How To – Be The Best Dressed Guest!

A long time ago there was a very strict dress code for each and every event. Seriously, people got dressed up in suits to go to baseball games and ladies were in stockings and heels at the grocery store. Today, it seems, people have trouble knowing how to dress for dinner at a casual restaurant much less a wedding.  I see  people of all ages  wearing pajama pants in public and generally speaking, casual attire has gotten out of control. So when  my friend called me today and asked what she should wear to a wedding I thought it might be a good time to go over what is acceptable and what is not acceptable in wedding guest attire.

So in this day of casual wear how do you tell your wedding guests that jeans are not acceptable (even with a dinner jacket for men) and that you fully expect them to dress appropriately? It is not that hard, actually. The place to let your guests know what is expected of them is in the invitation or, even better, on your website if you have one.  I have defined some of the more common dress code terms so you can use them to let guests know what to expect.

“Casual Attire”– If you are having a destination wedding on the beach, your female guests should wear a sundress, cruise-wear, not beachwear. Espadrilles, sandals and a dressier flip flop ( if that exists) are all appropriate footwear. The beach is no place for stilettos, anyway. Men can get away with a nice shirt, maybe Tommy Bahama or a stylish Cubavera  shirt  with linen pants.

“Informal Wedding Attire” is a step up from casual. A nicer dress, made of nicer fabric – something you would wear to a college graduation or to meet the first lady. Floor length is out. Men should wear a suit but still no need to wear a tie if the shirt is nice enough. For a preppy look try a navy blazer with Khaki pants and a pastel print tie.

“Formal Attire” means men have the choice of a tuxedo or dark suit. Ladies can wear either short or long gowns but, it needs to be dressy. Break out the glam but, don’t worry if you prefer the casual side of formal. Cocktail dresses are fine.

“Black Tie” or Ultra Formal is defined as cocktail or long dresses (only)for women and tuxedos (only)for men. Break out the fine jewelry, sparkly accessories and beaded purses. Men do not have to wear a bow tie as long as they have a tuxedo or a fine suit with contrasting fabric on the lapels. Dress like you are headed for the red carpet at the Academy Awards.

If your guests do not have the good sense  to know the definition of ‘Casual Wedding Attire’ ( for example), how do you enforce the dress code? That is entirely up to you. You could either have security to make sure everyone is  up to par and those who aren’t are turned away or  tell the photographer not to take photos of anyone dressed inappropriately. Or you could just let it go.  With any luck at all, you could have someone dressed so oddly that it will entertain you for years to come. 

-Penny Frulla for Bridal Expo Chicago

Best Wedding Trends From 2012

Can you believe 2012 is almost over?!  It’s time to look back on 2012 and some of the fabulous wedding trends that sprouted from the imagination an creativity of seasoned professionals. Of course some may be passing fads … but,  some are definitely worth keeping! In no particular order, here are the ones we would like to stick around for at least another year:

Inspiration Boards

Thanks in large part to Pinterest, this trend has enabled brides to see the big picture when it comes to their wedding story.

Unique Venues

Less than 5% of couples have their ceremony in a house of worship. Finding just the right place to celebrate your love is a charming way to spend time and express your individuality.

Colored Wedding Dresses

Jessica Biel and Reese Witherspoon both tied the knot in subtle shades of pink. Color is hot and you are guaranteed to see a lot more of it in 2013.

Mix It Up

Bridesmaids wearing different (but matching) gowns, making every single groomsmen’s boutonniere slightly different, brides wearing cowboy boots, having homespun touches at the reception. Breaking tradition is the new tradition!







Delaying the Honeymoon

According to about 25% of all couples delay their honeymoon by  more than a week. It gives you time to unwind and prepare for the journey without feeling rushed.


Excited to see what 2013 has in store for weddings? Tune in tomorrow when I explore some 2013 wedding predictions!

-Penny Frulla for Bridal Expo Chicago

Southern Wedding Belles

The recent news of the engagement of two-time Grammy winner and American Idol alumni Kelly Clarkson to Nashville talent manager Brandon Blackstock got our creative juices flowing, imagining what kind of wedding this “Southern  Belle” might have in mind!


