Bridal Expo Chicago Promotion

Below is an invitation for 4 free tickets to Bridal Expo Chicago from Bill Brennan. He is the CEO of Bridal Expo Chicago.

“Greetings staff at Music by Design. I know you’ve had a busy summer with weddings galore, so I wanted to share an update for all of your fans and invite them all to receive 4 Free Tickets to Bridal Expo Chicago. Click Here for the schedule and enter promo code:M-B-D.”

Hey Bill…thanks for extending such a great offer to all the fans and customer of Music By Design.

If you are a bride considering attending Bridal Expo Chicago, be sure to read our the following blog post about ‘wedding show tips‘.

Party Favors – why not donate instead?

Why not Donate instead?

Practically 100 percent of the time, when I attend a wedding and at the end of the night I’m given a wedding favor, I end up doing one of two things with it:: eating it or trashing it. Plain and simple. We all know that’s what happens. Sure, the display of candy looks fabulous and tasted fabulous in my mouth. And yes, I may have used that book of matches with the couple’s name on it for a few weeks. Or I may even have listened to the cheesy cd of favorite love songs for about a week. But in the end, I most definitely threw out that wedding favor or ate it all in a matter of minutes.

Personally, I have come to believe that wedding favors can be a wasteful. That thought entered my mind after attending the wedding of a close friend. This was a few years before I was married or even engaged. So planning a wedding and wedding favors were definitely not on my mind. However, I will always remember this particular wedding. At the end of the night, instead of handing out useless party favors, I received a little note from the bride and groom. On this note, it stated that the bride and groom had decided that instead of giving everyone a party favor, they had made a donation to a charity with the money they would have used for the wedding favors. The charity’s cause was something that was very meaningful to them and their relationship. Instead of spending their money on something trivial, they decided to invest it in furthering a great cause.

If you’ve been racking your brain about what kind of wedding favor to give out at your reception, why not donate instead? Donate $1 or more per guest that attends your wedding to further a cause that means a lot to you and your future spouse. Tell your guests what that money will be used for and that it was donated in their name. Of course, there is a tricky part. You want to try not to offend people if at all possible. It might be a good idea to pick a cause that won’t start any negative political or religious discussions. Steer clear from donating money to a candidate’s political campaign, especially if you are telling your guests that the donation has been made in their name. Although, at the end of the day, it is your wedding, and it is your money!

Guestbook Ideas

Guestbooks have had a long standing presence at weddings.  However, after years of being tucked away in boxes and drawers, guestbooks are getting a revamp!  Brides everywhere are seeking out new and creative ways to capture their guests’ presence on their special day.  Here a few ideas to help you do the same!

The Signature Frame. The guestbook and the wedding portrait are both key players on the big day.  So why not combine the two for a keepsake that will last a lifetime?  A signature frame is made special by its photo mat which starts out empty and is soon filled with the signatures of all your wedding guests.  While special signature frames can be found at most craft stores, the DIY route is quite easy.  Just choose a frame, typically with an opening at least 11 by 14 fourteen inches, and find a white mat to rest inside the frame.  For the big day, combine the frame, the mat, and an engagement picture of the happy couple.  (This picture can later be swapped out for a wedding picture.)  Set the frame on a table outside of the ceremony so that guests will see it and sign the mat as they enter.  Fine tip sharpies work great for the signatures, and adding a few flowers or candles around the frame will help tie the table together with the rest of the décor.

The Signature Platter. If having your guests featured on your wall isn’t your thing, how about having them on your table?  Instead of having guests sign a frame mat, have them sign a serving platter!  The Younique Boutique offers lots of options to help you create a perfect platter, including a version that features you and your honey hand painted in the middle of the platter.  You can customize almost every detail of the platter, including the artwork, size, shape, and color combo.  On the big day, guests sign the platter with a special pen, and then to preserve their signatures, you bake the platter in the oven as directed. What other way can you have all of your wedding guests over for Thanksgiving dinner?

