Wedding Planning Made Easy

I am sure you’ve heard that sometimes the truth hurts. The fact is – sometimes it doesn’t hurt at all. Sometimes the truth is easy and painless. I can give you one perfect example: The BEST first step you can take to planning your wedding is to make plans to attend a Bridal Expo Chicago/Milwaukee Luxury Event. That’s the truth.

However, there are some ways to make it easier and even more painless than you could imagine. I am thrilled to pass along these tips to you so you can save time and money and have a great time.

1) Make a day of it! Don’t plan to come to a show when you are in a hurry. Make this one day very special, plan a fantastic breakfast or brunch beforehand and stay for the entire show. You will not be sorry. You will save more time visiting our vendors in that one day than driving to and from every single vendor we have at our shows. How much time and money would you like to save?

2) Plan ahead. Before attending, bring a checklist of what services you need.  This will avoid confusion and save time. You won’t need to spend time shopping for vendors that you have already booked.

3) Bring your support team. Only bring those who offers you the best advice and gives you the most support.  Bring those people with you to keep you on task and focused on your needs.  You don’t want to bring ‘Debbie Downer’ with you and ruin an otherwise awesome event.

4) Bring contact labels. At each of our shows, you will have the eopportunity to sign up for amazing prizes and special deals from Bridal Expo and each of  our vendors. It saves so much time (not to mention writer’s cramp) if you have address labesl pre-printed with your contact information. Dont forget your email address! Make sure all the information is current.

5) Bring a digital camera. Yes, we not only allow but, encourage our brides to take pictures. A picture is worth a thousand words. There will be flowers, cakes, gowns,  and all kinds of other things that you will want to remember. This is the best way to document your preferences. Later you can print those pictures and place them in your wedding planner for quick referencing.

6) Leave the kids at home. If you have small children, this is the best time to cash in a favor from a good friend and ask them to watch the kids for the day. Small children will be overwhelmed by the crowds and you will want to be able to stay focused. Plus, there are no strollers allowed in the vendor area. The kids will thank you!

7) Arrive Early. This will give you time to register, and after you have visited every vendor you will be able to find a great seat for the Couture Runway Fashion show. No where else can you see this many luxurious designer  bridal fashions on one stage.

8) Come for the show, stay for the prizes.  At each and every Bridal Expo there are fabulous prizes given away on stage before, during and after our luxurious runway fashion show. Large prizes (fabulous getaways, diamond earrings, photogrpahy packages) and smaller prizes (countertop appliances and gift certificates). Either way, you will not win the prizes if you are not there to claim them. If the bride is not present when called, our Fashion Director and show commentator, Carol Tardi, will call another name. Don’t be the one that got away!

9) Be ready to save money. Many of our vendors  offer booking specials. Dont be afraid to save money. If you are not ready to make a decision,  ask for their information so you can contact them later. They will be happy to oblige. 

10) Relax. The wedding planning process should be fun and Bridal Expo will help make it easier.  Organization is the key to staying stress-free and focused.

 

-Penny Frulla For Bridal Expo Chicago

 

Cover Photo

Photo: Here is a photo taken during the finale of one of our recent luxury bridal shows.  Special thanks to Just Love Me { Photography + Design } and Tamara Makeup + Hair Artistry.To see more from our runway, click here: http://www.bridalshowexpo.com/video_gallery.html

Cancellation Crisis – When Vendors Let You Down

Imagine for a moment that you have been looking forward to your first meeting with  a particular florist, or  baker, or  wedding planner. You have done your research; called referrals, made sure they are accredited and have a good rating with the BBB. You make your appointment well in advance and then, suddenly, they cancel at the last minute. What do you do? Although I’m usually  in favor of giving everyone the benefit of the doubt, there are cases when a cancellation might be a red flag. 

If the vendor cancels because they have overbooked, you might have cause for concern.  This could mean there is a time management problem.

However, if the vendor cancels because another event had a legitimate crisis that had to be handled immediately, this says the vendor is as concerned with keeping their existing clients happy as they are booking new clients.

If the vendor cancels because of weather, health or personal family issues, we can all understand… these things happen. Of course, if it happens more than once, this could be someone who has a lot of drama in their life and it could be time to take a closer look at whether or not you  can handle their drama.

