Keeping Your Cool When It Is 100 Degrees Outside!

For some reason I thought the “Great Midwest Heatwave of 2012” was over last Sunday when the storms hit the western suburbs of Chicago, knocking out power and dumping enough rain in my own yard to make my grass green again. I was wrong. This week was even worse than last and I can’t help thinking about all of the couples who have weddings this weekend, especially those with a portion of the event outdoors.

Realistically, there is no way to stay cool when it is 90 degrees at midnight. However, you can add a few things to your checklist to help out.

Shade – Open tents or large umbrellas scattered around the seating areas will do wonders to protect your guests from the sweltering sun. Unlike enclosed tents, the air will continue to circulate and provide some relief.  Another option is to provide your guests with parasols.



Fans-  Invest in a hand fan for each guest, these can be inexpensive, attractive and extremely helpful. Also add electric fans (preferably oscillating) along the outside perimeter of the entire area. Hint: if you place buckets of ice behind each fan, it will blow cool air. The temptation is to get the biggest fans you can find. BAD IDEA! There might be too much force which will leave your guests wondering if they are in Kansas anymore. ( Wizard of Oz + tornado = classic joke)

Water –  According to the CDC you must consume 16-32 ounces of cool, non-alcoholic fluid every hour during extreme heat.  Gatorade, Vitamin Water, ( low sugar) Iced Tea, Lemonade and bottled water  to ice-filled buckets everywhere people will be standing or sitting will remind guests to stay hydrated. Avoid drinks with caffeine as they will make you dehydrated – this include energy drinks. Coffee lovers will enjoy an iced coffee as much as (or more) than their favorite beverage served piping-hot.  

Change – After the wedding you may want to change into a cooler gown. Also let the groom and his attendants change into cooler shirts after the ceremony, or take off their jackets at the very least.  Even if they all throw on matching Hawaiian shirts, they will look great and have more fun than if they were in restricted in ties and cummerbunds.

Unfortunately in this heat there is nothing that will keep you cool. The most important thing is safety. Being too overheated can cause everything from headaches to vomiting to serious illness.  Following at least some of these tips will help to keep everyone safe and happy!

-Penny Frulla for Bridal Expo Chicago

Summer Weddings – Beating the Heatwave

There are two months it has never snowed in Chicago: July and August. If you are brave enough to plan an outdoor wedding during the only two months it has never snowed in Chicago, you may need to plan ahead in order to beat the heat. Because there is one thing we know in Chicago; when it’s not freezing cold- it is blistering hot!

Breathe– Plan on wearing a less constricting gown. A tight fitting gown or corset can restrict your ability to fully expand your lungs which reduces your oxygen intake and causes lightheadedness or fainting, especially in this heat. Avoid heavy corsets, tight fitting bodices and cinched-in waistlines in record-breaking heat.

Touch –  Polyester is the enemy. Find a gown made of silk chiffon because it  flows and breathes or silk taffeta because it is smooth and cool.  Gowns made of silk, hemp, rayon, cotton or other organic fabrics will be cooler and you will be more comfortable. Of course a silk gown lined with twenty layers of nylon tulle and polyester lining is not going to be comfortable at all. Something light and airy and comfortable where you look like a goddess would be perfect!

Manage your mane. If your hair goes limp in the heat or if your hair frizzes up in the humidity, make sure you have the right products on hand to correct it. This is why it is important to have a trial hair appointment with your hairdresser so you can discuss these things. 

Hot Feet – Consider not wearing stockings or pantyhose. (GASP) Seriously, although Princess Kate has caused a stir wearing see-through hosiery with non-skid soles remember this:  she has all kinds of restrictions placed on her by Buckingahm Palace and you don’t. You can bare your legs and no one will care. This makes your shoe choice even more important since you can now wear any kind of sandal and show off your tanned, pedicured toes. If you still have your heart set on a delicious pair of white pumps or a peep-toe platform, invest a  few extra dollars and buy shoes that are lined in leather. Fabric on the outside is okay, but pleather or plastic lined shoes will not only make your feet sweat, they will hurt after a very short time causing your feet to swell and if you take your shoes off for even five minutes under the table, you will never, NEVER get them back on again!

Cooling Stations–  Have plenty of water on hand for your guests. Consider having containers of ice filled with bottled water at every table or strategically positioned around the outdoor dance floor so guests don’t have to travel to the bar to be reminded to stay hydrated. Personalized labels make it even better as long as they can stand up to the ice water!

