Adding Up The Add-ons: The Dangers of Hidden Fees

When you plan your wedding budget there are dozens of factors that can increase your costs and before you know it, your $30,000 budget is now $10,000 over.  Not planning for extras and add-ons can put you into a deficit quicker than you think.

1) Remember to take your time into consideration. For instance, if you will have to take time off from work to handle fittings, tastings or sign contracts and will not get paid for the time off; you have just ‘spent’ money by not earning it.

2) When looking online at pricing, the numbers can be deceiving. $35 per person sounds like a great price for a reception until you realize that doesn’t include an entree, a napkin or a fork. Make sure the price is for a complete meal.

3) One of the biggest costs is for alcohol, so some couples try to sidestep this  and be thrifty by providing their own alcohol and bartender (an option at some reception venues). This will save you very little money. Between corkage fees and the retail costs of alcohol, you would be wiser to offer an open bar and not use top shelf  liquor… or limit it to just wine and beer.

4) When buying your wedding gown, ask about the cost of alterations up front. Just as the salon will make you sign a contract agreeing  to purchase the gown, pay the 1/2 deposit and the balance when the gown arrives – you should require the salon to give you an alterations quote in writing. A good place for this is on your receipt.  Expert alterations can cost hundreds of dollars.

5) The cake is another quagmire. Having a wedding cake large enough to slice off a piece for 200 guests is costly and can be difficult to maneuver. Consider having a smaller (more manageable) wedding cake for the cake cutting and having your baker make sheet cakes of the same exact cake and frosting  to serve to guests.

6) Speaking of cake, check  this out: Cake cutting fees can be as much as $3.50 per slice.  This is just the fee that the reception site charges to cut your cake, put it on a plate and serve it. Add this onto the cost of the cake and you could increase the cake budget by 50% or more. Consider the options of mini cakes or cupcakes to serve to guests. Cupcake bakeries are super chic right now so why not get in on the fun?

7) Service professionals often rely on tips. If it is not added into your total automatically,  make sure you allow for this at the end of the event.

Overall it is estimated that individual wedding costs increase by 25% from the original quote. In order to avoid this happeneing to you… don’t forget to factor tax, tips, add-ons and fees into your budget and make sure you get everything in writing!

-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


Secrets To A Successful Shower

Most people think bridal showers are just giddy gab-fests jam-packed with giggly women. Ask anyone who has hosted a bridal shower recently and they will tell you that this is serious business.  Even for a small gathering you need a theme, flowers, sweets, games,  and above all; really good food. The truth is that bridal Showers have evolved into full-fledged parties complete with parting gifts and photographers.

Theme:  Don’t worry too much about choosing an elaborate theme that has never been done and matching everything to it because (as with any good party)  the theme can be color. Choose colors that compliment the location, the season and the overall feel of the wedding.  Make sure it is a color the bride loves and don’t forget the invitations to match!

Bridal Shower: A Black-and-White Damask and Green Theme
Although a giant ice cream or candy buffet may be too causal for the wedding that your bride has in mind, this is the perfect place to implement some of those creative ideas. Cake pops, decorative cookies, cupcakes and decadent candy are all inviting additions to a scrumptious sweet table.
Even with a casual, buffet style party, having good food will ensure happy guests.  There is nothing that says you have to serve  a seven course meal; have a wide array of sandwiches, snacks, appetizer and remember: presentation is everything!
A few touches of beautiful flowers at each table and scattered around the room will add the finishing touch that every good party needs.  Try to make sure the flowers accentuate  the theme and decor of the entire party.  You don’t have to go crazy or spend thousands of dollars on the flowers, simple arrangements can make a big difference.
Choosing favors is difficult since everyone has different taste; for every person that loves Precious Moments figurines, there are as many that despise them.  Favors that are edible or that can otherwise be consumed are always a good bet as are favors that also act as a keepsake. The favor is a memento, something that you take home and enjoy, it doesn’t have to cost a fortune or be life-changing. It is a simple token of your affection and should reflect just that, and should be accompanied by a tag or card noting the date and occasion.
 Gerber Daisy Favor Boxes with Personalized Labels
When planning a bridal shower the single most important thing to keep in mind is…. The Bride.  This party is for her,  so although you would prefer a Moroccan theme with chicken curry and exotic flowers, she may prefer tulips and finger sanwiches.  Planning a party around someone else’s likes and dislikes take some patience and planning but, with the right combination of both, it is sure to be a huge success.
-Penny Frulla for Bridal Expo Chicago