In essence, when a vendor cancels you need to use your best judgement to decide whether or not they deserve a second chance. If the reason is weak or there really is no reason,  you should begin your search for another vendor to replace them … someone who is able to keep appointments. This is especially true for a bridal or wedding consultant. You are hiring them to manage your entire wedding and this is no easy task – there must be total faith and trust.

The last thing you need to be doing on the day of your event is chasing vendors  or worrying if things will be done properly. 

-Penny Frulla for Bridal Expo Chicago

 

 

Finding A Dress For Mom… Definitely Harder Than You Think!

 I have learned a lot in my life. But, there is one question that I have yet to find the answer:  Why is it so hard for women over 50  to find just the right dress for a special event – ?  
First of all,  most  are not 100% comfortable with their bodies anymore and hide behind their clothing. They wear baggy sweaters, mom jeans and/or frumpy clothing most of the time. When it does come time to find a dress for the wedding of their child, they panic and all wind up wearing a long dress with a jacket. Here is a tip: THEY ALL LOOK THE SAME!. Satin jacket with crepe dress or crepe jacket with satin dress – it is nearly a uniform of the wedding mother who just can’t find anything else.

Secondly, there is a double standard: we are told we can’t wear short dresses anymore no matter how great the legs but, designers consistently show strapless gowns for women who shouldn’t have worn them when they were 20 , much less when they reach senior ‘citizenship’. Hardly fair, is it?

 Here are a few things to consider before you buy anything to wear to  your adult child’s wedding:

#1) Forget everything you hear, read or see on TV. If you have great, shapely legs and want to wear a shorter dress, wear it! 3″ above the knee is about the limit for a host of reasons but, short skirts are not limited to the X or Y or Z generation.

#2) Accessorize. Find a dress you love in your size and forget about being perfect or looking like a supermodel. Make the most of a simple, elegant dress by accessorizing to the max! Great necklace and earrings, beaded scarf, or even a hat will draw the eyes to your face and away from the mid-section where you may be a little thicker than you used to be. A great pair of heels will also do a lot for your self -image.

#3) Wrap it up. Consider a wrap dress if your tummy isn’t as flat as it used to be. A wrap (around) dress can hide 10-15 lbs easily. If the fabric is right and you accessorize properly, you will look stunning. Diane Von Furstenberg gave us the quintessential wrap dress in the 1970’s and it has evolved into a garment that can literally be worn for any occasion depending upon the fabric.

#4) Who are you? Don’t forget your personal style. If you have always liked a certain type of dress, don’t shy away from it because you are older. Underneath the laugh lines, next  to the spanx, lies the same woman who ran cross-country, captained the cheerleading squad, pledged a sorority and later attended every PTA meeting. You are what you are and what you are needs needs no excuses.

#5) Undergarments are everything. You don’t need to wear a girdle or a corset, you don’t need to wear extra tight super control top pantyhose.  But, wearing the right panties and bra will make any gown look better.

I know how you feel. Every day someone tells you that you don’t look your age, in fact you don’t really feel your age.  You walk confidently down the street in shorts in the summer, you play tennis, ride horses, swim, or run. You feel like you get better each and every day until you are confronted with that hideous mirror in the dressing room and the fluorescent lights! Let me tell you – those lights are lying. You are better! You don’t need a face lift  butt lift or liposuction….. all you need is the right dress, just ask Helen Mirren or Jane Fonda!

-Penny Frulla For Bridal Expo Chicago

 

Jane Fonda - The Red Carpet at the Cannes Film Fest

Red Carpet Roundup – 2013 Sag Awards

At the Screen Actor’s Guild awards last night, there were a slew of stars gearing up for the Oscars. But,  with a massive outbreak of the flu nationwide, more than a  few big names were left at home with the sniffles.

Did you see Justin Timberlake debut his professorial look?  Talented? YES! Funny? You bet! This suit is a moderate loser but, he is getting more and more adorable with age! Oh, wait – Jennifer Lawrence is in this photo with JT and Bradley Cooper? Let’s just think about how that feels for a moment….. nice.

