Was Jessica Biel Shopping for Wedding Dresses in Paris?

Jessica Biel Power Shops in Paris | Jessica Biel

Jessica Biel in Paris April 6


It may not be the first item on every bride-to-be’s to-do list, but it’s often the most important: The Dress. 
And it looks like Jessica Biel may have found hers.

With wedding season fast approaching, Biel, 30, spent Friday on a seven-hour, high-fashion shopping spree in Paris which included stops at the salons of two major bridal designers.

Accompanied by her assistant – armed with a wedding planning book, sources tell PEOPLE – Biel fueled up with a coffee on the Left Bank’s Rue de Bac before popping into Giambattista Valli’s chic 8th arrondisement studio for nearly two hours Saturday afternoon.

A source tells PEOPLE that Valli has worked with Biel for years, beginning when “they were both just starting.”

“He makes the most fabulous wedding designs,” the source added.

She also made another stop at Elie Saab’s showroom across town. A source tells PEOPLE that Biel’s lengthy visits suggest she may have been in fittings.

Biel also stopped in at a kids’ boutique called Bonpoint in the Left Bank, as well as Christian Badou, a nearby kids’ furniture shop, 
prompting speculation she may be planning more than just a summer wedding. Visits to Maje, a women’s clothing store in the St. Germain area, a French linens shop, and two concept stores rounded out the trip.

A source says that at Merci, one of the concept shops in the Marais neighborhood, she looked at more furniture and children’s items.

The actress is said to have left Paris Saturday to continue her shop-a-thon at another major European fashion capital.

Reps for Biel and Timberlake could not be reached for comment.

Are Jessica Biel and Justin Timberlake Expecting A Baby?

Do you think Jessica Biel could be pregnant? Are she and fiance Justin Timberlake planning for more than just their summer wedding extravaganza?

According to a report from People.com, Jessica and her assistant were spotted in Paris this past Friday doing lots of what many assume was wedding shopping. Visiting a couple of top designers, including Elie Saab and Giambattista Valli, it’s expected that Jessica may have even had fittings for wedding dress ideas.

It’s the other stops that Jess made that have people wondering if there’s more than just wedding plans in their future, and speculating whether or not Jessica Biel and Justin Timberlake are already expecting their very first baby.

You see, Jessica and her assistant also spent a considerable amount of time in a children’s boutique called Bonpoint, located in the Left Bank—as well as inside of a shop specializing in children’s furniture, called Christian Badou.

Later in the day Jessica visited two concept shops as well—one of which specializes in—you guessed it—even more children’s apparel and furnishings.

Are Jessica and Justin planning a nursery along with a wedding? While she certainly doesn’t look pregnant, that doesn’t mean she’s not in the early stages of a pregnancy. After all, some women don’t show much at all until they’re about six months along.

What’s your take on this? Is it pure coincidence or should fans be eagerly awaiting yet another major announcement from Justin Timberlake and Jessica Biel?

Photo Source: Facebook

Lawrence country club to celebrate the winning wedding package of TLC’s … – The Times of Trenton

naprawa.JPGJulie and Nick Naprawa in their wedding garb.

They say that the key component to a memorable wedding is the food.

One bride’s menu — a combination of surf and turf — was so good, it passed the taste test of other brides on the TLC show, “Four Weddings.” The winning menu will be available for an encore tasting presentation for members of the Greenacres Country Club, Lawrence, on April 27.

“It was so good,” said Julie Naprawa, whose maiden name is Dederko. “I’m excited to eat it again.”

The couple, Julie and Nick Naprawa, who were joined in matrimony on Oct. 1, 2011, at the club, are the grand prize winners of the competitive wedding show. The couple won a honeymoon in Uruguay and a $5,000 cash prize.

The show, which aired in February, pits four brides against each other to judge each other’s weddings. Each bride must have been a guest at the others’ weddings so she can judge them on four categories: dress, venue, food, and experience. The Naprawa’s wedding scored 97 points, with a perfect score of 30 on the food.

The menu, prepared by Chef David Daniluk, included cocktail stations of dim sum, Latin American tacos, and a tapas station featuring seared sushi tuna with pickled vegetables, spicy calamari salad, crab and avocado crisps, fried Greek kasseri with amaretto honey, proscuitto and melon, and port wine glazed figs. The entree featured a duet of grilled petite filet mignon, jumbo lump crab cake, champagne mustard sauce, grilled red potatoes and asparagus, and marinated tomato and grilled sweet onion. The theme of the wedding, “Lovebirds,” was another strong suit of the day — even the cake was styled as birch wood.

