Lights! Camera! Action! Behind The Scenes at a Bridal Expo Luxury Event

If you missed last night’s Luxury Event in Oakbrook, I would like to take you on a journey of what you missed. A real, behind the scenes look at what goes on to make the show possible and a close encounter with one of the world’s premier Bridal Designers, Ines   Di Santo and her daughter, Veronica.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012,  4:10  p.m. I was supposed to be at the Drury Lane Theater in Oakbrook, IL at 4:00 but, my son’s school bus was a little late and I have to wait for him to get home before I can leave… yeah, I am one of those moms. When I pulled into the parking lot there was not one empty spot except for valet and after fishing around for some singles in my pocket, I decided to park in one of the free spots farther away and hope I don’t get towed.  By now, I am scurrying into the building, the excitement and anticipation building as I approach the backstage area to prepare the designer gowns for the runway show at 8:00 pm.

As I get backstage I see that Kirsten, one of the members of the (fabulous) Bridal Expo Staff  has the gowns lined up, the steamer already filled with water and plugged in. She and Carol Tardi, the Fashion Director and onstage commentator, finish unpacking the last of the couture gowns that arrived from  Ines & Veronica Di Santo, who also arrived earlier in the day from Canada. I am able to start work immediately so my nerves are now a bit calmer.

As I gently pull the fabric top to bottom, right to left, I wonder if there is any silk left in Canada? Yards upon yards of carefully cut tulle, lace, shantung, chiffon, every imaginable kind of silk and embroidery available is crafted into gowns that can only be described as impressive.

After their red carpet photo shoot with some of our top vendors, Ines Di Santo and her daughter Veronica escorted by Bridal Expo Vice President, Jim Verraros, peer behind the curtain to oversee and assist with the care of their gowns. One of the gowns had a complicated lace drape in the back and Ines instructed me how to pin  this for maximum effect. I admit….. I would have done it wrong. Working (even just backstage) with Ines and her daughter is akin to taking art lessons from Leonardo Da Vinci. In reality, the mother/daughter design duo are delightful, soft-spoken, extremely talented women, not pretentious divas (as artists of this caliber are often portrayed).

The models begin arriving over an hour earlier than usual for hair and makeup to be done by professionals at Tamara Makeup & Artistry. Donning t-shirts and skinny jeans, nearly a dozen of Chicago’s top models wait patiently to begin the transformation from lovely ladies to beautiful brides, it is a short trip made easier by the pro’s.

The gowns are steamed, a few last minute checks to see if anything needs special attention. Not with this collection – everything is impeccably sewn and presented in pristine condition. As the models finish their hair and makeup, the staff readies for the show to begin. The dressers ( those of us who zip and get the models in their gowns for the runway) are lined up at the designated racks, Jim is poised at the control center where he will deliver the orders to models when it is their time to go onstage, Carol is standing by the entrance to the runway with microphone in hand. There is a  moment backstage, a breathless moment that borders on panic and exhilaration as Bill Brennan, CEO and President of Luxury Bridal Expo Chicago & Milwaukee, takes the stage to welcome the audience. The crowd goes silent as the lights dim and the show is about to begin.

Once the music begins and the models take the runway, the audience is transported to a dream world of luxurious fabrics, a magical land where only the most elegant and refined gowns exist. No one in the audience knows that there was a gown almost pinned wrong. No one suspects that there was almost a shortage of T-pins. No one cares that a certain gown should have had an a-line slip but went out with a full slip.

After the runway show ends, the models and makeup artists pack up and go home, we begin to carefully bag all of the gowns in the same sterile packaging as they came. The designers graciously thank the entire staff and are whisked away by Bill and Jim for some last minute mingling.

The evening was a huge success with careful planning, extensive preparation and exhausting work.  Please take this time to go to to get tickets to a luxury event in your area today, I promise you won’t be disappointed. Until then, take a moment to enjoy the glamour of some of the haute couture gowns from the Ines Di Santo collection at

-Penny Frulla for Bridal Expo Chicago