Vendor Hunt: a Pittsburgh edition

Alternate title:  how I fell in love with another man.

Since our venue is pretty all-inclusive, we didn’t need to search separately for a caterer, a bakery, or to bring our own alcohol. All of those things could have saved us money if we had prioritized the money over the ease of paying one place to do all of those things for us. With a longer engagement, I may have been more apt to do more things ourselves. But with only 3 months to plan and execute an entire wedding, I have been grateful that we opted for the “easy” plan.

Our cake will come from Lincoln Bakery, in Bellevue. More on that later.

The catering and alcohol is done by The Chadwick, with neat little packages tied up with a bow, so all we needed to do was point to our choice of package. We’re opting for the buffet with the house brand bar package, but we did purchase some upgrades, like an additional hour of bar (for $2.50 a person, what a steal!), and a champagne toast to have at midnight.

Even though the food and booze is taken care of by our venue, we still needed some basics: a photographer and DJ, for starters. We’re opting out of the other extras, like videography, a photo booth, candy bar, etc.

For photography, I still liked and wanted Tressa, so I contacted her to check on her availability. Thankfully, she was still available for our date, so, booked! That was easy.

Our awesome venue coordinator, Stacy, mentioned during our initial tour and meeting that The Chadwick had pretty specific requirements for DJs as far as liability insurance. While we could easily assume that any reputable DJ in the area would carry the appropriate coverage, Stacy recommended that we check with her prior to booking any vendors, just to make sure that they were approved. Rather than finding our own and then vetting them later, I just asked Stacy if she had a list of preferred vendors that we could look at as far as DJs. She sent me the list, and I contacted a few DJs from the list.

Much like the initial venue search, many of the DJs were already booked for our date, between weddings and holiday parties for New Year’s. I sent my inquiries on a Saturday afternoon, and I didn’t expect any responses until at least the following Monday, if not Tuesday (Monday happened to be a holiday). So, imagine my surprise, when my #1 choice responded with a quick email to say that he had our date available, and was busy with events (Saturday night, not surprising that a musician would be busy!), but would respond first thing on Monday with pricing options. I had already told A that this guy was my favorite of all the options, but his quick response all but settled the deal!

So, who was it? Steven Vance. I’ll do a full review after our event, but I cannot even begin to tell you how ecstatic I am to have Steven at our wedding. Not only is he incredibly talented, but he has been amazing to work with thus far. He responded promptly and told me the basic package pricing, and it was a little higher than what we had wanted to pay. But he offered the option of having other musicians who work with him (but not him specifically) for our event at a cheaper rate. “Budget options,” as he called them. I told him the price we had wanted to pay, and said we’d be looking at the budget options, and we were lucky enough to score Steven himself for our date.

Steven Vance, photo credit Joanna Fassinger Photography.

In addition to having Steven playing violin for our ceremony music, and DJing our reception, he even added that he will play his electric violin for our cocktail hour and dinner. It’s going to add that extra something to make our night really special.
Check out the electric violin for yourself!

I am over the moon excited for the music at our wedding, and I can’t wait to share the post-event review with you all! If it’s half as special as I anticipate, I’ll probably be writing that post from cloud 9!


Holiday Venue Search: Pittsburgh Edition

Sorry for the radio silence, hive. It’s just that, you know, all my time has been spent DOING all of the things lately instead of writing about doing all of the things! But I’ve been busy and now that I’ve had a chance to catch my breath, I’m back to share some deets.

First things first, we had to find a venue. Knowing that we had a date in mind made it easier to narrow down venues, because they needed to have an opening for our new date. And that was how we ruled out a few places right off the bat.

With the focus on the New Year’s Eve party, most of the restaurant venues got ruled out, because they wouldn’t support the party we wanted to host. I dreamed of a winery wedding, but a winery didn’t really support a winter wedding.

So, I went for the given: hotels/banquet/event centers.

