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

Keeping the Romance Alive During Wedding Planning

You’ve had it with his mother wanting to be consulted on every detail, he’s had it with the million questions related to centerpieces and it seems like all you have to talk about is budgets or boutonnieres. If this sounds familiar, it might be time to put a little romance back into your….romance.

Romance is one of those things that means different things to different people. To some it means being whisked away to exotic locations sprinkled with rose petals and being showered with lavish gifts. In reality, romance doesn’t have to be expensive, it can be as simple as leaving a note that says “Thank You for (whatever)”  or picking up their favorite beverage instead of yours. Being romantic is more akin to being considerate, it is remembering the little things that the other person  loves and putting their wants or needs above yours. Unfortuntely romance can often take a back seat to wedding planning.

Here are  7 things you can do to light a romantic fire under your partner without breaking the bank:

1) Make – A card, a personalized playlist for the iPod,  or a special dinner complete with their favorite dishes. Giving of your time is showing the other person that you care. No credit card required.

2) Write – Do something  that says you are thinking of them during the day. Text him on the way home or shoot her an email after a work meeting or call and leave a message on the house voice mail so she will get it when she gets home before you.  Say, “I’m thinking of you”, thats all.

3) Support – When your significant other is upset about something, listen and offer your support. Sometimes they may be wrong but, your job is to support and not judge. You can offer advice later, when the emotions aren’t as raw. Just listen.

4) Clean Up – Offer to put away the dishes or do laundry when its not your turn.  Better yet – just do it. When you see the other person is struggling, step up to the plate. Cleaning off her windshield when she can’t find her gloves will most definitely show her how much you care. Trust me, there is nothing sexier than a man vacuuming or cleaning the toilet.

5) Nurture – Similar to support but nurturing goes the extra mile.  If your fiance is sick, it’s the perfect time to let him stay in bed while you pamper him with 7up and cold medicine. Maybe he doesn’t need to be completely taken care of but, he will appreciate the gesture.

6) Surprise – You know he loves Star Trek, he knows you hate it. Surprise him by setting the DVR to record the whole series to watch together later (it wouldn’t hurt if you wore a ‘Uhura’ costume)… and no complaining. Sharing something the other person likes shows that you are willing to compromise your happiness momentarily and enjoy something together.

7) Remember – Remembering important things like Birthdays and anniversaries is a must but, rememebering the inconsequential things like the right toilet paper or coffee goes above and beyond.

We’ve all heard it is the little things that make people happy. Whether it is giving up your Saturday Golf game to stay home and address envelopes or skipping Girls Night Out to have dinner with his parents, showing the other person you care about their feelings is the one  thing you can do to keep the romance alive…. forever.

-Penny Frulla for Bridal Expo Chicago




Horror Stories – Wedding Style

For most people, planning any event  can bring on nightmares of showing up in your underwear and all kinds of other things that probably won’t happen.  When planning a wedding, this can easily be magnified by the size of the event and level of stress you are able to handle. And if your imagination is vivid enough you will imagine fires being set by candles, gobs of food staining your bridal gown, the groom passing out, and some other equally horrific events. The truth is that some of your worst nightmares can come true if you don’t plan ahead.

ZOMBIE BRIDE – Not getting enough sleep, dirnking too much alcohol or caffeine or Red Bull can temporarily affect the way you look. To avoid dark circles, use the days leading up to your wedding to relax and implement healthier eating.

TEXAS CHAINSAW BRIDE – This is not the day to do a complete makeover. You want to look like a very pretty version of yourself, not a over-processed, over made-up, over-the-top version of yourself. If you look into the mirror and don’t think you look like yourself, you might want to tone it down a bit – leave the big hair to the Texas beauty pageants.

JACK O’ LANTERN BRIDE – Spray tans and self tans can turn out the be the wrong color for your skin and there is very little you can do to fix it at the last minute. Don’t experiment with a new bronzer on the day of your wedding, either. Orange is perfect for Pumpkins but not so much for bridal photos.

BRIDE OF DRACULA  – What makes a great photo? A great smile! Even Dracula knows that yellow teeth can ruin the best outfit. 