The Naprawas met as students at McCorristin High School in 2000, when they were “married” in their senior year for a religious education class. They lost touch for years after that, but met again at the Trenton night club Katmandu in a chance meeting.

Their first date was in 2009, and after a whirlwind romance, the two decided to get married for real with an engagement in 2010. She filled out an application for the show that summer, and was selected after an interview process in New York.

The choice of Greenacres was a no-brainer for Naprawa, who has been employed at the club since 2004. She is the accounts payable/payroll coordinator at Greenacres, and said she knew they would do a good job for her.

“I’ve seen what they can do, and they are like family and take care of everyone,” she said.

As for the television show’s involvement, Naprawa said the cameras were nonintrusive.
“They let us enjoy our day,” she said, noting that she and her husband only did interviews before and after the affair.

“They filmed it from a guest’s perspective and let us have fun.”

The other brides were treated just as warmly, as they attended as guests and got to participate in the ceremony’s fun — including dancing (entertainment was a DJ with a live drummer), champagne, and “all the good stuff.”

Naprawa described her dress as “simple, but elegant,” with a sweetheart neckline. Her bridesmaids wore an eggplant color, she said.

The couple honeymooned in Aruba and will take the vacation in Uruguay within the next year.

Naprawa said she definitely would recommend future brides apply to participate on the show, which has an application process through its website.

“It was fun,” she said, adding that she enjoyed visiting the other bride’s weddings. “Anyone who likes going to weddings will enjoy it.”



Follow the Times of Trenton on Twitter.

Five-star judgment in the history of consumer rights

Subject: Hotel liable for injury suffered by the guest due to defect designing of rooms.

Backdrop: Here is a unique landmark judgement, where a five star hotel has been held liable to compensate its guest for the injury suffered due to faulty designing of its room.

Case Study: For accommodating the invitees to his wedding in Goa, Siddhartha Bhimrajka had booked several rooms in Park Hyatt Goa Resort Spa, a five-star hotel belonging to Blue Coast Hotels and Resorts.

Amongst the invitees were Vinay Rajpal, a 29-year-old businessman and his wife Ravina. On their arrival on July 7, 2005, the Rajpals were welcomed by the hotel staff and escorted to room no. 321 on the ground floor. The Rajpals found the room to be nice and pleasant, but the bathroom appeared to be peculiar. However, they did not say anything and accepted the room allotted to them.

On July 9, the day of the wedding, the Rajpals attended a pool-side lunch party. Even though alcohol was served, they did not consume it. After returning to their room, they decided to take a shower. The bathroom had three steps to go down to the bathing area and there was a handle bar to the right. On the second step, Vinay Rajpal slipped badly and fell on his face with great force, resulting in fractures of the right mandible and left side of ramus.

Vinay was taken to Apollo Victor Hospital, where he was administered first aid. After contacting doctors in Mumbai, he was flown by a chartered flight of Air Ambulance Service and admitted to Jaslok Hospital in Mumbai. He was operated upon the following day and discharged on July 16. However, his mouth was kept closed upto July 19 and he was unable to do his normal duties for a period of one year.

Vinay had sent a legal notice to the hotel for compensation, followed up with reminders. The hotel’s insurers responded, contesting the claim and denying any negligence on the part of the hotel.

In September 2007, Vinay filed a consumer complaint before the Goa state commission claiming a compensation of Rs 30 lakhs. He claimed that he had suffered fractures due to a fall because the design of the bathroom was faulty and the housekeeping personnel had failed to maintain it properly.

The hotel defended itself by pointing out that the same room no. 321 had been in use since the year 2002. Over the years, several guests had used it without any complaint or accident. Even the Rajpal couple who had checked in on July 7 must have used the bathroom thrice prior to the incident occurring. No grievance had been made by them regarding its design. Vinay slipped and fell, but his wife Ravina had not met with such an accident. So Vinay’s fall could not be attributed to any fault in the design of the bathroom or due to any negligence of the management or its employees. It was merely an accident. Advocates Farhan Dubash and B D Nazareth appeared for Vinay, while the hotel was represented by Advocates Rajshekar Rao and D V Patkar. Vinay as the complainant and Mr. Marar, the assistant director of finance who had filed the reply on behalf of the hotel, were cross-examined. After a detailed hearing, the commission, presided over by Justice Britto and Member Prabhudesai, passed an order on January 25, 2012, holding the hotel liable to compensate Vinay.