Because it was going to be New Year’s Eve, I ruled out the tempting venues in or near downtown Pittsburgh*. Sure, it could mean convenient transport (uber, anyone?), and gorgeous nighttime views and photo ops. But it would also mean jacked up holiday hotel rates, traffic, and practically forcing our local friends and family to stay in hotels downtown, because traffic leaving downtown at the end of the reception would be a nightmare.

North of the city it was. The first place I contacted was a banquet facility and restaurant referred to me by MOH Big Sis. She had suggested The Chadwick as a possible shower venue, mentioned that she knew other people who had had events there, and it was reasonably priced. I reached out to them, and Stacy, one of the event coordinators, got back to me within the day. We looked over the menu and packages, but even though it was basically all-inclusive, the overall price tag was pretty scary. A wasn’t prepared to commit to spending ~$100 a head, and I wasn’t fully sold on a place like that either.

A’s mom suggested a few places in their area, which I looked at and contacted, but unfortunately there was no availability.

Some of the places had pretty views, like The Magnolia Room.  Another, Futules’ Harmar House had a downstairs bar area that would’ve made for a fun party. Both of these places had pros and cons, but we didn’t even get to tour them because they didn’t have availability on our date. Both responded promptly by email to my inquiry, for which I was grateful even if they couldn’t accommodate us further.

So, I widened the search to hotels north of Pittsburgh, including Wexford and Cranberry Township, for the few local bees who may be venue hunting around these parts. 🙂

I inquired with the Marriott, and I loved that they had their full menu packages available online. They seemed to be more expensive than we had wanted, but ultimately we didn’t visit this one either because they didn’t have availability for our date.

So, with ~100 days until our wedding date, we visited The Chadwick. We immediately felt at ease with Stacy**, and even though the overall price tag was more than we had really wanted to pay, the price includes everything (venue rental, dinner, open bar, linens/tableware, and even the cake). There’s something to be said for a place that does weddings and large events all the time. They’ll plate our cookies, do all the decorating for us, and they have great reviews for service.

Once we got over the sticker shock, we signed a contract with The Chadwick, and that was that!

* For any local bees, the downtown options I had looked into somewhat seriously included the Rivers Club and Le Mont. Both seemed like valid options, but ultimately the location made them undesirable for our date.

** We have since been transferred to Amy, a newer employee at the Chadwick, who will be there to coordinate the details of our wedding. We have met with her twice and have been pleased with everyone with whom we have worked so far!

We’re Engaged! …Now What?

After A proposed, I had every intention of hanging in the newly-engaged, pre-planning phase for awhile. I figured he wasn’t in a hurry, I had literally no idea of when we should get married, and so it wasn’t even worth trying to figure out right then. Though the night we got engaged, A’s aunt asked if we had a date in mind, and MOH Big Sis asked me a day or two later if we had anything in mind. I told them both that we didn’t have any idea. We didn’t care about having the wedding on an anniversary, or any other special date. Truth be told, we have no idea on which date we actually met, and we narrowed down the date of our first date eventually for curiosity’s sake, but we don’t celebrate it or anything. So no “special dates” for us. Our calendar was completely open! Well, sort of.

There were a few times we did rule out right away – we didn’t want to get married in May because BM Abs has another wedding, July was out because BM Miss has two weddings in one weekend, and we have tons of family birthdays in July that make it difficult to plan anything that month. June was ruled out because of the annual Parisian family beach vacation, and I personally ruled out September because I didn’t want to repeat history of a fall wedding. So, basically, we had no idea what we wanted but knew we didn’t want half of the year. Which leaves, what, exactly? Well, it left me not wanting to deal with it, so we figured we would decide a date later and left it at that.

Until, randomly, while scrolling through Instagram, an idea struck me. Or, rather, a photo struck me. I saw a cute photo from a girl who graduated from my high school a few years before me, who is getting married on New Year’s Eve. The more I thought about it, the more I loved the idea. I half-jokingly mentioned it to BMs Abs and Miss, and they loved the idea and encouraged me to bring it up to A. I really thought he would be 100% against it because it meant a really short engagement, and much less time for him to adjust to his new engaged and then married status.

