Kim’s Fairytale Wedding – The Party’s Over

There is always that moment after the wedding is over when you wish you could do the whole thing again. The dress, the party, the dancing and seeing all of your friends/family in one place – everything and everyone looking so wonderful. Then you start addressing the Thank You Notes and settling into married life and realize how much work went into the whole thing, thinking maybe you can wait until your 10th anniversary to plan another event of this magnitude. After about six months, when all of the excitement has died down all you want to do is have one nice quiet evening at home with no tasks or ‘to-do’ lists.

Then there are those cases when the wedding lasts longer than the marriage. Whether it is finances, place of residence, children, or infidelity, the realization that you married the wrong person has to be painful.  Yesterday’s announcement of Kim Kardashian’s probable divorce did not come as a shock to as many people as she would have suspected. While I would like to say that Kim Kardashian deserves some time to work this out in private, I can’t for several reasons:

-With all the debate over gay marriage – also known as civil unions or in my house, just plain “marriage”, I wonder why people can’t let this go. Another example of two heterosexual people who have all the rights afforded to them by the state and federal government (and the approval of conservative marriage activists) to marry whomever they want and have it televised to the tune of $18 million +, to stay married for 2 or 3 months and divorce for no reason, to marry multiple times to whomever for whatever reason and treat the process in a disposable manner…. yet two men or two women who are truly in love and have already shared more life experiences than most couples cannot legally ‘marry’ in their state. AND even when they are afforded the rights, they walk away with a certificate that says “Civil Union”. This is completely unjust and I feel a public explanation is due.

-When you are married in front of television cameras for ratings and profit, when the entire romance and proposal and engagement are televised for ratings and profit, when you live every moment of your life for ratings and profit, you should have to answer every single question from every single person who contributed to your ratings and profit.

– If you are able to turn a  self-indulgent lifestyle into a career, you should have enough sense to ask your future husband or wife a few simple questions: “Where will we live after we are married?” and “How will we support ourselves… will we both be working?” or “Where will we raise our children”.

In my opinion, Kim Kardashian should have to answer every question, return every gift and donate every dollar made  to a charity … one that fights for equal marriage rights for all. 

-Penny Frulla for Bridal Expo Chicago



Bridal Registry Wish List – Most Wanted Items

The most wanted items on Bridal Registries everywhere in 2011 deviated from previous years since the former top choices of dishes moved to higher end  kitchen pieces and bath panels. For couples who have either co-habitated or lived on their own for a period of time, getting an upgrade to nicer kitchen items is a wonderful way to begin your lives together as a married couple.

The most popular kitchen items include premium cutlery,  gourmet appliances, Le Creuset cookware and top shelf bar items. According to the Wall Street Journal, men are becoming more involved in the registry process which explains the switch from plates and forks to knives and Kitchen Aid Mixers. Which also might explain grill items cracking the top ten registry list for the first time as well.

More top items for the home include bedding, unusual serving pieces and monogrammed towels. The top towel color? Brown – go figure!

And rounding out the top ten is gift cards. No surprise here – gift cards can be used in combination with coupons and other gift cards to buy higher end items you wouldn’t normally purchase for yourself. Like  Jimmy Buffet’s Margaritaville frozen drink mixer or a set of Egyptian cotton sheets!

If you don’t  like registering for gifts or merely feel like the cash would be of more help you could always bypass traditional gift registries and opt for one of the dozens of cash gift registries. Be careful before telling your loved ones to put stock in anything you haven’t checked out completely since for every reputable company there is a fraudulent one lurking behind fancy websites and phony customer referrals.

Anyway you look at it, the easiest part of wedding planning is registering for gifts. Personally, the  margarita machine sounds like a lot of fun to me!

-Penny Frulla for Bridal Expo Chicago

The Splurge of Your Dreams

Brides everywhere agree: if they could splurge on just one item for their wedding -it would be their bridal gown. Maybe they have dreamed of a certain gown their whole life, maybe they recently spotted a designer must-have or maybe they just tried on a gown out of budget that they cannot seem to live without. 