For the rest of the world who does not live in the Southern part of the United States, there are very distinct differences between South Carolina Style, Kentucky Style, Louisiana Style and  Texas Style. So, the fact that Ms. Clarkson hails from Texas and has planted her roots in Tennessee poses a ‘Southern Style’ challenge. However, there are some must -haves for any true Southern Wedding:

It’s all about the family. Expect to see cousins, kids, aunts, uncles and  relatives from every corner of the globe – even Yankees! The more the merrier, Southern weddings are known for being large and friendly so, when it comes to family; there is always room for more.

Grooms Cake. A groom’s cake  presents an opportunity for the bride to get creative & really WOW her groom. Since so much of the wedding is about the bride & her style, this is a great way to honor the most important man in the room.This tradition has really been embraced by people across the globe.


Beverages. Southern brides love to honor their heritage, & the quintessential beverages of the South are the great way to do so. From mint juleps & neat bourbon to sweet tea & Coca-Cola, there’s a Southern beverage to quench the thirst of young & old wedding guests alike.

Charming Accents. Glowing votives, floating magnolias, mason jars, old fashioned lanterns, parasols; all touches that remind you of a simpler era are abundant. Think of timeless elements that would work as easily in 2012 as they would have in 1954.

southern & traditions1's Wedding in Charleston

Most of all, the Southern culture is steeped in beauty, elegance, and grace. Whether your wedding is Sweet Home Alabama or Sweet Home Chicago, you can always incorporate some of these elements to make your celebration ooze with Southern Hospitality.

-Penny Frulla for Bridal Expo Chicago

What is Great Customer Service?

Ask any bride or groom the most important part of selecting their wedding professionals and they whole-heartedly agree: Customer Service! The best product or service is only as good as the people who handle it from start to finish and the worst single thing that a business can do is to drop the ball when it comes to this (most) critical element.

So, without being vague, what makes a company’s customer service great? Attention to detail, follow-up, communication and the willingness to settle for nothing less than perfect.

I remember a  bride from many years ago who inspected her gown upon arrival and there was a giant fabric flaw directly in the front of the skirt. There it was, right in the middle, completely visible without a magnifying glass- a huge slub of silk!  She immediately asked the store manager to get another gown and was told this was not possible. She was then offered a discount of 20%. This did not sit well and she left the store in tears. Later that day she came in and spoke to me, I was working in the alterations department and she asked what I could do. I suggested that with the owner’s permission we could replace the front of the dress with an entirely new skirt panel of the same exact fabric. It would take several seamstresses many hours to complete this task and it was going to cost the store hundreds of dollars in materials and labor but, the owner decided it was worth it.   Melinda picked up her gown the day of her wedding and it was perfect, we completed the task to her satisfaction and were able to recoup some of the loss from the manufacturer due to their lack of quality control. She was thrilled, she referred us to dozens of her friends and the story had a beautiful ending. I think of Melinda often because of her calm resolve and her unwillingness to compromise quality for a 20% discount. Her words haunt me, “I am not unhappy about the price of the gown, I am unhappy about the quality. I have paid a fair price and I would like the product I ordered.”  The fault fabric was not of her doing so, why should she have to suffer? As wedding gown professionals it was our job to deliver that product, and as experts in customer service…. we did.


-If the customer has needs you cannot fulfill, refer them to another professional. It is better to say no to a job too big than to make a promise you can’t deliver.

-Remind the customer that they do get what they pay for. Your company may not be the cheapest but, you’re worth it.

-If they have selected you from dozens of bakers, florists or DJ’s to handle their event, they deserve to be spoken to as soon as possible. Even if it is a call to tell them you are very busy and wont be able to handle a consultation at a later date, you need to manage your time well enough to handle every customer as if they were the last, or they might very well be just that.

Great customer service is putting your customer’s needs first,  identifying any problems, addressing them immediately and being accessible.  Great customer service is not just making promises but, keeping them.


-Penny Frulla for Bridal Expo Chicago