The commission noted that the photographs revealed that it was a sunken bathroom which could be used as a shower as well as a bathtub, and to reach it, three slanting steps had to be climbed down without proper support. The floor of the bathroom cum bathtub was made of unpolished natural stone known as ‘Tumble Rock’, while the steps leading to the bathroom were made of polished Egyptian marble with a slant towards the bathroom to ensure that excess water does not accumulate on the steps.

The commission did not agree with the hotel’s defence that the bathroom could not be considered faulty as no accident had occurred to the Rajpals during their first two days of stay. The commission noted that the hand railing was short and was not available for support while taking the second or third step. It was also inconveniently placed at a low level so that even a person of average height would have to bend to hold it. Thus, there was no support for getting down the slanting polished marble steps. The commission concluded that the bathroom had been constructed and maintained disregarding the safety of the guests.

Negligence means a breach of duty to exercise due care expected of a reasonable prudent person. It is common knowledge that the slightest wetness on a polished marble floor or on a slanting polished floor is extremely dangerous. The hotel ought to have foreseen that the faulty designing of the bathroom could lead to an accident, but had been negligent in this regard, thereby entitling Vijay to claim compensation.

Accordingly, the commission awarded reimbursement of medical expenses and cost of the chartered air ambulance. In addition, notional loss of income at Rs 3,750 per month for three months was also awarded. For the pain and trauma which entailed the insertion of titanium plate implants and screws requiring the jaw to be sealed for ten days, the commission awarded a further compensation of Rs.3 lakhs. Thus, in all a total compensation of Rs 9,33,400 along with costs of Rs 10,000 was awarded.

Impact: This is a new milestone in the history of consumer rights.

The author is a consumer activist and has won the Govt. of India’s National Youth Award for Consumer Protection. His email id is jehangir_gai@indiatimes.com

News: Amber Rose & Wiz Khalifa Double Up For Wedding Plans

News: Amber Rose Wiz Khalifa Double Up For Wedding Plans

Saturday, Apr 7, 2012 11:55PM

Written by Cyrus Langhorne

Video vixen Amber Rose does not have to worry about getting stressed out over bridal planning as the 28 year-old hottie recently revealed fiancee Wiz Khalifa is by her side every step of the way.

Along with admitting she already has a wedding dress picked out, Rose described Khalifa as her best friend.

“We are not getting married for a while so I might change my mind,” Amber told OK! after disembarking off of Virgin America’s first fight to Philadelphia from L.A., “But I actually did find the dress that I want.” Amber has a “lot going on,” currently working on her first album, but still finds time to browse ideas for her upcoming nuptials. “I look through bridal magazines constantly and I look for references. I look through Vogue and a lot of high fashion magazines,” the Philadelphia native said before hitting up Virgin America’s launch party at the Palomar Hotel. Working together to plan their wedding ceremony must be a walk in the park after Amber and the “No Sleep” singer successfully collaborated on Wiz’s last mix tape. “Oh it’s easy!,” the socialite explained of working with Wiz, “Please, he’s my best friend so it’s a breeze.” Congratulations, Amber and Wiz! (OK! Magazine)

She recently revealed plans to settle down and have kids with Khalifa.

Amber Rose, who became famous overnight when she was dating Kanye West in 2010, is so madly in love with Wiz Khalifa she’s virtually asking, “Kanye Wno?” Amber tells Shira Lazar why she fell so hard for the rapper known for “Young Wild and Free.” “He was just so normal. He didn’t let the fame and money get to him. I needed that,” she says. “We fit.” (Wonder if she was subtly comparing him to Kanye?) Anyway, the gorgeous model, who is working on an album, says “I definitely go to Wiz for advice. Obviously he’s “The One,” because she’s planning life after a wedding. “We’re going to have 25 kids,” she joked. Then, she revealed, “We wanna have like four — that’s what we’re going to reach for.” (RumorFix)

This week, Rose talked about her current obsession with bridal planning.

