Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Ch-Ch-Ch-Changes

We left off with me freaking out about money and then Dude and I having to decide between four options to calm my fears and keep our wedding budget at a reasonable amount:

  • Cut down the guest list
  • Come to peace with the money we'd be spending
  • Have a small destination wedding
  • Change the venue and get the cost-per-person to something more manageable

It’s been tough for Dude to nail down any feelings he has about the wedding, but cutting down the guest lists is one thing he’s been adamant about. 

He said, in the end, he’d rather deal with the financial repercussions of inviting his entire extended family than deal with the emotional backlash.

So cutting down the guest list was out.

After a lot of soul-searching, we eventually realized we were not OK with the financial burden we would be putting on ourselves to have the big blowout wedding at the DoubleTree. 

So coming to peace with the money we were spending was out.

Doeblerghini Bunch:  Pinterest ECard
Source
I seriously researched a small, intimate destination wedding in Atlantic Beach, North Carolina.  We went so far as to create a preliminary guest list and got information from a lot of vendors in the area.

But the more Dude and I talked, the more obstacles we saw. 

Atlantic Beach far from just about everywhere.  The closest airport is 30 minutes away, but it’s small and only one flight from Pittsburgh goes there every day.  The second-closest international airport is over two hours away in Raleigh.  The drive from Pittsburgh is 10 hours, the drive from my hometown is 8, and the drive from New York is 12 hours.  The closest person to Atlantic Beach is still a five-hour drive. 

We felt selfish.  Even though Dude and I love Atlantic Beach, we felt selfish asking people to put out so much money to come to our wedding.  Especially considering five members of our wedding party are parents, two to babies who would be less than a year old at the time of the wedding.   

Planning a second reception.  This is what scared me the most.  Planning one reception is hard enough!  I can’t imagine planning two, even if the second one is more casual. 

So as much as I loved the idea of getting married on the beach, a small destination wedding was out. 

In the end, it was more process of elimination than a conscious decision, but we decided that we would suck it up, lose our deposits, and move our wedding venue. 

We are back on the venue hunt! 

Tell me I’m not alone!  After making your wedding plans (and sending in deposits) did you decide to change them?  Did you encounter any obstacles?

Monday, October 28, 2013

The Conversation That Changed Everything

It all started when Dude and I started talking about our rehearsal dinner one Friday after work.

Here’s how the conversation went –

Him:  How many people do you think we’ll have to invite to the rehearsal dinner?
Me:  I dunno…75 maybe?
Him:  75?!  ARE YOU FREAKING SERIOUS!!
Me:  Uhhh…yeah…you have a ginormous family…remember?

So we tallied up the total invites and if we just include our immediate families, wedding party, and our grandparents, the total was 53.  This didn’t even include the out of town guests Martha Stewart suggests you invite.  Once we added them, their significant others and kids, the total went up to 74.

I could see Dude starting to sweat and get anxious.  He said he was planning on budgeting $50 a person for the rehearsal dinner.  So we’re looking at roughly $4,000 for the rehearsal dinner alone. 

That lead to tallying the full costs for the wedding.  We had done this ages ago when we picked our venues; but to be honest, I never picked up a calculator.  Apparently our basic math skills are lacking.
    
The number we came up with was a THIRD of the value of our house, with nearly half of that coming from our savings.   

I never looked at it that way and - I know this clich̩ is overdone, but bear with me Рit hit me like a ton of bricks.

I was so blown away by the amount of cash we were putting in to one day - five hours, really - that I was pretty much silent for the rest of the night. 

Doeblerghini Bunch:  Money Problems ECard

Dude and I spent the rest of the weekend thinking, trying to figure out how we could make it out of this wedding in the green.  We came up with four ideas:

  • Cut down the guest list
  • Come to peace with the money we'd be spending
  • Have a small destination wedding
  • Change the venue and get the cost-per-person to something more manageable

Three weeks later, we finally came to a decision.

