Blending Cultures At Your Wedding

If you think planning a wedding is hard, imagine how hard it is to plan a wedding with families from two entirely different backgrounds and customs. Even if everyone is in agreement about the specifics, there will be times when you will be worried about which traditions to use from each culture. Don’t sweat it… really. The truth is  that  the  absolute, hands-down best weddings are the ones where  couples incorporate customs from every aspect of their blended life and start their own.

There are no rules that say both couples cannot express their families’ wedding customs together. In fact, you may find that your customs are similar. This is nothing to argue about, this is a chance to open up to one another and to show your future in-laws you are willing to compromise.

Jumping the Broom is a custom that originated in Scotland or England among the Gypsy clans. It was adopted in the United States by African Americans during slavery and brought back into popular practice after several books and movies recognizing this (blended, borrowed) African American tradition. It is a symbolic gesture of togetherness. I wish it was a symbol that my husband was going to sweep the floor.

In Italy, either a roasted baby pig (porchetta) or roasted baby lamb (bacchio), depending on region, may be served, accompanied by two pasta dishes and assorted fresh fruit. As a symbol of the essence of marriage, newlyweds hand out sugared almonds representing the bitter and the sweet in life.

At a traditional Greek wedding, dishes are smashed on the floor for good luck and money is thrown at the musicians. Back to the broom – that is some cleanup!

Jewish weddings feature a lively Israeli dance called the Hora. While the couple holds on to either end of a handkerchief, they are lifted into the air on  their chairs and the dancing continues. Hold on tight so that no one drops you!

Hindu/Indian weddings are  lively affairs that can last up to four days. For a blended family you can go  traditional American for your formal wear but, consider using colorful reds, golds and deep orange for your wedding theme since they signify happiness and prosperity.

Korean weddings serve Kuk soo (noodles), which symbolize long life. To find out if someone is married, ask “Kuk soo mo-gus-soy-oh?” (“Have you eaten noodles yet?”)

Arras In the Mexican tradition, the groom gives the bride thirteen gold coins blessed by the priest. The presentation and acceptance signifies their bond and the coins are saved as a family heirloom. Have you seen the price of gold, lately? …..that is some gift!

If by some chance your family does not have any specific cultural background or no specific way they celebrate rites of passage other than traditional American customs, don’t come unglued when the other party suggests something you’ve never heard of. Open yourself up to new possibilities; the food, the music, the decorations – you may be surprised.

Start your own traditions as well; candle lighting, sand ceremony, even something as simple as writing your own vows or changing the music as you walk down tha aisle can make a huge difference.  Merging families isn’t just about sticking people in the same room and expecting them to get along. It is about making other people feel like they are important, and your actions will speak louder than words.

-Penny Frulla for Bridal Expo Chicago

Unconventional (and Unusual) Weddings

Last weekend, Samantha Kolar and Andy Lee took the proverbial plunge at the Raging Waves waterparki n Yorkville, IL.  After exchanging vows, they slipped off their wedding attire and shared a ride down the Boomerang in an inner tube built for two. This may sound a little odd to you ( and me) but, this type of wedding is gaining in popularity and had not only tongues wagging but news outlets going wild. On a slow internet news day, their wedding was highlighted everywhere from Yahoo to Comcast and The Huffington Post.

From the archives (in no particular order) some more strange and unusual weddings:

Jeroen and Sandra Kippers of Brussels, Belgium, were lifted on a platform by crane up 160 feet in the air for their wedding ceremony. They were joined by the officiant and about 20 guests. Another platform held the musicians. After the vows, they made it official by bungee-jumping over the side!

The couple who got married on a Bung-jump platform – and obviously jumped after saying yes

 Lisa Satayut decided to combine bargain shopping with her excitement over bagging her beau. Explaining that T.J. Maxx is her “happy place,” Satayut married Drew Ellis in the size 8 shoe aisle of a T.J. Maxx store in Mt. Pleasant, Mich. The bride — a self-proclaimed “’Maxxinista” — wore a strapless white chiffon gown, with long black gloves and bright green gladiator-style sandals.


The couple who got married at T.J. Maxx

April Pignataro and Michael Curry of New York City got married in June 2010. The bride wore a white wetsuit and the groom wore a traditional black wetsuit as they climbed inside a 120,000 gallon shark tank to take their vows at Atlantis Marine World in Riverhead, N.Y.

The couple who got married inside a shark tank

A couple of bicycle lovers decided to tie the knot in a very unusual but healthy way: by riding bicycles all over the city, accompanied of course by their cyclist guests.

The Russian couple who decided to get married while bicycling

In a skeptical world, with divorce rates near 50%, who are we to say whether these ‘odd’ weddings are right or wrong. If a traditional wedding is not in the cards and you are thinking ourside the box, try something original but, always make sure it is safe and enjoyable for everyone.

