in Washington DC.

Seating Chart – As nice as it is to think that everyone will put their differences aside for one night, they won’t. Think about this when doing your seating chart. Unfortunately this means more work for the couple but, it will be worth it to make sure Aunt Sarah doesn’t go off on a Social Security rant to one of your dearest friends. We all have that one relative or friend who thinks their opinion matters more than everyone else… and they think they are much smarter, as well. Put them where they will cause the least damage!

Edit – Ask anyone giving toast or speeches to make sure they keep it light and fun. This is a great time to jab but, no name calling. Remember that humor goes along way… think of the White House correspondent’s dinner. If you have any doubts, ask an impartial (third party, if you will) person to take a look at what your speakers have to say.

Discuss –Talk to both of your families as a couple, at the same time if possible. Sit them down and tell them that you would like for them to behave for one evening and leave the Obama-care discussions for later. Explain  that they have a lifetime to blame Bush (or Clinton) for the current economic debacle but for tonight they need to check all snyde comments and opinions at the door.

Change –Don’t try to change everyone’s opinion to suit yours. Don’t marry someone thinking you will change their political views and don’t presume that your family will change theirs  either. Accept the differences and move on.

Topics to avoid are healthcare, immigration, and scandal, as each party is equally prone to having skeletons in their closet. For every John Edwards there is an Arnold Schwarzenegger so be careful when opening that door as it is not an easy one to close.

 There are many couples of opposite political views who make it work nicely without sacrificing their opinions. James Carville and Mary Matalin are two of the most opinionated political advisors of different parties and they have had a very successful marriage.

Now, if  politicians could only learn to play nice, we might get something done.  Maybe we should ask Mitt Romney and Barack Obama to plan an entire wedding……. without the help of their wives!

Penny Frulla for Bridal Expo Chicago

Getting Dressed On Your Wedding Day

You have probably been able to get dressed all by yourself since you were about 6 years old. Maybe back then you had a little trouble with the shoe laces but, other than that, getting dressed has pretty much been a solo act for the remainder of your life… then comes your wedding day.

Not so long ago, brides, grooms and the wedding party ( including parents) got dressed at their individual homes,  with the photographer snapping pictures throughout  the process to show the transformation for regular citizen to bride (or groom). I’m sure this  still takes place. However,one of the best decisions you can make  is  arrangements to prepare for your wedding on site. Why? I’m glad you asked!

Three compelling reasons to get dressed at the venue and not at home:

#1) Weather. Weather can be your worst nightmare for three reasons: Cold, rain and humidity. In cold temperatures, you will have to purchase something fashionable and attractive to go over the gown so you don’t freeze to death on the way there. Rain will mess up not only your gown but, also your hair, makeup and any chance you have for looking your best. Remember last weekend when buckets of rain were pouring down from the sky? Humidity can frizz or flatten, expand or squash … almost every hair type falls prey to humidity. It will also cause your gown to wrinkle easily since there is more moisture in the air.

#2) Wrinkles. Speaking of wrinkles, the men will get wrinkled pants from sitting, the bridesmaids gowns will most likely need to be re-steamed and any silk bridal gown will be a wrinkled mess after traveling even a short distance after being seated in a vehicle… even for a short time.

#3) Time– Getting ready at home provides you with a false sense of time; you are never in a hurry until you realize you are late. Getting ready at the church or ceremony site will keep you mindful that the clock is ticking.

Instead of worrying about these inconveniences, plan on getting dressed at the place where the ceremony will occur.

-Make arrangements in advance for a dressing area that is spacious and  have refreshments on hand.

-Have your hair and makeup done prior to getting dressed.

– Allow extra time for conditions like humidity which may require additional products for your hair and makeup.

-Rent, borrow or buy a steamer  to do touch ups on gowns and tuxedos. An iron will work on some fabrics but gowns with pickup skirts and layers of tulle will need to be steamed.

– Hire or appoint someone as your dresser. If your bridal salon offers this service, it is well worth it. They can steam, button, zip, fluff, adjust and inspect the bridal party so that everyone walks down the aisle perfectly coiffed and put together.