DISAPPEARING BRIDE – To be early is to be on time, to be on time is to be late. Plan ahead, traffic and construction can give you a migraine on the day of your event!

No matter what your worst nightmare may be, planning ahead and attending one of our Luxury  Bridal Expos will help you avoid the horrors of wedding planning.

-Penny Frulla for Bridal Expo Chicago





Wedding Movies – What’s your Favorite?

I love movies, comedy, drama, suspense, action – all kinds of movies, even CGI cartoons! The reason I love movies is because they take me to a place that doesn’t exist, except in someone’s imagination, whether it is romance, laughter or thrills. It doesn’t have to be technically possible or factually correct (unless it is a documentary) and as a result, I get lost in someone else’s dream and I love it!

In no particular order, I have compiled a list of my favorite wedding or wedding-related movies.

The Other Sister. Love comes in all forms. This super sweet romance is also packed with a touch of laugh out loud comedy and drama. Unfortunately, you kind of hate the mom at the end of the movie.

In & Out. Comedy, comedy, comedy. There are no less than ten parts of this movie where I actually laugh out loud every time. The  Barbra Streisand references are some of the best lines in the movie and Kevin Kline really sells himself in the dance scene halfway through the movie.

Wedding Crashers. The only thing I love more than a super-elegant, East Coast, society wedding is some really raunchy and inappropriate humor. This movie has both…. and a touch of Will Ferrell.

Monster-In-Law. I can relate to this mother’s plight, “There is no one good enough for my son”. But, the levels she goes to embarrass and provoke this poor unsuspecting bride are above and beyond even Norman Bates’ mother.  Ridiculous? Yes! Loved it? Absolutely!

Mamma Mia! Bad singing, some outrageous outfits, unbelievable scenery and ABBA. I forgive you, Pierce Brosnan. This movie was cute, funny, and has a happy ending,  AWWWWW.

My Best Friend’s Wedding. Although the story line bugged me a little (a woman chasing after a man the day before his wedding), the entire movie was saved by Rupert Everett. Rehearsal Dinner scene still one of my all time favorites in any movie, wedding or not.

  What are your favorite wedding movies ?

-Penny Frulla for Bridal Expo Chicago



Pre-Wedding Disagreements & How To Solve Them

From the time the engagement ring is on your finger until the honeymoon begins, there are arguments lurking around every corner for engaged couples and if you aren’t careful, you can fall into the trap of  ‘agreeing to disagree’. In the beginning, wedding planning is fun; picking out colorful floral arrangements, sampling cake and planning how much fun your friends and family will have together. Then, suddenly you are in the middle of a family squabble over nothing…. literally nothing.

Top 5 Wedding disagreements and how to diffuse them:

1) Location. He grew up in South Carolina and you grew up in New Jersey but you both live in Chicago. If travel is impossible for one side of the family or another, take that into consideration, otherwise you should have the wedding where you both currently live.

2) Family. There are a million scenarios for the underlying problems of family tension, whether it is a rebellious sibling or an intolerant parent. The best thing to do is put your foot down early and tell them how things are going to work.  You may need to remind them from time to time.

3) Prenup. Why are so  many people so freaked out about prenups? Because it makes them feel like they are planning a divorce instead of a wedding. In reality, a prenup will protect both of you from yourselves and each other, and family. Decide if you love the person, sign it and be done with it.

4) The Past. Inviting ex-girlfriends/ boyfriends to the wedding may be fine for some and not for others. Don’t be surprised if this becomes a point for an argument later. There are rare situations where this is okay, otherwise – don’t do it.

5)Budget. The thing most couples (married or engaged) fight about is money.  Whether you have too much or not enough it is always a factor. Set your wedding budget, decide early who is paying for what and do not go over the total budget. You may want to cut corners on one thing to splurge on another but, always make sure the bottom line remains the same.

Whatever the reason for the disagreement, remember that planning a wedding is like a miniature crystal ball into your future. If you are arguing with his family (or vice versa) now – it will not magically change after you are married, if he is not involved now, he won’t be in the future, if you are both caught between bickering family members, this is the way of the future. The only thing you can do is stand your ground, now and don’t let outside factors interfere with your happiness.