Not the actual NYE wedding that inspired me, styled by Lauren of Ryan Alexander events, photo by Nakai Photography

A asked me if I thought that it was possible to plan in 3 months, and I said I really wasn’t sure, but I thought we could try to look into some options and see how it went. We mulled the idea over for about a week, during which time I called my mom to discuss the idea with her. You see, Parisian mom & dad’s anniversary is New Year’s Eve! They don’t do anything big to celebrate their anniversary, but all the same I wanted to get their approval before we decided to do anything. Unsurprisingly, they didn’t care if we hijacked their anniversary for a wedding one year out of the 40+ years they’ve been married.

We think it’ll be a great anniversary for us to have, since our anniversary will always fall on/around a holiday (where we work, it’s a holiday), we’ll always have the following day off work, and maybe the biggest point, it gives us something to celebrate on a “holiday” that neither of us really cares much about. Last year we spent New Year’s Eve watching Star Wars, drinking champagne, and smoking cigars in the snow at midnight. While it was fun, it’s not like we care about doing anything big for New Year’s Eve. So this way, nothing really changes, we’ll still be hanging out together, we’ll just have something extra special to celebrate with each coming new year!

And that is how we very randomly went from just-engaged-and-no-date-in-mind to “holy crap, we’re getting married in under 100 days!” Time to get a move on, I suppose!

Parisian Proposal: Numéro Deux

While I’m excited to share wedding planning deets with you, I should probably let you know how we got here. From the very beginning of our relationship, A and I planned on getting married. We got along so well as friends, and there was a level of comfort between us that I’d never felt with anyone before. I remember saying to him, “had I known that you existed, that there was someone out there just like me, I never would have settled for anyone else.” Of course, I’m still a firm believer that everything happens for a reason, our paths to get to this point needed to be as twisted and messy as they were, and so on and so forth. So I wouldn’t change anything about how we came to be. But really, I wouldn’t have felt like such an oddball in this world if I had met him earlier. I guess that’s what growing up is all about though, right? Self -acceptance?

Anywho. We just clicked from the very beginning and there was no doubt in my mind that it was just a matter of time before we were married. So I was on the lookout for a proposal fairly early on. And I waited, and waited. Our friends would ask on occasion, “when are you guys just going to get married already?” At Christmas, A’s cousin asked us when we were getting married. By Valentine’s Day, even A’s mom was pushing for a ring, even sending him pictures of rings and trying to get me to talk wedding plans with her! On Mother’s Day, the family was making bets on when we would get engaged. A’s dad said he “[gave] it six months,” in his adorable Welsh accent. Well, future FIL wins by default, because even though everyone agreed it wouldn’t be long, he called it first, and it was about 4 months from then.

One day in August, A suggested that we “hang out in Oakland, grab some dinner, and reminisce.” I agreed, but reminded him that we had crew practice that night, so that particular night wouldn’t work. He shrugged it off, so my proposal alert went down, and I went back to believing we were just going to have a random date night. Nothing special. All the same, I went to my coworker in a slight panic, and told her that I was afraid I “may have just poo-poo’ed a potential proposal!” Now, A is pretty stubborn, so if he really wanted to propose, no amount of me resisting his plans would have stopped him. But I was nervous that I may have hurt his mojo if he was intending to propose and I screwed it up by annoyingly reminding him of our calendar obligations! His blase attitude didn’t match my level of concern, though, so I ended up shrugging it off as well. Even if I was still a little suspicious. Continue reading Parisian Proposal: Numéro Deux

Bonjour à Nouveau!

Hey there, hive! I’ve missed you. After a much needed hiatus from all things wedding, which included blogging, I’m back and shaking the rust off of my writing fingers! Okay, not entirely, because I use my fingers for contract writing all day at work, but I digress. It feels good to be back.