Fan yourself – Another great idea is to have small hand fans at every place setting so guests can fan their faces if they get overheated at any given time. There is one school of thought that says fanning yourself actually makes you hotter. I suppose if you are flapping your arms at warp speed with a heavy object this might be true. However, gently fanning your face to keep the air circulating will help aid in the evaporation of sweat on your skin. Plus, you can cleverly personalize a cute fan and even use them as  programs!

I’m ready for my close-up – Are you really? Are you wearing heavy foundation in mid-July? Are you shiny, sweaty, flushed or speckled from the heat? Ask  a qualified makeup artist to help you decide what kind of coverage you need during hot weather, hire them to do your makeup for the wedding, purchase anything you will need for touch-ups and carry it in your bridal purse. 

The temperature this week could feasibly reach 100 degrees and we are in store for another wave next week. If you are getting married outdo, it’s not too late to implement some of these tips and remember -don’t overdo it!

_Penny Frulla for Bridal Expo Chicago

Royal Wedding Anniversary

It was one year ago that I set the alarm for 4 am to make sure I caught the first glimpse of the Royal Wedding of Prince William and Miss Catherine Middleton. For some time I was left shaking my head wondering why the wedding was so conservative ….. I get it; social unrest, economic downturn, high unemployment but, there was still the  lingering doubt in my mind that for the same amount of money spent (roughly $32 million US dollars) they could have had a little more pizazz. Then it dawned on me – this is not a flashy couple. This is a very conservative couple with very conservative taste and by anyone’s standards the task of organizing and planning an affair of this magnitude was oppressive. One year later I think they did a fantastic job of nearly every aspect.  Although neither of the future Queen’s bridal gowns was life-changing, as I had hoped, there are some very interesting facts surrounding the gown, the couple and the entire affair.

The needlework team, from the Royal School of Needlework, that was given the task of  cutting and re-assembling the delicate lace appliques on the gown, shoes and veil with intricate hand sewing, was required to washed their hands every thirty minutes and replaced needles every 3 hours to keep their work fresh.

Upon his coronation, Prince William will be the tallest British monarch ever, at 6ft 3″ tall, making him one inch taller than Edward Longshanks who was the creepy, villianous King with the white curly beard and alleged gay son depicted in Braveheart. Remember when Mel Gibson was the good guy? Ahh the 90’s.

Princess Catherine was the oldest royal bride in history at the age of 29 years, 3 months and 20 days old….not that anyone’s counting. The youngest royal bride was Isabella of Valois, who was aged just six when she married Richard II in 1396. That would have been a great reality show, if only they had TV in the 1300’s.

Princess Catherine is allergic to horses, although she has never missed a game of Polo in which Prince William was playing.  Would you?

Princess Catherine’s mother-in-law, The Duchess of Cornwall (Camilla) is required to curtsy to the future queen, her daughter-in-law, unless her husband,Catherine’s father-in-law is in the room. In that case, Princess Catherine is required to curtsy to both of them. Princess Catherine is second in curtsy protocol only to the Queen. Can you imagine family reunions? I would need a scorecard…. and a cane.

After the wedding, Catherine placed her wedding bouquet on the tomb of the unknown soldier, as her husband’s mother and grandmother both did. Touching and thoughful….maybe that’s something all brides should do.

The wedding rings for the marriages of King George VI to the Queen mother, Queen Elizabeth to Prince Philip, Princess Margaret to Antony Armstrong Jones and Prince Charles to Princess Diana were all made from the same nugget of Welsh gold. The gold was all used up in 1981 so, the Queen commissioned a new nugget. The Duke and Duchess of York, Princes Charles, The Duchess of Cornwall and Princess Catherine’s rings were all made from this new nugget. FYI- Welsh gold is quite rare and very expensive to buy…. was there any doubt?

By the way – Prince William is the only Royal  in history to NOT wear a wedding band. Does it make a difference? I doubt if there is anyone who can read or owns a television who doesn’t know he is married so, not really that big of a deal.

Happy Anniversary William & Catherine!

-Penny Frulla for Bridal Expo Chicago




Let the Knock-Offs Begin!

Spring Bridal Market is just weeks away and buyers across the country have already been tempted with a few sneak peeks at what designers will be featuring for 2012 brides. Not surprising, there will be copies  and modified replicas of Kate Middleton’s gown, Kim Kardashian’s gown and Pippa Middleton’s dazzling bridesmaid attire, all of the 2011 weddings we couldn’t wait to watch.

