Thursday, February 28, 2008

Area couple on Friday night's "My Big Redneck Wedding"

Tune into CMT tomorrow night at 9 p.m. for the season finale of "My Big Redneck Wedding." The episode features a Westmoreland County couple, Kelli and Ron, who get married at a demolition derby.

If you haven't seen the show before, it features somewhat outrageous, rural weddings--no doubt made more outrageous with the assistance of the TV network. According to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, Kelli and Ron were planning a justice of the peace wedding before CMT contacted them for the show after hearing Ron suggest his demolition derby idea on a radio talk show.

Tune in Friday and then stop back to share your comments about the show.

Pittsburgh flair: The cookie table

"No Pittsburgh wedding is complete without one." You can find a cookie table at nearly every wedding in Western Pennsylvania: a long buffet table filed with trays and trays of sweet treats. Many local reception venues even include the table for cookies in their packages, offering to "tray your cookies" for you.

While we like to consider this a Pittsburgh tradition, historical research shows that the cookie table may have actually originated in nearby Youngstown, Ohio. Several other regions across the U.S. indulge in the cookie buffet as well, but nowhere so predominantly as Northeast Ohio and Western Pennsylvania.

Traditionally, female relatives of the bride all pitch in and bake dozens and dozens of homemade cookies in several varieties before the big day. You can also order the cookies from a local bakery, or mix it up with a combination of homemade and bakery treats.

Give your cookie table a modern twist and combine it with a current national trend, the candy buffet. Pair trays of cookies with bowls of candy and provide bags for guests to create their own favor to take home. Or, go for a different look and serve the cookies out of clear cookie jars instead of tray. Hang a tag from each jar identifying the type and the baker (e.g. "Grandma's Famous Chocolate Chip Cookies."

If you're getting married in Pittsburgh, many of your local guests will expect to find cookies at the reception. But your out-of-town guests may be clueless about the tradition. If you want to give them a local history lesson, clue them in with a simple sign explaining the cookie table. In my experience, most out-of-towners are delighted by the idea (case in point, the picture below of an out-of-town college friend of the bride and groom, who went a little too crazy over the cookies).
No matter how you choose to include the cookie table on your wedding day, it is an old-time tradition that will never get old.

Images, from top: Shout Youngstown, Design Mom, Perfect Memories
Sources: Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, Wikipedia, Miami University of Ohio

Monday, February 25, 2008

Fab 5: Spring invitation finds

I don't know about this rest of you, but I am ready for spring! Let's skip ahead a month or two and pretend the sunshine and flowers have arrived. Take a look at these five beautiful invitations, perfect for a spring wedding:

  1. Delicate Cherry Blossoms

    This wedding invitation features a sweet cherry blossom design in light pink and brown.
    Cherry Blossom Invitation Suite from Epherma

  2. Love is in the Air

    A modern design in shades of turquoise, orange and yellow showcases a happy springtime treat: the return of birds who have flown south for the winter. Add your photo to this invitation for extra personalization.
    Love Birds from blue skies and daisies

  3. More Spring Blooms

    This sage and chocolate wedding invitation offers a clean, modern look with abstract flowers decorating the corner.
    Dandelion Wedding Invitations from Wedding Paper Divas

  4. Return of Sunshine

    The mix of yellow and red flowers at the top of this letterpress invitation envokes more than blooming flowers: it feels like sunshine.
    Floweret by Maura Gauthier from Bella Figura

  5. Blue Skies

    This sky blue wedding invitation features a contemporary circles design in blue and bold red.
    Saucy from Tag & Co.

Friday, February 22, 2008

Bridal competition, right here in Pittsburgh

If you happened to walk by PPG Place downtown yesterday, you might have seen a couple dozen brides in wedding gowns stuffing their faces with wedding cake and "champagne."

CoverGirl hosted a competition for 22 brides-to-be, who raced through a wedding-themed obstacle course that challenged the durability of the company's Outlast makeup collection. The women donned wedding dresses over their street clothes and chowed down on a piece of wedding cake and a glass of apple juice to win the prize. Read more and watch the video at the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Sign up for our new eNewsletter: Perfect Memories, Perfect Pittsburgh Weddings

You can now receive wedding ideas from Perfect Memories right in your email inbox. Sign up for our new wedding planning e-newsletter, "Perfect Memories, Perfect Pittsburgh Weddings," and receive free, customized wedding advice. Each month, you'll receive articles and tips related to your stage in the wedding planning process: from choosing your reception venue to picking your dress and from hiring a florist to deciding on your first dance song.

