National Bridal Market Report: Fall 2013

It’s that time of year again – Bridal Fashion Week! Last weekend, I attended the National Bridal Market here in Chicago, where designers converged on the Merchandise Mart to showcase new bridal fashions for the upcoming Spring 2014 season. (To get more of a low-down on what Bridal Market entails, check out my coverage of the Spring 2013 session here!)

Since this was my third time at Market, I knew exactly what to expect, making it much less of an overwhelming experience as opposed to past seasons. As usual, I went with my boss, Krista, as well as my coworker Sarah. The three of us had an amazing weekend checking out all the new, upcoming styles from our designers—not to mention we were extremely productive!

The most exciting thing, though… they allowed picture-taking this year! Which means I actually get to show you all the new trends instead of just talking about them!

So keep reading to see the latest designs from Maggie Sottero, Casablanca, and even new lines such as Aura Bridal by Andrew Adela . . .

(All photos personal. And picture-heavy—you’ve been warned!)

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Autumn Inspiration: Pumpkins, Apple Cocktails, and Gold

Remember this post and how I was adamant about wanting a spring or early summer wedding? Well, these fall trends are so stunning that they’re seriously making me reconsider the vision I had for my own wedding plans! Goodbye, bird cages and blush pink… It’s time to make room for pumpkins, cider, and elegance!

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Pumpkin Centerpieces
(white pumpkin & roses | pumpkin & cornucopia | white pumpkins & candles)

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Apple Cocktails
(caramel apple martini | apple cider cocktail | orange spiced cider)

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Gold Accents
(glittering gold heels | romantic gold cake | gold table setting)

Of course, there are so many more ways to impart the feeling of autumn in your wedding celebration! Between changing leaves, seasonal food favorites, and an array of warm colors, there are endless options for you to choose from. Perhaps you’ll forgo cake in favor of pie? Or maybe guests will enjoy a game of touch football on the lawn instead of the typical bean bag toss? Get creative and make this season part of your wedding, rather than just the backdrop!

Are you having a fall wedding? Feel free to share your ideas and inspiration in the comments! And a follow-up to that: have you ever been so inspired by something you saw online that it made you completely reconsider your wedding plans?

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Your Consultant Is Back!

Things look a bit different around here, don’t they?

I’m so happy to announce that I’m officially back from my summer hiatus (which wasn’t really voluntary—as I mentioned in this post I was pretty overwhelmed by work and some unexpected health issues). But now that the new semester has started and I’m doing better in terms of health, I’m finally ready to return to blogging!

And to celebrate that return, I figured I would take the opportunity to redesign Consulting With Tulle. This involves a new logo, new layout, and a sparkly new domain name!

(This is baby’s first domain name. I’m extremely excited about it.)

Now that I’m back, I’ll be resuming my normal posting schedule: discussing trends, talking about some of the highlights from working at the boutique this summer, sharing inspiration boards, and of course covering fall National Bridal Market, which is coming up in less than two weeks! As always, if you have requests for an inspiration board or want advice for your own planning process, please don’t hesitate to contact me!

Thank you all for your patience! I’m thrilled to be back, and I can’t wait to get back to blogging!

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Mid-Summer Update: I’m Alive!

How is summer already halfway over? It’s crazy to think that I only have one more month until I head back to Chicago to start my last year of college. Time is just flying by; I feel like every time I blink, another week passes.

I am so unbelievably sorry that I took such a long hiatus from this blog! My life has been pretty much non-stop busy since I left Chicago. Between working twice as many hours at the bridal boutique, a few health issues, and frantically scrambling to meet costume deadlines, something was bound to fall through the cracks. I’m just sad that it had to be my blog!

Admittedly, part of the problem is that I’m really frustrated by the layout options for WordPress.com. I need to go through the process of transferring over to the WordPress.org hosting option, if only so I can have my domain and much more control over the design of this website. I’m such a visual person so part of me kept justifying my procrastination with excuses like, “Well, your blog is ugly, so there’s no point in updating it until you can make it look good!”

(I’m crazy, I know. No need to remind me.)

But I’ve given myself a kick in the rear, and hopefully I’ll be able to stick with my regular posting schedule from here on out! Goodness knows I have plenty to talk about now that I’m back at the boutique.