Romona Keveza stuns with her choice of fabrics and the veil edged in lace. Although this is not an exact copy of the gown worn by the Duchess of Cambridge, it is close enough that most people will be reminded of the lovely spring nuptials of the future King and Queen of England. In fact I like this gown better for a number of reasons: I was never quite thrilled with the way the skirt and top came together on the Royal version and this designer seems to have a better understanding of how the skirt and top should go together.  I also like the veil better as well as the way it sits on her head and the fabric on the skirt of the gown looks more finished.

In addition to high end designers making modified versions of popular styles, you have the discount designers making their (cheaper) versions and not always hitting the mark. Look closely and tell me what is wrong with this picture… it is obvious that the fit, the fabric and the finish are way off. Copies and Knock-offs are only good if they are put together well. This one is not….

…And it is even worse because they have used the cheapest,  weirdest lace available and still didn’t even fix the only  design flaw on the original gown. Look closely at the waistline.

Vera Wang has the right idea: make a highly publicized gown or two (or three) for a high-profile person and then knock off your own design. Genius! Elminiate the middle man and you can make money on both ends. She is reported to be copying two of her own three designs used for Kim Kardashian  and they will retail for under $2000. The copies surfaced so quickly it leads me to believe the staff was working on the copies while working on the original. Your thoughts?

I came across this interesting tidbit a few months ago and was waiting for the right time to share:

Before Kate and Will were even engaged, Bride’s magazine asked designers to submit sketches of wedding dress ideas for the future princess. Look at how closely the sketch by the design team at Watters resembles Kate’s dress. Same lace bodice, same v-neckline, same grand skirt, even a similar ruffle in the back. Congratulations Watters on your design, your talent and your psychic ability. Spooky, isn’t it?  This sketch is dated months before April 2011 and has not been altered in any way mostly beacuse truth is stranger than fiction and also because I don’t know how.

What I do know is that if you loved one of the ultra expensive gowns worn by celebrities in 2011 and you are getting married in 2012 or after, you will probably have the opportunity to wear something similar. Just beware of really cheap versions of someone else’s  gown or you could wind up looking like a cheap version of a bride.

-Penny Frulla for Bridal Expo Chicago

Grooms Take the Cake!

Growing up in the Midwest, I knew nothing of a Groom’s cake until I watched Steel Magnolias for the first time. In that movie, the groom had a red velvet cake decorated to look like a giant Armadillo. It made no sense to me at the time, I just figured he was odd , like the rest of the  characters in the movie. In reality, it was probably one of the finer points of the movie that was missed on me  because at the time I knew nothing of grooms cakes, Southern Weddings or Armadillos.

The Grooms cake traditionally was a southern custom, the Armadillo is an animal indigenous to the southern part of the United States and  the red velvet cake has always been popular in the south . Add all of this together and you have a ‘bleeding’ Armadillo cake to represent the true southern spirit of the movie.  That only took me 20 years to figure out.
Since that movie came to the  big screen in 1989 there has been a resurgence of Grooms cakes spreading all the way to Buckingham Palace this past spring when Prince William used his groom’s cake to honor the memory of his mother, the late Princess Diana. This long overlooked tradition has made a full comeback! Once seen as an unnecessary expense, it is now a colorful expression of personality and in some cases (such as Prince William) a way to remember a loved one.

The Groom’s Cake is made for the guests to enjoy at either the rehearsal dinner or served alongside the  traditional wedding cake at the reception. With today’s technology and the talents of a great baker, you may have a cake so picturesque and  so artistic that no one will believe it is  a cake, much less want to be the first to cut into it. Since there are no cake cutting customs associated with the groom’s cake you may want to leave it out for the guests to marvel at for as long as possible and then box the cake slices and serve them as edible take-home favors, adding another opportunity to be creative with the packaging. Legend has it that if single women sleep with a slice of it under their pillow they will dream of their future husband.

Although the bride may also have a hand in design and creation of this cake – it is up to each individual couple to decide who handles this cake and how involved each party will be . If the bride is giving the groom this cake as a gift, she may single handedly select and design the cake for him. Realistically it is best not to get too cutesy – if you are going full-out groom’s cake it should be a reflection of his own personal masculine taste. There are no restrictions on style, shape or flavor. Rich dark chocolate, red velvet and cheesecakes are the more popular choices. The groom usually selects something that represents his family, or life or hobbies.  This is the one time when the groom can have complete control of something wedding-related. I say let him have at it but, just in case – you might want to have a private conversation with the groom and your pastry chef or baker  outlining what you both define as unacceptable. My advice is to  stay away from anything questionable. No one wants to eat a cake that looks like a dead fish no matter how much your future husband enjoys fishing, ditto for all animals portrayed as dead on a cake.

