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.


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.

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.

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 . 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. .

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, 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 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

Top Five Wedding Trends for 2012

Although 2012 is far from over, it’s fun to look back over the last 9 months and see what trends really took hold and which ones are just about  to hit, and hit big!

Metallic Details – Adding a ‘Midas Touch’ to just about anything makes it look more elegant and special. Candles, Cakes, Flowers, gowns… you name it and I can find a photo of something with a spark of silver or a glimmer of gold.

Metallic detailsOld Hollywood-inspired wedding details

Pops of Metallic

Mini Pies –The perfect combination of crust and filling in a slightly larger than bite-sized portion will have your guests drooling, and asking one another “How cute is that?”

Mini pies are this year's cupcakes  (Photography by mini tartsMini Fall wedding desserts

Mini- Everything! – Not just the pies but, just about everything can be mini-sized, from the cocktails to the appetizers!

Mini Patrón + Mini Tacos = Mini Perfection.Tiny BitesMini wedding cakesMini = amazing! Individual champagne servings

Personal Touches –   Whether it is a cake that looks like a Gustav Klimt painting, hand detailed table numbers or unique place card holders, couples are making their wedding more personal by incorporating their taste instead of opting for ‘cookie cutter’ weddings. Its all in the details…

Gold! This opulent caramel cake was inspired by Gustav Kimt's paintings. The gilded look was made by pressing edible gold leaf onto fondant.Table Number detailsIncorporating family or cultural traditions, such as a black-eyed pea tossLocal Wedding Favors

Lighting – Statement lighting at the wedding and reception, using various forms of light to create the right mood. Flickering rope lights, overhead lanterns, candles, all forms of lighting can be used in addition to the lighting already offered by the venue to transform a space from casual to cozy or vice versa.

Statement lighting

Although very cute, the ‘mini-sized’ trend will probably come and go but, the personal touches are definitely going to be around for a very long time.

-Penny Frulla for Bridal Expo Chicago


Unconventional (and Unusual) Weddings

Last weekend, Samantha Kolar and Andy Lee took the proverbial plunge at the Raging Waves waterparki n Yorkville, IL.  After exchanging vows, they slipped off their wedding attire and shared a ride down the Boomerang in an inner tube built for two. This may sound a little odd to you ( and me) but, this type of wedding is gaining in popularity and had not only tongues wagging but news outlets going wild. On a slow internet news day, their wedding was highlighted everywhere from Yahoo to Comcast and The Huffington Post.

From the archives (in no particular order) some more strange and unusual weddings:

Jeroen and Sandra Kippers of Brussels, Belgium, were lifted on a platform by crane up 160 feet in the air for their wedding ceremony. They were joined by the officiant and about 20 guests. Another platform held the musicians. After the vows, they made it official by bungee-jumping over the side!

The couple who got married on a Bung-jump platform – and obviously jumped after saying yes

 Lisa Satayut decided to combine bargain shopping with her excitement over bagging her beau. Explaining that T.J. Maxx is her “happy place,” Satayut married Drew Ellis in the size 8 shoe aisle of a T.J. Maxx store in Mt. Pleasant, Mich. The bride — a self-proclaimed “’Maxxinista” — wore a strapless white chiffon gown, with long black gloves and bright green gladiator-style sandals.


The couple who got married at T.J. Maxx

April Pignataro and Michael Curry of New York City got married in June 2010. The bride wore a white wetsuit and the groom wore a traditional black wetsuit as they climbed inside a 120,000 gallon shark tank to take their vows at Atlantis Marine World in Riverhead, N.Y.

The couple who got married inside a shark tank

A couple of bicycle lovers decided to tie the knot in a very unusual but healthy way: by riding bicycles all over the city, accompanied of course by their cyclist guests.

The Russian couple who decided to get married while bicycling

In a skeptical world, with divorce rates near 50%, who are we to say whether these ‘odd’ weddings are right or wrong. If a traditional wedding is not in the cards and you are thinking ourside the box, try something original but, always make sure it is safe and enjoyable for everyone.

Wishing each of these zany couples a lifetime of happiness!

-Penny Frulla for Bridal Expo Chicago


Humorous Wedding Toasts Made Simple

While guests may remember  sentimental wedding toast , it is the well written humorous ones that really stand out and keep the guests talking long after the reception has ended. Writing and delivering a funny wedding toast is a lot easier than you might think, it just involves the proper planning and timing.

