Spice Up Your Invitations!

Wedding invitations have evolved into something so personal and unique that you can actually get a feel for the wedding itself just by seeing (and touching) the invitation. Whether you choose parchment, custom engraving or print the invitations yourself, there are dozens of things you can do to spice up your invitations without breaking the bank.

Photos – Consider incorporating your engagement photo into the invitation or save the date to make an impact.

Words – Using your own words, maybe some sort of prose, will add an artistic flair.

Be Creative – Use touches of your culture with color and font.

Sparkle – A little sparkle never hurt anyone, right? A touch of glitter, a rhinestone or iridescent ink is very exciting.

DO NOT  add confetti – no one likes opening an envelope with confetti in it.

Consider calligraphy instead of printed address labels, it really makes an impact.

Postage – Using a stamp with a specific theme is a nice idea. Take it a step further by using  custom photo stamps for all of your wedding postage. Also making sure you have the correct postage will save a ton of headaches. Can you  imagine having 150 invitations returned?

The most important thing to keep in mind when selecting your wedding invitations is that you don’t forget your personal style. Keep the event and location in mind and let that dictate the style of the paper, ink, font and wording.  With literally hundreds of choices, it can get very confusing but, don’t despair – there is a style out there just right for you. 

-Penny Frulla for Bridal Expo Chicago

 

 

 

 

Who Doesn’t Love Cake Pops?

Remember last year when I was ranting and raving about the cake-pop and how it would be the biggest thing in wedding desserts since cupcakes stole the show about three years ago? Well, turns out I was right. Not only that – this little gem has inspired many to start an entire business catering to and serving only cake pops.

For those of you who missed my introduction last February to the darling of the dessert world, I would like to introduce you to the ” Cake- Pop”. For those of you who were with me while I extolled the virtues of the delightful smidgen of cake on a stick, lets re-familiarize ourselves with the cake-pop.

Cake Pops were ‘invented’ in 2011 by a woman who goes by the name ‘Bakerella’. On her website you will see a very happy young woman who says she was inspired to start blogging about her baking attempts after taking a cake decorating class.  I saw her website, I hope she got an A+. Maybe she didn’t invent them but she certainly is credited with bringing them into everyday conversation and to wedding sweet tables everywhere . Thank you, Bakerella.

In my quest to find out everything there is to know about cake pops I found that there are two different kinds:

1) Traditional cake-pops are made by crumbling an entire cake with some frosting into a bowl, smashing it into balls, inserting a popsicle or lollipop stick and dipping in hardening chocolate.

2) The newer version of the cake pop is made with a special baking pan that you fill with cake batter and cover with th accompanying  lid that completes the sphere to bake a  perfect circle every time. Insert stick, dip in chocolate and voila!

Of course cake-pops are not intended to replace the traditional wedding cake (but you could), they are adding another layer of deliciousness and pizazz to the sweet table (which they will). You can dip them in all kinds of toppings, sprinkles or have a great time decorating them. They are small and easy to work with, because they are on a stick and they are just the right shape. No mess, no fork, no plate, these little wonders will have you wondering…. what will they come up with next?

-Penny Frulla for Bridal Expo Chicago

It was just last year that the biggest trend on wedding sweet tables and at receptions was the cupcake. The cupcake was the hippest, hottest must-have for weddings in 2011 and I thought there couldn’t possibly be anything more fun or festive for a wedding sweet table. Guess what? I was dead wrong. I would like to introduce you to the ” Cake- Pop”.

Take a good look at this sweet little gem, you are going to be seeing a lot of it.

Cake Pops were ‘invented’ in 2011 by a woman who goes by the name ‘Bakerella’. On her website you will see a very happy young woman who says she was inspired to start blogging about her baking attempts after taking a cake decorating class.  I saw her website, I hope she got an A+. Maybe she didn’t invent them but she certainly is credited with bringing them into everyday conversation and to wedding sweet tables everywhere . Thank you, Bakerella.

In my quest to find out everything there is to know about cake pops I found that there are two different kinds:

1) Traditional cake-pops are made by crumbling an entire cake with some frosting into a bowl, smashing it into balls, inserting a popsicle or lollipop stick and dipping in hardening chocolate.

2) The newer version of the cake pop is made with a special baking pan that you fill with cake batter and cover with th accompanying  lid that completes the sphere to bake a  perfect circle every time. Insert stick, dip in chocolate and voila!

