Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Kids say the darndest things: Marriage edition

Thanks to Mrs. Onion at Weddingbee for sharing this wonderful story at Divine Caroline, about kids views on love and marriage. Definitely read it for a chuckle!

A few of my favorites:

How would you make your marriage work?
"Tell your wife she looks pretty, even if she looks like a truck."
Ricky, age 10

How can you tell if two people are married?
"You might have to guess, based on whether they seem to be yelling at the same kids."
Derrick, age 8

How do you decide whom to marry?
"No person really decides before they grow up who they are going to marry. God decides it all way before, and you get to find out later who you're stuck with."
Kristen, age 10

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Pittsburgh flair: Heinz Chapel weddings

One of the most popular locations for ceremonies in Pittsburgh, Heinz Memorial Chapel is a gorgeous setting for weddings. Couples have been saying "I do" at this historic chapel in Oakland since 1946 (check out this great story about three generations of brides who wed at Heinz Chapel).

Of course, since it is such a popular venue, having your wedding there can be tricky business. You or an immediate family member must be affiliated with the University of Pittsburgh in some way (as a student, alumni, faculty, staff or board member) or be an employee of Heinz. Booking your desired date and time at the chapel might be a bit challenging, especially on popular dates. To secure your spot, take the advice of some former Heinz Chapel brides:

  • Call Heinz Chapel on the first of the month, 12 months before your wedding, at 8:30 a.m. (so if you're having a July 18, 2009, wedding, you'll want to call on July 1, 2008).
  • Recruit several family members to call as well to increase your chances to get through (you'll often face busy signals and will need to keep redialing).
  • Try calling from an on campus phone at Pitt. Many brides swear you'll have a better chance to get through.
Of course, if you can be flexible with your date and especially with your time, you'll have an easier time. Many Friday and Saturday morning time slots remain open, and if you pick an off-season date, you can often find Saturday afternoon and evening ceremonies available.

If you're getting married at Heinz Chapel, remember that you'll face some restrictions since so many couple marry there each weekend, most notably with time and decorations. The benefits, however, far out way the restrictions, as you'll be sure to have a beautiful ceremony with great memories (and photographs!) to last a lifetime.

Images from Heinz Memorial Chapel

Thursday, December 6, 2007

New poll: How will you (did you) spend the holidays as an engaged couple?

Holidays can be a complicated time for couples, whether they're dating, engaged or married. You want to be to together, but you've got two families who want to spend time with you too. Many couples' families live in different cities (and the couple may be out of town as well), making some difficult choices for the couple.

So I want to know how you plan to spend the holidays with your fiance and your families. Married folks, feel free to vote on how you spent the season back when you were engaged. Vote on the poll in the left sidebar.

Poll results: Did your fiance ask your parents for permission to propose?

Our latest two-week poll has closed, and the results are in: 60 percent of your fiances asked your parents for permission to marry. I'm kind of surprised by the results, because personally, I thought asking the parents had become the exception rather than the rule. But, until the last few days of the poll, almost all of you had selected yes. I guess we've got some traditional guys out there!


  • Yes, he asked: 60 percent
  • No, he didn't: 40 percent
Thanks for voting. . .the next poll will be up shortly!

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

Second marriages: Getting the kids involved

The other night, I was watching an Ace Of Cakes repeat that the TiVo had caught, and one of the featured cakes was a very interesting wedding cake. The couple, both married previously, dropped their two kids off at the bakery with free reign to design whatever kind of wedding cake they wanted.

The kids rose to the challenge and came up with a cake featuring a Jeep, a skunk and green gorilla for the bride and groom, and four pairs of boots. Surely there was some sort of inside joke here, which didn't get explained on the show, but the bake shop worried about the parents liking their cake, which was about as far from traditional as you can get. The parents loved it though, and clearly understood the insides jokes none of us were privy to.

(Try as I might to find you a picture of this crazy cake, I couldn't do it. You can see other Charm City Cakes or watch the TV listing for repeats of Ace of Cakes' "Wishes Granted" episode.)

What I loved most about this story was how thoughtful the parents were to make sure that their children were an important part of the wedding. A marriage with kids involved is about a lot more than the couple, and it's definitely important to make the kids feel like they're part of the celebration. And what better way to include them than by letting them choose probably every kid's favorite part of the wedding--the cake?? It didn't matter how crazy the cake would be; only that the kids created something that represented their new family.