– Plan the timing of the toast and discuss with the emcee or DJ so they can introduce you properly.

– Narrow down your subject matter so you are not all over the map.

– It is imperative that you begin or ‘open’ with your best lines ( or jokes) to hook the audience. 

-The middle of the toast should be filled with equal amounts of facts, jokes and anecdotes about the bride and the groom, their relationship and/or their families.

-Leave vulgarity, embarrassing secrets or sensitive personal information out of the toast. No fart jokes, no sex jokes, no potty jokes, no racial slurs and for the sake of everyone do not make fun of the bride or groom’s family!!! The point is NOT to make the couple look like drunks, losers, liars or cheaters. You are there to toast your friends not to humiliate them… or anyone.

– Once you have established  momentum and filled the room with laughter, try to avoid sad subjects like deceased relatives or you may never get the audience back in time to deliver your closing comments.

– It is always best to work from note cards. If you are an accomplished speaker, you can use keywords otherwise, you’ll want to write the entire thing down.

– Practice, practice, practice. Practice on someone who is not invited, a co-worker, neighbor, friend or you can practice in front of a mirror.

-Keep it short. 3 minutes is about as long as any wedding toast or speech should last , after that… people will begin to look at their watch.

If you are asked to make a toast and plan on delviering a humorous one, spend as much time writing the toast as you can. If well-written and delivered properly, you will be rewarded with laughter, applause and the eternal appreciation of the bride and groom.


-Penny Frulla for Bridal Expo Chicago


Whats New? Tablescapes!

If you have never heard the term tablescapes, don’t feel bad – it is a relatively new term. “Tablescape” is  used to describe not just the centerpiece  but, instead the overall design of the table, the landscape of the table. Hence – ‘table-scape’. Tablescapes are about bringing the entire wedding into one spot and focusing on how all of the elements of color, style and theme fit together. It is about using the components of your wedding to  complement one another in one spot: the table.

Designing the perfect tablescape can be complicated and trying to squeeze all of your colors and themes into very few objects can be quite tricky. Although I have never personally heard of anyone’s head exploding , I think it is quite possible in this case.

Keys to a stunning tablescape: 

Pay attention to the entire table – not just focusing on the centerpiece. 

Use  favors in the design scheme of the table.

Incorporate table and seat markers  into the design.

Instead of traditional white dinner plates – use colorful or patterned china to bring out the colors of your event.

If patterned china is out of the question, consider using decorative charger plates to accent your design

Compliment the food choices with your design choices.

Remember – although you are ‘landscaping’ the entire table, it doesn’t have to be cluttered or over-the-top…. it is about details. Making sure each ribbon, each flower, each plate,  tiny element is just right and perfectly proportioned to suit your needs.

For more inspiration, call 847-428-3320 or visit our website at and use the code FB to get complimentary tickets  to a Bridal Expo Luxury event in your area.

-Penny Frulla for Bridal Expo Chicago

weddings in austin


Vintage china silverware and and burlap table runners tablescape wedding centerpiece mason jars








The Scoop: Wedding Invitations

With all the ever-changing trends in wedding  attire, lighting, color and decor, the one thing that has hardly changed at all is the invitation. Actual written invitations became popular to the masses shortly after World War II when rapid industrial growth gave the common person the ability to mimic the lifestyle of society’s elite. Until that time, only the super wealthy could afford beautifully printed stationery items. Now, brides and grooms can go so far as to even print their own wedding invitations, thank you, reply cards and other inserts at home. Of course I always strongly advise against doing anything yourself when it comes to something as important as your wedding. For one thing, the smallest mistake can ruin the entire project but, mostly because couples have enough to worry about without the added stress of a DIY project gone wrong.

For picture perfect ( and stress-free) wedding invitations:
Find something that expresses your personality and/or the theme of the wedding. Ultra-formal, casual, flashy or artsy… finding the right design is not as easy as it sounds. Spend plenty of time picking out  invitations that reflect  your personalities and give the guest a hint of what to expect at your affair.

Save The Date.  This is what gives them the first clue to your wedding style. It does not have to be the same exact style as the invitation but it should have a similar feel.

Inserts. Make sure that each invitation has a reply card with pre-paid postage. If you desire, you can also add a map, itinerary and some  include an insert that has neighboring hotels and other points of interest for out of town guests.

