Tag Archives: vendors

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!

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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!

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

Dropping the Ball

No, not me.  I’m talking about our first caterer visit – or non-visit, as it were.

After being pretty pumped about getting an appointment to do a tasting during one of the only available times between the work-school-work insanity that is my life, we had one of our biggest disappointments yet in the planning process.

Both Monsieur P and I had to make arrangements to leave work early in order to make it to the appointment, which was supposed to start at 5.  At 5:02 (with such a jam-packed schedule, I often am a few minutes behind), I was yanking on the caterer’s doors, to no avail.  They were locked.  I poked around and the place appeared to be empty, which I didn’t think really made sense, as their normal hours were supposed to be until 6pm, though they operate mainly through appointments, of course.

I went back to my car, pulled up the email on my phone to make sure I had the right day and time, and I did.  I called the number in the email and left a voicemail something like this:  “Hi, this is Miss Parisian… I’m here, but no one else seems to be… I don’t know what happeneddddd…” with mounting annoyance at the end because the longer I waited, the more angry I got!

By this point, the mister had shown up, completely confused.  He had gotten caught up at work coming back from a trip and had to drop off a fleet vehicle, so he was running a little later than I was.  He could tell from the look on my face that something wasn’t right, or maybe he could see the steam coming out of my ears.  He asked me what was wrong, and I pretty much exploded.

Mobile data roaming charges - woman in red screaming at mobile phone

https://i0.wp.com/www.1to1media.com/weblog/angry%20phone%20customer.jpg
A much more adorable version of how Monsieur P found me.

Continue reading Dropping the Ball

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