Pregnancy and Weddings…Before or After?

It hasn’t been that long ago that when a woman found herself in a ‘family way’, the wedding date was moved up and the due date was a mystery. By ‘not that long ago’, I mean in my lifetime. Thankfully that practice is nearly outdated, for about a dozen really good reasons… mostly because nobody cares if you are pregnant or not. Now, the problem is not that you have to get married, but if you want to get married… then should you do it before or after the baby is born? It’s time to think about diy homemade pregnancy test.

There are some advantages to getting married while you are pregnant; namely your hair and skin will probably be more radiant than ever and you will most likely have what is commonly referred to as a ‘glow’. It will show up in the pictures and you will love looking at photos of yourself all pregnant and beautiful!   I was 6 months pregnant when my husband and I exchanged vows. That’s just how it worked out for us. There was  no shotgun, no lying about the due date and no surprises. We were adults and did what we wanted. If I had waited, I may not have ever wanted to do a wedding of any sort because once the baby was born, I was too busy with my glorious son to worry about place cards and table settings and floral arrangements. You may feel the same way!

For others, waiting until the baby is born to have a wedding is the right choice for several reasons; You can fit into a more traditional wedding gown after some or all of the baby weight comes off, you can plan your dream wedding and not worry about morning sickness, swollen feet or being exhausted during the process, you don’t have to worry about hormones and mood swings during this stressful time when you are already stressed out about being pregnant in the first place!!!

Either way, before or after, the choice is up to you. No need to fudge on dates or make excuses because, when it comes to love and marriage – the truth shall set you free!!

-Penny Frulla for Bridal Expo Chicago



First, Second and Third Weddings…Is There a Difference?

With the recent gossip ( I won’t call it news) that Britney Spears is experiencing a slight case of cold feet in regard to her second (actually third) wedding, it seems like a good time to consider previous weddings. In this case, it is when one party has been married before and the other has not.

Tradition dictates that the second wedding should be less formal than your first but, lets say it’s your second wedding and  your fiance’s first trip to the altar. No matter what the circumstances were that led to the demise of the first marriage, it has nothing to do with this union. Whether it was a mutual split, or a nasty divorce, the outcome of that marriage is not to be considered when planning this wedding.

However, there are some teeny, tiny rules of etiquette you may want to consider:

If you or your partner have been married multiple times, you may want to consider a low-key affair. Realistically, how many grand scale weddings do you need? Opt for a destination wedding or something with just close friends and family.

If this is the first marriage for one of you and not for the other, make sure that you don’t miss out on the feeling that you had a wedding. Sometimes brides or grooms regret not having some sort of event to share with their friends and family. Do not ever deny your intended the joy of declaring their love for you in front of family and friends simply because you have ‘been there, done that.” Instead, explain to t hem honestly what you are feeling and work together to make it sepcial and unique.

Having a traditional bridal shower with gifts and games for a repeat bride might seem redundant. Instead, try a spa shower with manicures, pedicures and facials for only the nearest and dearest friends.

As for gifts, this is uncharted territory but, I will go on a  limb and say that anyone who has been married once or twice before probably doesn’t need very many household items. If they are registered, follow the registry exactly and do not stray from the list. Many couples are choosing a cash registry which lets them use the funds for whatever they want.

Exes. Ugh… the dreaded question of whether to invite the ex. If you have a pleasant relationship, if you have children and a pleasant relationship, you get it, right? Never invite anyone who might cause turmoil. If you and your fiance have both been married twice before, that is 4 exes and their dates that might cause a scene… 8 people who could cause potential drama. That is, unless you are all on very good terms. I can’t imagine.

The bottom line – don’t avoid having a wedding just because you already had one. But, be respectful of the situation and modify things when necessary. It is considered uncouth to host a lavish wedding when you have been down the aisle repeatedly. But, that never stopped Elizabeth Taylor or Tom Cruise, who seems to get more and more lavish with each trip down the aisle!!!

-Penny Frulla for Bridal Expo Chicago

tom cruise katie holmes wedding


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


Weddings With Friends – TMI

Today I would like to ask a question of you: How much information is too much? You see, today I read an article about a couple who got married and posted every single detail of the wedding (from beginning to end) on every single social media outlet available. In fact, the article proudly stated that “Even Grandma was tweeting details from the reception”. WOW,  too much information. Without getting too graphic I am wondering when the tweeting and facebooking ended…. I think you know what I mean.

I understand staying connected and informed. I understand wanting to share the details with everyone out of sheer joy, boredom or whatever your motive. Be careful though, after a few drinks your updates may be embarassing the next day. Sitting in the doctor’s office the other day I found myself posting on facebook via my Android phone about how long I had to wait. Now that I think of it – who really cares?

I’m not talking about updating your friends and family when the whole thing is over or texting a dear friend who couldn’t be there. But, most of your nearest and dearest friends should be at your wedding, anyway… right?  I am talking about taking time away from the real celebration to constantly text, tweet, update and post. How much are you really enjoying yourself if you are spending the entire time using all of this technology? Did you even talk to the person seated next to you?

