Tag Archives: planning

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!

Bridal Shows: Brides on a Mission

Because we have had such a long engagement, I’m very happy to report that the year 2014 will NOT require attendance of any bridal shows!  Yay!  Of course, this is just because 2012 and 2013 were the years of bridal shows.  Before we were engaged, I attended a bridal show with MOH PT.  We were on a mission to book a few of her vendors, and I didn’t really pay attention to anything for myself.  What I took away from the experience was the following:

  • Bridal shows are amazing if you have a specific goal in mind
  • You can get great deals by booking at a bridal show
  • If you are going “just to look,” you will probably end up horribly overwhelmed

Once Monsieur P and I were engaged ourselves, MOH PT and I bought tickets to go to yet another bridal show at their venue, the Fez, and this time, we were both registered as brides!  Our main focus was still on MOH PT for her upcoming wedding, but I did a little browsing for myself as well.  I picked up some material from some travel groups for our honeymoon planning, but that was about it.  I don’t like the crowds, and I feel awkward when I’m overwhelmed by people trying to sell me stuff, so it’s a little anxiety-inducing.

Even though part of me never wanted to set foot in another bridal show, I was talking to Monsieur P about needing to book a few of our last vendors, and mentioned that I thought going to another bridal show might be a good way to do it.  I jokingly asked if he wanted to come along, because I was realizing that he wanted to be more involved with the wedding planning than I originally thought, and he shocked me when he said sure!  So I bought tickets for yet another bridal show, this time, the granddaddy of bridal shows in Pittsburgh.

THE Bride Show in Pittsburgh / via Cavanaugh’s

Continue reading Bridal Shows: Brides on a Mission

Phinding a Photographer

Sorry, I had to do it.  Cheesy alliteration achieved.

Possibly before we even got engaged, I knew who I wanted our wedding photographer to be.  You see, Monsieur P and I attended friend V’s wedding back in 2011, and their photographer was V’s friend from high school.  She and her second shooter were so great throughout the wedding, making sure to take photos of each couple as they milled around the property for cocktail hour and throughout the reception, as well as all the “standard” shots.  But what really won me over was when I saw the photos that V posted a week or so after the wedding.  Now, V’s wedding was pretty, but these photos were so fabulous, everything was OMG, magazine-worthy.

And after the rain stopped, the sun and clouds were amazing / Tressa McCune Photography

Continue reading Phinding a Photographer

Wedding Planning 101: Where to Begin?

Wedding planning is different for everyone, so it makes sense that there isn’t one set way to start planning.  It seems like every wedding website has its own checklists, tips, and timelines, which just serves to make the beginning of wedding planning even more confusing and overwhelming.

As soon as we got engaged (in March 2012), the first thing we decided was roughly when the wedding would be.  I knew I didn’t want to get married until after I graduated with my Masters, so that made Fall 2014 the earliest we could get married.  I always wanted to get married in October because I love fall (and Monsieur P didn’t care either way), so we decided October 2014 would be the time.  That left us with about 2½ years before the wedding.  Since most wedding planning timelines are set up for about a year-long engagement, they were not that helpful to us.

Now, before I get ahead of myself, I’m just going to say that we shirked tradition and didn’t listen to a lot of timelines or wedding websites, because having a 2+ year engagement is unusual and we had to make things fit our situation, as everyone does.  That said, we pulled some no-no’s and made some (minor) mistakes. Continue reading Wedding Planning 101: Where to Begin?

Finding a Venue, the Decision

Once we came to terms with our budget and ran more numbers on my ridiculous budget spreadsheet, we had some more long discussions about what we wanted to do with our wedding.

I was surprised to hear that Mister P had fallen for the Outdoor Garden at Phipps.  I always loved the idea of getting married outside, but weather in Pittsburgh is pretty unpredictable, and I didn’t want to stress about the weather, so I didn’t think getting married outside was a realistic option for me.  Though it is beautiful.