-Penny Frulla for Bridal Expo Chicago


Let the Alterations Begin!

Memorial Day is approaching and you know what that means… wedding season is in full swing and by now, many of you are experiencing (or have already experienced) the thrill of your first bridal gown fitting. Fittings can be both exhilarating and exhausting,  the high and low of your entire wedding gown experience. The alterations process is not something to be taken lightly and you should be prepared for a snafu… or two. 

Bring a friend. Bringing an objective friend or family member to your fittings will help you answer questions, remember things and stay on top of any problems. This is especially true for the final fitting when you will need some assistance with the bustle, if you have one. This is the perfect task for the maid of honor.

Bring your undergarments. Check in advance if the salon has all of the cups, bras, etc that you will need for your particular gown in stock. If they don’t – you will need to bring these with you for your first fitting. Depending upon the style of the gown, this may include special underwear as well.

Bring your shoes. Same as undergarments. Some salons carry shoes, some don’t. Even though you may not have the hem of your gown pinned at your first fitting, it is always best to have the shoes with you.

Call ahead. Alterations season can be hectic, calling ahead to confirm your appointment is a great idea. Lets face it, things happen; seamstresses get sick, sewing machines need repair, all kinds of things can factor into your appointment being re-arranged.

Be flexible. Try to avoid scheduling your alterations appointment when you are in a rush or when the salon is at it’s busiest.

Talk to your consultant. Make sure he or she is working when you have your alterations appointments. This will avoid any conversation that begins with “but, my consultant said…”  The sales staff at any reputable salon will want to be there for you from beginning to end.

Speak up. Don’t be afraid to voice your opinion or ask questions about the alterations process… or the price of alterations up front. If you are uncomfortable with your seamstress, ask to see another one.  Now is the time to ask about alterations pricing.

Remember your ABC’s…. Always Be Courteous! Even though you had a stressful day at work,  the seamstress is there to help you look your best and he or she may have  had a stressful day as well. Being polite is essential to a pleasant outcome.

Alterations and fittings can be tricky, and stressful. Making sure that you are prepared, informed and relaxed can make the difference between a good, bad or great salon experience. As much as it is their responsibility to uphold their end of the bridal bargain, you must maintain control of the situation from beginning to end.

-Penny Frulla for Bridal Expo Chicago


Congratulations Mark and Priscilla!

A few months ago we reported a trend that couples are opting for smaller, more intimate gatherings focusing on family and friends. Leave it to Mark Zuckerberg to ‘one up’ everyone by having the smallest, most private gathering of all. Forget that he is a 29 year old billionaire. Forget that he founded the largest, most popular and life changing website in history. He is a young man celebrating love with his young bride, ready to move forward and somehow was able to keep the entire thing secret until the guests arrived. There was no paparazzi, no helicopters, no red carpet – just a simple relationship status change to ‘married’.  Disappointing for wedding watchers like me but, also refreshing in many ways!


Of course, when I first saw this picture I thought it was photo-shopped. Where’s the hoodie? I mean, here is a guy who is notorious for wearing those darn hoodies to meetings with lawyers and investors… and to ring the opening bell of the New York Stock Exchange so, what gives? As you can tell, he didn’t go for a tuxedo but, instead opted for a demure navy suit. His bride, Priscilla Chan, wore a simple, traditional lace gown that was neither flashy nor strapless. But, I digress…. the expressions on their faces and everything about the picture looked  photoshopped ( to me).

However, after a bit of snooping around I found this photo which is much more flattering and relaxed.

Mark Zuckerberg and Priscilla Chan's Surprise Wedding: New Details!

Skeptics will tell you that his matrimonial motive was calculated; getting married after the company went public, IPO’s,community property, inheritance tax, blah, blah, blah. And being somewhat skeptical I would venture to guess that he has his pre-nuptial posterior sufficiently ‘lawyered up’. Maybe he didn’t make the information public because he was afraid of being overtaken by swarms of reporters, maybe he didn’t want the news of his company’s stock to be overshadowed by his own personal  business, maybe he was afraid the Winklevoss twins would say it was their idea first.  Maybe he just wanted it to be about love and family and commitment… Kudos and congratulations to Mr. & Mrs. Zuckerberg.