Whether he is an avid gamer, Trekkie, Wine connoisseur or Cubs (or Sox) fan,  be sure that your groom has his own cake for everyone to enjoy and keep this lovely tradition alive for future generations!

-Penny Frulla for Bridal Expo Chicago

The Royal Wedding Workout – guilt free viewing!

The wedding of Prince William and Catherine Middleton is less than 24 hours away! My alarm is set for 3 am and the DVR is set to BBC America for commercial free, uninterrupted, live coverage of the events. I have even designed a mini-workout so I won’t be tempted to doze off since 4 am is a little early for me,  I don’t want to miss a thing and I don’t want to turn into a couch potato! My phone will be charged and by my side in case I need to compare notes with a kindred spirit.

I am sharing my workout with you so we can all get our day started shaking things up and not gluing our butts to the sofa for the wedding marathon!

Items you will need:
Water (bottled or otherwise) … LOTS of it!

Sneakers or shoes suitable  for movement!

Lets get started!  When the coverage begins, or when you begin watching, you can start the workout right away. Find a comfy seat with lots of room around you and you are ready!

Every time the host  says ‘Prince William’ you must take a drink of water. It is important to stay hydrated so you can stay focused and not be tempted to curl up and doze off.

Every time they say ‘Catherine Middleton’ (or any variation of her name prior to the nuptials) you must stand up, bend over and touch your toes. This reminds you that you must bow before the queen. They will be saying this a lot BEFORE the wedding but, not much after since she will have been bestowed a title by the time the affair takes place.

Every time they mention the ‘late Princess Diana’, stand up. With your feet planted shoulder width, stretch your arms up into the air five times.

When the Queen arrives, stand up and do ten jumping jacks. If she is wearing purple, do 20 more jumping jacks. I am actually excited to see what she will wear. She is known for her love of weddings and extreme love for her grandchildren, so I would bet this is probably the happiest day of her life, so far. She may be an aging monarch but she is still  a woman so, I would be willing to bet she is pulling out all the stops. Jewelry? Yes, please …..and lots of it!

When the bride’s parents arrive,  stand and bring one knee at a time up to your chest. Do this five times for each leg.

When Prince Charles arrives, do five lunges. First on the left side and then the right.  This is just to remind us all not to rush into anything no matter how good of an idea it seems at the time.

When Camilla arrives, run in place until she is seated.

When Prince Harry is shown,  stand one one foot, balancing for five seconds and then do the same with the other foot. If you can do this without picturing him in that unfortunate NAZI Halloween costume, you get an extra slice of wedding cake.

When Catherine’s car arrives, stand up once again. You are now in the presence of a future queen. Remain standing until she is at the altar.

When William and Catherine emerge from the church, stand up again.  Run in place, stretch, jog or whatever you wish. After the couple enters the carriage and begin their journey to Buckingham Palace, you can sit down.

The wedding day will more than likely begin around 2:30 am Central Standard Time so any time after that when you join, you can start right away. You can also add your own touches. I just wanted a way to get energized that early in the am without killing myself! 

For me – there is really no place I would rather be than watching this lovely couple exchange vows ….. even at that ungodly hour and from thousands of miles away!!

Since television around the world will be fixed on this wedding , so I encourage everyone to raise their glass to toast the happy couple!

Cheers!  Mazel Tov! Slainte! Prost! Salute! Skaal! L’Chaim! Kampai! Sante’!

-Penny Frulla for Bridal Expo Chicago

The Royal Wedding -gown speculation continues!

There are only four days left until the wedding of Prince William and Catherine Middleton and I am giddy! I’ve said before that I am obsessed with  this wedding but, in reality I am really only obsessed with the details of the wedding itself, mostly her gown. I am so  super-excited about this wedding that I will watch the entire thing  on the DVR… probably more than once and also more than likely bore my husband to death with the details over and over – that’s what I do. He’ll nod and pretend to care while I talk – that’s what he does.