You will never regret the decision to get dressed at the site where things will take place. You will have more room, less distractions, and an added bonus is that the photographer can capture images of both male and female members preparing for the wedding simultaneously.

-Penny Frulla for Bridal Expo Chicago

 

Kids and Weddings – Yes or No?

The best part about your wedding is having everyone you love in one place at one time. Aunts, uncles, cousins, best friends and (may times) their significant others. People with whom you have shared experiences, and looking forward to adding this to your list of fond memories. Then, the subject of kids comes up. The subject of children at weddings is a buzzkill for almost everyone …with or without children.

People with children don’t understand why you don’t want their little darlings around, why they have to exclude their children (part of the family) from a family gathering. They do not always want to leave their children out of the celebration and if there is travel involved, how long do they have to make arrangements for their children’s well-being? They consider it a huge inconvenience and some parents will be resentful.

But, some people with children don’t always want to travel with them or take them to a fancy event. They would like to have a night out without worrying about who ate their vegetables and making sure someone uses the right spoon. No highchairs, no temper tantrums, no whining…just a night out with your spouse and a glass (or two) of chardonnay.

People without children would often prefer you leave them at home, find a sitter and be done with it. They haven’t bonded with children, they don’t need or want the worry of children ruining their event with bad behavior,  out of control, touching things that don’t need to be touched. They are not as enamored with your children as you are.

Buzzkill.

Points to consider:

Kids are fun. they dance and laugh and eat cake. They will be all dressed up and probably not eat too much, anyway.

If you are paying $100 per person for dinner, how can you justify spending this much one someone who would probably rather eat McNuggets?

Kids are noisy – what if they can’t keep quiet during the ceremony?

Kids are messy. They will probably have filthy hands and want to touch the wedding gown or other things that don’t need to  be touched.

There is also the age thing: What is the cut off? There is a big difference between a 17 yr old and a 4 yr old.

The simple fact is that if you don’t want children at your wedding, state it on the invitation and make sure you are prepared for the fallout. If you are allowing children at your wedding, state it on the invitation and be prepared for the fallout. Either way you are not going to make everyone happy.

Make your decision (as a couple) and move on, you have nothing to explain and no explaining will make a difference, anway. It is your wedding.

-Penny Frulla for Bridal Expo Chicago

 

Paying It Forward – Wedding Style

If you’re like me, the day after a large gathering at your home there is always tons of leftovers and things that are going to potentially go to waste. If there is that much extra just at my house, imagine how much goes to waste after every wedding, at every venue, every single time. I think about those things.

I know I am not alone, especially since there are the David Rothsteins of the world who have the ability to take action… and do just that. David, of the award-winning David Rothstein Music began a program to honor his grandparents called “Share Your Love” and since April 2008 has donated over 4,000 floral arrangements to local nursing homes, post-wedding. The story is inspiring and amusing, it’s worth the read. http://drsmusic.com/sharelove.html

However, you don’t have to be an industry insider or a renowned music professional in Chicago to take part in this recycling extravaganza. Here’s how you can do something good and ‘share the love’ yourself:

First, this is not something the bride and groom could or should physically handle. Appoint a wedding ambassador to handle this. Utilize  an event planner, maid of honor, best man or whomever is the most reliable and capable of handling this this task. You can make the arrangements pre-wedding and then sleep better knowing you have given something extra life by donating.

Flowers certainly lift everyone’s spirits, so make arrangements with a nursing home near your venue to either have your flowers dropped off or they may have someone who can pick them up, post-wedding.

Food products can be donated through local food banks or through ‘Feeding America’. If you have a catered affair and the catering company presents you with trays of leftover food, whatever reclamation program you decide will be delighted ! Again, make the arrangements ahead of time and donate whatever you can.  www.feedingamerica.org

Donating Bridal Gowns and bridesmaid dresses is extremely generous and a great way to  give. Gowns can be donated to a variety of organizations which can be seen at http://www.donatemyweddingdress.org/ . If your gown is stained, ripped or damaged you can make other arrangements through  the Mary Madeline project which uses the fabric to make burial garments for stillborn infants. http://marymadelineproject.org .