Image from Food Network

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Fab 5: Bright, bold centerpieces

Happy December everyone! We got our first real snowfall of the season yesterday through this morning, and after getting stuck in a white-out snow squall on the turnpike last night, I could use a little brightening up! So I give you five deliciously colorful centerpieces to brighten up your table.

  1. Hot Pink

    I used fuchsia at my own wedding, so it will always hold a soft place in my heart. This bright pink floral arrangement, balanced with a bit of green from the pears underneath, sits atop pink table linens.
    Image from Wedding Channel

  2. Faux Floral

    For a more abstract touch, decorate your tabletop with works of art, like this metal flowers sculpture painted bright blue, green and yellow.
    Image from The Knot

  3. Fluorescent Flowers

    Whoa! Yeah, this is bright. On top of a black tablecloth, these babies practically glow. (Tip: If you're using this color scheme, please let your bridesmaids wear black dresses--unless you want them to hate you.)
    Image from Wedding Channel

  4. Mix-matched Blooms

    Arrange a few, small mismatched vases on your table and fill them each with a different brightly colored bloom or two for a casual feel.
    Image from The Knot

  5. Bold Hues

    Top your table with a large bowl of boldly red carnations, and they'll just pop off a pale aqua and white color scheme.
    Image from Martha Stewart Weddings

Friday, November 30, 2007

Cute holiday wedding idea

I was browsing through the latest Williams-Sonoma catalog this week and came across this kissing ball/pomander made from evergreen and holly:
If you're having a holiday or winter-themed wedding, wouldn't this be a fun idea for your flower girl to carry? Or you could use them as pew decorations to decorate your aisle.

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Join us on Facebook

Perfect Memories now has its own page on Facebook, thanks to the new business pages now available on the site. Check out the page and become a fan.

Right now, you can start or join a discussion on the discussion board, post a question on the wall and network with other brides. I'll be posting useful and fun Facebook tools for your wedding and maybe creating a few of my own.

You can also add photos from your own wedding to share with other brides. The page can become whatever you want it to be, so please become fan and help create a great resource for brides-to-be.

UPDATE: I just added the first Perfect Memories quiz to Facebook. Visit our page to test your wedding IQ!

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Wedding vows a la Dr. Seuss

Polka Dot Bride posted last week wedding vows written by Marty Blase in the fashion of a Dr. Seuss book. I love the whimsical lightness of these lyrical vows. . .though you'll notice that all of the serious stuff in traditional vows is still in there. Imagine how entertained you would be as a guest if the couple exchanged vows like these.

A snippet:

Pastor: Will you answer me right now
These questions, as your wedding
Groom: Yes, I will answer right now
Your questions as my wedding
Pastor: Will you take her as your wife?
Will you love her all your
Groom: Yes, I'll take her as my wife,
Yes, I'll love her all my
Pastor: Will you have, and also hold
Just as you have at this time
Groom: Yes, I will have, and I will hold
Just as I have at this time
Yes, I will love her all my life
As I now take her as my wife. .

You can read the entire vows here. I do think it's a little bit long, especially since this is just the groom's part. Maybe you could mix in the bride's vows as well, so there's a back and forth between the officiant, bride and groom.

Obviously vows like this will only work for certain couples. You need to be okay with being lighthearted during a ceremony celebrating a very serious commitment (Marty's bride actually vetoed this idea, so they didn't even use them). And what makes it is the quick-paced banter, just like a Dr. Seuss book, so you'll need to be comfortable with performing in front of your guests--and confident in your memory skills. Even so, any bride or groom is subject to an emotional memory lapse when they're reciting their vows, so a cheat sheet is definitely a must.

Monday, November 26, 2007

Fab 5: Guest book alternatives

Welcome back from a long Thanksgiving weekend. I hope everyone filled up on lots of turkey.

In today's Fab 5, I'm sharing five ideas for your wedding guest book. Almost every wedding has one: a book that guests sign as they enter the reception or ceremony. The traditional guest book contains pages and pages of blank lines (And often costs way more than its worth, just because it is a "wedding" guest book. If you want the traditional book, consider purchasing a pretty journal instead--you'll save money!). Most guests will usually sign just their names, and the book gets shoved on a shelf or in a closet, rarely looked at again.

With just a little creativity, brides and grooms can choose a guest book alternative that will not only be more meaningful to them, but will also be more interesting for their guests. Whichever option you choose, be sure to have a sign with instructions--many guests may be bewildered by a different choice. Here are five popular alternative to the traditional wedding guest book:

  1. Wishing Tree

    Your guests write wishes or advice for your happiness on individual cards, and hang them from a small tree, which can double as a welcoming decoration at your reception. If you can't swing the tree, pick up some branches from a craft store and display them in a vase. For a more cost-efficient idea, try a "Wishing Bowl" instead, and instruct guests to toss their cards into a glass bowl.