The Guestbook Tree. Perhaps you want to choose a more whimsical way to showcase your guests.  If so, consider the guestbook tree, which features thin, twiggy branches, strung with notecards tied with ribbon.  The tree is typically “rooted” in a tabletop planter, large urn, or vase, with foam, sand, or rocks securing branches in place.  Next to the tree, create a pile of “notecards” complete with a hole punched at the top and a string of ribbon tied in a circle.  Ask guests to write their best piece of advice for a happy and  healthy marriage on the card, sign it, and then hang it from the guestbook tree.  This will create a gorgeous and fun conversation piece at your reception.  Once the wedding is over, collect the cards and place them in a large glass vase in your home.  They’re great conversation starters when you have guests, and great reminders for you and your partner about the people you shared your big day with. You can see a fun example below.

Wedding Cake: To Smash Or Not To Smash?

We’ve all seen it. A beaming bride and groom delicately cut the first slice of wedding cake, posing for photographers along the way before removing a small piece each, waving it in front of each others faces and then…SMASH! Wedding cake and frosting is falling in clumps off of the face of the bride, groom, or both and the guests either erupt in laughter, cheering, or sighs of disgust.

The smashing of the wedding cake is actually an age-old ritual that has positive origins. Dating back to Roman times, the smashing of the wedding cake was a way to shower well wishes and blessings on the happy couple. As the tradition started, the wedding cake wasn’t eaten by the bride and groom, but rather thrown at them. The reason? It was meant to symbolize fertility. Wheat is thought to represent fruitfulness and throwing the cake at the newlyweds was meant to ensure they would be fertile. Over time, the tradition changed and eating wedding cake became the norm. A hint of the ritual remains though, every time a new husband and wife decide to smash cake in one another’s faces.

The question for you is: to smash or not to smash? Is the ritual fun and cute or tacky and outdated? You’re the only person who can answer that. Smashing wedding cake in one another’s faces can be seen as playful, funny, and entertaining, but it can also come across as rude, disrespectful, and disgusting. It hinges a lot on you and your fiancé. What kind of couple are you? If you’re typically conservative, reserved, or classy, smashing wedding cake in one another’s faces might come off as uncharacteristic. Then again, your guests might get a big laugh out of it.

If, on the other hand, you’re known for your playfulness, spontaneity, or sense of humor, your guests might expect you and your new spouse to face off with the wedding cake. Ultimately, make a decision that you’re comfortable with and talk about it ahead of time. There’s nothing more awkward than when only one person smashes cake and the other person is left seething. Chat with your fiancé ahead of time and make a decision, or if you’re really trusting, let the moment lead you and do whatever feels natural. Just make sure you pack extra tissues, napkins, and makeup to clean yourself up afterwards.

Keeping Kids Entertained At Your Wedding

A lot of couples debate whether or not to invite children to their wedding and reception. If you have a large family, many nieces or nephews, or a lot of close friends with children, including kids in your big day can add to the overall fun, excitement, and magic. However, it’s no surprise that kids have short attention spans and no shortage of energy so plan ahead with ways to keep the children in attendance happy and entertained.

Kids Meal: A great way to please kids and parents alike, as well as cutting down on overall expenses for your wedding, is to offer a separate meal specifically for kids. Talk to your caterer about providing a small kid-friendly buffet that includes staples like chicken fingers, hot dogs, or grilled cheese. Don’t be afraid to negotiate with your caterer for a lower cost on the kid-friendly fare since it’s clearly cheaper to prepare and much less of it will be consumed.

Goodie Bags: In lieu of favors for children, provide them with a fun and entertaining goodie bag. Head over to your local arts and crafts store and stock up on drawing kits, coloring books, markers/crayons, bead sets, or something similar. Hit up the dollar store for other fun games and surprises to drop into the bags, as well. If you want to go the extra mile, create gender or age-specific goodie bags and mark them as such. Have them waiting on the children’s seats at the reception or at a special table for parents to pick up on their way in.