You'll also be the first to know about special promotions, contests and announcements from Perfect Memories.

Click here to start receiving "Perfect Memories, Perfect Pittsburgh Weddings" today.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

PSA for wedding planners: Scam alert

In addition to brides and grooms, I know a lot of wedding planners and vendors tune in to the Perfect Memories Blog. Today, I'd like to take a moment to warn them to be alert for email scams targeting wedding planners.

Similar to schemes targeting photographers and other consumers, this current scheme has been going on for at least the past few months and basically involves sending in a cashiers check for an amount greater than what you've billed them--and then asking you transfer the extra money elsewhere. The cashiers check clears into your account quickly, you transfer them the money, and weeks later your bank realizes the check was a fraud and deducts the amount from your account.

I received this scam just last week, and it immediately raised suspicions though I couldn't prove it was indeed a scam right away. A bride-to-be contacts you from somewhere in Europe (in this case Germany) saying that she and her fiance are moving to the U.S. and need help planning a wedding. See more details of the scam and a copy of the initial email wedding planners receive here. The minor details (name/date/location) change, but otherwise, everyone is receiving the exact same email.

Now, I occasionally receive legitimate inquiries from couples living abroad, who are usually in the military but returning home for a wedding. But in this case, something seemed off. I looked online for information about it after the first email, but at that point wasn't sure what exactly the spam was. Finally, the "bride" says that a cashiers check is on it's way--for over $3,000 more than the deposit. The extra money I'm to transfer with Western Union to their band, which will be flying in to perform from France.

What concerns me most about this is that they are basically asking wedding planners to do something we do on a regular basis: make a payment to a wedding vendor. With similar scams like the Nigerian Money Scam, the scammer is making a request that is so out of the blue, so odd or so "too good to be true" that it is obviously spam. But this isn't. And with so many young, new planners in the industry right now, I'm sure many people may be eager to secure a client and could easily overlook the warning signs.

And so my tips to planners to protect yourself from this and other scams:

  1. Do not accept cashiers checks. If you do, allow extra time after the money is cleared in your account for the check to be verified before touching the money (I've seen reports this may take two or three weeks or up to three months. . .that's enough for me to never accept one from anyone).
  2. Do not send money to a vendor you've never seen or heard from directly. And of course, do not pay any vendor you do not have a contract with.
  3. Protect your privacy. Be as smart a business person as you are a consumer, and do not provide passwords, bank accounts numbers, etc., to anyone.
  4. If it sounds suspicious, proceed with caution. Do online research to see if anyone else has received a similar scam. Insist on secure payments and if they balk, turn them away.
You can report Internet scams to the Internet Fraud Complaint Center, whether you fell victim or just received a suspicious email.

Learn how to become a wedding planner with books at the Perfect Memories Wedding Store.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

New poll: How long is your engagement?

For our next poll, please share the length of your engagement: how many months between the proposal and the wedding day. The average length of engagements these days is about 15 months. Do you fit into that trend? Vote and let us know: how long is your engagement?

  • Less than six months
  • Six to 11 months
  • 12 to 17 months
  • 18 to 23 months
  • 24 months or more
Choose your response in the poll on the left sidebar and come back to check out the results!

Poll results: How much are you spending this Valentine's Day?

The results are in from our latest poll. It looks like most of you fell in the lower end of money spent on Valentine's Day. The results:

  • $49 or less: 61 percent
  • $50-$99: 22 percent
  • $100-$149: 4 percent
  • $150 or more: 13 percent
Thanks for voting and check back soon for our next poll!

Friday, February 15, 2008

Valentine's Giveaway: Enter by Sunday

2008 Pittsburgh brides: You have until Sunday to enter for a chance to win a free day of coordination package from Perfect Memories. Click here for all of the details.

Good luck!

Red, pink and white weddings: Hit the sales!

