ou got a sparkly new engagement ring for Christmas, you're not alone.
A recent Huffington Post report revealed that analysts looked at information based on 2.6 million Facebook users and when they change their relationship statuses, and Christmas Eve came in first when it comes to being engaged.
Now the fun part begins: planning your dream wedding. Bridal expos or wedding shows should be at the top of any bride's to-do list, because that's where a lot of information can be found in a relatively short amount of time.
The chest-grabbing reality is that weddings are expensive. According to The Knot, the average cost of a wedding in the Chicago suburbs is around $33,000 and around $50,000 in Chicago.
Brides can book services, get ideas, enter raffles and sometimes get great deals at expos. Plus, they can meet with vendors without having to schedule an appointment. It's a great way to get your questions answered.
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Here's a pro tip: take a bunch of business cards or address labels, so you don't get a cramp in your hand. It will save you a bunch of time too.
Kicking off the season is Naperville's Bridal Showcase, held Jan. 8-9 at Naper Settlement.
Naper Settlement's Bridal Showcase has been helping brides and grooms navigate the wedding planning process since 2003, said marketing and sales representative Donna DeFalco. There will be more than 50 vendors, including photographers, florists, DJs, ministers, musicians, bakers, caterers and more, she said.
"The Bridal Showcase is important because it provides a one-stop experience so couples can talk to a variety of vendors, from photographers to florists to formal wear companies and even wedding officiants," she said. "The showcase is a great starting point for wedding planning and helps to streamline a very complex process."
The highlight of the free showcase is the Century Memorial Chapel, a historic, nondenominational chapel. DeFalco called it "the perfect, romantic setting" for a wedding.
"Each couple has a different vision for their special day. It's the details that make the day special from invitations to the music at the ceremony and reception to the reception itself, in addition to the party favors, the flowers and even the place settings and chair covers," she said. "The showcase helps them build on that vision and gives them ideas to create their perfect day."
The Northwest Indiana Bridal Expo is Jan. 17 at the Porter County Expo Center and Fairgrounds in Valparaiso. Sponsored by Louie's Tux Shop, it is one of the largest bridal shows in Indiana, said vice president Tom Buczynski.
The expo has been going on for nine years, with each year increasing in attendance, he said. Last year there were more than 600 brides. Most brought their groom and some family members.
"A bridal expo is basically a trade show for brides," he said. "The show that we put on
has vendors booths throughout the facility. You will have anywhere from 120 to 140 vendors setting up booths."
Going to a bridal expo is a must for a newly engaged couple, he said.
"For a bride, planning a wedding involves a multitude of details. Little things. Specialty things that force a bride to have to use multiple vendors. Typically, an average wedding will involve 10 to 15 different businesses, if not upward of 30. An expo allows the bride to visit with vendors from all industries that are wedding-related; whether it's dress and attire, reception halls, caterers, music, lighting, floral, bakeries
all these little things. It's a one-stop (for brides)
and a way to speak to these vendors personally without having to go door-to-door. It's pure convenience, more than anything else."
It's very common for vendors to offer show specials for couples who book on-site and lock in their service, he said.
The show is free, with free coat check and free parking, he said.
Keith KoKoruz of Arlington Heights runs the Windy City Wedding Show out of Schaumburg. His company puts on 15 shows a year in the Chicago area, including a Lake County one Jan. 10 at the Holiday Inn in Gurnee from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.
"There's a variety of reasons I love bridal shows," he said. "Yes, the internet is convenient. Yes, you can be in your pajamas at 2 o'clock in the morning on your iPad looking at a tremendous amount of wonderful wedding websites, however there is something like watching a concert on DVD as opposed to going to it live. When you can see it
and experience it, it's a different situation. You can talk to the DJs, the photographers, the videographers and get to know their personalities. You can't do that via the internet."
There will be a 1 p.m. professionally-produced fashion show as well, he said, featuring The House of Brides, David's Bridal and the Men's Wearhouse on the runway.
"It's about 45 minutes long and it's not a stuffy fashion show. It's fun and shows the latest dresses," he said. "With David's Bridal as well as Men's Wearhouse, we're able to feature the Vera Wang White and the Vera Wang Black collection. Vera Wang White is the collection she has for David's Bridal, and Vera Wang Black is her exclusive line of tuxedos for the Men's Wearhouse. We are also able to show Zac Posen. We've got some really fantastic designers in our show."
There will be about 45 to 50 vendors, from banquet halls to catering to florals to photographers, KoKoruz said.
"Pretty much everything you can think of, there will probably be one of every category at least at the show," he said.
His advice to brides in addition to making address and phone number labels is to create an email account exclusively for their wedding, one they can abandon after the big day.
"Also, they just need to ask a lot of questions," he said. "The number one thing people ask when they don't know what to ask is, 'How much does this cost?' It's a fair question, but there is so much more to it. Ask a vendor, 'Tell me about your company and what you have to offer me,' and go from there. Find out what unique services the wedding vendors have. Maybe the bakery offers gluten-free or this DJ offers an interactive-style of entertainment."
Annie Alleman is a freelance writer.