“I think about it constantly,” the model, singer and actress tells PEOPLE. “Like all day. No matter what I’m doing I always have my wedding on my mind. So I’m really excited. … I pick up all the bridal magazines. I rip out all the pages and I pull our references from fashion magazines — I even pick up food magazines to see what I want at my reception.. I’ve picked out the most beautiful wedding dress I’ve ever seen,” she says. “But, you know, we’re not getting married for a while so I might change my mind.” (People)

Recently, Khalifa opened up on his first date with the blonde-haired bombshell.

“It was when I was moving out to L.A. and she had actually already lived there at the time and we lived in Hollywood. We were trying to find a nice little spot to get something to eat- something low key. We just went to Mel’s diner, sat down, got some turkey burgers and some strawberry lemonade … and that was our first date.” (Global Grind)

Check out some recent Amber Rose footage below:

Why the interest in Pinterest?

This social photo-sharing Web site has taken the online world by storm

If you’re trying to plan your perfect wedding or build your dream home, chances are you’ll be getting a lot of advice from your friends and family. Some are ideas you’ll want to keep in mind and other you might never consider at all. But getting all your ideas in one place can be a bit of a pain.

Facebook pages tend to wean in interest after a while and email groups tend to become boring. Which is why Pinterest, a social networking site that was started in 2009, has so many users. Over 12 million, in fact. So what’s all the fuss about Pinterest?

The user experience

Pinterest is basically an online scrapbook which lets you compile images according to subject. Recipes, home decorating, gardening, fashion, photography, DIY, you name it. Each individual scrapbook is called a ‘board’. You can have as many boards as you like on any topic of your choice

Like any other social networking site, Pinterest requires you to have a login ID and password to become a member of the site. And signing up still requires you to request an invite, although you’ll usually get your mail within a couple of days of signing up.

Once you login to your account, you’ll be given the option to add the ‘Pin It’ button to your browser. The Pin It button allows you to ‘Pin’ images of things you’re interested in to a board of your choice. When another user clicks on the pinned image, it automatically redirects them to the site from which it was pinned, thus driving traffic to other Web sites. Pinterest can also be ‘linked’ to your Facebook or Twitter profiles, so non-members can still see what you’re pinning.

The beautiful, simple user interface has many takers, most of them women. Figures show that the ratio of women to men users on Pinterest is 60:40. By pinning their favourite recipes or ideas for kids, women have been able to develop a network of fellow pinners who share the same tastes.

Pinterest can also be used between friends or family as a platform for discussion. When you create a Pinterest board, you can choose an option that allows select or any Pinterest users to pin relevant ideas. Hence, planning a wedding or getting home decor ideas becomes easier because you have all your ideas in one place.

Helping businesses

Since the images on Pinterest link back to the site from where they were pinned, this results in a lot of publicity for many brands like Kate Spade New York, Whole Food Once a user pins an item, any other pinner can ‘like’ it, comment on it or repin it to their own profile. Celebrity pinners the likes of Oprah Winfrey and Mark Zuckerberg or popular pins see thousands of repins. Many Web sites and blogs have a Pinterest button embedded in their websites which allows users to directly pin content, without having to use the Pin it button. Pinterest’s popularity makes it an ideal platform for small businesses to promote themselves by pinning images of the products they have on offer.

Copyright issues

While many businesses and individuals are profiting from the attention they get from Pinterest, there are many who have lodged complaints regarding copyright infringement. Although Pinterest does caution users to always credit the sources of their images, not everyone pays attention to this. However, it’s businesses, not users who are likely to be accused of copyright infringement. A regular user who doesn’t use Pinterest for commercial means isn’t the prime target here. But businesses who use images from other companies or individuals and Pin it on their own boards are likely to be slapped with a lawsuit.

Pinterest is run by a small team which is unprepared for the kind of success they’ve seen. In fact, when eWorld contacted the team, they responded saying they were overwhelmed with the responses they were getting and would be unable to give us personal comments. As the number of users multiply, they will be forced to make amendments to their terms and conditions. And hopefully they won’t face the same piracy charges that ruined Napster, because as of now, it’s one of the most refreshing social networks out there.

Wedding singers sing out about song choices

Hopefully, your concept of the vocalist at a marriage ceremony is not Adam Sandler in the 1998 movie, “The Wedding Singer.”