Of course cake-pops are not intended to replace the traditional wedding cake (but you could), they are adding another layer of deliciousness and pizazz to the sweet table (which they will). You can dip them in all kinds of toppings, sprinkles or have a great time decorating them. They are small and easy to work with, because they are on a stick and they are just the right shape. No mess, no fork, no plate, these little wonders will have you wondering…. what will they come up with next?

-Penny Frulla for Bridal Expo Chicago

 

Lavish Weddings – An Intimate Alternative

 Many couples are opting for smaller, more intimate gatherings where their dollars are spent on quality vs. quantity; having  a luxurious, lavish affair for 75 people rather than a cookie cutter convention  for 350 people.  The problem is, where do you draw the line?

Make your guest ‘wish’ list and decide on the exact cut off number. This list is the closest people in your life, the people you cannot live without.  Decide immediately if you will be able to allow  single guests to bring a date or  parents to bring their children, stick to your guns and be prepared to have to defend this decision. These are people who have been with you for your whole life, people who will be there forever and ever, not co-workers or bosses or recent neighbors.

From the beginning, tell anyone who asks that you are planning a small, intimate gathering. This will prevent most from asking if they are invited. Be polite and tell them honestly, ” Jason and I have decided to have a small wedding and we will only be inviting family and our closest friends.” Of course, this means you should not be constantly talking about wedding plans to co-workers who are uninvited, save the juicy details for the maid of honor or your sibling. Remember, if you are having pre-wedding parties, they are restricted to invited guests only. Can’t invite people to a bridal shower and not invite them to a wedding, after all.

 Keep the wedding party small. There is no hard and fast rule for this but, if the guest total is 75, stay with one or two attendants. Kate Middleton had only one bridesmaid and her wedding was enormous, keep that in mind.

The benefits of a smaller wedding are many; you can spend more money on things that really matter to you like an exclusive location,  maginficent meal, extraordinary flowers, glamorous gown, extravagant shoes, elaborate invitations,  A-list photographer and a sumptuous sweet table. In the end it truly is a matter of quality versus quantity.

-Penny Frulla for Bridal Expo Chicago

 

 

Short Lashes? No Problem!

Not so long ago women had very few choices if they wanted their eyelashes to look thicker and longer. You went to the store, bought a set of false eyelashes and eyelash glue and went home to stick them onto your lids for whatever special occasion you decide you needed them.  Most of us hate the way they feel, even when they are applied by a professional,  and after a few hours cannot wait to get them off.

Now, there are other choices. There are , temporary, short term  and long term solutions.  Yes, you can now have longer lashes if you are willing to spend a little money and make some concessions.

First of all, the life cycle of a single eyelash is 90 days (give or take) They grow just like other hair but only to a certain length and about halfway through the cycle have stopped growing and are already preparing to fall out. Any damage done to your eyelashes today will last about three months.

Temporary :

Professional application of individual artificial lashes can take up to one  hour and costs around $90 but it is far more comfortable than the lash strips. Unfortunately,  they will only last one application. Try them out and see how they feel. If you are only interested in having long lashes for this one day and they feel fine, this might be the solution.

Short Term: 

Lash Dipping – Invented by two Chicago aestheticians who decided that lashes should be easy and carefree, not applying mascara every day, two or more times. It is about a two hour process, costs up to $200 and lasts about 6 weeks. But during that six weeks  your lashes will look like you are wearing mascara the whole time and will be noticeably fuller as well! You will need to schedule touch ups every two weeks.

Lash Extensions – take about two hours but can cost anywhere from $200 -$600 not to mention the $90 touch-ups every two weeks. They last about 6-8 weeks but can last up to 3 months. They will fall out just like your other lashes, so look for them on your washcloth! There is no damage to the lash itself as they are placed on lashes that are about 1/2 way through their life cycle. There are several types of lash hair available and the cost is based on the actual material and amount of lashes. This is the choice of many celebrities- so, don’t believe it when they say the lashes are theirs, nobody has lashes this long on the lower lid, not even Elizabeth Taylor who had two full sets of eyelashes on top and bottom.

Long Term:

Latisse – Brought to you by the manufacturer of Botox, the cost of this product is relatively low considering it’s proven effects. For about $120 you will get a 16 week supply and you are almost certain to see results. First used to treat Glaucoma patients, physicians and patients noted a 25% increase in length and fullness in addition to an 18% increase in darkness of their lashes after a 16 week treatment.  The effects are temporary and you will see the decrease when you discontinue use.  There are few side effects and the percentage of users who experience discomfort is marginal.