    What to do after the wedding? You could use the cards to create a wedding scrapbook, combined with photos, invitations and other mementos from your wedding. Or, store the cards in a memory box and break them out on anniversaries.
    Image from Weddingbee

  2. Polaroid Guest Book

    Station a friend at the door to snap photos of your guests as they enter, and have guests write their message in the space next to their photo. You can find these instant photo guest books online, but if you're feeling crafty, create your own with card stock, scrapbook paper and photo corners. The book doubles as a photo album you can share and browse for years to come.
    Image from Beau Coup

  3. Signature Photo Mat

    Collect your guests' signatures on a photo mat, add a photo from your wedding and frame. Hang on your wall for memories of all of the people who cared about you and shared in your special day.
    Image from weddingbycolor.com

  4. Wedding Quilt

    Set out pre-cut quilt squares and acid-free pens for your guest to sign. You can choose squares that match your wedding colors or, perhaps more practical, the decor of your home. After the wedding, quilt the squares together (add some unsigned squares as well) and cuddle with your new husband under a blanket of love (I know, I'm getting a little cheesy here!).
    Image from brideandbabyfavors.com

  5. Custom Photo Guest Book

    Create a customized guest book with your own photos. You can use engagement pictures or pictures of the two of you throughout your relationship--or you could even incorporate pictures of you growing up. This provides another option that doubles as a photo album, plus your guests will enjoy looking at the photos.

    I couldn't find a book out there that's sold specifically for this purpose--if you know of one, let me know. However, you can make your own in several different ways. If you have a design program, this would simple enough to create. For my own wedding, I created and purchased the book through iPhoto, using an image of lines created in word when I wanted signing space. By hand, purchase scrapbook paper and attach photos with photo corners--you can find lined paper, but it doesn't have to be.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Renew your vows and help Pittsburgh set a world record

I posted a few months ago about Pittsburgh's plans for the largest marriage vow renewal as part of Pittsburgh 250. You can now register to take part in this record setting event, which takes place February 10, 2008 at the Carnegie Music Hall in Oakland. Visit this site for more information and to register for "Re-Union: World's Largest Wedding Vow Renewal."

According to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, about 500 of the 700 spots for couples remain. If registration fills up, 1,400 people will renew their wedding vows together in a ceremony officiated by Pittsburgh Mayor Luke Ravenstahl. Afterward, couples will enjoy champagne and cake and take home gifts bags for their participation, plus have a chance to win prizes.

The site says to dress as if you're attending a wedding and encourages couples to don their wedding gowns and tuxedos.

Whether you just married the love of your life or have been together longer than you can remember, sign up for this unique event and be a part of Pittsburgh (and world record) history.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

New poll: Did your fiance ask your parents for permission to propose?

Last week, the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette published a story about the traditions and trends of asking parents for their daughter's hand in marriage. The article features some interesting points-of-view from both sides of the issue.

I'm wondering how many grooms out there are asking the parents for permission before proposing to their girlfriends. Please vote over the next two weeks in our poll in the left column of this blog.

Poll results: What will you do with your wedding dress?

Our last poll is now closed: What will you do with your wedding dress after the wedding? It seems like most people still go the traditional route by preserving their wedding gowns.

The results:

  • Preserve it: 62%
  • Donate it: 18%
  • Trash it: 12%
  • Sell it: 6%

Thanks for voting. . .a new poll will be up soon!

Friday, November 16, 2007

Choosing your first dance song

What song will you and your new hubby choose for your fist dance? In the first ever Perfect Memories iMix on iTunes, I've picked 10 of my favorite tunes for first dance songs. But, these are just my choices. . .what songs do you like best? Let me know and I'll create a "Reader's Choice" play list of first dance songs to share with brides and grooms everywhere.