 

In the Navy:
Amanda Seyfried rocked the red carpet in Zac Posen. Love the hair on one side, love the necklace, love the pose… “My hand on my hip says I’m sassy- but, my head is tilted (slightly) down so I am humble about it!”

 

Nicole Kidman in Vivienne Westwood. Love is a strong word and so is hate. This look makes me feel ambivalent, nothing particularly striking but not a  mistake. “I’m a mom, I’ve had work done – but, here’s my leg.”

Nicole Kidman - SAG Awards 2013 Red Carpet

Jennifer Lawrence – The best thing about this gown is that there is not one detail other than the cut and fit of the garment itself. Plain? Yes… but, beautiful because of or in spite of the fact! Although her hand is perched gently on her hip and her head is tilted in an ‘ever-so-sweet’ fashion, I would not want to get on her bad side. She exudes confidence and a badass quality I cannot even fathom.  ” I am posing, I am sweet ( see my head is turned ) but, do not make me mad. I will rip off this couture gown and chase you in high heels!”

ps – Not a wardrobe malfunction, the gown is made in layers to eliminate bulk. The underlayer is attached to  silk chiffon so,  when she walked/lifted the top layer to take a step/ caught her  heel on the gown,  the chiffon peeps through and it make the gown appear to have been ripped.

 

Jennifer Lawrence, SAG Wadrobe Malfunction

Jessica Lange wore a beautiful gown by  J. Mendel. Soft, flowing and her hair and makeup were flawless. Really a great look for a lady of her … (whats the word?)…. talent. 

Back in Black:


Sigourney Weaver, are you high on cold medicine?  I get it – you aren’t a size 2 anymore  and maybe you want something a little more loose fitting… but, this is a disaster. Who you gonna call? A stylist!

Jane Lynch must have been taking the same cold medicine as Sigourney Weaver – this  looks like something that she might have found in the back of Madonna’s closet. She has a terrific figure but this dress is all wrong for this occassion. Maybe Halloween in the Village. Maybe.

Best of Black:

Tina Fey in Osacr de la Renta and Amy Poehler in Zuhair Murad, our favorite funny gals from the Golden Globes were spot on with their fashion choices last jnight. Wit, looks and good taste … those girls are on fire! Sizzle!

Amy Poehler & Tina Fey - SAG Awards 2013 Red Carpet

Did you have any favorites from last night’s SAG awards?

-Penny Frulla for Bridal Expo Chicago

2013 Golden Globe Awards – Best & Worst

It’s finally here! Awards season is officially in full swing and I couldn’t be any happier. It’s like the playoffs for sports fans… just one delightful event after another! Much like sporting events – we have our favorites, there are clear winners and losers and sometimes the underdog wins. And sometimes the event just takes on a life of it’s own – like last night! My winners and losers are broken down into slightly different  categories:
“Most Adorable” – Amy Poehler. I give Ms. Poehler this title because a) the porn joke b) her side updo was infallible and c) her boobs were perkier than Honey Boo Boo at a county fair. ( Had to get that in before the Honey Boo Boo train left the station). Also, this little black pantsuit by Stella McCartney was darling, sexy, sassy and completely sophisticated, all at the same time. You GO, girl!

 

 

Strangest  Fit: These 2  piece outfits seemed to be a bit off for me, Sienna Miller’s weird pink ensemble by Erdem and Anne Hathaway’s chest flattening device by Chanel. Okay, whatever.

Best Color Statement: The critics are hating but, I am loving Lucy Liu in this print ball gown. Prints are risky, google ‘golden globes tye dye disaster’ and you will see why. But, I  think that Carolina Herrera nailed it with the right color, pattern and positioning of the floral pattern on the gown itself.  The wedgewood blue background was perfect on Ms Liu’s skintone… just magnificent!

The “Look at Me” award goes to Jennifer Lopez. Beautiful, sexy, and by all accounts one of the most talented ladies in Hollywood, Ms Lopez always turns heads with her provocative fashion choices and this see through lace number by Zuhair Murad is no different. I don’t think she would have it any other way!

Special Effects Award: Halle Barry and Jessica Chastain both had gowns with serious bosom challenges. Jessica’s Calvin Klein gown was saggy and perky at the same time. For future reference:  blouson halter is never a good idea.