Wishing each of these zany couples a lifetime of happiness!

-Penny Frulla for Bridal Expo Chicago


Unique Bouquet Options

Today, brides are using really creative ideas to put a twist on a wedding staple – bouquets! This yet another area where art and self-expression combined can create a stunning statement with a not-so-traditional bouquet.


Instead of the standard bouquet carried by the bridesmaids, consider a wreath or a simple pomander bouquet.



 Whether it is a single vibrant color or eye-catching combinations, you can use color to make a big impact.


Adding texture to the bouquet with the use of feathers, crystals and other non-floral pieces brings depth to the bouquet.

No Bouqet:

Consider something fun, funky and functional like a fan for a hot summer wedding, or a muff for a winter event.

When it comes to your wedding, the only rule is that there are no rules. Ask you florist to explore other floral options if you feel like the traditional bouquet is just not your style.

-Penny Frulla for Bridal Expo Chicago

Whats New? Tablescapes!

If you have never heard the term tablescapes, don’t feel bad – it is a relatively new term. “Tablescape” is  used to describe not just the centerpiece  but, instead the overall design of the table, the landscape of the table. Hence – ‘table-scape’. Tablescapes are about bringing the entire wedding into one spot and focusing on how all of the elements of color, style and theme fit together. It is about using the components of your wedding to  complement one another in one spot: the table.

Designing the perfect tablescape can be complicated and trying to squeeze all of your colors and themes into very few objects can be quite tricky. Although I have never personally heard of anyone’s head exploding , I think it is quite possible in this case.

Keys to a stunning tablescape: 

Pay attention to the entire table – not just focusing on the centerpiece. 

Use  favors in the design scheme of the table.

Incorporate table and seat markers  into the design.

Instead of traditional white dinner plates – use colorful or patterned china to bring out the colors of your event.

If patterned china is out of the question, consider using decorative charger plates to accent your design

Compliment the food choices with your design choices.

Remember – although you are ‘landscaping’ the entire table, it doesn’t have to be cluttered or over-the-top…. it is about details. Making sure each ribbon, each flower, each plate,  tiny element is just right and perfectly proportioned to suit your needs.

For more inspiration, call 847-428-3320 or visit our website at and use the code FB to get complimentary tickets  to a Bridal Expo Luxury event in your area.

-Penny Frulla for Bridal Expo Chicago

weddings in austin


Vintage china silverware and and burlap table runners tablescape wedding centerpiece mason jars








Feeling Saucy? Try Neon

Although some of the most popular colors for bridesmaid gowns this year are subtle shades, there is a rising trend in neon. Neon? I know what you’re thinking – this is not your mother’s neon from 1985. Brides who want a pop of color are using it to make a bold statement but, be careful… neon can be a bit much if taken too far.

True neon  or fluorescent color, regardless of the shade, it will illuminate under blacklight – thats good to keep in mind for later. In modern times, neon color is usually any truly vibrant, vivid, perfect, shade of orange, green, yellow or blue. By nature, red cannot be considered a neon color – I don’t know why. If you are in doubt, neon colors are those found in a pack of highlighters. If your color is missing from there, it is most likely not neon.

The best ways to use really bright or neon color is to alternate those colors with neutral or monotone colors to avoid overkill.

Brightly colored dresses with simple accessories

Adding touches of color throughout the wedding is perfect for a summer wedding, especially if it is outdoors!

Last but, cetainly not least – remember the blacklight? You can use lighting to acheive “Neon Nirvana”.

The best way to use neon color is to think of it as an acceessory; don’t overdo it. Always  avoid metallic neon  – it tends to look too much like a circus. And remember – the best things in life are enjoyed in moderation and (especially with neon,) less is more!

-Penny Frulla for Bridal Expo Chicago

Weddings and Politics

It is often said that in order to have a pleasant time, one should avoid the topics of religion and politics. It is kind of hard to avoid the topic of religion at some weddings but, politics – that’s an easy one… unless your wedding date falls the weekend before or after the first Tuesday in November of an election year. 2012 is an election year, and a big one. There are issues at stake that affect nearly every U.S. citizen and the presidential race is already getting heated nearly 7 months before voters decide who will take the oath of office in January 2013. For couples of mixed political views, you have my sympathy and for couples who are the lone voice of dissent in a family of either political party; I feel your pain. So how, exactly,  do you get around the touchiest of topics at your wedding?

Engage a friend. Maid of Honor, Best Man, dear friend, all make a good go-between if you have that certain relative that can’t stop talking about  politics and their remarks often border on offensive. Let’s face it – we all have those folks in our midst.

Good humor. Do some research and prepare for the loud voices of un-reason. You can stop a political bully in their tracks with the right come-back  (a witty one-liner can do wonders to lighten the moment). No personal attacks or anything racist, please. Good humor means funny, light, witty and nothing insulting. The funniest jokes of all times are not at someone else’s expense.  Sometimes talking openly and laughing about your differences makes them seem small. Whereas, sweeping them under the rug makes them a lot more difficult to deal with later.