THE BUZZKILL? If you do not go to a properly trained eyelash technician or do not apply the Latisse according to directions, you risk mild to serious eye damage. Cysts, irritation, blocked tear ducts and more. Make sure the area is clean, all tools are clean and as always, this is not something you  try the day before your wedding.

PLAN AHEAD. If you are planning any lash treatment, start about 6 months before your wedding and this will give your lashes time to grow and re-grow in case you have some kind of reaction to any one of these methods.

-Penny Frulla for Bridal Expo Chicago

Fashionably Warm Brides – Winter Is Coming

Winters in Chicago can be brutal and most wedding gowns are bare on top. Even if there is a lace bodice and sleeve, there is no way to stay warm unless you wear a coat. Instead of ruining a  beautiful wedding gown look with a down parka, this is an opportunity to make a really bold fashion statement with a Bridal Coat, Cape or Jacket. Oddly enough, most salons don’t carry bridal coats and most designers focus on the gown so much, they forget the shivering masses.

If you can’t find a wedding coat that suits you, don’t despair – there are options available. The reality is that your legs will probably stay warm with petticoats, stockings and the gown over all of it. Focus on your arms and chest area and remember that the fabric will play an important role in your warmth. Satin gloves and capes are beautiful in photos but, do little to keep you warm. Wool, velvet, cashmere, angora, and faux fur will be comfortable, warm and stylish!

Consider a faux fur jacket like this one from DKNY

Or if the weather is not severely cold, maybe a bolero will work. Remember Kate Middleton? Her simple Angora bolero kept her warm and fuzzy in chilly ( but not freezing) temperatures.

Capes are good, if you can find one. Unfortunately they are few and far between.  A good place to start would be Etsy, where there are some very stylish capes available.

1940s Hollywood Glamour White Cape w/ Fur Mink Tails

 Don’t forget the gloves. Fuzzy, knit gloves in many colors can also help the bridesmaids look and feel great!   

It has been said that ‘Beauty is Pain’. However, the truth is that pain is unnecessary and beauty actually is “In the eye of the beholder”. Find something that you love, that keeps you warm and you will be able to enjoy your wedding day in style.

-Penny Frulla for Bridal Expo Chicago

Invitation Etiquette – Mistakes, Mishaps and Missteps

Life is complicated. Weddings are even more complicated and proper etiquette is really, really complicated. Actually it’s not, it is really just common sense and it is not intended to make you feel better than other people, it is supposed to make other people feel comfortable with you. The most common etiquette mistakes are made with written correspondence.

When you begin to work your invitations, there are some fairly easy to remember tips:

-Save the Date cards, once reserved for only wealthy and important people, are almost standard fare these days. They should be sent 4 to 6 months prior to the wedding and only sent to people who will be invited to the wedding. Your wedding website ( if you have one) can and should be listed on the Save the Date.

-Never list any gift registries on your invitation. Save that for personal correspondences and your website. This is where a website comes in very handy for sharing information!

-Do not invite anyone to a pre-wedding event that you will not invite to the wedding. You can’t expect someone to come to your shower and give you a present if you’re not planning to invite them to the wedding. It would seem like they were good enough to give you a shower gift but not good enough to celebrate with you on the big day. The shower is meant to be a party for the women closest to the bride (and often her mom and the groom’s mom too). All these close female friends and relatives should also be invited to the wedding.

-Invitations with reply cards still need to have “RSVP” printed on them. This is just to remind them and it is a common courtesy. Many won’t send it back and someone will have to be delegated to make phone calls two weeks before the wedding to check on them. It’s a pain – but, there is one in every bunch… just be polite.

-Always add the right postage!!! Check and double check.

– It is not in bad manners to say ‘no children’ on the invitation. It would actually be bad to NOT mention it. Spell it out clearly and leave nothing to the imagination.

-Invitations should be sent out 6-8 weeks before the wedding. The RSVP date should be 2 weeks before the wedding date.

– Thank You cards should match the invitations and should be sent out as soon as you return from the honeymoon.

Invitation wording is trickier than ever; with blended families, multi-cultural parents, same-sex parents, all kinds of different combinations, it is hard to know where to draw the line. Your invitation specialist  should be able to help you with grammar, spelling and protocol. If you choose to DIY on the invitations, consult an etiquette handbook of some sort to walk you through the proper phraseology, you will not be sorry.