Whether you choose to focus on donating one item or go all out and give everything you can part with to charity, the feeling of paying it forward is overwhelming. Remember to make all of your arrangements pre-wedding since post-wedding you will be busy writing thank you cards and settling in to your new life and the importance of giving may take a backseat to your daily tasks.

 

-Penny Frulla for Bridal Expo Chicago

Sponsored Weddings – Tacky or Tasteful

From ads on craigslist and eBay begging for sponsors to “C” list celebrities and reality stars getting gratis goods or  magazines paying millions for exclusive photos , sponsored weddings have become not-so-tacky as they once seemed when Star Jones got married in 2004. For those of you who don’t remember Star Jones ( insert ironic joke here), her motive was as follows: in exchange for extolling the virtues of  all of the freebie vendors by name in public at every turn of the conversation and tons of high-profile referrals, Ms. Jones was given the’ Star’ treatment  at  little or no cost. Being a co-host on a highly rated daytime talk show, her salary was beyond what most Americans make in a decade but she opted for the freebie route instead of paying… and a trend was born.

In all fairness celebrities have been getting freebies since there were celebrities. Interesting since those who can afford it the most generally wind up paying the least. Kim Kardashian’s wedding  put Star Jones to shame in terms of cost, viewership and donated goods. In all fairness, the reality star televised event was profitable for every single  sponsor, especially Kim Kardashian (to the tune of millions)….unless of course you are talking about the ‘happily ever after’ part.

For the average bride or groom, the chances of getting that kind of coverage for your wedding is out of the question. For some people it is unthinkable to even speak of having ‘sponsors’ and the idea of asking for anything free is just, well….. tacky (just ask Barbara Walters). However, if you have all the right ingredients and are willing to swallow just a tiny amount of pride, you can get a lot of freebies. There are hundreds of websites offering tips and ideas on how to go about getting sponsors, some veterans even selling their plan in e-book form.

According to Andrea Hermitt of Yahoo.com, there are several tips to get sponsors for your wedding, including:

1. Make a list of everything you will need for your wedding.

2. Plan your wedding well in advance, making sure you have plenty of time to devote to this task.

3. Make plans for a unique wedding that will turn heads.

4. Make your wedding list large (larger weddings are more likely to be sponsored).

5. Create a spectacular wedding website and make it really active to show that you have connections. The knot.com has great templates for wedding websites.

6. Get everything in writing. The last thing you want is a 50 ft banner across the aisle that announces “This wedding is brought to you by Dr.Pepper”. Interestingly enough, most ‘sponsors’ require name placement in the invitation itself. This is tricky and potentially a deal – breaker. Make sure you know what you are agreeing to before you sign on the dotted line .

7. Look for prospective sponsors who are new to the business.

8. Have something valuable to trade with them. Consider your occupation, and what you can trade personally.
 
9. Youtube it! Make a creative video, perhaps a flash mob surrounding your engagement using product placement. Perhaps a commercial parody using your wedding details. Put it on youtube and share it in Facebook.
 
10. Consider making a donation to a charity in sponsor’s names.
The bottom line when looking for sponsors is incentives. What can you offer them that will equal the value of their goods/services? How can you bring customers to their business in a positive way? Some call it sponsors, but essentially it is bartering.
 
Whether you are paying full price or getting everything for free, make sure to check out each business you are dealing with; either by referrals, the BBB or whatever resource you generally use because unfortunately,you get what you pay for. 
 
-Penny Frulla for Bridal Expo Chicago

Trends in Wedding Accessories

Years ago, brides didn’t have to worry much about what kind of jewelry to wear on their wedding day, it was your mother’s pearls and a pair of diamond earrings and there were not too many other choices. Today’s brides have so many choices, it is sometimes overwhelming to try to narrow it down.

In the 1980’s when my career in bridal fashion began, the motto was “More is better”. Turns out, that was not so true, after all. Looking at bridal portraits from the 1980’s with giant poufy veils, shoulder dusting earrings, gigantic cluster necklaces and the chunky, beaded headbands or (God Forbid) huge bow on the back of the head, you have to ask “What were you (we) thinking?”.

The 1990’s saw a departure from the lavish accessories and designers made specific matching bridal jewlery sets of earrings and necklaces that incorporated the same type of stones or jewels as the dress. The tiara was in and the poufs were out… big time!  By comparison, the 90’s were dull. The motto was “Less is more” and brides across the board adapted this as their mantra.