Maybe I’m wrong, maybe I’m old school but, at some point everyone needs to unplug and enjoy what is right there in front of you. Trust me – you will have a lot more fun if you step away from the touchscreen.


-Penny Frulla for Bridal Expo Chicago

Weddings Are Not Casual Friday

The other day my son asked me why men used to wear suits to baseball games. Isn’t it interesting that even a 9 yr old noticed that people don’t dress properly anymore?  There have been those occasions when I wear pajamas to drop my kids off at school in the morning, knowing I am not getting out of the car but, if my foot steps out onto the pavement you had better believe that I am fully dressed in a (somewhat) presentable fashion.  Which is why it is so odd to me that when I go to a wedding, I always see someone underdressed. In order to help you understand how to be the perfectly dressed guest at a wedding, I have put together some guidelines:

Daytime Casual –  does not mean wear jeans and flip-flops. Wedding casual is different from ‘running to the grocery store’ casual. Wedding Casual means you could get by with a floral dress, sweater and skirt set, or even a sundress (weather permitting). For men open necked shirts with no tie are perfectly acceptable, in fact a nicer Hawaiian shirt for a beachfront venue is striking.  Men and women both need to take note of the location of the wedding – if it is beach or grass, make sure you are wearing shoes that can handle nature without aerating the soil or sinking into the sand. For evening casual just kick it up a notch -no need to break out your finest but, perhaps a touch of sparkle wouldn’t hurt, either. Always keep the setting in mind.

Semi- Formal – Dress as if you were headed to the theater. A flirty cocktail dress and heels, or a dressy pantsuit. You want to be comfortable, able to move easily and to dance, of course. Avoid long dresses, it is too formal. For men- your suit  doesn’t have to be  black even though it is always a safe choice. You can also wear a blazer and slacks as long as you have a tie.

Black Tie Optional – this indicates that you can go  formal if you want, but you don’t have to. Women can wear a dress that is long or short, as long as it indicates elegance. Some beads and/or sequins are acceptable. Men can wear a tuxedo or a nice dark suit.

Black Tie – this is when you can bring out your finest and not feel over-dressed. If the invitation says Black Tie – its time to bring out the beads; beaded accessories,shoes,  sparkly earrings and perhaps a long silk wrap you have tucked away in a closet somewhere. Although in the past long dresses were required, it is acceptable to wear tea-length gowns but, avoid  short cocktail gowns. Dress as if you were invited to aPresidential Inaguration Ball or the Academy Awards!  For men it simple: Wear a tuxedo. Wear the tux with studs and bow tie and don’t forget to shine your patent leather shoes since no tuxedo is really a tuxedo without the right shoes.

If the invitation does not specify what type of event it is, look for clues so you aren’t over or (God forbid) under-dressed. The venue, the type of invitation, the time of day will all give you insight into what you should be wearing. If all else fails, call the bride or groom (if you feel comfortable) or a close member of the wedding party.

The most important thing is to feel comfortable in your choice. If you can’t move, sit or eat one bite – you will be miserable not able to enjoy this lovely event!

For more great tips and ideas on weddings visit Vines of the Yarra Valley, be sure to get tickets to one of our bridal shows in your area. Call 847-428-3320 for complimentary tickets to show in  your area.

-Penny Frulla for Bridal Expo Chicago


The Most Common Wedding Etiquette Mistakes

The purpose of good manners is to make other people feel comfortable. For centuries, manners have been dictated by society’s standards of conduct and this has worked out pretty well. Unfortunately some people never got the memo. In order for your wedding guests to feel comfortable, try to avoid these ‘most common etiquette mistakes’.

 1) Watch – I know that being late to your own wedding may seem inconceivable but, sometimes outside forces take over and you can’t control them. However, there should always be a plan in place to avoid being late. If something unforeseen occurs, make sure you are in contact with someone at the ceremony site to make an announcement at the time the wedding is supposed to start and give updates until you arrive. Being late for no other reason than you can’t keep track of time is rude in any situation, especially your wedding.

2) Save the Date – Sending someone a “Save the Date” card means they are also invited to the wedding. Both lists should be in sync. If you make a mistake and send someone a Save the Date and do not invite them, call them once you find out you have erred and apologize. If you send them an invite but had somehow omitted them from the Save the Date list, a call would be nice. In reality, Save the Date cards are a relatively recent custom so there is nothing that says you have to send them. Although nice, they are  not completely necessary so dont fret if you choose not to send them.

3) Invitations – Send the invitations 6- 8 weeks before the wedding. Sending the invitation two weeks before the wedding is rude and it makes the guest think they were an afterthought. If the invitation you sent came back to you for any reason, call the invited guest and explain to them what happened.