A more perfect union. If you are getting married very close to a big election, use that as your theme. One couple even designed their own campaign logo and used a red, white and blue color scheme. The “Perfect Union” theme was represented throughout the entire event, the invitations were playful, personal and gorgeous. Their solution was bringing everyone together and having fun with it. Jib Jab mastered this with their 2004 campaign video “This land is your land”. Still the funniest satire I have ever seen about any election…ever. It’s worth watching if you’re considering this option.

Seating. Let’s say you have a cousin who is a big fundraiser for the Democratic party and a beloved aunt who is a staunch Republican contributor. In addition, each one of them happens to be the type who can only talk about one ting: politics. Do your best not to seat them at the same table. You can’t tell people what to talk about at your reception but, putting two heavily invested people directly next to each other is a bad idea. They cannot help themselves because most people generally think their opinion is the only one that matters If you don’t believe me, just go on facebook and scroll through various status updates.

What makes each of us choose our political persuasion is life experience. Oddly enough, the same experience that turns one voter off will turn the next voter into a supporter. You cannot expect everyone to share your passion for an issue or a candidate, you can only accept the differences and move on. In addition, if you decide to turn your wedding into a one-sided political party event, be prepared for some no-shows or dissenting opinions.

-Penny Frulla for Bridal Expo Chicago

A wedding party stops by GOP Presidential candidate Rick Santorum's headquarters in Charleston, South Carolina on the state's primary day, January 21.

RSVP up close and personalCampaign logo

…..But Can You Wear It Again?

For decades, the topic of  bridesmaid gowns has been centered around the debate over whether or not you can wear it again. This has always baffled me on  many levels, mostly because usually you wouldn’t want to and also why should you have to? 

Lets face it – no matter how fashionable or affordable it may be, you might not ever wear the dress again. The gown may not be suited to your own personal style, it may not be comfortable, it may not be a color you prefer.  This is not a reflection of the gown itself but, just a matter of choice. Big deal. That’s right – big deal. If you wear a gown for your friend’s wedding that you are not madly in love with or simply don’t have enough closet space to keep, there are dozens of things you can do after the wedding to make good use of it.

If you are crafty – Take it apart, add some elements and make a new dress. Molly Ringwald did this in Sixteen Candles and you can do it, too. Hang it in the closet, imagine all of the great things you can do with it and wait for the right moment.

Donate it – There are dozens of charities that provide gowns for less fortunate ladies for weddings and even prom.

Sell it – ebay, craigslist and other sites are a hotbed of fabulous dresses that were worn only once and probably under-appreciated. You will get considerably  less money than the original price but, it won’t go to waste if someone else uses it.

Wear it – If you truly don’t like the dress, you can still wear it… for Halloween! Zombie bridesmaid comes to mind but, I am sure there are others.

Whether or not you choose to wear the dress, change the dress, donate the dress or let it sit in the closet for thirty years, the choice is yours. For those of us who always see the glass as half full, there is always a better option than complaining.

-Penny Frulla for Bridal Expo Chicago


The Ladies’ Priviledge – Leap Day Proposals

As an adult, I have a fairly good grasp of leap year.  Every four years we add a year to our calendar so that the days will be in sync with the seasons. There is also a lot of math involved;  every four years, a day is added to February except the one the 100th year unless it is the 400th year and then it is celebrated. As a kid, I never got it. I just thought it was like any other holiday and didn’t really pay too much attention. I’m not sure where I got the idea it was a holiday…  maybe because it was the ’70’s and  bra burning was popular so, I thought it had something to do with women’s rights. Which brings me to the history of Leap Day and marriage proposals.

The tradition of a woman proposing on a leap year has been attributed to various historical figures. One, although much disputed, was St Bridget in the 5th Century. She is said to have complained to St. Patrick that women had to wait too long for their suitors to propose. St Patrick then supposedly gave women a single day in a leap year to pop the question – the last day of the shortest month. Another popular story is that Queen Margaret of Scotland brought in a law setting fines for men who turned down marriage proposals put by women on a leap year. Skeptics have pointed out that Margaret was five years old at the time and living far away in Norway. I don’t know about you but I had other things on my mind when I was five other than the injustice of rejected marriage proposals. Any way you look at it, it is an old Irish tradition.

In the past years Leap Day proposals have lost their meaning since women have more rights, the more jobs, the more pay ( almost) and are able to think and act for themselves. We are taught that any woman sitting around for four years waiting for a man to propose should have her head examined.