I’ll be sure to get into all of that in a separate entry, since it’s a lot to discuss. In the mean time, here’s just a quick rundown of what’s been going on in my life this summer:

  • I have a ton of new responsibilities at the boutique, including a promotion to the Social Media Manager. I’ve also been doing a lot more consulting work, and somehow I’ve become one of the most effective consultants. I’m not quite sure how! But I average about four to six dresses per week.
  • That being said, I’m 100% certain that I don’t want to work on the sales side of bridal fashion as far as my future career is concerned. It’s been fun as a learning experience and a “first taste” of the industry, but I can’t see myself being happy doing this for an extended amount of time. I’m eager to keep pursuing my goal of being a wedding planner, especially for Disney.
  • On a totally different note, I’ve been going through some health problems involving my hormone levels and a possible virus. My doctors have me on a pretty rough hormone supplement, and they also had me switch to the Paleo diet. I’ve been on both for about two weeks now; it was definitely an adjustment, and minus some pretty unpleasant side effects from the drugs, I’m starting to feel a bit better!

Also, I want to give a quick shout-out to the Premier Bride’s blog for the pingback while I was away! They ran a post about choosing your bridal party and included a link to my entry about that topic!

Anyway, I hope all of you have been enjoying your summer so far! Have you done anything exciting, or is there something you’re looking forward to?

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Summer Inspiration: Mint, Fruit, and Frozen Drinks

As of 11:50 AM tomorrow morning, I’ll officially be done with my junior year of college. I’ve been waiting for this day all semester to the point where I thought it would never come, but now that it’s here, I almost can’t believe it. Do I really get to relax soon? Do I really get to go back home and eat mom-cooked food? Do I really get to spend hours doing nothing but lounging in the sunshine?

The answer must be yes, because I already did the last one today! After my management exam, I headed over to the Buckingham Fountain again to plant my rear on a bench and stay there for an hour and a half, baking in the beautiful 80-degree weather.

I swear, every single time I come here... (Personal photo.)

I swear, every single time I come here… (Personal photo.)

At some point I moved to the Bean, stopping to pick up a Strawberry Poppyseed & Chicken Salad from Panera, because that salad is one of my absolute favorite things about summer. (If you’ve never had it, you’re missing out; just look at this glorious deliciousness.)

Once I was done eating, I stayed there for another hour or so, just people-watching. It seemed like the entire city was outside, enjoying the sun and warmth—even sleeping in the middle of the park!—and the excitement was honestly contagious. Hopefully, this is the true start of summer and we don’t get another cold spell like we did this past weekend! I don’t know about you, but I’ve never been more ready for summer.

Especially since there are so many fun wedding trends to look forward to!

For those of you with weddings to attend this season, here’s are three trends you may see. There are plenty more (such as Gatsby-themed weddings), but these are my three favorites!

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Mint
(bridesmaid dresses | cake | shoes)

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Fruit-Flavored Cakes
(mango cake | raspberry-lemon cake | berry cake)

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Frozen Drinks
(wine smoothies | frozen lemonade with rum | grown-up snow cones)

What’s your favorite wedding trend that you’ve seen lately? Are you planning to include it in your wedding, or do you know someone who did so or is going to this year?

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Size Matters: Guidelines for Your Bridal Party

On a whim, I decided to write at the Buckingham Fountain today instead of sitting at the Bean again. And guess what I saw?

I told you, I wasn’t lying when I said I’m the creepy girl who stalks other people’s weddings. (Personal photo.)

I told you, I wasn’t lying when I said I’m the creepy girl who stalks other people’s weddings. (Personal photo.)

Like last Tuesday, the weather is what most brides dream of having on their wedding day. The breeze off the lake is a little chilly, but I’m sure the groomsmen in their dark black tuxes appreciate it.

Their bridal party isn’t particularly large. Other than the bride and groom, there are a handful of groomsmen and a ring-bearer. The only other women in attendance are the maid of honor and the mothers of the bride and groom.

This is by no means unheard of. A lot of couples opt for much smaller weddings, which in turn means having smaller bridal parties. This could be due to many reasons, such as budget and personal tastes, but the most appealing factor is that smaller bridal parties are typically easier to coordinate, especially when it comes to the wedding photos.