If your wedding colors or theme incorporates any Valentine's Day friendly elements (reds, pinks, purples, hearts, etc.), now's the time to shop for major discounts on crafting supplies and decor for your wedding.

Scour craft stores like Michael's, Joann's and Pat Catan's and box stores like Target and Wal-Mart for Valentine's Day items on clearance that can double as wedding items.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Pittsburgh's record-setting wedding vow renewal

Head over to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette to watch some video of this weekend's world record-setting marriage vow renewal ceremony.

The ceremony, officiated by Mayor Luke Ravenstahl, was part of the year-long celebration of Pittsburgh's 250th birthday. Read our previous coverage here. 750 couples renewed their wedding vows together. From the footage, it looks like many of the couples who participated were older. . .celebrating 40 to 60 years of marriage.

Perhaps they'll do it again in 50 years in honor of Pittsburgh's 300th birthday.

Saturday, February 9, 2008

The Perfect Memories Valentine's Giveaway!

Happy almost Valentine's Day everyone! We're sharing the love this week with a special giveaway package: one lucky couple can win a free Day of Coordination package from Perfect Memories.

The rules:

  • The wedding must take place in 2008 and within 120 miles of Pittsburgh, Pa.
  • The couple must complete an entry form found here and submit it by Sunday, February 17, 2008, at 11:59 p.m. EST.
  • Only one entry per couple. Duplicate entries will be discarded.
  • Perfect Memories will randomly select the winning entry and notify them by Friday, February 22.
You can learn more about what's included in our Day of Coordination package on our Web site. Any questions? You can comment below or email me. Good luck!

Friday, February 8, 2008

Driving distance honeymoons: Buhl Mansion, Sharon, Pa.

Only 70 miles north of Pittsburgh, Sharon, Pa., certainly qualifies as driving distance. But as a honeymoon? With a stay at Buhl Mansion Guesthouse & Spa, absolutely.

Buhl Mansion was built in the late 19th century by local steel magnate Frank H. Buhl and opened as an inn and spa in 1996 by Jim and Donna Winner, who restored the once abandoned property to its original glory. With just ten rooms, each one unique and luxurious, the award-winning Buhl Mansion is a great place for a quiet, relaxing honeymoon--or even a mini-moon.

Every room at the mansion features a gas fireplace and a jacuzzi for two for a romantic getaway. Guests can indulge in a couples massage at the full-service spa, browse the on-site art gallery and enjoy amenities included with their stay, including a welcome tray, champagne reception and breakfast.

Buhl Mansion offers a limousine shuttle to its sister property, Tara, where you'll find gourmet and casual dining options as well as a museum collection of Civil War and "Gone With The Wind" memorabilia. Other local activities near Sharon include shopping and golfing.

Images courtesy of Winner Hospitatlity

Thursday, February 7, 2008

Not inviting kids to the wedding: Ideas and advice

Maybe you don't have the space or the budget to invite everyone and their children. Maybe you're planning a more formal, intimate affair and children attending wouldn't be appropriate. Maybe you just don't like kids.

What should you do if you've decided not to invite kids to the wedding? Nearly a third of you responded this way in our recent poll. Whatever the reason, you need to be prepared to handle confusion, questions and concern from your guests.

Be Prepared
First, no matter what you do, be prepared for the fact that some parents may be upset and angry that their children are not invited. Some of them may not even come for this reason. You need to accept this and be polite and firm with your choices. In the end, some parents may actually appreciate a night off from their youngsters.

Spread The Word
As soon as you make the decision not to invite children, ask your parents and bridal party to help you spread the word. Casual mentions of the "no kids" policy will take away the shock factor when guests receive an invitation addressed only to the adults.

If you're sending save-the-dates, be sure to address them specifically to the individuals invited (i.e. Mr. and Mrs. John Smith instead of The Smith Family). This becomes more important when you send the invitation, but it doesn't hurt to be specific here either. If you have a wedding Web site, using the words "adult reception" wouldn't hurt.

When it comes time to send out the wedding invitations, again, be sure to address the envelope specifically to the guests you are inviting. On your reception card (or on your actual invite) , I recommend using the words "adult reception." The phrase has become very commonly used, so most guests won't find it offensive and will understand what it means.