Windy City Wedding Show, 11-3 p.m. Jan. 10 at Holiday Inn Gurnee Convention Center, 6161 W. Grand Ave., Gurnee. Tickets are $20. Wedding professionals from Chicago bridal salons to honeymoon travel specialists will be on hand to answer questions. A fashion show will include the latest dresses from David's Bridal and formalwear from Men's Wearhouse. 847-278-1050; windycityweddingshow.com.
Here are some upcoming bridal shows in Northern Illinois and Northwest Indiana.
2016 Bridal Showcase, held from 5:30-9 p.m. Jan. 8 and from 10 a.m.-3 p.m. Jan. 9 at Naper Settlement, 523 S. Webster St., Naperville. Napersettlement.com. Free.
The Meadows Club Luxury Bridal Show, 11:15 a.m.-4 p.m. Jan. 17 at the Chicago Marriott O'Hare, 8535 W. Higgins Road, Chicago. Bridalshowexpo.com. Free for up to four people with advance registration. This luxury bridal show features food, flowers, cakes, couture, a fashion show and designer Hayley Paige showing off her latest collection.
Woodstock Wedding Network Bridal Expo, 12-3 p.m. Jan. 24 at McHenry County College, 8900 US Highway 14, Crystal Lake. WoodstockWeddingNetwork.com. Free. This wedding expo offers brides the chance to win prizes, meet local wedding professionals and check out a fashion show featuring the latest in wedding trends.
Bridal Expo Chicago, 11:30 a.m.-4 p.m. Jan. 24 at the Chicago Marriott Oak Brook 1401 W. 22nd St., Oak Brook. Bridalshowexpo.com. Free for up to four people with advance registration. Discover plenty of trends and ideas, as well as Chicago-area resources and wedding professionals. This wedding show will feature special booking incentives.
Wedding Show, 11:30 a.m.-4 p.m. Feb . 21 at the Renaissance Hotel Northbrook, 933 Skokie Blvd. Bridalshowexpo.com. Free for up to four people with advance registration. About 50 wedding professionals can show off the latest trends.
Wedding Luxury For Less, 12-3 p.m. Feb. 21 at Columbus Center Banquets, 365 Surryse Road, No. 280, Lake Zurich. eventful.com/lakezurich/events/wedding-luxury-less-/E0-001-089295852-1. Hosted by Events with Style. If you are looking to maximize your wedding budget, this could be the way to start. Take a look at a selection of items such as wedding dresses, mother of the bride dresses, table decorations, silk handmade centerpieces and bouquets, table numbers and more.
Bridal show, 5-10 p.m. Feb. 24 at Drury Lane Theatre, 100 Drury Lane, Villa Park.Bridalshowexpo.com. Free for up to four people with advance registration. Monte Durham from TLC's "Say Yes to the Dress: Atlanta" will co-host this bridal show, which includes 70 wedding professionals. Also, sample cake and check out the couture runway show.
Carriage Greens Wedding Extravaganza, 11 a.m.-4 p.m. Feb. 28 at the Carriage Greens Golf Club, 8700 Carriage Green Drive, Darien. eventbrite.com/e/carriage-greens-wedding-extravaganza-tickets-19998530142?aff=ebrowse. Free. It's your chance to tour the grounds and banquet facilities of Carriage Greens Country Club while visiting more than 40 wedding vendors. Your (free) tickets will include entrance into the show, access to a cash bar, tickets to the raffle drawing and a fashion show.
Bridal show, 11:30 a.m.-4 p.m. March 13 at Ashyana Banquets, 1620 75th St., Downers Grove. Bridalshowexpo.com. Free for up to four people with advance registration. Discover future trends and connect with professions. The show will include booking incentives.
Chicago Bride Magazine Bridal Fashion Show and Expo, 11 a.m.-4 p.m. April 24 at the Donald E. Stephens Convention Center, 5555 N. River Road, Rosemont.eventbrite.com/e/chicago-bride-bridal-fashion-show-expo-tickets-16804914953?aff=ebrowse. Free. Brides can find exhibitors from virtually every field of the bridal industry on hand to assist with planning the perfect wedding. There will be seminars, giveaways and a fashion show.
The Northwest Bridal Expo is from 12 to 4 p.m. Jan. 17 at the Porter County Expo Center and Fairgrounds, 215 Division Road, Valparaiso, Ind. Nwbridalshowcase.com. Free. Sponsored by Louie's Tux Shop, the Northwest Indiana Bridal Expo is one of the largest bridal shows in Indiana, with more than 120 vendors, free parking, tote bags, three runways of fashion, a cash bar, door prizes, food samples and demonstrations.
2016 Bridal Elegance Expo, 9 a.m.-2 p.m. Jan. 9 at the Elkhart County 4-H Fairgrounds, 17746 County Road 34, Goshen, Ind. b100.com/Events/BridalElegance.aspx. Free. The Bridal Elegance Expo will feature information, demonstrations and giveaways, including bridal service packages and promotions exclusive to the show.
2016 Sunny 101.5 FM Bridal Expo, 1-4 p.m. Jan. 16 at the Edmund P. Joyce Center, University of Notre Dame Gate 1, Notre Dame, Ind. Sunny1015.com. Free, but you must reserve them in advance.
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