My iMix:

So what would you pick for your first dance? Leave me a comment and I'll compile the results soon.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Fab 5: Budget-friendly wedding gowns

When I posted a Fab 5 a few weeks ago on designer wedding gowns, I promised a look at some more budget-friendly finds. Here are five wedding dresses I love, all under $1,000:

  1. Nicole Miller

    I love the casual elegance of this halter dress, which would be great for a beach wedding.
    Style C00014 by Nicole Miller, Image from The Knot

  2. Watters Brides

    For a less formal affair, choose a knee-length gown like this embroidered lace dress.
    Style 9049B from Watters Brides, Image from House of Brides

  3. David's Bridal

    Many brides fall for dresses with pick ups, but this new gown offers a twist: delicate pick ups on a lace dress.
    Style E9210 from David's Bridal, Image from David's Bridal

  4. Sarah Danielle

    Elegant and refined, this gown features on off-the-shoulder neckline, draped fabric, rhinestone buttons and a sweep train.
    Style 5360 from Sarah Danielle, Image from The Knot

  5. Alfred Angelo

    I like the "flowy-ness" of this satin and chiffon wedding dress, embroidered with lace and crystals.
    Style 1620 from Alfred Angelo, Image from The Knot

Monday, November 12, 2007

An inside look at a Pittsburgh Pirates wedding

Did you ever wish you could see the wedding of a Pittsburgh sports star? Saundra at planning. . .forever events recently planned the wedding of Pirates starting pitcher Zach Duke and his gorgeous bride Kristin in Indiana. You can get an inside look at their wedding, and at the life of an event planner in her four-part recap:

Enjoy...and congratulations to Zach and Kristin!

P.S. My schedule's a little off this week. . .come back tomorrow for a brand new Fab 5!

Friday, November 9, 2007

A Vera Wang honeymoon

Vera Wang's name has become synonymous with wedding gowns, so why not extend the Vera Wang experience into the honeymoon? Most people realize that her designs go much further than wedding dresses, spanning everything from fashion to china to mattresses. But her name is also on an exclusive hotel suite at the Halekulani Hotel in Honolulu, Oahu, Hawaii.
The marketing and branding genius of this suite impresses me so much. First of all, though it's not labeled a "honeymoon" suite, putting her name, so popular with brides, on a hotel in one of the top honeymoon destinations was the right decision. Also, the suite creates a total Vera Wang experience--the ultimate goal of any branding program.

So if you stay in the Vera Wang Suite, what do you get? A gorgeous getaway with views of the Pacific Ocean, Waikiki Beach and Diamond Head. Vera Wang designed the suite herself, combining products from her home, bath, gift and accessories lines with unique Hawaiian furniture.

Beyond that, you'll even get to indulge in some of Vera Wang's personal favorites, like watching a film from her "Vera's favorites" movie library or sipping on a cocktail from the specialty menu she helped create.

The full list of amenities rivals any luxury suite, with a welcome gift, private butler service, in-room fine dining and more. In true Hawaii-style, you'll even receive a surfing lesson. Certainly, this is the place to stay for a relaxing, pampered honeymoon.

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

Pittsburgh flair: A black & gold wedding

Last week's Pittsburgh flair talked about treating your guests to some black and gold candy, but what if you want to take the Pittsburgh-inspired color scheme to greater lengths? What if black and gold were the colors of your wedding?

A black and gold event may conjure images more Steelers tailgate party than stylish wedding, but it doesn't have to be, as this inspiration board from Snippet and Ink proves:
When Snippet and Ink posted this a couple of weeks ago, I immediately thought of the Pittsburgh color scheme, though of course that wasn't what she had in mind. She describe it as being bold and unexpected, and it certainly is. But it still has a formal, elegant feel to it.

If you're going to plan a black and gold wedding, my advice is to keep most of the elements clean and classic. Also, a healthy dose of white will lighten things up. Go for style over local kitchy-nes. You'll end up with a wedding that's modern, memorable and totally Pittsburgh.

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

Reviewing your vendors: A how-to guide

I love that brides use the Web to share vendor reviews with other couples. These reviews, both good and bad, can help couples avoid a costly mistake, discover an unknown option and make an informed decision.

However, today I was reminded that not everyone may be aware of how to best publish a review, or even how to find reviews to read. A poor bride wrote a scathing review of her New Jersey bridal shop--on my blog's profile page in a blog directory. I'm not sure how that happened (other than being in the wedding business and having the word "Memories" in our name, the two businesses have nothing in common), but I wish I could contact this woman to point her toward some proper outlets for her rage.

And so I give you my tips for reviewing your vendors:

Find the proper outlet
In most cases, your vendors are local businesses, so post your reviews to local Web sites. Local message boards, such as the Pittsburgh board on The Knot, are a great forum for this. Also look at sites like Bridalhood and Wedding Wire, which focus on vendor reviews. In Pittsburgh, you can add your reviews to the Pittsburgh Wedding Vendor Reviews Blog.