Halle’s Versace gown was high and flat on one side, low and full on the other. Forget about the print, I can’t get past this odd bustline thing…..Huh?

 

halle berry golden globes 2013 red carpet 05

 

Rambling Rose award goes to Jodie Foster who seemed overly giddy and oddly nervous at the same time. The Cecil B Demille award is a big deal – but save the rambling speeches for the retirement home. Unlike the off-screen persona she has spent a lifetime protecting, she was blabbering like a teenage girl at a slumber party.The giggly thing was way out of character for her. Although the context of her words may have been  emotional and heartfelt, she lost me somewhere around Honey Boo Boo. The gown – another odd choice, I think Ms. Foster who looks fabulous in nearly anything, appears more  comfortable in tailored, simpler gowns rather than pageant beading. The only thing missing was the empty chair. 

Jodie Foster - Golden Globes 2013 Red Carpet

 

Best Trend Personified … It’s a three way tie! All three of these ladies rocked the subtle blush trend in their own way. Although none of them seemed to take home a trophy, they were all winners in my book.

Amy Adams in Marchesa

 

Megan Fox in Dolce & Gabanna

Hayden Panettiere in Roberto Cavalli

Favorite Actress in Everything – Julia Loius Dreyfuss is funny, charming and a knockout in this illusion over lace custom Vera Wang.

Julia Louis-Dreyfus - Golden Globes 2013 Red Carpet

Best Overall Performance goes to Ms. Tina Fey. Channeling the late Rita Hayworth, Tina took the stage in va-va-va-voom fashion and never let up. She switched effortlessly between comedy and glamour and her Taylor Swift joke was not only the best one-liner of the night, she was dead right! “Take some ‘me’ time”… indeed!

Tina Fey and Amy Poehler

Ladies, you have set the bar very high – hoping to see you back again next year!  This was my favorite Golden Globes in a long time!

-Penny Frulla for Bridal Expo Chicago

Ghosts of Golden Globes Past

Tomorrow the awards season officially kicks off with the 70th Annual Golden Globe Awards. Both movie and television stars come together for one night of fun, fashion, frivolity and fierce competition to decide who wins, who loses and give us a hint of what to expect at the Academy Awards next month. And for the first time ever, the show will be co-hosted by our favorite female SNL weekend update alum.

The Hostesses with the Most: Tina Fey and Amy Poehler will certainly be on cloud nine tomorrow night. According to all reports, they have promised a night of fun, frivolity and a certain amount of cynicism. Both beautiful and equally smart,  these two  pose a double threat (squared).

Amy Poehler, left, and Tina Fey get ready to host the Golden Globes

NOMINEES:

One of my Red Carpet favorites  is Emily Blunt. Last year, as  a presenter, she wore this  golden, shimmering,  Elie Saab Couture gown. This year as a nominee for Salmon Fishing In The Yemen, she will definitely bring her “A” game … although I don’t know how it could get much better than this!

Emily Blunt in Elie Saab | 69th Annual Golden Globe Awards

There are many red carpet looks of Jennifer Lawrence – nominated for her role in Silver Linings Playbook. You only need to remember this one from the 2011 Academy Awards, and that’s when hardly anybody even knew who she was. 

Julianna Margulies, consistently one of the most beautiful ladies on television is once again nominated for her role in The Good Wife. Note to Julianna:

More of this

and less of this

Nicole Kidman, nominated for her role in The Paperboy and for Hemmingway & Gellhorn, has a slew of jaw-dropping red carpet moments but, this pale pink Chanel from 2002 is my favorite!!!  It is soft, dainty, feminine and timeless. Since she is a double-nominee, expect her to pull out all the stops!

Meryl Streep, nominated for her role in Hope Springs, also has a slew of red carpet moments but, unfortunately for Ms. Streep, jaw- dropping isn’t always a good thing.  Where is the stylist  from The Devil Wears Prada when you need her? Meryl Streep is one of the most beautiful & talented actresses in the world. What gives?