Many of you may not remember me, and that’s okay; I won’t hold it against you! You can catch up on my story here. I got engaged in March of 2012, was introduced to the hive as a blogger in January 2014, and in June 2014 I ended my engagement after 2+ years of planning. Needless to say, my time here was a little bit of a rollercoaster of emotions. Blogging for Weddingbee was a high point, but it ended all too abruptly.

But I’m here now to change all that. I’m back, and I bring good news! Well, for me anyway. You all have to hear my rantings and ravings for a little while longer, which you may or may not view as good news. 😉 That’s right… there’s a new Parisian wedding on the horizon!

GEEZE, I feel like I have so much to share with you! so much has happened since my last post here. Aside from the obvious positive things in my life over the past year, this little nugget came back into my life!

Bringing Josie home!
Bringing Josie home!

After 9ish months apart, Josie and I were reunited, for keeps! I’m happy to report she is snoring away next to me while I write this, silly little pup. Continue reading Bonjour à Nouveau!

Wedding Unplanning: The Wedding That Isn’t

Well, hive.  This is it.  It’s the day that I was supposed to become a Mrs.  The day I was supposed to wear my fabulous Maggie Sottero Bernadette gown, and walk through a beautiful outdoor garden, say some nice things, exchange some shiny new bling, and celebrate with my husband, family, and friends in a warm and rustic park setting.  The day I was planning for over two years.  This was supposed to be the best weekend ever.  The weather is even perfect for an outdoor wedding (always a freaking gamble in Pennsylvania).

I can say with all certainty that when I broke off my engagement to Monsieur P, I did not expect to feel a whole lot this weekend, or leading up to it.  I thought the weekend would come and go like any other, as plans filled in on the days that I had previously left open for wedding festivities.  My bridal shower day came and went, the bachelorette party day came and went, and I expected this weekend to be no different.

But ooooooooooh, it is different.  You see, friends, Miss Parisian is a damn hot emotional mess.  Every post you read where I was wholly keeping it together?  It’s all gone out the window and I’ve been increasingly emotional over the past couple weeks, culminating in “utter trainwreck” territory this week.

I am mourning my wedding that isn’t, and will never be.  I’ve gotten past the thrill of “new” life, and am missing my old life.  I don’t miss Monsieur P in that I want to go back, but I miss parts of our life together.  I miss our inside jokes, shared history, and it pains me to no end to lose family (his) and shared friends.  See what I mean?  Total mess.

I’m sorry that this update is seemingly all sad, but I just want to be honest.  It’s not all sunshine and roses, even when you’re usually a positive person who’s in charge of her emotions.  I’m feeling a little like there’s a dark cloud over my head right now, and I could break down at any moment.  I spent this morning tearing up at my desk when I thought about the alternate story, what I would have been doing today, tonight, tomorrow.

Now, because I’m a silver linings person, I have to say that I’m eternally grateful for the support of friends and family, and of course, all of you.  Thank you all for your kind thoughts, comments, and private messages; I really do appreciate each and every one.  Thank you to my fellow bloggers and especially honeymoon generation Bees for being a sounding board, support, and real-life friends throughout my wedding planning and subsequent un-planning processes. I’m spending this weekend road-tripping with some new friends, and hopefully I will be able to shoo this cloud away, once and for all.


Miss Parisian

Any tips on how to let this wedding sadness go?  Does anyone else have a delayed reaction to grief?

Wedding Unplanning: the Next Steps

So what do you do when you know you want to call off your wedding? Well, it depends on how close you are to the wedding, of course! If you’re like me, you already have booked your wedding vendors, you already have purchased your wedding bands, and you already own a house together and share a bank account. So breaking up ain’t easy.

Step 1:  Keep a Roof Over Your Head

For Monsieur P and I, one of the blessings was that we had a 3-bedroom house, and spare bedroom furniture, because we had kept both of our bedroom sets when we moved in together. So after the breakup, we could at least sleep in separate rooms and neither of us was relegated to the couch. But yes, living with someone when you just crushed their world is, you guessed it, preeeeeeeeeeetty awkward. Oh, hey, thanks for ruining my life, are you done in the bathroom yet? Needless to say, I spent as much time as I could with my friends instead of at home in that awkward situation. And actually, even before the breakup I had been feeling pretty uncomfortable when I was at the house, which ruined any positive feelings of home for me. I was anxious to get out and started looking for apartments as soon as I could.

