Are you searching for the perfect wedding dress?

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Once you have that ring on your finger, the quest begins for the “perfect” wedding dress.  After all, you want to look amazing for your walk down the aisle.  Before you begin, let’s review a few guidelines.

Start EARLY. Get started early so you don’t cut it too close to your wedding day.  In most situations you want to allow 9 to 12 months in advance.  This allows plenty of time for your dress to arrive and alterations to be made.

Shop with Bridal Vendors that offer FULL SERVICE.  Their experience is invaluable in helping you find a gown that flatters your body type.   It’s great to have an idea of what you want before you begin, but do consider a shop’s recommendation of various styles.  They know what’s “in” and what styles would look good on your body shape. Wear the right undergarments – the ones that you will wear with your gown.

And finally, this is for you brides on a very, tight budget.  Don’t worry – there are ways to have your beautiful dress and still not break the bank.  Check these out:

  • Military Veterans & Free Dresses:Select Bridal shops in the area promote this event in November around Veteran’s Day.Free Dresses are available to brides of active duty military servicemen and women.
  • Running of the Brides:Go to Filene’s Basement “Running of the Brides” sale – usually held in late July.Filene’s is located in Chicago at 1 North State Street.They usually have over 1700 gowns priced from $249 to $699 – (originally priced as high as $9000).  Bring along a support team and be ready to fight for your dress.
  • Eva’s Midwest Room in ChicagoYes it’s out of our area – but they have hundreds of dresses which can be taken home theday of purchase.  They feature over 60 designers and thousands of dresses.  This is a greatplace for weddings with a short planning period.
  • White ChicagoLove couture but hate the price?  Here you can find sample and “once wed” dresses.They carry designers such as Olge Cassini, Reem Acra, Badgley Mischka, Vera Wang andmore.  Call first, as you will need an appointment.
  • Locally Check out Whatzenstore.  They bought out a bridal shop and have a few remaining dresses at significantly reduced prices.  Check our “Bridal Fashions” wedding resource guide for contact information.One of the best places to go for Plus Size Wedding Dresses is Syndey’s Closet as they have a large selection of Size 18 dresses to try on.   (Check in the Wedding Resource Guide for contact information.)  And finally, ask your preferred store if they have “special” discounted gowns available.  Many of the stores offer older stock at discounted prices.

Do you have a great find?  Share back with all our brides to be.  And have fun, and enjoy the experience




How much do you know about that diamond in your ring?

Lots of ladies are flashing some beautiful diamonds, as this period of time– from Thanksgiving to Valentine’s Day — brings out the nesting urge in guys.  Diamonds are made from the mineral carbon – and yes that’s the same mineral that you find in pencils.  However, when the carbon is placed under high extreme pressure and temperature, the diamond is created.

When you go to purchase a diamond, keep in mind the four C’s – Cut, Color, Clarity and Carat (or weight).  All those factors determine the value of your particular diamond.












Cut refers to the shape of the diamond.  The traditional “round cut” is the most well known diamond shape.  That cut is also known by the name “brilliant” as that cut reflects the whitest light back to your eye.  There are other shapes which you might have heard of including Marquise, Oval, Pear Shape, and Princess Cut.

Color is based on a letter scale starting at D and progressing through Z.  D is considered completely colorless, and as you progress to Z, there is more yellow to the stone.  And, unfortunately, as the color moves up the alphabet, the value declines.  There are exceptions.  A “Z” color stone, whereby the diamond clearly appears yellow, is now considered “Fancy Yellow” and is a current trend.  And, finally, there are other diamonds in other colors like pink and blue and they are very valuable  – thus, very expensive.

Clarity refers to how many imperfections there are in the stone.  The F scale is Flawless – and that’s the top of the scale.   Other  scales range from IF (internally flawless) down to  I1,I2, I3.  Most will fall somewhere between these two scales.

The last consideration is Carat Weight and that is the measuring scale by which diamonds are weighed.   In a 1.00 carat diamond there are 100 points, a .75 carat diamond would have 75 points, etc.

These are all good facts to keep in mind, when shopping for your wedding set.  Now you can shop with confidence.  And if some of you ladies are still waiting for your ring, give your guy this post.  (Hint, Hint!)

What to Wear for Your Engagement Session

With the new year it’s time to welcome a new group of newly engaged couples who will begin their wedding journey.   Besides setting a date and a budget, many couples, especially if the wedding has a short planning period, want to get their engagement photos early in the process.  Generally, I suggest scheduling your engagement session at least six weeks prior to the date you want to mail your announcements.  And earlier than that if you are sending out Save the Date cards and want to personalize them.

