Spice Up Your Invitations!

Wedding invitations have evolved into something so personal and unique that you can actually get a feel for the wedding itself just by seeing (and touching) the invitation. Whether you choose parchment, custom engraving or print the invitations yourself, there are dozens of things you can do to spice up your invitations without breaking the bank.

Photos – Consider incorporating your engagement photo into the invitation or save the date to make an impact.

Words – Using your own words, maybe some sort of prose, will add an artistic flair.

Be Creative – Use touches of your culture with color and font.

Sparkle – A little sparkle never hurt anyone, right? A touch of glitter, a rhinestone or iridescent ink is very exciting.

DO NOT  add confetti – no one likes opening an envelope with confetti in it.

Consider calligraphy instead of printed address labels, it really makes an impact.

Postage – Using a stamp with a specific theme is a nice idea. Take it a step further by using  custom photo stamps for all of your wedding postage. Also making sure you have the correct postage will save a ton of headaches. Can you  imagine having 150 invitations returned?

The most important thing to keep in mind when selecting your wedding invitations is that you don’t forget your personal style. Keep the event and location in mind and let that dictate the style of the paper, ink, font and wording.  With literally hundreds of choices, it can get very confusing but, don’t despair – there is a style out there just right for you. 

-Penny Frulla for Bridal Expo Chicago





Invitation Etiquette – Mistakes, Mishaps and Missteps

Life is complicated. Weddings are even more complicated and proper etiquette is really, really complicated. Actually it’s not, it is really just common sense and it is not intended to make you feel better than other people, it is supposed to make other people feel comfortable with you. The most common etiquette mistakes are made with written correspondence.

When you begin to work your invitations, there are some fairly easy to remember tips:

-Save the Date cards, once reserved for only wealthy and important people, are almost standard fare these days. They should be sent 4 to 6 months prior to the wedding and only sent to people who will be invited to the wedding. Your wedding website ( if you have one) can and should be listed on the Save the Date.

-Never list any gift registries on your invitation. Save that for personal correspondences and your website. This is where a website comes in very handy for sharing information!

-Do not invite anyone to a pre-wedding event that you will not invite to the wedding. You can’t expect someone to come to your shower and give you a present if you’re not planning to invite them to the wedding. It would seem like they were good enough to give you a shower gift but not good enough to celebrate with you on the big day. The shower is meant to be a party for the women closest to the bride (and often her mom and the groom’s mom too). All these close female friends and relatives should also be invited to the wedding.

-Invitations with reply cards still need to have “RSVP” printed on them. This is just to remind them and it is a common courtesy. Many won’t send it back and someone will have to be delegated to make phone calls two weeks before the wedding to check on them. It’s a pain – but, there is one in every bunch… just be polite.

-Always add the right postage!!! Check and double check.

– It is not in bad manners to say ‘no children’ on the invitation. It would actually be bad to NOT mention it. Spell it out clearly and leave nothing to the imagination.

-Invitations should be sent out 6-8 weeks before the wedding. The RSVP date should be 2 weeks before the wedding date.

– Thank You cards should match the invitations and should be sent out as soon as you return from the honeymoon.

Invitation wording is trickier than ever; with blended families, multi-cultural parents, same-sex parents, all kinds of different combinations, it is hard to know where to draw the line. Your invitation specialist  should be able to help you with grammar, spelling and protocol. If you choose to DIY on the invitations, consult an etiquette handbook of some sort to walk you through the proper phraseology, you will not be sorry.

It’s a tough world out there, folks and etiquette makes it bearable for those of us who don’t answer the phone during dinner, who let old ladies sit on public transportation, who hold doors open for someone carrying a large package. It makes them feel more comfortable  and that’s the way it should be.

-Penny Frulla for Bridal Expo Chicago


Who Makes The Cut? How To Trim Your Guest List

Once the budget  is determined for your wedding it is time to start planning! Of course it sounds like fun but, the devil is in the details and when it comes to whittling down a  guest list – be prepared to feel some stress.

If you are planning a large wedding with a limitless budget and an over-sized guest  list this can be even harder since everyone you have ever known (even peripherally) will expect to be invited. Look at all of the media attention devoted to the supposed ‘snub’ of the Obamas at the recent royal nuptials in April.

So how does one go about keeping their guest list under control without offending ?

1) Keeping your budget in mind, decide how many guests you will be able to invite.