According to a survey done by The Knot and WeddingChannel.com, the average size of bridal parties in 2011 was around 10-12 people. This was broken down by 4-5 bridesmaids and groomsmen, plus a flower girl and ring bearer.

Obviously, this may differ from culture to culture, but in terms of the mainstream American wedding, the etiquette for establishing your bridal party is based on the style of wedding you’re going to have. For example, an extremely formal Catholic wedding may have 10 bridesmaids and 10 groomsmen, whereas a destination beach wedding where everyone is barefoot may only have two or three of each.

Guidelines for Choosing Your Bridal Party | Consulting With Tulle

When it comes to my future wedding, I’ll probably end up with an above-average number of people in my bridal party, no matter what style of wedding I choose to have. I know I’m going to struggle with keeping my bridesmaid count low, since I have so many close girl friends – hopefully my future fiance will be outgoing and have enough groomsmen to match!

Do you want to have a small bridal party, or a larger one? Do you know who your maid of honor or bridesmaids are going to be? If you’ve already had your wedding, how did you choose your bridesmaids and other members of the party? Did the style of your wedding going to affect the size of your bridal party?

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Inspiration: Indoor Forest Wedding

A few weeks ago I was contacted by Sarah, who asked for some advice for her indoor “mystic forest” wedding. She’ll be getting married in January and an outdoor wedding isn’t an option, so her forest-themed ceremony and reception will be taking place at an indoor venue—specifically a theater.

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Images collected via Pinterest and Google Image Search.

  1. Centerpieces consist of soft candles, fake branches, and some faux greenery draped elegantly or placed inside a natural pot/basket. Place cards and glassware are kept simple. (x)
  2. Instead of bridesmaids carrying bouquets, they carry something more iconic, such as these rustic lanterns. (x)
  3. Candles and evergreen branches are strategically placed along tables to create a warm, Northern feeling. (x)
  4. A white cake accented with white roses and subtle green leaves to stand out against the dark of the evergreen and espresso color palette. (x)
  5. Live trees can be rented from local nurseries to adorn the altar/ceremony space and bring the outdoors inside. (x)
  6. Rings presented on a bed of moss. (x)
  7. A pure white wedding bouquet accented with natural greens. (x)
  8. Battery-powered LED lights placed inside of jars and other containers to create a “fairy light effect.” (x)
  9. The dessert table is decorated with more greens, as well as vintage items like bird cages, keys, or old books to add touches of whimsy. (x)
  10. Instead of traditional bunting, hanging vines and other greenery are strung across the reception space or even woven around banisters and railings. (x)

If you have a request for an inspiration board (whether it be for a themed wedding, a specific element like place settings, bridal fashion, or whatever strikes your fancy), let me know by leaving a comment or using the Contact form!

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Weather Or Not…

Today we’re going to talk about the weather.

No, this isn’t a desperate attempt to come up with a topic because I’m running out of ideas. (Never fear, I have a whole list of things I want to talk about eventually!) My original post for today was going to be an informational analysis of bridal workplace dynamics, but then I decided to write while sitting at the Bean.

As a result, I’m surrounded by families, tourists, school groups, and employees on their lunch break, all of whom are enjoying the second nice day of spring in Chicago, and I can’t think of much else other than the feeling of the sun against my extremely pale snowbird skin. (The girl sitting across the table from me has either been tanning or went somewhere tropical for spring break, but either way, I look like a ghost next to her!)

And oh, there’s the wind. It’s just enough to add a touch of briskness to the day whenever it becomes a gust, but mostly it’s a steady, gentle breeze.

You'd think writing at the Bean would be a nightmare, given how many distractions there are, but I love it! (Personal photo.)

You’d think writing at the Bean would be a nightmare, given how many distractions there are, but I love it! (Personal photo.)

To put it simply, this would be an ideal day for a Chicago wedding.

I’m keeping an eye out for any bridal parties who come to the Bean for photos; if I don’t see any here, I’m going to wander over to the Buckingham Fountain, just in case! (I fully admit it, I’m a total creeper when it comes to spotting bridal parties. I’ve been known to follow them around Grant Park at a distance to spy on their photos. I’m shameless. I know. I’m also way too eager to help families take group pictures, which I’ve done two or three times since sitting down here.)