Share the good and bad
Don't just review the bad vendors. Sharing positive reviews is just as important as it will point couples toward the right companies. Plus, readers will place more trust in your assessments if you're able to share that you had good relationships with other vendors (because let's face it, some people really can be bridezillas!)

Choose your words carefully
Before you hit "publish," step back and take a look at what you wrote. Again, this is a matter of earning respect for what you have to say. Proofread your post for spelling and grammar (if this isn't your strong point, ask someone else to do it for you). Ask yourself if your review is fair and truthful.

Also, be careful about bringing another vendor's name into the discussion. In the bridal shop review I mentioned above, the woman closed with "use 'X' bridal shop instead." Now, hopefully, she just meant this as a recommendation for a shop she ended up working with or knows friends who have. But a statement like this, without further explanation, can lead to suspicion about the authenticity of the review. It truly crossed my mind that this review might actually be written on behalf of "X" bridal shop to scare business away from a competitor.

Resolve your complaint
It's important to share your experiences with other brides, but sometimes it's not an isolated incident or it's a more serious matter than not liking a vendor. For more official results than simply posting to a wedding Web site, report the company to your local Better Business Bureau.

Monday, November 5, 2007

Fab 5: Winter wedding invitations

The weather's starting to turn colder quickly (and is anyone else depressed by how early it's getting dark???), so of course I'm starting to think about winter wedding ideas. In today's Fab 5, let's take a look at five options for winter invitations:

  1. The Holiday Season

    I love the warmth of these cherry and chocolate invitations from KenzieKate, and the textured envelope looks just like a sweater.

  2. Baby It's Cold Outside

    This invitation is called Fluffy Feather, but doesn't it remind you of Old Man Winter blowing a windy puff of snow? I found this design by Vreelanddesign on Etsy.

  3. Wrap It Up

    It's so chilly that your invitation needs a sweater! I adore this creation by RedBliss--the invite is wrapped in pistachio cashmere, accented with a crystal snowflake that is echoed in the design and tied with a chocolate bow.

  4. Wedding on Ice

    Silver works wells for a classic winter wedding. This simple invitation from Now and Forever features sheer paper wrapped around a silver card.

  5. A Warm Glow

    Warm your wedding up with a dash of gold. This invitation from Wedding Paper Divas features a classic, romantic design.

Thursday, November 1, 2007

The guests are out of control

Brides get thrown into a world of etiquette when planning their wedding, but who hasn't wished that guests had to take their own crash course as well? Weddingbee's Miss Chickadee led me to this article, which lists ten of the biggest mistakes guests makes. Here's my take on those mistakes:

  1. Not sending RSVPs: Yes, yes and yes. My biggest complaint when I planned my own wedding. Send the darn card back--the bride & groom have provided you with a lovely self-addressed stamped envelope.

  2. Sending RSVPs with extra guests: If your name or "and guest" is not on the card, you're not invited. Couples choose their guest list based on their budget, their space and the feel of the evening.

  3. Bombarding the bride with phone calls and questions: This is more of a collective issue than an individual one. A guest making one or two phone calls is not bombarding. It's just a fact that lots of guests may call to ask the same question. Guests, try a family member or a bridal attendant first if it's a question the bride doesn't need to answer.

  4. Buying a non-registry gift: This can be good and bad. Don't feel bad about buying from the registry; the couple picked items they actually want! However, if you know the couple well and pick a heartfelt gift that you know they will really like, then go for it.

  5. Showing up late: Well, it happens. Just don't draw attention to yourself when you slip in, and don't complain about the ceremony starting without you as these guests did (scroll down to the third story from the bottom).

  6. Bringing a big, heavy gift: I've also read that it's bad etiquette to bring any gift to the wedding, that you should have it shipped to the bride and groom. Personally, I've never been to any wedding where the majority of guests didn't bring their gifts along. But if your gift would be awkward for someone to carry, it's definitely smart to have it shipped.

  7. Giving unexpected toasts: This faux pas should read "giving drunken, inappropriate toasts." Some couples choose to invite anyone who wants to make a toast to do so. You should make sure your DJ or whoever's in charge of the mike keeps control.

  8. Requesting songs: Um, really? I don't think there's anything wrong with guests requesting songs. You want your guests to dance, and they're more likely to do so if the band or DJ plays songs that they like. It's up to the bride and groom to make sure the band or DJ knows what they don't want played.