 

The most recent trend is probably the most fun and exciting, “Be Yourself!”  Sashes encrusted with crystals of varying colors, beautifully crafted vintage inspired earrings with clear or colored stones, large bracelets of small stones and necklaces of every size, shape and dimension imaginable.  Instead of copying a look from a magazine, brides are making their own fashion statement with the use of accessories in every shape and form. It’s exciting, it’s fresh and it is NOW!

Tips to avoid over-accessorizing:

If your earrings are longer than 2″, you might not need a necklace.

If you can afford it, diamonds never go out of style. A simple diamond choker (and earrings) looks as good now as it did fifty years ago.

Choose your style according to the theme. If it is boho, vintage or hollywood glam, stick to it and don’t try to bring in an unrelated peice…. it will throw off the overall look.

Necklaces should be comfortable against the skin. If you have extremely sensitive skin, some costume jewelry may cause an unflattering reaction.

Your headpiece should fit easily into your hairstyle, don’t force it. Not every headpiece works in every type of hair,

Beware of bracelets that snag the fabric of your dress. Test bracelets next to a pice of clothing to see if they are too grabby.

Remember, accessories should accent your overall look, not overpower it.  Have fun with your choices but, remember that your wedding day look should be timeless, whether it is 1953 or 2012.

 

-Penny Frulla for Bridal Expo Chicago

Sunday Weddings

Labor Day and Memorial Day are two very popular dates for weddings because of the 3 day weekend. The most popular day of the 3 day weekend is Sunday and everyone knows that booking a Sunday wedding saves plenty of  money.

Need a few more reasons?

The three day weekend also gives your guests an additional day to recover from the festivites (Monday) or travel before returning to work on Tuesday. Most people don’t have to taky any time off!

Sometimes airfare and hotels can be a bit more expensive when traveling on a holiday weekend but, if you book the travel together (encourage everyone to use the same travel agent) there may be some discount.

Out of town guests may want to use the 3 day weekend to have a mini vacation to rest, relax and sight-see. A happy guest is…. a happy guest!

The weather is usually warm and pleasant in both May and September, many times avoiding heatwaves and torrential downpours (depending upon your geographical location).

One last bonus: you can use an Americana theme without being corny. Labor day is the day that is designated to celebrate the workers, the people who built this country with their blood, sweat and tears. The  men and women who toiled in unsafe conditions decades before Norma Rae put down her work and held up that now famous sign. Celebrating America’s workers, and America herself is a great way to begin your life together.

Weigh the options, take all things into consideration and see if  a Labor Day Wedding is right for you!

 

-Penny Frulla for Bridal Expo Chicago

 

 

 

 

Surprise!! It’s a Wedding!

Most brides are so excited to share wedding planning with their friends and family that it is hard to imagine keeping the whole thing a secret until the last minute. But, this is exactly what some couples do when a surprise wedding is in store for their guests. 

The legality is that only the guests can be surprised at a wedding since both parties being married need to have a valid marriage license in order to have the union recognized by the state.

Surprising your guests may seem like a great, fun idea. However, there are some guests who will not be pleased to be left  out of the planning process. Parents, siblings, and close friends may not find it amusing and much older guests who have weak hearts probably don’t  find a surprise as much fun as they used to.

Try to incorporate another celebration. Mark Zuckerberg and Priscilla Chan told their guests they were coming for a graduation party, only to find out it was really their wedding. Surprise!

Keep the whole affair low key. Guests will feel they would have liked to dress up a little more unless it is a casual, relaxed atmosphere.

Make sure you tell your guests there will be some sort of special entertainment at a certain time. Party guests often arrive late… you don’t want them to miss out!

 Have a DJ or Emcee announce what is about to happen and then give some time for the guests to digest the news, chat and laugh.

People want surprise weddings for many different reasons. It can be a way of holding the reins over what happens, it may be a way to keep the costs down, for others they just don’t want any fuss; and well, some people just like to stage a big surprise. As a guest, it is your job to honor this and not to judge, to be happy for them and not make it about you.

-Penny Frulla for Bridal Expo