I think choosing the wedding date is one of the most stressful aspects of planning a wedding. Choosing the season is easy enough; most brides have a clear idea of whether or not they want a spring, summer, fall, or winter wedding. But when it comes to deciding on the actual month and the exact day, the indecisiveness truly begins to set in.

The main reason for this? The weather. True, some couples are extremely flexible and they’ll enjoy their celebration no matter what, rain or shine. But other couples can be devastated if it’s even so much as cloudy on their special day, especially if they have to cancel certain aspects of their ceremony or reception because it decided to drizzle.

I’ll be honest, as much as I’d like to think of myself as someone who could be flexible with the weather, knowing myself, I would be upset if it rained on my wedding day. I wouldn’t be devastated, because I would keep it in perspective (I’d still be marrying the one I love, surrounded by my family and friends, after all). But yes, I’d be at least a little disappointed. Especially because my hair looks ridiculous when it’s even the slightest bit humid.

That’s one of the main reasons that I’m still personally debating about when I’d ideally like to have my wedding. (The other main reasons being that I’m currently single and I’m sure my future fiance would like to have at least some say in choosing the date.)

Ideally, I want to have a spring wedding. Spring is my favorite season, especially right at the start. This first few weeks of nice weather are probably the most enjoyable for me; I’m finally getting the vitamin D I need to fight off the depression caused by my seasonal affective disorder—those “happy lights” can only do so much, you know? I feel re-energized and invigorated, optimistic and confident about my life. I’m sure it might be different if I lived in a region that got more sunlight, but living in the Midwest where warmth and sun are not the norm throughout the year, spring is when I feel more alive.

I've been living here for three years but I'll never get tired of the Bean. Sp have another picture of it. (Personal photo.)

I’ve been living here for three years but I’ll never get tired of the Bean. So have another picture of it. (Personal photo.)

That being said, spring can be extremely volatile in terms of the weather. Chicago this week is a perfect example. Yesterday, today, and tomorrow have a high of 80 degrees, clear skies, and glorious sunshine. But the next eight days? We’re back in the low 50s with scattered thunderstorms throughout the week. And that is really not what I would call “perfect wedding weather.”

Likewise, summer weather is more stable, but then there’s the risk of it being too hot. Will the bridal party’s makeup melt off? Will groomsmen get heat stroke in their tuxes? Will the area for post-ceremony photos be filled with kids on summer vacation? What about the costs—will it be more expensive to keep food cool outdoors, or will venues charge higher prices for the “busy season”?

No matter what, it’s a tough call. In some ways, winter weddings may be the safest bet. Sure, there’s the chance of blizzards creating transportation issues, but you know that it’s going to be cold and, at the very least, overcast, if not snowing.

But as it stands, fall and winter weddings will never be the most popular choices for couples. The majority of couples dream of that beautiful spring or summer wedding, and in doing so, they’re inevitably playing a game of weather roulette.

Ultimately, though, it really is a matter of perspective. If the day of your wedding arrives and it’s pouring, it’s okay to feel upset or disappointed. But don’t let it ruin your special day, regardless of whether your guests are huddled beneath umbrellas or fanning themselves with their programs. The weather isn’t going to create lifelong memories; it’s a day spent in the company of loved ones that will remain with you for many years to come.

What’s your ideal wedding weather? Did you have it on your wedding day, or are you strategically consulting the farmer’s almanac to ensure that your outdoor ceremony or reception goes exactly as planned? Alternatively, did you or do you want to choose the date for your wedding without caring about the weather at all?

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The Intern Games

It’s hard to think that there are only four weeks left of school. On one hand, I can’t believe this semester has gone by so fast, but on the other hand, I have never wanted a semester to end so badly!

Between awful group projects and inattentive professors, my spring classes have not been enjoyable whatsoever. I’ve had my fair share of breakdowns over my GPA in the past 48 hours, and I’m positively dreading going to my Entrepreneurship class tomorrow morning (which is the primary source of my stress and frustration because people do not understand the concept of deadlines). Needless to say, I can’t wait for summer!

Aside from not having to worry about homework or group assignments or terrible teachers, there’s another reason I’m excited for this summer: my internship!

I spent last summer working for I Do, Too! Bridal and had a wonderful time. However, it wasn’t an “official” internship; I hadn’t registered it with my coordinator and my learning was focused primarily on my job duties, rather than career development. That being said, I still learned a lot and the professional connections I developed as a result have been vital.

