Archive for the ‘weddings’ Category

Cara Carriveau, NBC Chicago Street Team

Michael Buble has sold 22,000,000 albums (so far) worldwide. His singing voice is impeccable.  His songs capture romance, heartache, love and every other emotion that goes along with any relationship you’ve ever been in. His song “Everything” is a very popular first-dance song at weddings. And his live performances are unreal. No wonder he’s got millions of fans worldwide chomping at the bit, anticipating the release of his third album “Crazy Love”. The album was initially supposed to be released on October 13, but due to fan demand the album will now be released 4 days prior (October 9). You can pre-order it now.

I had the priveledge of being the very first radio personality in the USA to speak to Michael Buble as he begins his mass promo for his new album.  An even bigger honor was having him serenade me…I still have the goosebumps!

Listen to our conversation in Cara’s Connection at the WTMX website:

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rebecca_1Rebecca Taras, NBC Chicago Street Team


According to the American Greeting Card Association, June is the most popular month to get married. Even though it has passed and the fourth of July is a sign that summer is about half over, it is still hard not to pass a church without a wedding party spilling out of it. It’s the height of vacation season, yet the bean at Millennium Park isn’t just a hot spot for tourists to snap a cheeky pic or two. Author Leah Ingrim of Plan Your Wedding…..In No Time, says a bride spends an average of 250 hours planning her big day – practically a second job! While you’re on your own for finding the perfect cake topper and Vera Wang imposter gown, The James Hotel provides the bride with stress free solutions to help you look and feel your best. And just in case you want to put a little birdie on the shoulder of the person responsible for planning your shower, David Burke’s Primehouse has a fun option that is sure to beat a rousing game of pin the veil on the bride at the suburban banquet hall.

Buffed, Brushed and Beautiful

There are still a lot of people that don’t know The James has a spa by Asha…why is this? After all, its cozy, friendly and the services offered rival any high-end hotel, sans the occasional exclusivity that keeps a local from enjoying their own city.  Of course, the convenience of having  J-bar and David Burke’s Primehouse downstairs provides an opportunity to extend that day with the girls. 

But if you’ve got family coming into town for the big day or need a place to call base-camp, The James Spa by Asha can help de-stress any pre-wedding jitters with a soothing massage, erase the signs of sleep deprivation with a Tourmalinene Charged Radiance Facial, or get that body ready for the honeymoon with the Asha Body Scrub (you know you’re thinking about that bikini.) The Spa can also take care of hair and makeup for the bride and her bridal party, which takes place within a guest room for lighting purposes. The entire list of services is available here: http://jameshotels.com/downloads/gym-spa/thejames-thespa-menu.pdf , so the bride can begin to customize her own experience.

Gather the Troops

Similar to the phrase “if mama ain’t happy, ain’t nobody happy,” a body bashing bride is liable to bring down the rest of the group. The James offers a Bridal Bootcamp which is specifically designed to target all those spots that the bride would think of when floating down the aisle at the ceremony, or the beach on her honeymoon.  Enter Jim Karas Personal Training to the rescue. Here’s the skinny: NBC-bridal bootcamp

Bridal Package 1: Includes 1 consultation and 24 personal training sessions with a Jim Karas Fitness Professional. On this program, you will train 3 times a week for 8 weeks. This package is $1,999 when training at their Lincoln Park Studio, $2,239 when training in-home, and $2,239 when training at The James.

Bridal Package 2: Includes 1 consultation and 16 personal training sessions with a Jim Karas Fitness Professional. On this program, you will train 2 times a week for 8 weeks. This package is $1,499 when training at our Lincoln Park Studio, $1,659 when training in-home, and $1,659 when training at The James.

And because safety comes in numbers, the bride can also book individual sessions for $90 plus $30 for each additional person, so start rounding up mama and the rest of the girls. Brides that are having their wedding at The James receive the Bridal Boot Camp session half off the weekend of their wedding!