Games/Entertainment: Depending on the age of the kids in attendance, you might want to consider providing games or entertainment for them, as well as an additional space for them to play. If your reception venue allows it, book a small separate room to be used for children. Hire a teenager/college student (or two) to chaperone kids during the reception. For younger kids, offer a showing of family-friendly DVDs or cartoons or provide an arts and craft station. For older kids, set up a video game station with Game Boys or various game consoles. If you want them to remain in the reception hall, offer board games or cards that can be played at their table during the event.

Thank You Card Etiquette

Just when you thought all of the stress of wedding planning was behind you, the daunting task of writing thank you notes looms in front of you. There’s nothing more exciting than returning from your honeymoon to a room full of beautiful presents all for you, but with every gift you rip open, a thank you card needs to be written. Here are a few tips for proper thank you card etiquette:

  • First things first, a personalized card is a must! We know it’s tempting to consider preprinting a couple hundred generic thank you notes, but when it comes to your wedding, only a handwritten, customized message will do. No emails, no phone calls, no fill-in-the-blank cards, and no generalized post on a website/blog/social networking site.
  • Address the gift giver by name, include a few words of appreciation, and acknowledge the gift specifically. A generic “Thank you for the gift” won’t do (unless the gift in question was money). If an actual gift was given, acknowledge it in the card.
  • A thank you card is required for every gift you receive, even if it’s from the same person. If your cousin Susie buys you a toaster at your bridal shower, then a month later gives you a place setting of china at your wedding, proper etiquette requires you to send two separate cards.
  • High-quality, formal stationery should be used for your wedding thank you cards. Often, you can purchase thank you notes to match your wedding invitations.
  • Monogrammed stationery with your new married names/initials is a great choice for thank you cards, but should not be used until after the wedding. Do not use stationery with your new name/initials for gifts that were received prior to the wedding.
  • All thank you cards should be written in blue or black ink. We know this rule seems silly, but we didn’t make it up.
  • For gifts that were received prior to the wedding, thank you cards should be sent out within two weeks. If a gift was shipped, it should be acknowledged as soon as possible. Follow up with a thank you card immediately, or, at the very least, a phone call that is followed up by a written note.
  • For gifts that were given at the actual wedding, you have slightly more time to mail out a thank you card. Contrary to what you might think, you don’t have an entire year to send out thank you notes. Thank you cards for wedding gifts should be sent out within three months of the event, but the sooner they’re sent out, the better.
  • Thank you cards should be sent to the following: anyone who purchases you a gift, whether given at your wedding/shower or mailed, even if you’ve thanked them in person; anyone who gives a monetary gift to you; participants/attendants in your wedding; individuals who contribute towards a group gift; anyone who organized a shower/party/celebration for you; individuals who house or entertain your wedding guests; wedding suppliers/vendors; anyone who offers favors/service to you leading up to your wedding or on the wedding day; and the person/people who host your wedding (typically your parents/guardians).
  • Thank you cards should be sent via postal mail. Be sure to include your new address as your wedding guests will be grateful to have it!

Vendor Spotlight – Caroline DeVillo Couture

If you’re looking for a stunning, timeless, and breathtaking wedding gown, look no further than Chicago-based designer, Caroline DeVillo. Her Hollywood-inspired couture gowns are elegant, classic, and sure to make an impression.

Caroline DeVillo always dreamed of becoming a fashion designer, but when it came time for college, she studied Marketing of Textiles and Apparel at the University of Illinois to become a buyer instead. Plans change and along the way, she found herself attending the Fashion Institute of Design and Merchandise (FIDM) in Los Angeles. During her time in California, she began to work as a stylist and costume designer for TV, film, and print. After growing homesick, she decided to return to Chicago and take the plunge into design. Drawing on inspiration from Old Hollywood and her costuming experience, she designed her first line of couture bridal gowns in 2003. In 2006, her burgeoning bridal fashion career led her to open her own store in Bucktown.

Brides can choose from three couture collections to find their perfect wedding dress. Caroline DeVillo offers gowns that range from simple and understated to fun and flirty to sexy and glamorous. Whatever your personal style, Caroline DeVillo’s stunning masterpieces are certainly worth a glance.

Brides can also participate in the design process with Caroline DeVillo’s I.D. Collection. The I.D. (Individual Design) collection allows brides the opportunity to mix and match their favorite looks to create a dress that represents their unique personality and individual style.