4) Church – Having a boombox instead of live music (strings or organist) is a huge mistake. This small expense will ‘class up’ your affair by leaps and bounds. Having boxed music at the ceremony seems a bit tacky, no?

5) Thanks – Sending Thank You Notes in a timely manner shows that you care. It shows that you are aware of your guest’s gift and you appreciate it. Waiting for nearly a year (or more)  to send out a Thank You Note is completely inconsiderate.

6) Gifts – Never list where you are registered in the invitation. You can put this information on your website if you have one but listing on the invitations is like saying “Come to my wedding and bring a gift.”

7) Flow – Make sure you have a qualified, trained and experienced DJ to keep things running smoothly during the reception. The last thing you need is to have  people introduced incorrectly or, even worse, not at all. The DJ  should have a script to work from and be well-versed on your specific wedding customs as well. A great DJ will almost certainly ensure a great reception.

The best thing you can do for yourself and your guests is to ‘forecast’ problems and plan ahead. A good wedding planner and a checklist will help. If all else fails, pick up the phone and ask for help… or forgiveness, whichever you feel is in order.

-Penny Frulla for Bridal Expo Chicago





Wedding Faux Pas

Etiquette is one of the most complicated topics of discussion regarding weddings. Who should be seated at the head table, how to address the envelopes, how do you handle wording on the invitations regarding divorced parents and who pays for what, to mention a few. Basically it is a mine field of dos and don’ts, rights and wrongs and one mis-step could put you in hot water with almost anyone. It is exhausting, to say the least.

Manners are the unenforced standards of conduct in polite society. The real purpose of manners is  to make other people feel comfortable, not to alienate or subject them to your own standards.  There are some  basic tenets that hold society together such as ‘please’, ‘thank you’ and ‘you’re welcome’, other than that  the essence of good manners is to remember that what you think is the truth is actually only your opinion.

Luckily most wedding professionals will help guide you through the planning process gracefully so you can avoid most of the major lapses in etiquette. Invitation specialists will help you decide on wording, the DJ will help you with introducing the wedding party and selecting music, the caterer will help you figure out the details of dinner. Beware, though, there are still pitfalls. Of course you could buy a book on wedding etiquette or surf the net with your specific topics. But, for every person who writes a book or a column or a blog, remember that the ‘etiquette’ guide is just a guide. It is merely the opinion of the author and not the Constitution and if you search long enough you will find someone who agrees with your opinion, whether it is right or wrong.  Common sense should prevail and if you have any doubt that something is in poor taste, it probably is. If you don’t know the definition of poor taste, then it won’t matter anyway.

Keeping all of that in mind, I have composed my list of the worst wedding faux pas.  See if you agree.

Asking for money outright.Whether it is in the invitation, on your website or by mouth, asking for money is a no-no. You should sign up for at least one registry and there are tons of creative ones like the FHA mortgage registry or Home Depot.  Worst offender – Passing around a bag, box or any sort of container  at the wedding or reception like a collection plate at church. This has actually happened. Ghastly! Money Trees are also a thing of the past and  vulgar. Keep it confidential, please… no one wants to see your cash.

Turning the ceremony into a talent show. The bride and groom do not need to sing during the ceremony.  Celine Dion did not sing at her wedding so you don’t need to, either. This is not the time to prove to the world that the bride has the chops for Ave  Maria.

Late Start. Starting the ceremony more than 15 minutes late is bad, starting it over an hour late is unconscionable. After ten minutes an announcement should be made regarding the late-ness of the ceremony, explaining to the waiting guests why the ceremony is held up. Traffic, medical issue   are good reasons, oversleeping is not. If your fiance oversleeps on your wedding day and is more than one hour late to the ceremony, you should take a pass.

Dragging Ceremony.  The average ceremony in America lasts about 30 minutes, the longest I have attended was a little over an hour. Long enough that by the end of it I had made a mental list of things I needed to do when I got home and wondering if I turned off the stove. If your vows take more than an hour, the groomsmen will be kissing marble before the bride has a chance to pucker up. If the ceremony lasts more than two hours, you need to have your head examined.

Bad Toasts – Where do I begin? If the toast embarasses anyone, ridicules anyone, mentions sex in any way or the cost of the wedding, have it edited out of your wedding video. For your entertainment there is a website dedicated to bad wedding toasts.

Drunk Bride or Groom – The #1 thing you can do at your wedding to show your guests you have absolutely no clue about manners, etiquette or good taste is to get drunk at the reception. If you slur a few words, no problem… just take a break from champagne and drink some water. If you vomit, curse or wind up in jail you are out of control.

Fortunately there are those of us who embrace live comedy. We love the big and little faux pas in life and see them as entertainment. We tell and re-tell the stories of the tacky, extreme and ridiculous as if it were yesterday, and we love the awful as much as the elegant. So, if you are one of those people who cannot resist wearing a size 12 shoe in your size 8 mouth – don’t despair! We support you. For without you we would have no idea of what not to do.

-Penny Frulla for Bridal Expo Chicago