-Penny Frulla for Bridal Expo Chicago

Mother’s Day Merriment

If you are counting, there are only 364 days left until Mothers Day. Mothers Day is a time for reflection, a time to celebrate the role your mother has played in your life,  a time for celebration. Its also a perfect time to look at the mother’s role on your wedding day.

The mother of the bride is the second most stressed and scrutinized woman of the day. A great mom shoulders the responsibility of not only making sure that her daughter’s needs are fulfilled but also making sure that every single detail is executed with medical precision without being a ‘stage mother’. She has to be in the spotlight and yet invisible. Very tough. Remember – it’s always the mom’s fault, and she knows it. “Your daughter’s wedding was __________ (insert good or bad comment here)” will either haunt or comfort  her for the rest of her life.

The mother of the groom has an equally tough job considering the ramifications of being too involved versus being apathetic. The groom’s mother is supposed to also be supportive, invisible and never, never, never undermine the bride.She  DOES NOT offer too much advice or ask too many questions or even attempt to change one single detail of the wedding without her future daughter-in-law’s expressed premission. That’s  a tightrope I am not looking forward to walking!

A Mother’s checklist: ( mother of bride OR groom)

-Offer to pay for whatever you can

-Always let the mother of the bride select her gown first. ALWAYS.

-Always let the bride make the decisions. This is not your wedding!

-Be available for fittings, tastings or samplings of any kind.

-Don’t get offended if you aren’t asked to do something.

-Never criticize the bride to the groom (especially if he is your son).

-Communication is critical.

-Be open to new possiblities, maybe their way is the best way!

-Remember that this is not your wedding.

-Always be supportive, be ready to handle the tears and drama.

– Know when to back off.

Most importantly, as a mother you have to understand that this is the beginning of letting go. If handled properly, you will gain more than you could ever imagine. If it things ever get heated, ask yourself which would you rather have, a few minutes of “Me Time”  or a lifetime of being loved?

Happy Mother’s Day to all!

-Penny Frulla for Bridal Expo Chicago



Wedding Nightmares – What Do They Mean?

Having nightmares that things go wrong at your wedding is fairly common, having re-curring nightmares of the same horrific scenario unfolding is less common but, still no reason to be alarmed. Women are more likely to have nightmares than men, so keep that in mind. Some psychologists feel that nightmares are your unconscious mind playing out your secret fears and desires. Only during sleep, when the conscious mind is silent, do these repressed emotions come to the surface and manifest themselves as nightmares and dreams.

The top three wedding nightmares:

1) Being unprepared. Nightmares of this kind can range from moderate to severe: showing up at a random place without a gown or cake or flowers (there are no guests because there were no invitations) feeling lost because they can’t imagine this is supposed to be their wedding. Usually this means you feel like you have lost control of things. Find your voice and make sure your to-do list is appropriately checked off day by day.

#2) Not being able to find the groom. He is there, you can see him from across the room but you can’t get to him. When you get to the altar he is not there but, someone is there in his place. Perhaps the wedding plans have taken over, you are not yourself and you have lost touch with the whole reason you are getting married; to spend the rest of your life with the person you love.

#3) It’s not you. You don’t look like yourself for any number of reasons; you have gained or lost an enormous amount of weight, you have a unibrow, your hair is unrecognizeable ( not in a good way). In the dream you are confronted with the fact that on short notice there is nothing you can do to alter your appearance to look like yourself. This stems from the tremendous amount of pressure to look good , knowing that you wil be photographed more on this day than probably any other. Don’t put anything off, make all of your hair, waxing, and manicure appointments early and be punctual. Also don’t skimp on hair and makeup for your wedding day.

Dr. Sigmund Freud was the foremost aouthority of his time decoding the meaning of dreams, however, even Dr Frued realized that sometimes a cigar is just a cigar. In today’s stress-filled world most psychologists and doctors agree that nightmares generally stem from fear, anxiety and sleep deprivation. Instead of being plagued by doubts, use these nightmares as an opportunity to tie up loose ends, confront your fears and stop them dead in their tracks.

-Penny Frulla for Bridal Expo Chicago