  9. Drinking too much: Certainly. Guests can make fools of themselves by taking too much advantage of that open bar. Remember, not only will you be drawing attention away from the focus of the evening, you'll also be caught on film.

  10. Crashing your wedding: Well, if you're crashing a wedding, then you're not a guest. Humorous movies aside, obviously this a breach of etiquette.

I really do think a lot of guests are completely oblivious to these etiquette rules, a lot of which are just common sense. This list doesn't even cover some other big ones, like wearing white to a wedding or not sending a gift (even if you're unable to attend). Or, as Saundra at planning...forever pointed out in her guest rant about a week ago, RSVPing and then not showing up at all.

Anyone got any guest horror stories to share? Did someone violate one of these rules or something else completely different?

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Pittsburgh flair: Black & gold M&M's

Trick or treat! I had to do a candy-related post today, and what better way to express your Pittsburgh pride than with some black and gold M&M's?

You can buy M&M's in 22 different shades, which makes it easy to coordinate with your wedding colors if you want to use them for favors or a candy bar. But, if you're putting together Pittsburgh-themed welcome baskets for your guests or have a Pittsburgh-themed wedding, pick the colors that represent our town best.
MYMMS.COM sells 7 oz. or 5 lb. bags of individual colors online. You can also head down to the Strip District or many other candy stores and hand pick your own combination.

Also, you can add an extra touch by personalizing your M&M's. Create a custom message like you names and wedding date, welcome or thank you (if you go through the business site, you could even upload your monogram or other artwork). Unfortunately, the site doesn't offer customized candies in black--but then again, just customizing the yellow ones and buying a bag of standard black will save you some money.

On top of all that, you can even have the candy arrived packaged in one of four favor options. You could certainly do this part yourself for less, but if you don't want the hassle, this option's for you.

I hope everyone has a great Halloween! Don't eat too many sweets!

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Wedding planning resources for grooms

Hey, brides aren't the only ones with a say in the wedding, right? Here are a few sites for all you grooms out there:

Also, check out the blog entries from Mr. Monkey, who recently married Mrs. Monkey, over on Weddingbee for some male perspective on planning a wedding. I hope Weddingbee adds more groom bloggers soon!

Monday, October 29, 2007

Fab 5: Halloween Edition

In honor of Halloween this week, I searched the Web for five fun photos for Halloween weddings.

  1. Masquerade Ball

    Keep it formal and classy with gorgeous masks for the bride and groom. You can provide less expensive simple versions for your guests as favors.
    Image from Inside Weddings

  2. Wedding Pumpkin

    Add a glow to your decor with a pumpkin carved with a custom image of your wedding. This one features the silhouette of a bride and groom, but you could also carve your monogram or a portrait of the two of you.
    Image from Yankee Halloween

  3. Spooky Wedding Cake

    How cool is this cake? Be playful with your wedding cake and add some Halloween whimsy to your reception. I love this design, inspired by Nightmare Before Christmas.
    Image from gnyc.net, Cake by Let Them Eat Cake

  4. Table Settings

    Go all out in Halloween colors--the orange and black pop off the blue linens here--and add in the details. Use a pumpkin as a vase for flower centerpieces.
    Image from The Knot

  5. Costumed Guests

    Invite your guests to dress up for the affair. Make it optional, but anticipate a lot of fun and crazy costumes on the dance floor at your reception.
    Image from The Knot

Friday, October 26, 2007

Cruising for a honeymoon?

If you and your hubby-to-be have decided on taking a cruise for your next honeymoon, great! Now, which one to choose? With so many cruise lines, so many ships and so many destinations, where do you even start?

Enter Cruise Critic. One site where you can find professional reviews, advice from real-life cruisers and even shop for bargains (though I recommend shopping around other sites and/or travel agencies before booking to make sure you're getting the best deal).

This site provides an overwhelming amount of different types of information, so know what you're looking for before going in. To start, use "Find a Cruise" to check out options that fit what you're looking for. This tool will sort itineraries by your style--for example, honeymooners looking for good cuisine. You can also sort by price, destination or cruise line.

Once you've narrowed it down to a few ships, start looking at specific reviews for those trips. The professionally written reviews are a good place to start to get a big picture of what the cruise offers, but remember that the writer probably got to stay in a big suite and took advantage of a lot of paid services on board, like spas, exclusive restaurants and pr icy excursions. You may find the member reviews to be most insightful. Browse through them, looking for red flags that may indicate likely problems. Not every traveler will have a good time, but multiple people having the same bad experience is pretty good warning sign. Also look for reviews from other travelers like you (for a honeymoon, advice from a young couple will be more beneficial than advice from a group of retired friends or a family with lots of kids).