There are a few things you should focus on when gown shopping and not one of them includes the price. A great deal is only a great deal if you are getting more in value than you are paying in dollars:

Fit – The gown should fit your body type. Just because it looks good on a model or mannequin does not mean it will hug your curves the same way. And it if it doesn’t look good on the runway or in a magazine, it will probably not look good on you. All designer have their own patterns whether it is fuller in the bust or more ample in the waist so find the right fit for you.

Fabric – The fabric should be beautiful and easy to care for. Stylists and designers everywhere are still buzzing about the late Princess Diana’s bridal gown debacle. Remember how she came out of the carriage a wrinkled mess? Silk taffeta is a gorgeous fabric but does not travel well. Make arrangements to get dressed AT the venue to avoid problems like this, if you can.

Finish – The gown should be as beautiful on the inside as it is on the oustide. No unfinished seams, no boning sticking out, no loose threads and no puckers. The hem, the zipper, the closures (hooks or snaps) should all be tightly and neatly sewn. If there is lace or appliques, everything  should be sewn symmetrical, smooth and neat as well.

Feel – When you put the gown on it should not only make you feel beautiful, it should also feel comfortable. Do you want to be gasping for air or tugging at the waistline of your gown for the entire day/evening? Is it so tight you have backfat? If you feel good, you will look good.

If the ‘gown of your dreams’ has all of these qualities, then go ahead and splurge. Splurge a little -not a lot. You should never go too far over budget. Of course you want to look beautiful but, if you spend WAY too much on the bridal gown, you will have to cut expenses somewhere else and you want your entire wedding to be memorable – not just the gown.

Remember, everyone has budget. Whether your budget is $1300 or $13,000, there is a gown for you. Designers are now rolling out their 2012 designs as we speak and I have a feeling the gown of your dreams is waiting for you.

-Penny Frulla for Bridal Expo Chicago

Gift Registries – What Do You Really Need?

A long time ago engaged couples lived with their parents until they were married. After they were married, they needed things to set up house, like toasters and vacuum cleaners and dishes. Today’s engaged couples more than likely have lived on their own or with their fiance for a long enough period of time that they don’t have the same needs. In addition, since so many  couples have lived together or even solo for some time, they are also paying for their own wedding which means the gift registry situation becomes even more complicated.

Let’s face it – whether is is to defray the wedding expenses, pay for the honeymoon  or  a down payment on their first  home; most newlyweds could really use some cash. Unfortunately asking guests for cash is kind of tacky so, what do you do when you are faced with this dilemma?  If you would really rather receive money there are a couple of solutions to getting what you really need instead of something you might have to exchange.

Home Loan –  Believe it or not – FHA has a ‘gift’ registry that you can use  to apply to  downpayments on your first home. Friends and family can ‘gift’ as much or as little as they like or are able and you are notified every time someone makes a donation. It serves a dual purpose since it will allow otherwise cash-strapped individuals to purchase a home during the housing slump, thereby saving homes from foreclosure and (slowly) improving the housing market. This is an interest bearing account so don’t be surprised if you see your balance climbing higher every time you check. Genius!

Cash Registry– There are dozens of registry sites dedicated to helping you get the money you need as well as making sure your money is safe and available when you need it. PayPal has even jumped on the bandwagon and offers a secure method of accepting cash gifts. Again, you are notified of each and every gift as it arrives which makes it easier to track ….and send thank you notes. Check for one that is reputable, check their references and FDIC requirements, make sure there are no loopholes or fees and read before you sign anything. The account may be interest bearing but might come with a debit card you can use for purchases that charge a transaction fee.

Honeymoon– Many travel agencies offer honeymooon registries where the guests’ donations are used to whittle down the honeymoon cost. This could turn a ho-hum honeymoon into a dream vacation….never underestimate the generosity of your loved ones.