The Urban Shower

If you can’t stomach the thought of  balloons, Jordan almond party favors and twenty sets of eyes staring at you in silence while you open your gifts, then this one is for you. Having  David Burke’s American Dim Sum Brunch for your bridal shower promises that there will be something for everyone (even your picky friend from Cali), not to mention entertainment as the carts roll by serving up dishes that provide whimsy in presentation and wicked delight as far as taste is concerned. Copious small bites will come your way (think baby pancakes with citrus butter and mini Prime burgers) and what group of women wouldn’t appreciate a sundae/dessert cart?  Of course,  the opportunity to inject mini “fortune” donuts with gooey caramel sauce provides far more entertainment than any shower game every could. NBC-James-DessertCart[1]

While the shower can take place in David Burke’s Prime House, The James Club or the library/den (two smaller event spaces) offer more privacy.  The entire list of private event spaces can be viewed here: http://www.jameshotels.com/Chicago-Hotel.aspx?name=The-James-Chicago&page=Modern-Event-Space. Director of Special Events extraordinaire, Sinisa Srdic, can help to customize and coordinate all party needs. Pricing structure ranges, but is approximately $44 per person. While almost everyone loves a bottomless Bloody Mary, Mimosa, or just plain ol’ bubbly,  the sommelier can prepare wine tastings as opposed to traditional beverage service.

While flipping through piles of bridal magazines may seem fun at first, consider The James a place where you can mark off multiple items on your to-do list simultaneously – and without compromising quality and experience. If anything, your wedding (and all the events leading up to it) may be the one they’ll be talking about for years to come.

For more information, visit http://www.jameshotels.com





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rebecca_1Rebecca Taras, NBC Chicago Street Team

With bridal season right around the corner, Lincoln Park’s Equinox Fitness Club is offering a day of beauty for brides-to-be, along with a little butt kicking mixed in to help whip them into shape before their big day.

Equinox Bridal Boot Camp is scheduled for Saturday from 2 – 5 p.m., and you don’t have to be a member of the club to participate.

Equinox certified trainers will start the day by taking the brides through a 60 minute high-energy, muscle-fatiguing boot camp class.

The class is geared to help increased cardiovascular and muscular endurance, burn fat and calories, improve balance, coordination and posture, and gain overall strength and lean muscle tissue.

Click here to read the rest of this post on NBCChicago.com.

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rebecca_1Rebecca Taras, NBC Chicago Street Team
Even if you’re not getting married, chances are you know someone in your circle of friends that is. If you are the lucky bride-to-be, then an event at the historic Drake Hotel this Thursday should be on your radar.

Read the rest of this post on nbcchicago.com.

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Dave Leonard, NBC5 Street Team, (Video)
Yesterday I took an impromptu trip to the movies to see the advanced screening of “Not Easily Broken” at the AMC River East Theater (located at 322 E. Illinois St.). Initially the movie wasn’t on my “must-see” list for 2009, but my expectations were pleasantly surpassed in this light-hearted family drama.

“Not Easily Broken” is an adaptation of the book by the same name written by renowned pastor and author Bishop T.D. Jakes who also served as one of the producers of the film along with it’s star, Morris Chestnut (“Boyz N The Hood”, “The Best Man”). The film centers around a couple in the prime of their marriage, Dave (played by Chestnut), a former baseball player turned modest construction foreman who’s athletic professional dreams were short lived by a career-ending injury and Clarice, played by Taraji Henson (“Baby Boy”, “Curious Case of Benjamin Button”), a successnot_easily_broken_113ful real estate mogul who is into her career and lifestyle more than her husband. This creates conflict in the relationship when Dave begins to lose interest as a result of Clarice’s neglect and puts his focus into a local baseball group he coaches in the inner-city of Los Angeles. Things are further complicated when the two are involved in a serious car accident that nearly cripples Clarice, and forces Dave to be her caretaker while having to deal with the increasing household bills and his meddling mother-in-law convincingly portrayed by Hollywood staple, Jenifer Lewis (“Madea’s Family Reunion”, “What’s Love Got To Do With It”).

This film takes the audience on an emotional rollercoaster ride through the eyes of Dave, as a man who is made to feel like his manhood is being stripped away at every turn, but he is “not easily broken” and fights to save his marriage, the kids in the community he cares for and his sanity. His desire to have a family of his own is also a driving force of his character. Chestnut eloquently portrays this conflicted man amongst a great supporting cast that includes Wood Harris (“The Wire”, “Remember The Titans”), Kevin Hart (“Soul Plane”, “Scary Movie 4”), Niecy Nash (TV’s “Reno 911!”), Eddie Cibrian (“The Cave”, TV’s “Third Watch”) and Maeve Quinlan (“South of Nowhere”).