“He seemed more like a wedding dance singer than an actual wedding singer,” pointed out Julie Hlas, a veteran of numerous nuptials.

There are few events in which music can resonate so powerfully — either positively or negatively — with an audience. A wedding is one of them.

Think “Ave Maria” for the upside. Think “When a Man Loves a Woman” for the downside.

Hlas first sang at a wedding as a teenager.

“I think I was around the age of 13,” she estimated. “By the time I was 16, weddings were a regular occurrence in my weekend schedule. I once tried to count how many weddings I have sung at, but when I got over 100, names and years got fuzzy.”

The first time Brian Mathers was asked to sing at a wedding was right after he graduated from high school.

“My peers were starting to get married,” he recalled. “I may have been one of the few people they knew who could, or would, sing at an event like a wedding.”

Greg Gregerson was also a recent high school graduate when he began singing at weddings.

“I sang for more weddings than I can count until I was about 30,” he said. “I even have had the opportunity to sing for two weddings for the same person. I hope this one takes.”

It’s not all serious

A sense of humor helps when dealing with a future husband and wife and their choice of songs. Hlas dislikes the Carpenters’ popular “The Wedding Song,” sometimes called “There is Love.”

“I think it should be renamed ‘The Boring Song,’ or ‘There is Only One Note,’” she joked. “It was a blessed day when an organist from Sioux County shared a version of the song that had a key change in the middle of it – anything to break up the monotony.”

Mathers also disliked the Carpenters’ song.

“There was one very clunky sheet music arrangement that was out there and that everyone provided for their wedding,” he recalled. “Once I started accompanying myself though, I did my own basically unrecognizable arrangement of this, and for some reason people stopped requesting it.”

Gregerson hesitated on pointing out the most requested song from his repertoire.

“They seem to come in waves of popularity,” he clarified. “I have sung ‘The Lord’s Prayer’ more times that I can count, other standards and ‘When a Man Loves a Woman’ — imagine that. My most unusual request from a couple? The theme from ‘Aladdin,’ sung to a karaoke track.”

Song challenges

For difficulty in a song, Hlas ranked “Ave Maria” as one of the tops.

“First of all, you need to know how to pronounce the Latin,” she said. “You would be surprised to know the number of vocalists who botch that.”

“There are no difficult songs,” Mathers quipped. “Just difficult brides.”

“Another challenge is the people who want to get their money’s worth out of that darn wedding singer,” Hlas continued. “I once had 10 different songs to sing at a wedding. All that for $50. It was like a concert! But I was young and foolish then. Now, I tell them how much I charge for two songs and tag on an addition $25 extra per song. They can have all the music they want, but it will cost them.”

It’s not always the songs that are a challenge, Gregerson stressed.

“Most of time it’s not about the song as much as it is the circumstances,” he said. “I’ve sung for outdoor weddings that were so hot you couldn’t stand it. I’ve sung for weddings in parks that had such loud traffic noise you couldn’t hear anything.”

Making beautiful memories

But not all out-of-the ordinary occurrences have negative sides, Hlas pointed out.

“The most unusual wedding I did was in Camden, Maine,” she said. “It was in a gazebo overlooking the ocean on a rocky cliff, a very small intimate wedding. There was an amazingly gifted musician playing the harp and I got to sing an acoustic version of the ‘Our Father,’ surrounded by a lush forest and the sounds of waves crashing on the rocky shore below. Best wedding ever — simple, yet elegant. It still gives me goose bumps when I think of how beautiful that wedding was.”

“My niece, Erika, was married outdoors last summer in a fairly remote Rocky Mountain meadow,” Mathers said. “I ordinarily accompany myself on piano, but there was no way to get a piano up that mountain and I prefer not to work with recorded accompanist. So, I learned an arrangement of ‘Annie’s Song,’ which I played on portable xylophone/bells with a little mallet. This was unique, to say the least.”

Consider collaboration

Gregerson recommended couples not unilaterally choose their songs.

“People often ask for a pop song that they consider ‘their’ song and it has no place at a wedding, ” he said. “Pop music rarely translates to good wedding music. Case in point? ‘When a Man Loves a Woman.’”