For this summer, I had been interested in looking for an internship in Chicago. We’ll have our apartment until May 2014, so I figured that I may as well look for an opportunity in the city, since I’m already paying for housing. Not to mention, having a “big name” bridal company on my resume wouldn’t be something to complain about.

Unfortunately, I didn’t have any luck. I tried working with our fashion internship coordinator, but she wasn’t able to locate anything for me, and I hit continuous dead-ends on my own. I contacted more than a dozen wedding companies in the city, ranging from event planners to caterers to venue hosts, and I heard back from… wait for it… zero.

Trust me, it did wonders for my self-confidence.

That's a lie. I was miserable. (Photo via SmithMag)

That’s a lie. I was miserable. (Photo via SmithMag)

After the thirteenth attempt with no response, I decided that it must be a sign from the universe: I Do, Too! is where I’m meant to be. And you know what? There’s nothing wrong with that. It’s not some big-name, downtown bridal company, but it’s the right one for me. I’ve already had so many opportunities to expand my network even though I’ve only been with I Do, Too! for a year. If I started somewhere else, I’d have to start from scratch, so to speak. I’m already familiar with the company culture and systems where I am now, and frankly, I’d rather spend my time gaining new knowledge as opposed to reteaching myself. Plus, there’s still room for me to grow here, and I feel that it would look better if I showed long-term employment on my resume as opposed to sporadic job-hopping.

Prior to Bridal Market, I emailed Krista about registering my summer position at the boutique as a professional internship that I could receive credit for, and she agreed!

We’ve started to fill out the paperwork to make it official, going over things like minimum hours and learning objectives. I’ll be receiving around 4 credits for this internship, so potentially I may be able to take one less class next semester (huzzah)! Krista wants to have my internship focus on social media management, along with more in-depth consulting work and business relations with our sales reps.

Most exciting, though… I’ll have opportunities to design wedding dresses and have them produced! I can’t say anything else for the time being—but just know that I am freaking out about it!

I know that the majority of students at my college bemoan the requirement of completing an internship, but I see internships as something that can be extremely valuable to earning experience within the industry you’d like to work. Moreover, it can help to establish professional connections that you can use to launch your career.

Granted, finding an internship can be incredibly discouraging. Few companies, especially within the bridal industry, are willing to hire students as interns due to all the regulations outlined by colleges. There are minimum hourly requirements, learning goals that must be met, and performance reviews in order to ensure that the student is gaining academic knowledge from the experience. Most employers have no desire to deal with that—which is understandable, but it doesn’t make things easy for those of us who need to complete an internship to graduate.

I’m unbelievably grateful for the opportunity I have to work with the team at I Do, Too! and to have Krista as my mentor. I would be at a very different place in my career without her, and my plans for my future would be much more uncertain. I’m thrilled that I’ll get to return to the boutique for another year, and I can’t wait to see what this summer holds in store!

Just one more month to go… Now it’s only a matter of surviving finals!

Did or does your college require students to complete a professional internship? If so, how did/has yours benefited your career? Do you have an exciting internship lined up for the summer, or did you recently complete one?

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National Bridal Market Report: Spring 2013

As someone who attends a lot of them, I can be pretty critical when it comes to conventions. But as far as trade shows are concerned, the National Bridal Market is one of my absolute favorites!

For those of you who don’t know, Bridal Market is a bi-annual merchandise show for the bridal industry. Designers set up exhibits and retailers attending the show are able to view products for the upcoming season. From there, the retailers decide what they want to order for their stores. It’s pretty straight-forward – and also pretty fun.

(Hint: that’s an understatement. It’s unbelievably fun!)

This was my second season attending the show as an assistant buyer with my boss, Krista, from I Do Too! Bridal. Trish, our maids gallery supervisor, also attended this season. Even though the spring show is usually the slower of the two, it’s been a very busy three days for us! I’m exhausted and my feet are screaming after being in heels the entire time, but I’m so excited about what we saw from our vendors.

Legally, I couldn’t take pictures of anything on the showroom floor. That being said, I do want to share some trends that you’ll be seeing later this year, as well as what you can expect from some of the biggest designers! And also a peek at what attending Bridal Market is like, for those of you who are curious!

(All photos personal unless otherwise stated.)

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