After you've booked your trip, come back to the site before you depart to look at the reviews again. This time, pay attention to specifics. Jot down any tips, like which restaurant is the least crowded for breakfast or what the best time is to visit the shore excursion desk. Remember which paid excursions people liked the most, and which ones didn't make the cut. Take a look at what sorts of things people were able to do onshore without the benefit of a ship-sponsored trip.

Cruises can be a great idea for your honeymoon, but you'll have an even better time if you do your research in advance. Whether you work with a travel agent, book with a cruise line directly or find a bargain online, take the time to know what your sailing into for a romantic week or two of your life.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

New local wedding resources

I recently added a couple of resources for brides and grooms planning weddings in Western Pennsylvania to the Perfect Memories Web site:

I hope to add more resources to the site in the future to make your planning easier, so check back often. Are there any topics you'd like to see a resource on? Leave me a comment below and I'll see what I can do!

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Pittsburgh flair: PNC Park weddings

Take me out to the ballgame. . .err, wedding. . .
PNC Park, home of the Pittsburgh Pirates, can be a unique setting for your wedding. With many different options to choose from, the ballpark boasts amazing views of Pittsburgh. When the Pirates aren't playing, you can host your reception in the swanky Lexus Club or on the Pittsburgh Baseball Club Level, in Gunners or Keystone Corner (you can even leave out the pools tables for your guests, if you want!). Your wedding can be as formal and traditional as you like--added baseball elements completely optional.
Want to get even more creative with the space? Use the dugout for a cocktail hour. . .or as a memorable spot for your wedding ceremony!
I also love the idea of tying in a Pirates game with your pre-wedding activities. You could host your rehearsal dinner inside PNC Park, or at one of the nearby restaurants like Outback Steakhouse, Atria's or SoHo. Then you and your wedding party can enjoy the game. Or, purchase group tickets for all of your out-of-town guests for a pre-wedding get together (if paying for everyone's ticket is out of your budget, you could offer them the chance to purchase at the discounted price--they might be interested in a chance to check out the ballpark).

First image: Clip from Modern Bride, Photo by Weddings By Heather

Second, third and fourth image: Pittsburgh Pirates

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Dancing, food and flowers

Happy rainy Tuesday everyone! The Post-Gazette added some new wedding articles to their site yesterday, so I thought I'd share:

Ask Carley: Balancing dancing, dinner at reception
My take: If you're having a sit down dinner, dancing during the meal does not seem like a good idea. Plus, guests won't want to dance while food is being served. If your worried about guests getting bored, start the dancing during the cocktail hour and have your band or DJ ask guests to be seated for dinner. You can start again after the meal.

If you really want dancing all night long, consider a different set up for your reception. Offer food stations or heavy hors d'oeuvres throughout the evening with tables situated away from the dance floor to allow for conversation.

It's the flowering accessories that make a wedding blossom
My take: You shouldn't limit yourself to a venue's recommended florist. Sure, they may know who does the best work in their space, but they might also be recommending a florist because it's down the street.

Also, not all venues require that you use one of their florists, so choosing someone else may not be an additional cost. When making a decision, take a look at work that florist has done, both in the space and elsewhere. Ask to see examples of what they can create for you, in your budget.

Monday, October 22, 2007

Fab 5: Spring '08 Runway Looks

The designers hit the runways last month with their latest offerings for Spring 2008. Here are my personal favorites from five top wedding dress designers.

  1. Reem Acra: Flowing beauty

    A band of ribbon and a sprig of florals separate the detailed bodice and the wonderfully flowy skirt.

  2. Oscar de la Renta: Elegant lace

    This incredibly detailed, embroidered gown screams elegance, but the shorter front allows a peek at the legs, adding a flirty flair.

  3. Monique Lhuillier: Hollywood glam

    I love this halter wedding dress for its high shine and classic style. Timeless but totally glamorous!

  4. Elizabeth Fillmore: Grecian goddess

    All of the dresses from this line remind me of the Grecian goddess look, but none more so than this one.

  5. Carolina Herrera: Princess perfect

    If your heart desires the big poufy ball gown and lots of style, you'd be a perfect fit for this Cinderella-worthy wedding gown.
Can't afford a gown by a big-name designer? Don't worry, you're like most of us. But these top designers should influence the looks you'll see in more modestly priced lines. So pay attention to what you like, and look for it in wedding gowns when you're dress shopping.