This definitely a film geared towards married couples, but I would recommend it for families as well due to the fact that it’s short on profanity and big on heart. There are of course moments midway through the film that will tug at the heartstrings which I won’t give away here. TD Jakes first foray into film, 2004’s “Woman Thou Art Loosed” which starred Kimberly Elise was also a welcomed surprise when I saw it and this one follows suit. For those of you who may shy away from religious-themed films, Jakes and the director (the great Bill Duke in this case; “Hoodlum”, “Cover”, “Rage In Harlem”) do a good job of conveying Christian family morals that make the viewer relate, while not being “preachy” and still keeping the film contemporary and also not limiting it to being a film catered to predominantly African-American audiences I might add. If you’re not too busy watching Kate Hudson and Anne Hathaway battle it out in Vera Wang or being terrorized by torchered souls and exorcisms this weekend, I would add “Not Easily Broken” to your “must see” movies this weekend.

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Blagica Stefanovski, NBC5 Street Team (Video)

Just Say No. I recently went to House of Brides Couture with my four wedding day divas. This past Sunday was gorgeous, simply gorgeous. 80 degrees, sunny skies and an OK brunch at the bistro next to The Peninsula (prices are a bit pricey, but the quiches are tasty…don’t order takeout coffee here, you’ll pay an arm and a leg). We had a 2 pm appointment at the House of Brides, 730 N. Franklin. When I made the appointment, I was told we’d only have one hour. Oh….kay.

Let’s set the scene. You are a bride-to-be, have your girlfriends in town (two of which flew in) and you are spending a Sunday in your favorite American city. The group is one big giggle machine, sharing stories, talking about dress ideas and having a good time. As soon as we reached the House of Brides foyer, that changed. We arrived into a waiting area, nicely decorated with sample dresses, tiaras, shoes, etc. Two women sat behind the counter, asked my name and turned me over to a KIOSK to register. That’s right. A kiosk. The happy mood we were in turned into a somber feeling of being at a museum, scolded by the guards at the door.

My cousin was next to me and tried to hold back her laughter. This ‘kiosk’ was meant to register me, but this is assuming I’d even purchase anything at this store. The machine asked for my name, address, number, wedding date, number of girls…I expected my social security number to come up next. The ladies at the counter sensed my frustration and came over to help me, only to make me feel more like a child being scolded for not finishing the finger-punching into the kiosk. I just wanted to look at dresses. I wanted my girls to have fun, help me pick the look of the wedding and enjoy the day.

After the kiosk exchange, we were sent to the back of the store, had a very brief overview of ‘take in as many as you want, but try to limit it to 5’ and that was it. The whole feeling of that dress area seemed like a hastened rush. As the bride, I was trying to look at all the styles, see what my friends and cousin liked, all while wondering if a sales person would come help us. No suggestions. No feedback on designers. No information on process of the store, ordering, etc. That came later….

We all decided on one style of dress and the ladies were happy. The color was chosen, along with the dress sashes. The person assigned to us, came over, took the measurements and as she walked away said, “Ok, the dresses are $145 and if you get them altered here, that’s $75. 98% of dress orders need to be altered.”

Whatchu talking about, Willis?

What a great way to slip that in, post fact. I was a bit in shock with the poor service and the $75 alteration charge and left House of Brides in a mood 180 degrees from where I was earlier that day.

One of my friends is from my hometown. She reminded me of the nearby phenom salon, Maria’s Bridal, that took care of both her gown and our bridesmaid dresses. Our eyes lit up. After a brief shopping stroll on State Street, Goldie and I went back to my condo, whipped out the laptop and found the exact dress on the manufacturer’s site. From there, we called Maria’s Bridal and BAM, they have the same dress – for $133 without alterations. Not only that, the woman on the phone asked about my wedding, how I met Michael, etc. Basically things that no one asked me at House of Brides. No warm and fuzzy chat, nada.

Thanks, but no thanks. The good news is, the girls will be working with Maria’s Bridal of Rochester, Michigan, giving them new business. House of Brides won’t be getting my business.

Weddings are a big deal and even though your store is in the business of ‘the same ole’ day of showing dresses, your brides aren’t. Weddings happens once in a lifetime for most brides and they could use a little oohing, aahing and how are yous.

(before I wrote this post, I called House of Brides and provided their front desk staff with this exact feedback…after trying to talk to the woman who helped us…then getting disconnected..then calling again).

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