Outdoor garden AND a fall wedding! Photo via Panoramio by Suzana Lee Trapuzzano

 And after the ceremony, the new Mr. and Mrs. can take a “love walk” through the garden…

Outdoor garden / via Phipps

The more I thought about the wedding, though, I realized it really doesn’t matter to me whether the wedding is inside or outside – I’m going to stress about the weather regardless, because that’s just the way I am.  I might as well take my chances on a beautiful garden wedding, and potentially have to get married on a sidewalk under a tent as a plan B.  Obviously that option is less than ideal, but at the end of the day, I’ll be married to the love of  my life, and I’m trying to keep the whole thing in perspective as I stress about the details that don’t really matter. 😛

Continue reading Finding a Venue, the Decision

Finding a Venue, Part 2

So I narrowed it down to 3 choices, and made appointments to visit Phipps Conservatory and the Mayernik Center.  The North Park Boathouse didn’t have an email, so I would have to call to set up an appointment.  I’m not ashamed to say that actually having to call someone is a serious deterrent for me.  *shrug* Gen Y, lazy.  So  make that 2 choices.

Thankfully, I had the good sense to schedule both visits pretty close together so that, if we loved the first venue, we wouldn’t have long to wait before we could see the second, and then we could make a decision!  It was definitely a good choice, because all of the details were fresh in our minds, and it made October “wedding month” for us!  Somewhat coincidentally, it also marked the 2-year mark from our intended wedding date.  I say “intended” because, well, things change. 🙂

First up was Phipps.  We had an appointment to visit Phipps’ Garden Center first, which is a smaller, more casual area that only holds 100 people.  I thought that would be okay for us, since Phipps was pricey anyway, and we would be limiting our guest list already.  Once I saw the Garden Center, though, it was immediately ruled out.  We visited on a Sunday when it was set up for an event, which just so happened to be the brunch of a wedding held at the Conservatory the night before.  The set-up wasn’t a deterrent, but the overall look of the Garden Center was just NOT what I wanted.  It was too casual for what we want our reception to be (ironic, since I think we’re having a casual wedding, but this was more “jeans” casual), and it was just too small.  They say it holds 100, but it looked to me like over 60 would be pushing it, and there wouldn’t be room for a dance floor with that many people there.

Continue reading Finding a Venue, Part 2

Finding a Venue, Part 1

The first wedding-related research I started was for our venue.  I knew that finding and booking a venue would mold the rest of our decisions – the date, the guest list (kind of), the vendors, but most of all, the feeling of our wedding.  I never really considered our wedding to have a “theme” other than “our wedding,” so finding the right venue with the right feeling was of the utmost importance.

When I started researching venues, I used all of the online tools I could find… in a few minutes.  You see, I don’t have the most patience, despite my obsessive need desire to make sure that I do thorough research before making a decision.  I googled wedding venues in the area, scoured recent weddings of friends on facebook, and looked at all of the local venues on the Knot, WeddingWire, and WeddingBee.  Nothing really stood out to me.  But there was one place in which I always dreamed of getting married…

This has been my dream since long before a wedding was on the horizon, since before I met Mister P (Master P?), and probably even before I thought about anything else wedding-related.  I just knew it was a gorgeous place, and a wedding there would be to. die. for.

Needless to say, it’s a pretty pricey option, and one that I was pretty sure was out of the budget.  So I put it on the back burner, chalked it up to being  just a dream and moved on with my research.

Continue reading Finding a Venue, Part 1

We’re having a wedding!

I might as well get this out of the way fairly early on.  Most of my free time (which is severely limited) these days is spent thinking about weddings*.  After nearly 5 years together, we are engaged and planning a wedding.  Because of my current status as a part-time grad student, full-time employee, part-time employee, and all around busy bee, we’ve had a longer-than-average engagement.  We got engaged in March 2012 (nearly 2 years ago already!?!), and are getting married September 20, 2014.  I’ve always wanted to get married in the fall.  Fall is my favorite season – the weather, the smell, the colors, the pumpkin-flavored-everything (not gonna lie, I just baked some pumpkin cookies), cozy sweaters, comfortable slippers and warm blankets!  I’ve always liked the idea of getting married in the fall, and anticipated incorporating my favorite flower into the wedding.  I have loved tiger lilies since I was in high school, and dreamed of having tiger lilies and orange dresses in my wedding.  As the wedding draws nearer, many of those dream ideas have gone by the wayside, as so many are wont to do.  If you’re interested, stay tuned to find out how things change when life gets in the way!

*  Many of my future posts will probably focus more on wedding details, because I don’t want to bore my fiance, friends & family with the minutiae, but need a place to vent.  Hopefully doing this will help me sort through my thoughts and even keep track of details over such a long planning period.  I also want to use this as a place to display my trials (and errors) on all the little things that I intend to DIY for the wedding, without posting it all to my facebook. 🙂