Thank You(s).Don’t forget to order Thank You Notes to match the invitations. This is the one detail that is often overlooked… hard to believe.

Quantity. Always order extra invitations and additional envelopes on top of that. The rule is to divide total number of guests by 2 and then add 25. But, this formula will not work for everyone. A good cushion is to have 10 additional invitations in case there is a last minute change.

Font. Don’t let anyone tell you that most fonts all look the same. Monotype Corsiva is way different than French Script. If you are in doubt, defer to the expertise of your invitation specialist.

Postage. Never rely on chance. Take the invitation to the post office, have it weighed and measured with all inserts in place. When you drop them off, make sure you ask how to make sure they are hand stamped. Irregular sizes like square envelopes always require more postage. Determining the postage is especially important if you decide on boxed invitations. Boxed invitations are small packages and will be weighed and measured differently than letters.

Stamps. You can order stamps online using your own photos or you can use an attractive stamp from the post office. Seasonal stamps are nice, especially the ones that have some sentimental meaning to you.

Calligraphy. Sometimes thought of as a lost art, calligraphy is something that cannot be mimicked by any computer program and is without a doubt, the most elegant form of addressing your guests’s envelopes.

Double-check. Double check for misspelled names, typos, grammar and syntax. Wording can be tricky (especially with blended families) so, ask for help with wording if  you need it and get a second opinion even if you think you don’t need one

The invitation is the first and last impression your guests will have of your wedding… make it as unique and special as you are!

-Penny Frulla for Bridal Expo Chicago

Weddings and Politics

It is often said that in order to have a pleasant time, one should avoid the topics of religion and politics. It is kind of hard to avoid the topic of religion at some weddings but, politics – that’s an easy one… unless your wedding date falls the weekend before or after the first Tuesday in November of an election year. 2012 is an election year, and a big one. There are issues at stake that affect nearly every U.S. citizen and the presidential race is already getting heated nearly 7 months before voters decide who will take the oath of office in January 2013. For couples of mixed political views, you have my sympathy and for couples who are the lone voice of dissent in a family of either political party; I feel your pain. So how, exactly,  do you get around the touchiest of topics at your wedding?

Engage a friend. Maid of Honor, Best Man, dear friend, all make a good go-between if you have that certain relative that can’t stop talking about  politics and their remarks often border on offensive. Let’s face it – we all have those folks in our midst.

Good humor. Do some research and prepare for the loud voices of un-reason. You can stop a political bully in their tracks with the right come-back  (a witty one-liner can do wonders to lighten the moment). No personal attacks or anything racist, please. Good humor means funny, light, witty and nothing insulting. The funniest jokes of all times are not at someone else’s expense.  Sometimes talking openly and laughing about your differences makes them seem small. Whereas, sweeping them under the rug makes them a lot more difficult to deal with later.

A more perfect union. If you are getting married very close to a big election, use that as your theme. One couple even designed their own campaign logo and used a red, white and blue color scheme. The “Perfect Union” theme was represented throughout the entire event, the invitations were playful, personal and gorgeous. Their solution was bringing everyone together and having fun with it. Jib Jab mastered this with their 2004 campaign video “This land is your land”. Still the funniest satire I have ever seen about any election…ever. It’s worth watching if you’re considering this option.

Seating. Let’s say you have a cousin who is a big fundraiser for the Democratic party and a beloved aunt who is a staunch Republican contributor. In addition, each one of them happens to be the type who can only talk about one ting: politics. Do your best not to seat them at the same table. You can’t tell people what to talk about at your reception but, putting two heavily invested people directly next to each other is a bad idea. They cannot help themselves because most people generally think their opinion is the only one that matters If you don’t believe me, just go on facebook and scroll through various status updates.

What makes each of us choose our political persuasion is life experience. Oddly enough, the same experience that turns one voter off will turn the next voter into a supporter. You cannot expect everyone to share your passion for an issue or a candidate, you can only accept the differences and move on. In addition, if you decide to turn your wedding into a one-sided political party event, be prepared for some no-shows or dissenting opinions.

-Penny Frulla for Bridal Expo Chicago

A wedding party stops by GOP Presidential candidate Rick Santorum's headquarters in Charleston, South Carolina on the state's primary day, January 21.

RSVP up close and personalCampaign logo