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, 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:


Fab 5: White Wedding Cakes

What could be more traditional than a white wedding cake? Unfortunately, a traditional white cake probably brings to mind three tiers of buttercream icing with buttercream piping and buttercream roses, and a plastic bride and groom on top.

Luckily you can have the white cake and still have a more modern style. Here are five fabulous cakes, all in white.

  1. Modern Elegance

    Modern square tiers draped with smooth fondant serve as a backdrop to a cascade of gorgeous sugar orchids.
    Cake by Collette Foley Specialty Baking, Image from In Style Weddings

  2. Winter Wonderland

    Perfect for a winter wedding, this sparkling white cake features edible snowflakes and a topping of ribbons.
    Cake by Carlo's Bakery, Image from

  3. Tradition Redefined

    Never mix white and ivory? No way! Four alternating tiers of ivory and white look simply gorgeous. Fleur de lis, fondant swagging and sugar paste roses decorate this wedding cake, topped with fresh flowers.
    Cake by Polly's Cakes, Image from Wedding Channel

  4. Roses and Dots

    This simple and classic cake, iced in vanilla, features white Swiss dots all over and a decadent amount of white roses between each tier.
    Cake by Scrumptions, Image from The Knot

  5. Detailed Design

    Created locally in New Castle, this hexagon-shaped cake features detailed piping design that alternates around the sides and tiers of the cake. One tier features the bride and groom's monogram.
    Cake and image from Jody's Pantry
You might be interested in:

The Ultimate Wedding Planner & Guide:
Everything the happy couple needs to plan their wedding with ease!
Compiled and written by a bride, this e-book includes ideas, wedding guest list, budget & checklist, contact list, reception ideas, gift list and more!

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Carb-o-licious wedding food

Mrs. Strawberry over at Weddingbee posted about the mashed potato martini bar she had at her wedding...yum! This is such a great idea if you are having food stations, and I'm sure it will be a hit with your guests.

Guests are served mashed potatoes in martini glasses, and can top them a selection of goodies, like cheeses, bacon, chives. . .you could certainly get creative here. Dress it up a little bit by serving different kinds of potatoes. Sweet, blue or purple potatoes will not only add taste variety to the mix, but some serious color as well!

I wish I could do my own wedding over again just so I could have mashed potato bar! Seriously, "mashers," as I like to call them, are my favorite, favorite food. I really made out at events during the height of the Atkins craze. . .the girl sitting next to me never wanted her potatoes, and I was more than happy to trade some broccoli!

(In case you can't tell, the potatoes excite me. Hence the overuse of exclamation points in this post.)

Image from Idaho Potato Commission

Tuesday, October 9, 2007

Designed locally by Sarah Hawkins

I'm always on the lookout for buzz-worthy work by local vendors, and Sarah Hawkins is certainly worthy of praise. The Pittsburgh-based designer creates custom invitations and announcements for weddings, babies and everyday life, and her line is sold throughout the U.S. and Canada.

A few samples of Sarah's work:

First and fourth designs from Wedding Paper Divas.
Second and third designs from Sarah Hawkins Designs.

Monday, October 8, 2007

Playing dress up

One of my favorite online wedding tools is David's Bridal's Dress Your Wedding. You can create virtual models of your wedding party and try out different looks. Here are a few that I created:

Beach wedding

Winter Wedding

Garden wedding

I love this tool because it lets you see how different styles will work together and helps you visualize whether your attire matches the formality of your wedding. I also like that you can play around with putting bridesmaids in different dresses, and even different colors to see what it will look like.

Even if your dresses and tuxes aren't from David's, you can still take advantage of this tool. Just pick outfits close in style and color to your own, and you'll get a pretty good idea of the big picture.

Of course, if you do shop with David's Bridal, after you create your look online, you can print a convenient shopping list to take with you to the store. A definite time saver when you're looking at hundreds of dresses on the rack!

Thursday, October 4, 2007

My mouth is watering. . .

Kudos to Classic Bride for spotting this absolutely gorgeous piece of heaven disguised as a cupcake:
These would be absolutely delicious for a favor at a fall wedding or bridal shower. Visit the Cupcake Bakeshop blog for the recipe.

Excuse me while I head out to the store to pick up some apples and cream cheese. . .


Wednesday, October 3, 2007

What's your favorite TV wedding?

Someone posted a poll on about favorite TV weddings. The choices in this poll are clearly pretty recent, but which is your favorite? Do you have any others not on the list?

I'd have to say my top choice from this list is Phoebe and Mike's wedding from Friends (admittedly, I haven't even seen a lot of the other choices). But that's not even my top wedding-related moment from the series. TBS has a collection of wedding clips from the series on their Web site right now. . .I think my favorite is the episode with Monica, Phoebe and Rachel all wearing wedding gowns in the apartment.

But really, I'd have to say my favorite TV wedding is Lily and Marshall in How I Met Your Mother. The second half of last season was all wedding related, and I absolutely loved it! If you're in the process of planning you wedding, rent season 2 of How I Met Your Mother. From the bridal shower to fitting in the dress to a disastrous but perfect wedding, the shows were hilarious and totally relate-able.

Tuesday, October 2, 2007

Fab 5: Fall invitation finds

Continuing on our fall-themed Fab 5, here are some great invitations for a fall wedding.

  1. Damask Journal from Dauphine Press
    I love the deep brown and green on this invitation for fall. The damask pattern echoes the shape of leaves. Also, the journal style lets you provide your guests with an invitation, directions, accommodations information and lists of local attractions all in one convenient packet.

  2. Silhouette from iCatching Cards

    Stripes in shades of red behind a print of blowing leaves and petal lend a fall feel to this whimsical invitation from the company's Oriental Studio Collection. iCatching Cards also specializes in printing invitations in both English and Chinese.

  3. Mackinac from Erickson Design

    This handmade invitation has a totally rustic feel: Torn edges in red and orange on natural paper, tied with raffia. It would be perfect for a fall wedding held in a barn or cabin location.

  4. The Secret Garden from Cheree Berry

    This set from Cheree Berry's wedding collection creates a clean, simple look for a fall wedding. You can customize the colors, but I like this featured combination of green and chocolate.

  5. Pumpkin Ensemble from Tag & Company

    A wrapped invitation features lots of texture in its lace overlay, rust wrap and textured paper. A pumpkin illustration adds a fall touch to a simple design.

Monday, October 1, 2007

Pittsburgh flair: Heinz ketchup favors

If you're looking to add a taste of Pittsburgh to your wedding, in either your favors or your out-of-town bags, order personalized ketchup and mustard bottles from You can order miniature bottles of ketchup or mustard or a set of both, as well as larger size bottles.

The bottles would work great in a bag of Pittsburgh-themed goodies for your visiting wedding guests, or you could just pick up a couple to use if you're having an after-wedding picnic the next day.