Caroline DeVillo can also help dress the rest of your bridal party in style. She offers a beautiful collection of cocktail gowns that are perfect for bridesmaids and her customizable Kiddy Cocktail Collection provides great options for flower girls and children ages two and up.

Caroline Devillo Couture
1616 North Damen Avenue
Chicago, IL 60647-5536
(773) 342-0096

Something Blue

The wedding tradition “something old, something new, something borrowed, something blue” has been a part of weddings for ages.  However, in recent years, brides have embraced the tradition in new and more creative ways, adding a touch of fun and whimsy to their big day.  “Something blue” is a particular favorite of brides, so we’ve given you three creative ideas to add a touch of fun, tradition, and of course, color, to your big day.

It’s all about the bling. Many brides use their wedding day as a chance to wear jewelry that they may not normally don.  Shine and sparkle are seen in tiaras, drop earrings, bracelets, brooches, and necklaces.  Consider branching out from the traditional pearl or diamond jewelry to incorporate some blue bling.  Sapphires and blue topazes are to popular choices, with the former jewel a popular option among fall and winter brides and the latter jewel finding love from spring and summer brides.  David Yurman makes some incredible pieces with blue stones if you want an extra something special for the big day.

Remember, just a touch of blue is all you need, so don’t think you have to give up traditional diamonds and pearls all together.  Look for jewelry that has a single blue stone with clear or white jewels around it.  The blue bling doesn’t need to be a focal point, just a little touch to represent your “something blue.”  And if you can’t afford the real stone, no sweat, faux is a great way to go!  Still not sure?  Incorporate blue jewels in your bouquet in the form of a brooch.  Carefully pin it on the ribbon wrapping around your bouquet, and you’ve got your something blue, without making too drastic of a statement.

Embroider it. Consider combining your something blue with something else special in your life using thread.  Think of a special date, person, or saying that has meaning to you and represent it by embroidering something to wear or carry on your big day.  Perhaps it’s the initials of a loved one that passed, the letters of your college sorority, or your new initials.  Whatever it is, make it meaningful.  Inside one of the layers of your wedding dress is a great option if you don’t want the embroidery to be visible.  Also consider embroidering a handkerchief with something special to wrap around your bouquet.  The embroidery doesn’t need to be big or even visible to anyone else, it is for you to know about and cherish.

Two Blue Shoes. Elvis may have been onto something when he sang about blue suede shoes.  Ok, maybe not the suede part, but certainly the blue part!  Brides are beginning to get creative and venture outside of traditional bridal footwear, and what better way to do it than with blue!  This is another detail that may not be initially be visible to wedding guests, but when you step up stairs at the altar or bust a move on the dance floor, they will certainly notice the fun surprise.  This also opens up endless possibilities for footwear as you can look outside of the tradition bridal footwear.  Stuart Weitzman, Jimmy Choo, and Manolo Blanik all offer beautiful options.  (Think Carrie Bradshaw!)  If the price tag doesn’t appeal, consider browsing discount stores such as Nordstrom Rack and Filene’s Basement which often carry these designers for a fraction of the price.

Tipping Your Wedding Vendors

TIPS.  The acronym has been said to stand for “to insure prompt service,” though many of us know the term to simply mean what we leave at the end of a meal.  Tips have become an ordinary part of our society, whether you’re paying at a restaurant, the salon, or the coffee shop.  Most people have a solid understanding of tip etiquette when it comes to dining, but in the wedding world, the rules of tipping aren’t so simple.  Here are some guidelines to help take the guesswork out of tipping your wedding vendors.

Officiants: Many pastors, priests, rabbis, ministers and other religious leaders will not accept tips in the form of cash.  Instead, consider making a donation to their house of worship or a nonprofit organization that their congregation already partners with.  $75 to $100 is typical.  Civil employees who perform wedding ceremonies are often not allowed to accept any type of monetary gifts.  In that case, a thank you note is appropriate.