My baaaaaaaabies that I lost in the breakup, Griffey the cat and Josie the Frenchie. Sorry for the no makeup selfie, but they just look so amused 😉

It took almost 2 weeks to find an apartment, but I was able to sign a lease and get my keys the same day, so I moved into my new apartment just 12 days after the breakup. Now, that wouldn’t always be doable in bigger cities, but I was fairly flexible as fair as what I was willing to pay and what kind of place I was looking for. I ended up with a cute good-sized studio apartment that is so “old Pittsburgh” style (it used to be a hotel), and though my rent is higher than my share of the mortgage, I cut out my commute, so I haven’t had to dip into my savings in order to keep a roof over my head. So what does that mean? Monsieur P could cover the mortgage on his own without my contribution, and the market isn’t great for sellers in our area right now, so he kept the house (we refinanced to take my name off of the mortgage). And with the house, he also kept the dog. My adorable little Josie pup, my Frenchie love, the dog that I pined over for months and jumped through hoops to adopt. Yep, he kept her, he won’t let me see her, and I’m not at all bitter about it. </sarcasm>

Step 2:  Who Keeps the Ring(s)?

In our case, there was no doubt in my mind that I was giving the engagement ring back to him. Some friends told me “oh no, that’s a gift, you should keep it,” but I knew I would never feel right taking the ring. Besides, what do you do with an engagement ring? Keep it and wear it? Of course not. Trade it in/sell it? I wouldn’t feel right doing that. To boot, I work with a number of lawyers, who told me that technically it’s not a gift, per se, and it’s a representation of a promise… a promise which I voluntarily broke. Good enough rationale for me, since I didn’t want to keep it anyway. So that one was easy: Monsieur P gets the engagement ring. As for our wedding bands, well, those were purchased with his line of credit and paid from our joint account, so he took them back to the jeweler as well.  Easy peasy, lemon squeezy.

Continue reading Wedding Unplanning: the Next Steps

Wedding Un-Planning: So Many Feels

So as I left off with my last post, there’s no wedding on the horizon for me!  So many people were shocked by the news, because on the surface, we seemed normal and happy.  But for me, this was a long time coming.  When I first started questioning my desire to get married, I had doubts.  Oh, so many doubts.  Like Mrs. Woodpecker before me, I didn’t want to be that chick who called off her engagement.  Is there a stigma for that?  I wondered if this was just typical “cold feet” and wedding nerves, and if I was being ridiculous for thinking I might not want to get married.

I had SO. MUCH. GUILT.  If I call off the wedding, we lose money, we lose our collective life together, the house, the pets, the bank account.  I’ll devastate our families and friends, and I’M RUINING SOMEONE’S LIFE.  Not just my own, but Monsieur P’s life.

While I was sorting through all of these emotions, I became so detached and withdrawn from everything.  My work suffered, my relationships suffered, I sat in silence for hours just mulling everything over in my head.  It was like I was in a bubble, totally lost in my thoughts.  I constantly questioned whether I even had the nerve to go through with it either way, to call it off or to make it down the aisle.  More than once I thought “nope, eff it, I’m just getting married.”  Because it was easier that way.  I can’t just go, my cds are in his truck!

A little comedic relief… Continue reading Wedding Un-Planning: So Many Feels

Parisian Wedding: Pass the Macarons

Well friends, I apologize for being MIA for quite awhile now.  These past few months have been a blur, but as things have started to slow down somewhat, I have to come back and make a big announcement.  I, Miss Parisian, am not getting married.  At least not right now, and not at all to Monsieur P.