Michelle Dockery of Downton Abbey has really honed her red carpet style since last year’s Golden Globe disaster. Compare this  Ralph Lauren gown at the Met Gala later in the year. Michelle Dockery - Celebs on the Red Carpet at the Met Gala in NYC

to last year’s frumpy, wrinkled, blue, ball gown… yikes

 

Julianne Moore gave an incredible performance as the former governor of Alaska  in Game Change. Definitely my pick for best actress in a television movie!  Although she doesn’t have the best track record on the red carpet, there is hope. Maybe she picked a stylist who will give her a little better shoe advice than she had in 2012. This gown is terrific – the shoe is a drag.

Whoever wins or loses, there is always a lot to see on the red carpet before, during, and after the show. Check back Monday for our Best & Worst picks from the 2013 Golden Globes Red Carpet!

-Penny Frulla for Bridal Expo Chicago

Lighting 101- Creative Illumination

One of the most effective things you can do to transform a standard room into a stunning masterpiece is to incorporate  ‘Creative Illumination’.

 Creative Illumination, also known as the right lighting, will create a look that can be achieved no other way.  You can turn any venue into a showplace with the right lighting, photographs will look better with the right lighting and forget photo-shop, you can take 10 years off of almost anyone’s age with the right lighting! The best part is that it can all be changed to completely alter the mood; cranked up for some serious dancing at the reception, diffused and toned down to enhance the romantic first dance.

According to internationally acclaimed event designer, Preston Bailey, “You need to take advantage of the effect color can have on the atmosphere by changing the shades through the course of the night. For example, if your cocktail hour starts around sunset, you can splash your room with golden tones. During dinner, consider soft lighting that will mimic flickering candlelight. As the party progresses, I would change the lighting to something a little bit more exciting. Making this transition is simple, with intelligent lighting (which can be programmed to coordinate the whole lighting setup). With the push of a button, you can change the mood of the room,” Bailey says.
 
Make sure your lighting specialist has credentials. Ask to see photos, videos, ask for references and recommendations. Meet with your lighting designer at the venue so you can go over every single detail in person and make sure someone from the venue also attends the meeting so they can answer questions about power usage, wattage, voltage and backup plans. If you decide on this type of lighting, it will play a major role in the event, as much as the flowers and centerpieces. As a result, you should be on top of every detail and not leave anything to the imagination.
 
Don’t forget accent lighting as well, this is especially true for outdoor weddings. Chinese lanterns, colored bulbs and multiple strands of twinkle lights can add a touch of elegance, whimsy or sophistication depending upon the lights used and the desired effect.  Again, always ask for pictures.
 
Creative Illumination will define the mood for the entire event, it will make or break your photos. Most of all, it can turn your already beautiful wedding into and unforgettable paragon of style and beauty!
 
 
-Penny Frulla for Bridal Expo Chicago
 
 

Say “Yes!” To Holiday Engagements

With twinkling  lights, jingling  bells and chestnuts roasting on open fires,  it’s no wonder December reigns as the most popular month to pop the question. Thirteen percent of marriage proposals happen in December, while February, despite Valentine’s Day, accounts for just 8 percent, according to the Conde Nast American Wedding Study.

Holiday proposals can be among the most romantic because there are so many creative ways to pop the question. Whether it is Christmas or New Year’s Eve or another celebration, these are my top five favorite  Holiday Proposals.

1) Spell out “Will you Marry me?” with Christmas lights. There are actually companies that will orchestrate the whole thing for you including setting up the lights or you can spend an afternoon (like Clark Griswold) toying with lights and extension cords – it’s up to you.

2) Wrap the ring box inside a large box and then successively smaller boxes so that your sweetheart will initially think the gift is quite large. Nesting boxes are great for this and often come in sets. As each layer is opened, the laughs will grow. Get down on one knee right as the last box is opened.

3) Decorating the Christmas tree together, you hand her an ornament which has the ring tied to the top of it. Make sure she is not standing on anything or she might fall off!

4) Organize a scavenger hunt. Start off with a simple clue to someplace nearby, then get more complicated as the scavenger hunt progresses, and have the final location be a place where you can hide and then pop out and get down on one knee.