And I promise to do a future Fab 5 on some more budget-friendly styles.

Images from New York Magazine

Friday, October 19, 2007

Driving distance honeymoons: Niagara-on-the-Lake

Just about a four hour drive from Pittsburgh, Niagara-on-the-Lake, Ontario, is a great getaway for your honeymoon. This romantic Canadian town is filled with quaint bed & breakfasts and boutique shops. You'll be able to tour and taste at NOTL's many wineries, including Reif Estate and Chateau des Charmes.

You can also enjoy the outdoors in NOTL: playing a round of golf, hiking on a nature trail or boating on the Niagara river.

NOTL also is situated close to many regional attractions, including Niagara Falls, less than a half hour away. If you want to get away from the small town feel and experience the city, drive 90 minutes to Toronto or hop back stateside to Buffalo, just a 50 minute drive.

Image from Shannaleigh Bed & Breakfast

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Please don't let your wedding drive you crazy

In preparation for the rainy day all of us here in Western Pa. can look forward to tomorrow, I surfed YouTube for some laughs to share. So enjoy this old commercial:

Please, please, please do not go crazy over your invitations...or your flowers, your hair, your attire or any other detail of your wedding day. You just may end up in the insane asylum. . .or in the news for suing your vendors for the damage they have caused.

Check out Mrs. Corn's post today on Weddingbee about how she freaked out about the weather during her rehearsal. . .and how wonderful the wedding turned out. Yeah for her sister and in-laws for calming her down and putting it into perspective.

I know we get caught up in all of the details and effort that go into making weddings such special affairs, but remember that what really makes weddings special is the love of a new wife and husband. Things will go wrong (at my own wedding, the officiant mispronounced our last name--twice), but they will not matter. You will be married, and that in itself is absolute perfection.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Pittsburgh flair: Guest welcome baskets

Many brides choose to provide a welcome basket or gift to their out-of-town guests--usually containing snacks or information on the wedding and local attractions. You can drop these welcome packets off at the hotel before your guests arrive and they'll be awaiting them at check-in (Tip: On the day your guests check in, have someone make sure your guests are actually receiving the gifts. Hotel desk staff can get overwhelmed by several different weddings on the same weekend and may forget to hand them out).

To really welcome your guests to the area, treat them to a basket of local goodies. You can head out to the store and pick up some Pittsburgh classics, or order from A Basket of Pittsburgh. This gift basket company offers three different welcome boxes ranging from $12-$20 (not a bad price for the contents and the work you'll save by not putting them together yourself). Each one comes in an incline box, and you can add a personalized ribbon with your names and wedding date. Some of the treats included in these welcome boxes include Clark bars, Troyer Farm snacks and Iron City beer nuts.

Just add some info on your wedding and some local guides and you'll be all set!

(I'm having some difficulties uploading images right now. . .check back later! UPDATE: Problem solved. -Lauren)

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Searching for inspiration. . .

If you're trying to visualize the look and feel of your wedding, please visit Snippet & Ink. Every post features a different inspiration board around a particular theme. . .and every one is just as inspiring as the next.

Today was a bonus: two boards in one! I had a hard time choosing which Gatsby-themed board I liked best. Check out the Gatsby By Night board below--my ultimate choice only because I think it would play well with a fall wedding as well!

Monday, October 15, 2007

Blog Action Day for the environment

Bloggers Unite - Blog Action Day

It's Blog Action Day, a day for bloggers to post about environmental issues. Within the wedding blog community, however, it seems like it's been blog action week, as many have already taken the challenge issued by ready2spark: share how you are trying to minimize your impact on the environment.

DIY Bride took on the challenge today, and invited others to "tag" themselves. So I thought I would. Here are four things we currently do to help the environment:

  1. We've made efforts to have a more energy-efficient home (admittedly, my husband gets the most credit here). About 3/4 of the light bulbs in our home are energy-efficient ones, and we'll continue to add more as our regular bulbs burn out.
  2. My husband installed an automated thermostat that adjusts the temperature based on times that we are either normally not at home or in bed. This eliminates wasteful energy used on over heating or cooling our home when we don't need it.
  3. We use energy-efficient settings on both our washing machine and our dishwasher.
  4. We do our best to coordinate our schedules and car-pool into work on the days we both are going into the city.
Now onto some ways you can host an environmentally-friendly wedding. Check out these great ideas from the blogosphere: