Tag Archives: wedding planning

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!

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 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.

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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.

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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?

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.

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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

The Epic E-Pics: the Debate

Sorry for the delay, and even though I gave you a sneak peek in our save the dates, I thought it was a good time to talk about our engagement pictures!  I’ve always loved looking at engagement pictures, and there was never a doubt in my mind that I wanted to take them once we got engaged.  Monsieur P, however, needed a little convincing.  He didn’t understand the point of having engagement pictures, because we’re not really big photo people.  On the flip side, that was exactly why we needed them!  You see, we aren’t very good at taking pictures together… we rarely remember to even take snapshots, and we had absolutely ZERO professional photos that we have taken together, unless you count our photographer’s second shooter taking a picture of us at friend V’s wedding… which I didn’t really count!  I thought after 3 years together, we really should have SOME nice photos of us, dressed up, by an actual photographer instead of a grainy cell phone picture.

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One of very few “nice” pictures of us, from Monsieur P’s MBA graduation in 2011, with Parisian Mom.  Still just a snapshot; also does not exist on paper, oops.  We seriously suck at this stuff. (photo personal)

“But what the heck would we do with a bunch of pictures of us?” was Monsieur P’s second argument.

 

Continue reading The Epic E-Pics: the Debate

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

Beeing Fit: Weight Loss

As I alluded to in my previous post, yoga has been helping me shed some extra grad-school pounds before the wedding.  I’ve been saying for awhile, a year maybe, that it was time to get into shape for the wedding.  I had a plan of starting early, being in great shape, and just staying in good shape for the wedding, rather than trying to drop a bunch of weight just before the wedding.  Of course, life got in the way, I started a new more-stressful job, and I had a brutal semester of school that caused me to pretty much live at school and work for the entire fall semester.

By the end of that semester, my stress-and-convenience eating was out of control, and to boot, I had been too busy to make my yoga classes more often than not.  I was a mess, and I felt awful.  I was at my heaviest point of life, which wouldn’t bother me if I wasn’t so out of shape, but I was unnecessarily heavy.

That was pretty much how I felt. Sorry for the awkward toe pic, I don’t like feet. via livescience

I’ve never been one to get caught up on the number on the scale.  I’ve always been muscular (thanks to soccer, softball, cross country, basketball, and cheerleading), so I’ve always judged myself based on how I feel and what that weight looks like in the mirror rather than what the scale tells me.  However, at this point, I was seeing a frightening number on the scale (we’ll just say 20 pounds heavier than where I’d like to be, and a solid 10-15 more than my usual), and an unpleasant picture in the mirror as well.  Monsieur P knows better than to comment on a gal’s weight, and he finds me attractive regardless, but my self-conscious self was pretty sure that he had noticed the extra layers and was hoping I’d get on addressing that as well. Continue reading Beeing Fit: Weight Loss