“I agreed to sing at the wedding of my next-door neighbors in Lincoln,” Mathers said. “They asked if I’d sing ‘From This Moment On’ and I agreed at once because this is a Cole Porter standard I like a lot. But when I sang it at the rehearsal, my neighbors visibly blanched and said this was not the song they’d intended. They were thinking of Shania Twain’s song of the same title. I could not sell them on the Cole Porter tune, so I had to learn that Shania version overnight and although I play by ear rather than read music, I was able to just barely do this for them at the ceremony.”

Even with the stress associated with performing at a wedding, all three continue to do it — with caveats.

“These days I agree to sing for a wedding if I have known the bride and groom or their families very well and feel honored to be a part of their special celebration,” Gregerson said. “I also let them know that I would like to be a key part of the selection process and that I don’t feel comfortable singing just anything, especially if I feel it will detract from their service.”

“I do it because I’m weak,” Mathers confessed.

“Anymore, I just agree to sing at weddings of special friends and family members,” Hlas said. “I only say yes, when the request is pulling on a heart string. And I know the accompanist!”

Home living can have universal design, universal appeal

NEWARK — In 1998, Rosemarie Rossetti returned home from Grant Medical Center after a life-altering accident to the jarring realization that she could barely get in the front door.

Her husband, Mark Leder, had pushed her up their home’s newly built access ramp and through the doorway onto the carpet, where the wheelchair wouldn’t budge.

In addition to coping with the shock of being paralyzed from the waist down — a 3.5-ton tree fell on Rossetti as she was biking with her husband near Granville — Rossetti began to realize she’d have to deal with countless smaller hurdles from tasks she’d always performed with ease: moving through doorways, reaching glasses in a kitchen cupboard or just getting into the bathroom, much less using it.

“The only room I could be in was the kitchen,” Rossetti said, because its floor had no carpet.

During the next several years, Rossetti and her husband threw their efforts into finding a home that would be suitable to Rossetti’s condition. Despite a number of setbacks along the way, the couple became crusaders for the concepts of universal design and sustainability — not just for individuals with physical limitations, but for everyone.

Universal appeal

The Universal Design Living Laboratory, 6141 Clark State Road, Columbus, slated to open sometime this spring as a residence for Rosemarie and Mark as well as a model for the general public, is the picture of a user-friendly home. The couple worked with architects to plan it that way.

From the curbless showers with dual shower heads and a built-in seat to the elevator to the basement, the 3,500 square foot house has been designed to showcase concepts that can be applicable in large and small ways for people looking to grow old in their homes — and to any homeowner, whether or not they realize it.

“We instinctively use universal design in almost all designs,” said Travis Ketron, president of Ketron Custom Builders in Granville.

Ketron is a Certified Aging-in-Place specialist, meaning he “has been trained in the unique needs of the older adult population, aging in place home modifications, common remodeling projects and solutions to common barriers,” according to the specifications of the National Association of Home Builders.

But he prefers the designation “universal design” to “aging in place,” mostly because the concepts can be applied to anyone — and not many customers like to think about aging.

Examples include lever fixtures on sinks instead of knobs that twist, or lights that can turn on and off with a nudge of the elbow instead of the motion required to flip a switch.

“Some of the things that are appealing to everybody are universal design,” he said.

Bryce Jacob, vice president of Dave Fox Design Build Remodelers, uses automobiles as an example.

Features such as automatic windows have become standard — and also happen to be easier to use than their dated window-crank counterparts.

The same goes for universal design features such as curbless showers and open floor plans that are aesthetically pleasing, allow for abundant natural light and visibility, and also are more easily navigable for everyone.

No longer are kitchens merely “business central,” Jacob said, as in the past when meals were exclusively prepared there and then delivered to the dining room.

Instead, they’re a gathering place, and remodels as well as new builds in years to come will reflect that, Jacob said.

“What they have is joined space,” he said.

Staying home

As the baby boomer generation continues to age and plan for the future, many individuals — according to a 2005 AARP survey, almost 90 percent of adults 50 and older — are opting to stay in their homes as long as possible.

That means making accommodations that will facilitate movement, everyday activities and overall independence.

Popular features to accomplish this include first-floor master bedrooms, bathrooms and laundry, abundant natural and artificial lighting, open floor plans and handrails and grab bars — or accommodations for them to be placed in strategic locations in the future.

“It’s inclusive design. It’s good design. It’s looking at not only the house and the space,” Rossetti said, “but also everything that goes into it.”