If all else fails – ask for money. When someone asks you what you need, tell them you have everything you need but are saving for _______ (whatever). Don’t be surprised if some people don’t want to give money. In some cultures, it is taboo to give or receive cash as a wedding gift, in others it is preferred.  Also there is no minimum or ‘per plate’ standard. The gift you give or receive should be based on the closeness of your relationship and what your guest can afford.If you are expecting  cash gifts, remember to have a place to keep the envelopes safe.  Clever retailers everywhere sell decorative boxes and beautiful alternatives to a plain box sitting on the gift table. Consider a Victorian Birdcage!

Sweet Charity– Last but not least, if you have every household item you could ever need or want and money is not a problem for either of you, congratulations. In this case, you may want donations to be made to charity on your behalf.  As we all know, there are millions of needy people throughout the world and if giving to others is in your heart, there are  many charities which allow you to do this. Make sure they are listed with the IRS as a charitable organization and have Form 990 documentation readily available. Select a charity or two that is close to your heart or that you strongly believe in and request conrtibutions to be made to them in lieu of gifts.

As always, it is never appropriate to ask for gifts anywhere in the wedding invitation. Use personal correspondences, website and word of mouth to let people know where you are registered. Although many companies provide inserts for invitations, these are used only for shower invitations and never for the actual wedding invitation or save-the-date cards.

-Penny Frulla for Bridal Expo Chicago

Earth Day – No sacrifice is too small!

As we celebrate Earth Day 2011, we are reminded via news and television that there is a lot that needs to be done to reduce our carbon footprint, and that every small step you take is a step in the right direction.

Change is hard. You are used to doing everything in a very specific manner and when you go about change, it is a struggle at first. Those darned compact fluorescent light bulbs were so expensive at first it was hard to justify buying them but, slowly the prices cam down as  the impact of each bulb was slowly steeped into our psyche. Why do they even sell regular light bulbs anymore?

Planning your wedding, preparing for the largest social event of your life , one that will change the way you think, sign your name, make the bed and just about ever other seemingly mundane task is the  perfect time to begin thinking about how your actions impact the planet.

Here are the 5 best things you can to do reduce, reuse or recycle on your wedding day:

1) Talk to your jeweler and insist on conflict-free diamonds. The Kimberly process was enacted to prevent the illegal trade of  “blood diamonds” whereby mine workers are tortured, mutilated or killed. That’s not even the worst part, the worst part is almost 100% of the money goes back to those who perpetrate this violence. Conflict free diamonds come with a certificate of authenticity and are readily available at retailers everywhere.  Insist on  them!
2) Digital Photography allows  you to be able to view all of the proofs and print only the ones you wish to keep. Before you say anything, remember that digital cameras (especially the ones used by professionals) will produce the same kind of image as standard 35mm photography. If your photographer uses both,ask if you can get digital proofs.  Avoid single -use cameras at all costs.

3) Limousines can reduce gas emissions greatly when you consider the alternative of 7 bridesmaids and 7 groomsmen driving individually to an event. Boom! You’ve just saved several gallons of gas! If you can find a limousine company that has alternative fuel vehicles or even hybrids, BONUS!

4) Buy locally grown food and flowers. It saves money, transportation and labor costs. You have reduced the handling time and you will have fresher, healthier, more desirable vegetation and probably save a few dollars in the process. It’s a win/win.

5) Consider giving your guests favors that will make a difference. Mini-trees, flower bulbs, plant able papers all can be wrapped in organic or biodegradable paper with raffia. It will be organic and visually appealing!

Happy Earth Day, everyone!

-Penny Frulla for Bridal expo Chicago

The dreaded “B” word – Budget

When planning your wedding, there are many things to consider; location, time of day, how many guests to invite, etc. But none of them are as important as the actual wedding budget. Couples are faced with so may decisions regarding this one very special day that it can become daunting if you enter into the planing stages unprepared. Before you even think of shopping for the first item, sit down with your betrothed and have a very candid budget meeting. During that meeting you will each  have to make concessions. How much are your families able or willing to spend to help you?