Some people recommend clarifying the invitees on the RSVP card: either by specifying "X number of seats have been reserved for you" or printing the names of the guests. I find this to be too awkward and think you should stick with a standard RSVP card.

Babysitting Service
If you have any out-of-town guests with children, help them out by providing contact information for a babysitting service. You can post this information on your Web site, or send it to them directly in the mail or email. Unless you want to and have the budget, you aren't responsible for paying for a babysitter for your guests.

Standing Firm
Once the invitations are out, the real fun begins! You or your parents may get calls asking (or complaining) about the "no kids" policy. Or, you may have to call guests once they RSVP to the wedding and list their children on the card.

Be polite but firm (and make sure your parents are too!). Explain to your guests that you can't make exceptions because it wouldn't be fair to the other parents. Don't take offense if they get angry or decide not to come. They will (hopefully) get over it, but it will be a lot easier if they don't think you're mad at them too.

Click here to read our story on inviting kids to the wedding.

Wednesday, February 6, 2008

Inviting kids to the wedding: Ideas and advice

In our recent poll, 69 percent of you said that you're inviting kids to the wedding. Tomorrow we'll talk about what to do if you've decided not to have kids, but today let's talk about what you can do if you're inviting them.

Choosing to invite children is certainly the less controversial decision. But there are some things you can do to make sure that kids--and the guests around them--have a great time at your wedding.

First things first: Ask your caterer if they can offer a kid-friendly meal selection for your pint-sized guests. You'll need to give them a headcount on the number of kids attending, as well as your total guests, and you'll need to decide what age to cut off the kids meals at (kids under 12 may be a good rule of thumb). If you're offering a meal choice on your RSVP card, you can add that selection here. Bonus: caterers will usually charge you a lot less for the chicken strips than for the filet mignon.

If you're comfortable with it, seat all of the kids together at a table. Most of them will enjoy sitting with people their own age instead of the adults. I would suggest making sure their parents' tables are nearby so they still have some adult supervision.

Kids can get unruly when they get bored, so give them something to do! Set up a table at your reception and lay out coloring books and crayons for them to play with. You can purchase inexpensive activity books here, or even download and print wedding versions for free here. You can even lay out blank paper and ask them to draw a picture for'll get a lot of cute pictures at the end of the night!

Also consider a special favor just for the kids--something that they can play with during the reception. If you have room in your budget, you can put together goodie bags for each youngster.

If your budget allows and you're worried about either misbehaving kids or parents leaving early because of their little ones, you can hire a babysitter to entertain them in a separate room on location. This certainly isn't a necessity, but something to consider. Stock the room with toys and kid-friendly treats, and maybe some blankets and pillows in case anyone gets tired.

The Unexpected
Nine times out of ten, children will behave (almost) perfectly at weddings and will add joy and entertainment to your big day. Some of my favorite memories from my own wedding are of our youngest guests on the dance floor--they were adorable and having so much fun.

But kids can increase the chance of something unexpected happening: a temper tantrum during dinner, crying during the ceremony, accidentally walking in front of a photogenic moment. Children certainly aren't the only cause of unexpected moments during weddings, but you need to be aware that things can happen. Remember to stay calm and relaxed if something does happen--even smile and laugh it off if you can. If you stay calm, the parents and guests will too, and the moment will quickly pass by.

Have a good or bad "kids at the wedding" story to share? Comment below!

Click here to read our story on not inviting kids to the wedding.

Tuesday, February 5, 2008

New poll: How much are you spending this Valentine's Day?

It's almost here folks! The holiday of chocolate, flowers and love--Valentine's Day. Today's poll is veering off the wedding subject for a change in honor of February 14. So tell me, how much do you plan to spend on your loved one this Valentine's Day?

  • $49 or less
  • $50-$99
  • $100-$149
  • $150 or more
Vote on the poll on the left sidebar and look for the results soon. Also, stop back next week for details on a special Valentine's Day giveaway from Perfect Memories!

Poll results: Are you inviting kids to the wedding?

The results are in on our latest poll. Here's what you had to say about inviting kids to the wedding:

  • Yes: 69 percent
  • No: 31 percent
Come back later this week for more on this subject. . .look for two entries with ideas, tips and advice on both inviting and not inviting the little ones.