Her favorite features of her new dwelling place include the accessible tub and shower in the bathroom and a steam table in the kitchen — which, incidentally, boasts four counter heights and knee space under the cooktop, whose controls are in the front where Rossetti can reach them.

“With a name like Rossetti, there’s gonna be some spaghetti cooked in there,” she said.

Jacob said varying counter heights also can help meet the needs of family members of different height and stature.

As a cooking fan who is friends with people almost a foot taller than him, Jacob knows the frustration of trying to cook in a home whose countertops have been designed to accommodate a 6-foot-7 resident.

Varying counter heights make it possible for residents of all ages and stages in life to function in the kitchen enjoyably — a key tenet of universal design.

“It’s putting thought into design so that it accommodates the user of the space,” he said.

Practical application

When is a good time to think about universal design? There’s no single answer, but it doesn’t hurt to consider during your next (or even first) home purchase or remodeling project, no matter how small.

Ketron asks some customers doing bathroom remodels if they would like blocking installed behind their walls in case they decide in the future that they’d like a grab bar there — even if they’re not ready to consider the possibility right now.

Lever handles on doors and plumbing fixtures already are working their way into mainstream building, as are open floor plans.

Adding features such as non-slip flooring and easy-to-clean surfaces — as opposed to, for example, shower tiles with grout that tend to collect mold — are smaller ways universal design can be incorporated into a home without making changes to its structure.

“Product selection is a big part of it,” Ketron said.

In the long run, incorporating universal design into a house is something that can be done gradually and intuitively as residents consider their intentions for the future. It doesn’t need to be a large-scale project — although it can be.

Chances are, whether it’s a light switch, door knob or showerhead, something in your home already has been made with universal design in mind.

“It’s a lot of little things that people don’t think about,” Ketron said.

You can afford the wedding you want

With lay-offs, salary freezes, student debt, and numerous other bills, adding wedding planning to the mix can drive anyone crazy. It certainly doesn’t help that vendors tend to double their prices when they hear the word “wedding.” According to the American Wedding Study published in BRIDES magazine, the average wedding cost $28,082 in 2009. Even though that number has dipped to $26,501 for 2011, it’s still daunting. Let’s face it, that’s twice the cost of my first car for just one day of celebration.

When my partner and I decided to get married we were determined to pay for the wedding ourselves with minimal help from our parents. About two months into the planning, we realized what an overwhelming task we’d undertaken. We have no credit cards. Our student debt is steep. Our bills are surmounting. Yet, we had to find a way to pay for our wedding (in cash, no less). That’s when we started seeing how important our budget – and sticking to it – really was.

Despite the stress-inducing numbers and research, you can afford to have the wedding you want. It can also be (relatively) stress-free. Here are a few guidelines to get you started on planning your wedding in a recession:

n Plan ahead, and stick to your plan. If you’re in a similar position to my partner and me, loans and credit cards are not an option for you. And really, do you want to go into debt for one day of celebrations? The most important thing you can do is plan early. Before you start picking out your dream vendors, create a budget. Look at your finances and figure out how much you can save between now and your wedding date. There’s no point in falling in love with a $3,000 wedding gown when you crunch the numbers and realize you can only afford $600. After you know what you and your partner can afford, talk to both of your parents. See if they want to contribute, and how much. The money talk is hard, especially if you aren’t close with your future in-laws, but it’s necessary early in the planning. Once you know how much you can spend, you can allocate your funds accordingly.

n Prioritize the aspects of your wedding. Everyone wants their David Tutera-style wedding, with everything coordinated and matching, but few of us have a David Tutera budget. Sit down with your partner and discuss the most important aspects of your wedding. The items at the top of your list should take financial priority. If you have a large family that you can’t imagine not being at your wedding, then make sure you allocate enough of your budget to accommodate them. If you’d like to have chair covers, but they aren’t essential to your vision, leave them off the list unless you have money left over. (Chair cover rentals in NEPA tend to run between $1 and $2 per chair. If you have a 150-person guest list, be prepared to spend up to $300 on chair covers alone.) Remember that most of your expenses may seem small at first ($2 per person to upgrade from white wine to champagne toast), but once they are multiplied by the number you need or the number of guests, the cost may not be worth it to you.