2) Make a  list of everyone you would like to invite and see how close you are to that number. Remember that roughly 25% will be unable to attend so factor that into the equation. There are several ‘guest list’ templates available for computer use.

3) To begin eliminating immediately, use the one year rule for friends and extended family. If you have not seem or spoken to them in over a year, you are not obligated to invite them to your wedding.

4) Eliminate children. Address the invitation to the parents only and spell out very clearly that it is an adults only reception. You can do this in many ways but the easiest is through the save the date cards.

5) Ask both sets of parents to help you  reduce your list.

6) You do not have to invite co-workers unless you have a close friendship outside of work. Also if you invite one co-worker that you are very close to, you do not have to invite everyone. You shouldn’t have to defend your decision so if someone mentions the fact that they weren’t invited and another co-worker was, look them squarely in the eye and say “I am close friends with Sandra, of course she is invited!” If they are too thick to understand your implication, just walk away.

7) Unless you are of some political or social stature, every one of your parents’ friends and co-workers do not have to be invited. Keep the ones with whom you have a special relationship and move on. Of course it is good manners to allow the parents to invite a few guests.

8) You do not have to reciprocate. If you were invited to some one’s wedding fifteen years ago, this does not mean you have to invite them to your wedding. Things change and they know this as well as you do.

9) Don’t worry about inviting the same amount of people from both sides of the family. If he is from a large family and you are an only child there will be a difference in numbers.

At the end of the process, you should have a guest list that is within your budget and everyone is satisfied. Use this list as a master list and make changes as they occur. Never invite anyone to a shower or send ‘save the date’ cards unless they are invited to the actual wedding. Remember, an open dialogue will solve everything and you do not have to feel bad if you cannot invite every single one of your ‘facebook friends’. The most important people are your immediate family and closest friends and the two of you.

-Penny Frulla for Bridal Expo Chicago

Wedding Etiquette – Who to invite?

In 2011, the average wedding will include about 150 guests. Although that seems like a lot of people, most people find limiting it to 150 becomes a task. Your co-workers, close friends, family, your fiance’s co-corkers, close friends, family all add up very quickly and it is hard to establish a cut-off point. This is one of those subjects that can easily escalate into an argument and cause tons of stress. I’ve put together some pointers to help you to understand when enough is enough. 

1) Get a pen and paper. Make a list that includes absolutely everyone you would like to invite to your wedding. Now comes the hard part. If the number of people on your list exceeds the number of guests you have budgeted for, you have some tough decisions to make. Take a deep breath before you move on because this is where you must be willing to compromise a little.

2) The one year rule. If you have not had a meaningful conversation with a friend in over a year, they do not need to be invited. This applies to friends only, not family. Mark them off of the list and move on.

3) Extended Family –  You don’t need to invite cousins, second cousins and long – lost relatives from all parts of the country if you have no real relationship with them. Invite only the people you are closest to.

4) Payback -You do not have to invite everyone who has ever invited you to their wedding. Relationships change and some couples have weddings with 500 guests.

5) No Children.  Inviting a family of six can easily be reduced to a table for two with two simple words on the invitation: no children.

6) Include names. If your invitation is for 2 people only, make it clear.  The Anderson family could be 4 or more people. Mr & Mrs. Anderson is simple and direct.

7) Co-workers – Only invite co-workers if you socialize with them outside of work and have a personal relationship with them. You do not have to invite everyone you work with. If you are obliged to invite your boss, make sure you handle this discreetly and invite those who may make a difference in your next promotion.

8) Do not send a save-the-date card to anyone you are not going to invite to the wedding, it is in very bad taste. There is one exception: if there has been a serious falling out since the save the date was sent, you are not obligated to send an invitation. However, this might be a good time to bury the hatchet and settle your differences unless you want this feud to continue and fester for a long time.

9) Ex-lovers or spouses. Realistically not all brides and grooms are marrying the first person they dated and they first person with whom they were intimate. There are  conditions; only if you are on good terms, you both agree,  they can be invited without causing a stir, and your guest limit allows.

10) 25% rule. One -fourth of your invited guests will not come for whatever reason….that’s a good thing.

Once you have your list together, make a legible copy to keep in your planner so when the replies start to come in you can keep track of them easily.

If all esle fails and you really can’t whittle down your list, have a candid conversation with both sets of parents and ask them to help you!

Penny Frulla for Bridal Expo Chicago