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

 

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

Ideas in Bloom – Wedding Flowers made easy

 Flowers are one of the most important aspects of a wedding. In fact, aside from the bride and groom they are just about the most photographed item of the entire event. They add color, vitality, and aroma to a wedding. To make the impact you desire, you need to make some smart choices early on but, before you even consider talking to a florist, book your venue so the florist knows what they are dealing with and help you make well-informed decisions.

#1 – Decide on a budget. It has been said over and over and over but, I’ll say it again: Choosing flowers that are in season during your wedding could save you literally hundreds of dollars.  When you plan your budget, keep this in mind.

#2- Do your background work. Ask to see photos, ask for references, ask if you can drop by one of their events so you can see firsthand what kind of work your florist is capable of handling.

#3- Trust your florist.  Once you have selected  your florist and  assuming you are not a trained florist  yourself,  use their expertise to help guide you through critical decisions. If you insist on something the florist opposes – there may be a solid reason.

#4- DIY is a big mistake. Many brides think they can go to a flower shop and put together professional bouquets and centerpieces from scratch. This is a big NO-NO! You will have a hundred things to think and worry about before and on your big day, don’t make this mistake. And by the way,  even if your favorite Aunt insists she does great table decor for the holidays doesn’t mean she can handle a task of this magnitude. Hire a professionally trained wedding florist!

#5 – Think Big. Huge blasts of color are a beautiful thing – just make sure it doesn’t clash with the decor of the venue or the table linens or the attendants’ gowns. Remember to keep the larger picture in mind : “How will the overall room look  in pictures?”

#6 – Don’t overdo it with the aroma. Its okay to use the strong smelling flowers for bouquets but, for the church and reception  it is best to use flowers that do not give off a strong smell. This will certainly prevent any of guests who are allergy sufferers to opt out of the reception early. The only exception is an outdoor venue.

#7 -Communicate. Always keep an open dialogue with your florist. Every single problem or question should be answered up front. Get everything in writing and make sure you know what you are paying for before you sign on the dotted line.

Call 847-428-3320 or log on to www.bridalshowexpo.comtoday to get tickets to our next show where you can meet some of Chicago’s best wedding florists and see their work first-hand!

– Penny Frulla for Bridal Expo Chicago

Hire A Pro Vs. Do-It-Yourself

Often I hear of couples trying to shave a few dollars off of their wedding costs by doing things themselves. Being an avid do-it-yourself-er, I applaud their tenacity and willingness to sacrifice their time and energy to make their wedding a success. However, there are some cases when DIY  is complicated, time-consuming and exhausting which all add up to a recipe for disaster.

Catering-  Although rare, there are some brave brides and grooms who have the inconceivable idea that because they are proficient in the kitchen the can handle catering their own wedding. There is no circumstance where this is a good idea. There is no time of day, location, theme or moment in time where this is going to have a happy ending. The end result will be stress, mess, and little success! If you are having the most casual outdoor wedding possible, find a restaurant that caters food you love and have it sent in, even if you don’t have servers, have it sent in and give the delivery person a tip to do some set up for you. Pasta looks great on the table but not so much on your wedding gown.

Cake – Second only to catering, this DIY has the potential to wreak unimaginable havoc. Making the cake yourself is a  bad idea, having a friend who makes really cute Christmas cookies do your cake is a bad idea. If you cannot afford an over-the top confectionery masterpiece  from the best bakery in town, don’t fret. Today bakeries offer cakes that are  beautiful, tasty and affordable at the same time. We understand – staying within your budget is as important as finding a cake that tastes and looks good.

Flowers – One of the most often attempted and most likely to produce an epic fail. Choosing a great wedding florist is easy,doing your own flowers is not quite so easy;  flowers need to be handled carefully so they won’t get crushed, arrangements should be done no more than a day or two before the event and flowers need to be refrigerated properly (not in the same refrigerator as food) so they won’t wilt, change color or completely die. Ask yourself this question: Which would you rather be doing the days before your wedding: relaxing, pampering yourself and enjoying the pre-wedding festivities or staying up all night arranging, twisting  and fretting about flowers? Even if you are a trained florist it is better to find a colleague or co-worker to handle this for you.

DJ– Making several mix tapes in college does not qualify you to host an entire wedding, much less your own. Having the right DJ will change the mood of your event (for the better) and can create an atmosphere that is positive and upbeat.  Since the DJ is the host of your entire event, he or she will handle the timing of all of the wedding announcements (cake cutting, first dance, toasts), transitioning from one segment to another flawlessly and effortlessly take charge of the room. Doing this yourself means you will be responsible all night for handling all of the details and timing. So in the middle of a conversation with a friend you will have to stop whatever you are doing and go to the microphone and announce that you are about to cut the cake. Find  reliable DJ and familiarize yourself with him or her before the event.

Hair and Makeup – The reason brides book professional makeup artists to handle everything for the entire bridal party the day of the wedding is simple: it makes things easier. If you decide that you are going to do everyone’s hair or makeup ( or both), you will spend the entire morning working and most likely be stressed out by the time the wedding starts. The reason people get paid to do hair and makeup is because it is work! There is also skill and talent and products involved but, it is work and should be respected as such.

Photographer – Hire a professional wedding photographer. The idea of putting disposable cameras on the table is cute as a bonus but, it was never intended to take the place of the real photographer. Now, couples are opting for photo-booths in lieu of table cameras in order to get their funny and candid guest shots.

If you are determined to get your crafty hands on one of the wedding projects, find something you can do well in advance so that you won’t be spending the days and hours leading up to the wedding stressed, overworked and worrying about the end result. There are so many better ways to spend your time, not to mention you could wind  up spending  more since you have to compensate for your failure on top of hiring someone in the end. Do things yourself like tying ribbons on table favors, bedazzling a card holder, wrapping attendant gifts or designing beautiful wedding programs. Leave everything else to the professionals and you are likely to have a  Much happier ‘Happy Ending’.

-Penny Frulla for Bridal Expo Chicago