Zsa Zsa Gabor has claimed that she proposed to all of her nine husbands. The first proposal was when she was only 15 years old, to her 35-year-old boyfriend (weird). It was Gabor’s parents who provided a ten carat diamond to seal the deal for their daughter. More recently, celebrities such as Halle Berry, Jennifer Hudson, Heather Mills, and the singer Pink have admitted to proposing to their husbands… and not one of them on Leap Day which makes it crystal clear that women no longer need a special ‘holiday’ every four years to celebrate gender role-reversal. Score one for women’s rights!

-Penny Frulla for Bridal Expo Chicago




Ideas in Bloom – Wedding Flowers made easy

 Flowers are one of the most important aspects of a wedding. In fact, aside from the bride and groom they are just about the most photographed item of the entire event. They add color, vitality, and aroma to a wedding. To make the impact you desire, you need to make some smart choices early on but, before you even consider talking to a florist, book your venue so the florist knows what they are dealing with and help you make well-informed decisions.

#1 – Decide on a budget. It has been said over and over and over but, I’ll say it again: Choosing flowers that are in season during your wedding could save you literally hundreds of dollars.  When you plan your budget, keep this in mind.

#2- Do your background work. Ask to see photos, ask for references, ask if you can drop by one of their events so you can see firsthand what kind of work your florist is capable of handling.

#3- Trust your florist.  Once you have selected  your florist and  assuming you are not a trained florist  yourself,  use their expertise to help guide you through critical decisions. If you insist on something the florist opposes – there may be a solid reason.

#4- DIY is a big mistake. Many brides think they can go to a flower shop and put together professional bouquets and centerpieces from scratch. This is a big NO-NO! You will have a hundred things to think and worry about before and on your big day, don’t make this mistake. And by the way,  even if your favorite Aunt insists she does great table decor for the holidays doesn’t mean she can handle a task of this magnitude. Hire a professionally trained wedding florist!

#5 – Think Big. Huge blasts of color are a beautiful thing – just make sure it doesn’t clash with the decor of the venue or the table linens or the attendants’ gowns. Remember to keep the larger picture in mind : “How will the overall room look  in pictures?”

#6 – Don’t overdo it with the aroma. Its okay to use the strong smelling flowers for bouquets but, for the church and reception  it is best to use flowers that do not give off a strong smell. This will certainly prevent any of guests who are allergy sufferers to opt out of the reception early. The only exception is an outdoor venue.

#7 -Communicate. Always keep an open dialogue with your florist. Every single problem or question should be answered up front. Get everything in writing and make sure you know what you are paying for before you sign on the dotted line.

Call 847-428-3320 or log on to www.bridalshowexpo.comtoday to get tickets to our next show where you can meet some of Chicago’s best wedding florists and see their work first-hand!

– Penny Frulla for Bridal Expo Chicago

Photobooth Fun – Candids that count!

 A few years ago at one of our Bridal Expos,  I discovered this new trend in weddings where (in addition to the official photographer)couples were hiring photo-booth companies to bring a portable booth to the reception to allow their guests to take fun snapshots in the privacy of a cloaked ‘room’. I immediately had to try it out. I was surprised at how quickly it produced the photos, the quality of the photo itself and how there seemed to be some magical quality about the experience. I was sold.

The benefits of the photo-booth are many:

1) Get the guests up out of their seats, moving around the room and interacting with people outside of the table. You might  run into someone you haven’t seen in a long time and you might meet a new friend and discover you share a common bond with the bride and groom. At the very least you will be able to have a richer experience of the wedding.

2) See a side of your guests that may have previously gone unnoticed. By getting everyone involved in this, table by table or as individuals, they will lighten up a bit. Maybe, just maybe, they will let their hair down a little and loosen up the tie long enough to have fun and (dare I say it) even bust a move on the dance floor a little later. The door is open.

3) Get your guests talking. This will be a conversation piece as well as a functional method of preserving memories. People will be buzzing about the photo-booth, keep that in mind when booking your photo-booth professional. 

Once you have decided to book a photobooth for your wedding always remember to check references and their work. Just like photographers, they are not all created equal.

 -Some offer different options like a photobooth album or additional prints.

-Some offer different backdrops customized to your wedding colors.        

– Ask if they offer customized photo strips. 

– Make sure there is a professional attendant on hand to oversee any shenanigans or technical problems.

As with any contract, make sure you have everything in writing!

Recently I came across the photos I had captured  in that first photobooth I saw at Bridal Expo in OakBrook, IL and it reminded me of being a kid and slipping into a photobooth at Woolworth with my friend. Then, miraculously, it all came together: the Photobooth experience is not just about the photos. You will get hundreds of photos taken at your event; staged, portraits, group shots, candids, and more. This is something more, it  is something to bring everyone together to one place in time. A time where something as simple as slipping into the photobooth is guaranteed to put a smile on everyone’s face…. like time travel without the flux capacator and all the other complications involved. Rabbit Ears are welcome.

-Penny Frulla for Bridal Expo Chicago