Once you have established your budget, you can being to negotiate the importance of each individual item. What are the most important aspects of the day for you as a couple? Photographs tend to rank higher and things like table favors are lower in the scale of importance. However, everyone is different and no one can tell you what is important to you, except you.  There are some ways to help you stay within budget.

Plan your wedding on a Friday or Sunday. Many venues offer greatly discounted rates for events that are not on Saturday. They will be happy to negotiate with you during off-season as well. When is off-season? It varies from state to state and year to year. The big shift is that more couples seem to get married in December than June ……….. for now. Imagine how spectacular your ceremony would be against the backdrop of fall foliage or spring in bloom!

Shop realistically for your gown. Take someone with you when shopping for your bridal gown. When you first go into the salon, state your price point and politely ask the consultant not to bring anything over your specified amount. It will save everyone time and aggravation. Be honest with yourself about what you can afford. If your gown budget is $2000, you can not be shopping for gowns that are priced at $4000, it will only lead to heartache.

Flowers can be expensive. However, this is a place where you can really save  as well. Using flowers that are in season or grown locally can save hundreds of dollars and give you a better, fresher product. Using non-flowering greenery can also add a touch of whimsy to your centerpiece.  Also – don’t be afraid to use bigger flowers in the centerpieces because it could save money in the end. Explore your options with a trusted florist.

Bigger tables- opt for the big round table that seats 10. Larger tables will require less centerpieces and give guests a chance to meet more people from other parts of your life!

Bridal Expo- yes, you will save money by attending one of our many shows throughout the year. Our vendors offer discounts at the shows and for couples who have attended the shows. Seeing everything in one place saves time which saves money … and with the price of gas nearing $4.00 gallon, driving is money. You can see up to 60 wedding professionals at one time and these are our trusted vendors so the research is done. The bonus is that there are prizes awarded at each show so you could possible win a honeymoon or a valuable gift package.

Call 847-428-3320 to get four complimentary tickets to a show in your area so you can start saving money immediately.

-Penny Frulla for Bridal Expo Chicago

Smart Ways to Save Money on Your Wedding

Couture Dresses Are Becoming More Affordable

Couture Dresses Are Becoming More Affordable

Brides and Grooms always are looking to get the most for their wedding budget, but there are some basic facts they need to understand when dealing with contract negotiations. First and foremost there is a big difference between understanding costs vs. value. If the bride and groom are shopping on price alone, but fail to educate themselves on the total value of what each vendor brings, then they might be very disappointed on their wedding day. Some things are worth paying a little more for. (i.e. you got a really low price on your limo, but they showed up ½ hour late setting your entire time table for your entire wedding day back!)

Planning a wedding is like cramming for a college degree in 12 months, but if you remember a few essentials it will be a breeze. With that said, here is Bridal Expo Chicago’s top ways to save on your total wedding expense. One: consider having your wedding on a Friday or Sunday. Right off the bat you can expect to save 15-20% off of the cost of your reception, usually about 45% of your total budget.

In addition, many vendors will offer a “Friday/Sunday” discount because the best of the best get booked up first on a Saturday night.

Two: Don’t wait until the last minute to book your vendors, book early and save. It’s kind of like the airlines, the closer you wait the more expensive it is because there are so few seats left.

Three: Reduce your guest list by 15-30 people. The average wedding reception today is about 135-150 people. You don’t need to invite the entire office and you don’t need to invite every single person you have ever meet in your life. This is a special occasion meant for the most special people in your life who you actually talk to on a regular basis. Don’t feel you have to invite a cousin you haven’t seen since you were 6 years old…save that invitation for a family reunion! By cutting the reception costs, you will lots of money left over for all the special touches and lots of upgrades.

And finally, you must be realistic about your budget. There is nothing wrong with having a small wedding and a small budget. Just don’t expect to get a deal at The Four Seasons or feel that wedding businesses don’t deserve to make money just because you are on a really tight budget. Plan smart and act fair.

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