It’s a tough world out there, folks and etiquette makes it bearable for those of us who don’t answer the phone during dinner, who let old ladies sit on public transportation, who hold doors open for someone carrying a large package. It makes them feel more comfortable  and that’s the way it should be.

-Penny Frulla for Bridal Expo Chicago

 

Modern Cinderella – It’s All About The Shoe

If you missed it, Disney just re-released Cinderella on Blu-ray DVD.  This quintessential fairy tale originally brought to life by Walt Disney in 1950 is more popular than ever… not so much because women are looking for the perfect man to rescue them from their humdrum lives but,  because the modern Cinderella continues the quest for the perfect shoe!!!

Even better, Disney partnered with shoe design guru, Christian Louboutin to bring the famed glass slipper to life. The Louboutin version is made of netting instead of glass for obvious reasons but the sparkling Swarovski crystals remind you of the delicate and reflective nature of glass. You will have a hard time finding them since there are only 20 pair of these remarkable shoes being made and are being ‘given away’ in various Disney promotions around the globe.

As if that is not enough,  Christian Louboutin (himself) makes his acting debut in a short film entitled “The Magic of the Glass Slipper: A Cinderella Story ” which is a bonus feature on the recent re-released DVD. The story is cute, sweet, simple and very short. I won’t spoil it but, you can watch it here:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LRbsTwBHMTo

Congratulations Mr. Louboutin for a job well done, Walt Disney himself would be proud!

Feeling like Cinderella and can’t find the right sparkly shoe to fit your budget or your sole? Princess Bridal Shoes can turn just about any ordinary shoe into a show stopper!

 

 

-Penny Frulla for Bridal Expo Chicago

Blending Cultures At Your Wedding

If you think planning a wedding is hard, imagine how hard it is to plan a wedding with families from two entirely different backgrounds and customs. Even if everyone is in agreement about the specifics, there will be times when you will be worried about which traditions to use from each culture. Don’t sweat it… really. The truth is  that  the  absolute, hands-down best weddings are the ones where  couples incorporate customs from every aspect of their blended life and start their own.

There are no rules that say both couples cannot express their families’ wedding customs together. In fact, you may find that your customs are similar. This is nothing to argue about, this is a chance to open up to one another and to show your future in-laws you are willing to compromise.

Jumping the Broom is a custom that originated in Scotland or England among the Gypsy clans. It was adopted in the United States by African Americans during slavery and brought back into popular practice after several books and movies recognizing this (blended, borrowed) African American tradition. It is a symbolic gesture of togetherness. I wish it was a symbol that my husband was going to sweep the floor.

In Italy, either a roasted baby pig (porchetta) or roasted baby lamb (bacchio), depending on region, may be served, accompanied by two pasta dishes and assorted fresh fruit. As a symbol of the essence of marriage, newlyweds hand out sugared almonds representing the bitter and the sweet in life.

At a traditional Greek wedding, dishes are smashed on the floor for good luck and money is thrown at the musicians. Back to the broom – that is some cleanup!

Jewish weddings feature a lively Israeli dance called the Hora. While the couple holds on to either end of a handkerchief, they are lifted into the air on  their chairs and the dancing continues. Hold on tight so that no one drops you!

Hindu/Indian weddings are  lively affairs that can last up to four days. For a blended family you can go  traditional American for your formal wear but, consider using colorful reds, golds and deep orange for your wedding theme since they signify happiness and prosperity.

Korean weddings serve Kuk soo (noodles), which symbolize long life. To find out if someone is married, ask “Kuk soo mo-gus-soy-oh?” (“Have you eaten noodles yet?”)

Arras In the Mexican tradition, the groom gives the bride thirteen gold coins blessed by the priest. The presentation and acceptance signifies their bond and the coins are saved as a family heirloom. Have you seen the price of gold, lately? …..that is some gift!

If by some chance your family does not have any specific cultural background or no specific way they celebrate rites of passage other than traditional American customs, don’t come unglued when the other party suggests something you’ve never heard of. Open yourself up to new possibilities; the food, the music, the decorations – you may be surprised.

Start your own traditions as well; candle lighting, sand ceremony, even something as simple as writing your own vows or changing the music as you walk down tha aisle can make a huge difference.  Merging families isn’t just about sticking people in the same room and expecting them to get along. It is about making other people feel like they are important, and your actions will speak louder than words.

-Penny Frulla for Bridal Expo Chicago