There were a lot of things that happened, a lot of feelings to be had, a lot of talks that should or shouldn’t have happened.  But the end result is the same — no wedding.  And that’s okay!  Sometimes, some people are just not meant to marry each other.  And some people are better off as friends than a romantic couple.  You can’t fit a square peg into a round hole!  Like some Bees before me (Mrs. Snapdragon and Ms. Fondue, for examples) I’m finding this to be a positive thing, the rainbow after the storm.

Photo from Lamour de Paris

Since we last talked, things got pretty interesting.  I moved out of the house that Monsieur P and I jointly owned, opting to move back into the city from the suburbs.  I’ve been adjusting to living by myself again, for the first time since a brief stint in college sans roommates – and I am loving it!  I’ve been focusing my energy on working and spending time with my friends, cooking and eating healthier foods (except for as many macarons as a girl can eat), and spending time with my kitty babies.  I’m even looking into joining some new extracurricular activities.

and yup, still goofing off with Mrs. Palm Tree!
and yup, still goofing off with Mrs. Palm Tree!

It’s been a crazy ride, but I’m really enjoying life and feeling great about my decision.  I love Monsieur P, and I was (and still am) excited to get married one day.  I just realized that there were some things that I was not willing to accept, and love wouldn’t be enough to make me compromise.  Having those doubts and going forward with the wedding anyway just didn’t seem like a good way to start off a marriage.

So I called it off.  There was a lot of hurt, anger, shock, and the whole spectrum of emotions.  But I’ll save all of that for another post.

Instead of finishing blogging about the wedding, I’m going to fill you in a little bit about the recent goings-on, and how to go about UN-planning a wedding and separating from a significant other.  Why not?  Sometimes these things happen, right?  If I can share my story and help others cope with all of the chaos and stress around a broken engagement, I’ll consider it a success.

Stay tuned, Miss Parisian’s not quite finished yet!

Second Guessing the Guest List

One of the first things Monsieur P and I did after getting engaged was to start on a preliminary guest list.  We knew that in order to choose a venue, create a budget, and basically to do anything else, we would have to at least have a rough estimate of who we would be inviting to this shindig.  For a long time, we made very few revisions to our preliminary guest list.  We planned to only invite family and close friends to the wedding, so it was pretty easy to put down the list of people who were important to us.

After two years, though, things do change a little bit.  We’ve added some family members, between kids being born, friends and family getting married; we’ve lost some family members.  So by now, some changes had to be made.  Also, now that we are closer to the wedding, we’ve made a few decisions about who and what really matters to us.  In the beginning, we had a much more “why rock the boat?” mentality.  Now we feel more comfortable putting our collective foot down.

Handy dandy flow chart via visionsweddingboutique by Brides

For the past 5-10 years, I haven’t really seen much of Parisian Mom’s family.  We have an annual gathering with Parisian Dad’s family, but we haven’t had one with Mom’s family for a long time.  Because we don’t really see them, Monsieur P had never met most of them, and I had no desire to invite them to the wedding.  Since our parents aren’t contributing towards the wedding, we have no pressure to include obligatory parental invites for any reason.  Easy enough, we figured, we’d invite the family we were close to and then our closest friends.

This weekend, I happened to see many members of Parisian Mom’s family, including many cousins that I haven’t seen for 10 years.  Suddenly I was second-guessing our entire guest list.  I went back over the list and decided I could make some deletions, and talk with Parisian Mom about who should be added from her side of the family.  I think in the end, it will only end up being a handful of additional people, but I think we’ll be happy with the changes.  It was so nice to see everyone, and I think we will be happier having invited them, even if most of them still probably won’t want to venture into Pittsburgh for the wedding.

I never really thought we’d have much guest list creep, just maybe realizing that we missed a friend, or adding in a new friend closer to the wedding.  Since we didn’t have to worry about other people adding on guests, I didn’t think we’d have a problem.  I still don’t think we really have a problem of the guest list creep, but I’d rather have added a few more people than to feel guilty further down the line for not inviting someone that we probably should have invited.

The updated guest list, adding on some more family…

Did you have any last-minute guest list revisions?  Were you worried about guest list guilt or guest list creep?  Did you find yourself changing your mind closer to the wedding?