A question that many couples have concerning their engagement photos is “What to wear?”  Engagement photos should reflect who you are and what you love.  So if you love casual jeans and a more relaxed look, go for it.  If you’re a fashionista, just be sure that both of you have outfits that match your level of dress.  Wear clothes that are complimentary.  Your personality and style will greatly influence your choice of clothing, but keep it simple.

Having talked to several photographers, here are a few other guidelines for you to keep in mind.












What’s Good:

Wear solid colors with little or no pattern. Avoid prints and stripes as well.   If you both want to wear the same color, try different shades or varying hues.

Dark colors are always slimming.  Many couples like blue jeans and black shirts.  And gals, a cute dress is always a good way to go.

Keep in mind your body type.  Anything baggy will make you look bigger than you are.  And jersey material will cling to your body, and may reveal unflattering curves.  Also avoid tight fitting clothes that accentuate every curve of your body – unless that’s the look you are going for.

The layered look is great for almost anyone.  Casual jackets, sweaters, etc. would be perfect.

Gals can jazz up their outfits with cute heels, a terrific hat, or other accessories.

And speaking of accessories, bring along fun signs, maybe other personal items like a guitar, or even your dog…if these items are part of who you are.  And you guys with a motorcycle, don’t be shy about getting a few photos with your bike.

The engagement period can be one of the happiest and most romantic time of your life, and your photos should reflect that casual, crazy, fun-loving attitude.


Great Weddings On a Budget – Tip #2

The program for your wedding day ceremony not only informs guests of the details of the ceremony and names of the bridal party participants, but more importantly can be a cherished memento of the event itself.   Many couples today save money by creating the program themselves.  Paper companies offer beautiful bridal themed program paper that is reasonably priced.  In addition, visit for inexpensive PrintingPress software that allows you to design your own wedding program with easy- to- use templates.  This program offers a range of free graphics and fonts for the look of a professional designed program without the big price tag.

How to make the most of a Bridal Show

Wed-65I don’t know about you, but I need something – anything – to help warm my soul.  You, too?  Well, why not stay warm by attending one of the many wedding expos.  To find the next wedding show, just check the “Events and Shows” tab listed on the home page. Wedding shows can be fun and exciting, as you put together the pieces of your wedding day.  And they are indoors…where it’s warm!  So you can warm your body and excite your spirit.

Many brides tell me that they are thoroughly overwhelmed the first time they attend a bridal fair, so I thought it might be good to lay out a few guidelines to help you make the most of your time.

Before you go – print several sheets of adhesive address labels with your name, contact information, AND wedding date.  Quickly peel off a label and stick it on an inquiry sheet at any booth that you would like to receive additional information.

Bring your checkbook – you just might want to book or hold a date.  High demand dates can go quickly.

Bring family or friends you trust, and whose opinion matters.  But be careful of the size of your group.  Too many opinions – and you could be overwhelmed with indecision.

Invite your groom – but take him only if he wants to have a voice in this part of the wedding planning.  If this is not his thing, don’t torture him!

Know what you are looking for and what’s your budget.

Wear comfortable shoes and clothing.

Be ready with phrases such as, “I’ll think about that.”  And always give yourself a set amount of time and make a decision.  One of the biggest causes of stress in wedding planning is not making decisions on a timely basis…and then things start to really back up and you’ll find yourself in a spin trying to finalize decisions.

Whether your wedding is a few months away or an entire year, a bridal show will help you pull everything together.

What are the proper social conventions when addressing invitations?

Today’s different social lifestyles can add lots of complication.  Are you confused about how to properly address your invitations?

Use these social conventions when addressing your wedding invitations:

Wedding doves








Ms. Jane Doe

When addressing a woman who has been divorced, it is customary to honor whatever name she goes by, using the prefix Ms.



Example:  Mrs. Jane Doe

When addressing a widow, user her full married name.




Mr. David Day

Ms. Jane Doe

If there are two unmarried people who live together, list their names on two separate lines alphabetically.



Example:  Dr. Mary Anderson & Mr. Richard Evans

Whichever of the married couple is a doctor, he or she is listed first.


Married Doctors:

Example:  The Doctors Jackson



Dr. Amy Jackson

Dr. Jason Jackson

If the couple happens to both be doctors you can choose between either example.  You can list them as The Doctors Jackson or on two separate lines alphabetically by first name.
Couples of the Same Sex:

Example:  Ms. Betty Black & Ms. Linda White



Ms. Betty Black

Ms. Linda White

In the case of a same sex couple, list both names on one line, or, if they don’t fit, on separate lines, alphabetically by first name.