Musicians and DJs: Tipping for this category varies, particularly based on how the vendor handles booking.  For independent bands that book their own gigs, tipping is not necessary, as they will pocket all of the money earned.  A similar approach holds true for independent DJs.  However, when a DJ or musical act is booked through an agency or larger company, tips are expected, as the vendor will not be receiving the full charge for the service.  Tips for DJs range from 5% to 15%, with tips for musicians averaging approximately $25 per musician.  So if you have a six person band, a separate tip would go to each of the six band members.

Makeup Artists and Hairstylists: If you visit the salon on the day of your wedding, a standard tip of 15% to 20% is expected.  However, if the stylist or artists owns their own business or is freelancing, a tip is not expected.  However, if you feel they went above and beyond, feel free to leave a tip at your discretion.

Catering Services: There is a great deal of variety when it comes to tipping catering vendors.  First, check to see if gratuity is included in your package. If so, an additional tip is unnecessary.  However, if gratuity is not included in the contract, consider a 15% to 20% tip, as expected in a standard dining situation.  You can also choose to leave a flat rate for members of the catering staff, particularly if your catering company is higher in price.  $100 to $200 for catering managers, $50 for each chef, baker, and bartender, and $20 to $30 for each member of the wait and kitchen staff.

Wedding Coordinators, Photographers, Videographers, and Florists: Much like DJs and musicians, if the vendor owns their business, a tip is not expected.  They have already set their price and expect the amount specified.  Because they own their business, they will not have to pay someone else a portion of their fee.  However, if coordinators, photographer, videographers, or florists do not own their business, a tip of $30-$100 is anticipated, with coordinators typically receiving $50 to $100.

The easiest way to present vendors with tips is to have individual envelopes for each vendor (and each person in the case of catering staff and musicians.)  These envelopes should be organized before the day of the wedding, so you do not have to break away from the celebration to deal with money.

Wedding Wire Rated 2010

Music By Design, Ltd. is now WeddingWire Rated for 2010

Geneva, IL – July 7, 2010 – WeddingWire, the nation’s leading site for wedding reviews, just announced that Music By Design is WeddingWire Rated 2010 for the DJ category. WeddingWire Rated is an annual award program for wedding professionals based on hundreds of thousands of recent wedding reviews.

WeddingWire Rated, the industry’s first formalized review program, is the most recognized and trusted brand among engaged couples looking to locate wedding businesses. The award program recognizes wedding professionals across the country, like Music By Design, that have demonstrated an exceptional commitment to service.

Music By Design has 56 reviews on WeddingWire. These reviews have been written by past clients of Music By Design, and include detailed ratings and insightful descriptions of the newlyweds’ experience. From quality of service to overall level of professionalism, these reviews showcase the high level of service newly engaged couples can expect from Music By Design.

“We are excited to unveil WeddingWire Rated, now in its fourth year, as a way to recognize wedding professionals for their commitment to service,” said Timothy Chi, WeddingWire’s CEO. “WeddingWire Rated allows wedding businesses to clearly differentiate themselves in their market, while providing engaged couples an easy way to find the best services for their wedding.”

Music By Design would like to thank their past clients for sharing reviews on WeddingWire. Reviews for Music By Design can be found across the entire WeddingWire Network, which includes WeddingWire, Martha Stewart Weddings, Project Wedding and Weddingbee.

For more information, please visit Music By Design on WeddingWire.

About WeddingWire, Inc.
WeddingWire, the nation’s leading technology company serving the $70 billion wedding industry, is the only online wedding planning resource designed to empower both engaged couples and wedding professionals. For engaged couples, WeddingWire offers the ability to search, compare and book over 100,000 local wedding vendors, from wedding venues to wedding photographers to wedding cakes. WeddingWire also offers an online community and a suite of cutting-edge planning tools for weddings, including wedding websites, all at no charge. For wedding professionals, WeddingWire provides free online management tools creating the only market opportunity that gives local businesses control over their clients, reviews, leads and performance. Businesses that join the WeddingWire Network appear on and other leading sites, including, and (both part of eHarmony), and (part of the 1-800-Flowers family of brands).