n Consider DIY projects. Most brides are shocked when I tell them how easy and cheap making your own wedding pieces can be. The most important part of deciding DIY projects is weighing and comparing the cost of finding a vendor to doing it yourself. Cost does not mean simply money. Take into consideration the time and effort needed to make things yourself versus the ease of using a vendor. For example, cake pop bouquet centerpieces cost approximately $15 to $25 per table. With the right planning, making the centerpieces could cost you as little as $3 per table. However, you have to keep in mind the time to bake all the cake pops, decorate them, and put together the centerpieces yourself. Only you and your partner can determine which DIY projects are worth the energy to you, and which make more sense to purchase from a vendor.

n Don’t forget your friendors. Friendors are your friends who are vendors. Often times you will know someone who can provide a service to you for a discount or as a wedding gift. Like DIY projects, you have to consider the ramifications of using friendors. Sometimes they work out fantastic and you get exactly what you wanted for a price you can afford. But other times working with a friendor can cause more stress than it’s worth and put a strain on your friendship. Again, weigh the “cost” of using a friendor versus the cost of finding an outside vendor. Very often, the choice will come down to the dynamic of your relationship with the friendor and mutual trust.

n Be honest with yourself. This advice was given to me by a fellow bridal consultant, and it couldn’t be more helpful. You have to be honest with yourself and with your partner. You need to have realistic expectations for your budget. You need to have honest expectations of your own abilities for DIY projects. You need to be aware of how much time you have and what sacrifices you will have to make (financially, personally, wedding-related) to make your budget wedding a success.

Customized bridesmaid dress makes a practical gown

I’m practical. Never dreamed of having a lavish gown. Didn’t want to endure a long hunt for bargains.

So four little words from the saleswoman spoke to me: “Bridesmaid dress. In white.”

Yes, I’m wearing a bridesmaid dress to my own wedding. It’s simple, elegant, relatively cheap and easy. Talk about putting the “bride” in bridesmaid.

When I showed up at my local Macy’s bridal salon on my first day of dress shopping, I explained that I wanted something elegant, good for an outdoor summer wedding, at a price that wouldn’t rival the liquor bill.

What the saleswoman suggested is a little-known trick that can save hundreds of dollars or more on a wedding dress. Perhaps even better, you can customize your wedding dress however you like it; bridesmaid dresses are usually basic — satin or silk, without the beads, lace and other frills on many traditional gowns.

And at anywhere from $100 to $300, there’s no traditional price tag either. Get a bridesmaid dress in white, ivory or whatever color you want. Wear it as is. Or glam it up with accessories and have a unique — and cost-effective — look.

It’s called a wedding dress hack, I’d later find out.

Happy with my plan, I couldn’t help looking at the women sorting through the expensive gowns at the store. Why would they want to spend thousands on a dress for one day? They could spend far less, still look amazing and save the rest for their honeymoon or a house. Why didn’t I feel their urge to splurge? Was something wrong with me?

Not at all, says Meg Keene, author of “A Practical Wedding: Creative Ideas for Planning a Beautiful, Affordable, and Meaningful Celebration.” I simply hadn’t bought into the wedding myth, she says.

The myth is why so many weddings keep getting bigger and prices keep going up. Women see the glamour and feel they are supposed to have it, regardless of cost, says Keene, who started the blog “A Practical Wedding” when planning her own nuptials in 2008.

Dresses are among the biggest costs of a wedding, averaging nearly $1,200, according to The Wedding Report, Inc., which tracks industry spending. And don’t forget accessories, headpieces and veils. An extra $250, please. The average U.S. wedding now costs more than $26,000.

There are so many other options: bridesmaid dresses, prom dresses, vintage, renting, borrowing and making.

Women like me who seek out alternatives sometimes wonder if they’ll look like a bride. But, says Keene, there’s no one way to look.

“You remember how your wedding felt, not how it looked,” says Keene, who wore a $250 vintage dress to her wedding.

After deciding that I would customize a bridesmaid dress, I allowed myself one indulgent experience at a designer wedding-gown studio so I could get ideas.

I took all that knowledge back to my original salon, to my saleswoman friend. In minutes, I found the dress.

Final price? The tag said $205, but after a bridal salon-wide sale of 15 percent off, it was $174.25, before tax. Bam.

Now I’m planning my accessories.

The question I get is always the same: “What about your bridesmaids? What are they wearing?” Bridesmaids? I’m not having any.

We’ve decided to elope.