Tag Archives: recommendations

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!

The Epic E-Pics: the Outtakes

Now that I’ve shown you the good photos, told you what we screwed up, and gave you my recommendations for a great session, I’ll show you the photos that we WON’T be using.

All photos by Tressa McCune Photography.

Alternately, why I’m thrilled that we found out what works and what doesn’t work.

What works:  looking at each other, laughing to relax each other, and listening to Tressa’s advice for places to shoot.

What doesn’t work:  serious poses (we look ridiculous), taking ourselves too seriously (we’re just not models!), and wanting specific poses or specific locations.

DSC_0052

I really wanted this picture on the balcony over the Panther fountain.  Tressa told me it was too dark, but agreed to take it anyway.  It was a waste of time and I should’ve just gave it up when Tressa said it would be dark.

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Continue reading The Epic E-Pics: the Outtakes

The Epic E-Pics: the Favorites

As our engagement photo shoot day approached, I received an invitation to attend a bridal shower… on the same day as our engagement photos.  It bummed me out a little to have to be rushing around beforehand, but in the end it wasn’t really a big deal.  I was attending the shower with MOH PT, so I wore the sweater dress that I was intending to wear for the “nicer” outfit for our photos, and then stopped at MOH PT’s house after the shower to do some hair and makeup touch-ups before going to meet Monsieur P and Tressa.  I took MOH PT’s advice to darken up my eye makeup a little more than usual to make sure it showed up in photos.  And now, for your viewing pleasure, I give to you, our favorites.

All photos by Tressa McCune Photography.

Outfit 1:  “Nice” Casual – on Miss Parisian, sweater dress (sorry I don’t remember where from), scarf, tights, Madden boots; on Monsieur P, Express sweater and button-down, jeans, casual shoes.  We’re not formal people, and wearing a cocktail dress for photos would have been overkill for us.

DSC_0036One of my favorites of all, in the black and white, also nice in color.

DSC_0039I doubt we’ll use one where you can barely see Monsieur P, but just so you know what the color version looks like… 😉

Continue reading The Epic E-Pics: the Favorites

Wedding Planning 101: Hitting the Books

Knowing that we had a lot of time, I set myself up with a lot of library books on wedding planning and went to work researching.  If you have time to spare, I would highly recommend this approach, because I got a lot of great ideas (and some reassurance on my existing ideas) from the books I read.

Some of my favorite reads:

The Everything Bridesmaid Book – via Amazon

Bridal Bargains – via Amazon

The Wedding Book – via Amazon

and a heartwarming book written by a mother-daughter duo, gifted by MOH PT:

How I Planned Your Wedding – via Amazon

I joked about gifting the bridesmaid book to all of my girls so that they would know how to act appropriately for the wedding, but they have all been involved with weddings before, so they know how things work.  I would highly recommend it to first-time bridesmaids, or even infrequent bridesmaids like myself, as a refresher.  It had some great insights, and I used it to adjust my expectations of bridesmaids for myself as a bride as well.

Did you spend a lot of time reading up on weddings?  Do you have a favorite planning book?  Are any of your girls first-time bridesmaids?