5) Buy a scrabble game, spell out the words “Will you marry me” and glue the tiles onto the game board. When she opens the gift, make sure she opens the whole thing so she can see the tiles, and then present her with the real gift – the ring!

Whatever method you choose, this is a spectacular time to get engaged, since the holidays are all about family and celebrating with the people you love the most.

-Penny Frulla for Bridal Expo Chicago

 

 

Giving Away The Bride – Who’s In, Who’s Out?

It is a well known fact that it is the responsibility (and honor) of the bride’s father to walk the bride down the aisle, presenting her at the altar to her future husband, and then later sharing a dance.   In some cases, both parents walk the bride down the aisle and in other cases she walks alone and rare cases where two grown men come together and share this responsibility equally, and of course cases where the mother walks the bride solo. In 2012 you have all sorts of combinations and none of them is right or wrong.  This is one of those ever-changing customs that seems to get more complicated every day. 

To offer a little help if you are trying to decide who should do the honor, ask yourself the following questions:

Who is paying for the wedding? If your stepfather is paying for the wedding 100%, he should be given the place of honor at your side, right? Maybe.  That is unless, of course, he had absolutely no hand in raising you, barely knows you, recently married your mother and you never lived under the same roof with you, he is not exactly a parental figure – yet.

Who raised you? If your father raised you, cared for you, packed your school lunches and drove carpool to dance class, he should be given the place of honor at your side even if he doesn’t have one dime to contribute toward your dream wedding, right? Maybe.  Blood is thicker than water and family is more important than money. However, your stepfather ( and mother)  may have some trouble swallowing the idea of paying for everything and receiving no end credit.

Is there even a father  figure in your life? If your father is deceased or absent from your life and your mother raised you single-handedly, she has every right to be at your side… just the two of you. If she declines (and she might) , ask a favorite uncle or a brother.  

Does everyone get along? If so, have this conversation in a group and include his family as well. Keeping the lines of communication open will make planning much easier. For instance; your parents are divorced and both remarried. If everyone gets along swimmingly and you want to have an honest discussion about who is paying for what and who has what role in the wedding this – do it. It will save tons of time and drama later. Even if you are all on great terms this might be a touchy subject and hurt feelings could turn into a huge family debacle if left unchecked. Always be respectful of the role your parents have played in your life up to this point – it is not all about the wedding. The point is to be inclusive and not exclusive.

Can anyone even be in the same room?If you have the unfortunate circumstance of having suffered through a bitter divorce, subsequent re-marriages of your parents to other people and extremely hostile family relations – buckle up…this is going to be a bumpy ride! Hold on tight to your fiance’s hand and get through this however you can. My advice is to  delegate the dad responsibilities with whomever you feel is the most deserving and responsible and be prepared for the repercussions.  Of course this is more complicated than a simple decision but go back to questions #1 and#2 and decide who played the most important role in your life. Do not let anyone hold you hostage by threatening to boycott the nuptials if they don’t get their way, this is your decision (as a couple) and there is no going back once the decision is made.

It is important to make this decision early since the wording on the invitation can be complicated with fractured and blended families. If  parents and stepparents are all assisting financially with the wedding, their names should be on the invitation.  This is can be tricky so ask your invitation specialist to help you with the wording before you make a costly mistake.

For the Father/Daughter dance you can dance with both dads during the course of the song, changing partners after an allotted time, you can dance with one father ‘figure’ or you can omit this routine entirely. No one says it has to be a part of your wedding. Discuss this with your DJ.

The absolute worst thing that can happen at your wedding is to let any of these small situations get out of control. Unless you are one of the rare families that get along famously and never argue, you will have some sort of struggle on your hands. Close your eyes, envision the outcome you desire and  when you open your eyes take whatever steps necessary to make that happen without hurting anyone’s feelings or stepping on anyone’s toes. That means at no point in the conversation are you allowed to say “It’s my day”  since that expression is a tad over-used and completely self-induglent. You have to be respectful and make your point without becoming  a martyr or spoiled brat.

Remember that if you have the luxury of having parents or multiple parents, count your blessings, even if they don’t love each other as much as you would like, they most certainly love you and will most likely do whatver it takes to ensure your wedding is a joyous occasion.

-Penny Frulla for Bridal Expo Chicago