Not knowing either of them personally or having any interest in the future of the British Monarchy, I am still riveted to the tv whenever there is talk of the royal wedding. I was watching when Diana married Charles in July 1981. That was when there were no HDTV’s or DVR’s or even VCR’s. That’s when there were no 24 hour news channesl and the paparazzi actually had some limits. That was way back in the day when the princess was supposed to marry prince charming and  live happily ever after. I thought that was the way it was.  Diana’s future was not as simple as a fairy tale. But the wedding? It was something to behold.

I still get chills when I see the images of Diana coming out of that glass coach for the first time wearing Elizabeth Emmanuel’s silk tafetta creation, smoothing the skirt slightly as she stepped forward trying to manage  the 25 ft detachable train. Detachable trains became big in the 1980’s as a result of her decision to incorporate it into her gown. For her, it was the only plausible decision since it would be technically impossible to bustle 275 yards of any fabric  successfully! Two hundred seventy five yards of fabric. Mathematically that gown today would cost over twenty thousand dollars in material alone, not to mention the hundreds of hours of labor invlved in hand-sewing pearls and sequins onto lace.  The style of her gown became quickly known as meringue and similar gowns were immediatley copied around the globe, using every fabric imaginable.  That gown transformed Diana Spencer into Princes Diana and single handedly turned her into a fashion icon. The tight bodice, full skirt and puffed sleeves eventually fell out of fashion in the bridal industry as strapless took over. Honestly I can’t wait for this trend to take a break and I know I am not the only one.

Catherine is more mature and has an obviously independent spirit. She has been co-habitating with the future king for some time now…. something that was completely taboo in 1981. She has decided to arrive by car and not the glass coach, much to the chagrin of the public. The designer of her gown has been kept secret, an impossible feat to be sure. Her hairstyle, tiara choice and jewelry choices  are all top-secret. However, every  night there is another deisgner speculating on what she will wear and who is really designing it. Most agree that it will not be strapless. All agree it will be a British designer.
Someone I know ran into someone who  knew firsthand that the designer is absolutely Sarah Burton of the Alexander McQueen label. Hmmmm. But, just yesterday I read an article on the Huffington Post that states (matter of factly),  “I can reveal that Sophie Cranston of the Libélula label is designing Miss Middleton’s gown”.  Last month it was Bruce Oldfield, when Catherine’s mther and sister were spotted leaving his boutique  and then there were the  rumors of Stella McCartney. Today I read that Miss Middleton’s gown is of her own design. It’s all very confusing and if you have a scorecard, don’t even try to keep up.

Why all the speculation? Because believe it or not, this one gown will change the designer’s life and the entire fashion industry for many years to come. It will be something that history books, talk shows, news channels and people around the world will use to catapault into the next big thing. Can you imagine that kind of pressure? No wonder the designer wants to remain secret, they have work to do!

No matter what she wears, I have a feeling there will be bits of Diana incorporated into the style. Whether it is the sleeve, the train or the fabric, she will want the bond that began with her acceptance of Diana’s engagement ring  to remain intact.  I am waiting with anticiaption and hoping this princess gets the ‘Happily Ever After’ that everyone deserves.

-Penny Frulla for Bridal Expo Chicago

Royal Wedding Announcement

Royal Wedding Announcement

After 8 years of dating, Prince William and Kate Middleton will finally tie the knot in Spring/Summer 2011. The William-Kate wedding which will undoubtedly reignite everyone’s memory of Princess Diana’s wedding in 1981 to Prince Charles, is sure to the wedding of the year! The royal announcement came from Buckingham Palace.

The news officially broke very early this morning by Clarence House, but Prince William and Miss Catherine Middleton were officially engaged in October during a private holiday in Kenya. Prince William first sought permission of Miss Middleton’s father. The British Royal Family, the Queen, and members of his family were also informed at that time.

Prince William is 28 years old and is currently serving in the Royal Air Force and is second in line to the British throne. Kate Middleton meet Prince William while attending University of St. Andrews is also 28 years old. The couple has had their ups and downs over the 8 years they’ve been dating. In April of 2007, the couple broke up for a period but reunited a few months later. Since then, Kate has attended many high-profile royal events and has been admired for her fashion sense, and has been placed on numerous “best dressed” lists including People Magazine’s 2007 and 2010 best dressed list.

So the news of a 2011 Royal Wedding begs the question many bridal fashionistas are asking. What will Miss Catherine Middleton wear on her wedding day? Stay tuned! The Royal Family will announce more details in due course.

Prince William and Kate Middleton's 2011 Royal Wedding