The first week we spent researching a destination wedding with a big casual party when we returned.

The second week I spent trying to convince Dude cutting the guest list down wouldn’t be such a terrible idea.

The third week I spent researching every venue within a 100-mile radius of Pittsburgh, calling around, getting quotes, and finding out that the venue flexibility I had ages ago when we booked with the DoubleTree and HHC was now significantly reduced.

But we did finally decide and the more I think about it, the more I love our new wedding!  It seems much more “us” and even better, we are significantly reducing our out-of-pocket expenses!  I’m sleeping much better and Dude doesn’t get that panicked look in his eyes whenever I mention that we really need a new mattress.

Can you guess what we decided?  Is anyone else out there like me and had a panic attack once you realized how much your wedding was costing you? 
 

Friday, October 25, 2013

Engagement Shoot DIY Project



I know hope this will be the first of many DIY projects! 

While browsing Pinterest looking for engagement shoot inspiration, I came across these photos.

Doeblerghini Bunch:  Dog Photo Shoot Inspiration

Doeblerghini Bunch:  Dog Photo Shoot Inspiration

Anyone who knows me and Dude knows that we love our dogs, Zeke and Pepper like no other.  Pepper is our problem child and Zeke is the angel but we wouldn’t trade them for the world.

So after seeing those inspirational photos, I knew I wanted Zeke and Pepper involved in our engagement shoot in some way. 

I really loved the idea of the dogs in the foreground with some kind of Save the Date signs and us blurred out in the background (I’m sure there’s a technical term for this).

I took a trip to Michael’s and found these little wood placards.  Plaques?  Wood sign things.

Doeblerghini Bunch:  Wooden Plaques at Michaels
Personal Photo

I liked the rectangular one with the flourishes best, so I picked up three of them and a couple of white Sharpie paint pens.

I originally wanted chalk pens but apparently no craft stores in my area sell them and I’m impatient so I ended up with paint pens.  Whatevs.

I took them home, gave them a quick sanding and then painted half of one with chalkboard paint and left the other half white.  Then I played around with the paint pens and some black paint to see which I liked best.   

Personal Photo
Dude and I both liked the chalkboard paint better than plain white, so I painted the remaining two with chalkboard paint.  I painted the edges and the front, but didn’t worry about the back since no one would be able to see it in the photos! 

After letting them dry for a couple hours, I used a 1/4” drill bit to drill two holes in the top for ribbon to hang the signs around P and Z’s necks.  I eyeballed this step, but if you’re super particular, go ahead and measure it so the holes are centered.

After that was the fun part!  I spent a few minutes looking through my Fonts board on Pinterest trying to find a fun but still readable font and finally ended up with a font called Clementine Sketch, courtesy of Yellow Bliss Road.

I mocked up two pages in Word, one that said Save the Date and a second one that said 8.2.14 and printed them out.  It took a couple of tries to get the font size right, but eventually I ended up with 80pt. 

Next, since my handwriting and artistry skillz are close to zero, I transferred the writing to the wooden sign things using white chalk.

Just color the back of the page you want to transfer with white (or any contrasting color, really) chalk.  Then, flip the page over onto your sign and trace over the writing. 

When you lift up the page, the chalk will have transferred wherever you traced!  It’s like magic and I honestly did a little happy dance when I saw how well it worked.

Then, either trace over the letters in wet chalk or your paint pens.  I know it’s weird to write with wet chalk, but it makes the color much more vibrant once it dries!

If you’re indecisive like me, send a mass text to all your bridesmaids asking them whether they prefer the outlined look or filled in.

Doeblerghini Bunch:  Chalkboard Signs
Personal Photo – which do you like best?

All that’s left is to measure out some ribbon, twine or rope so the signs will sit around your dog’s neck at the right spot!

Ok, I lied, the for real last step is to practice with your dogs!  I practiced a lot with Pepper since she’s so neurotic and no so much with Zeke because he’s awesome and didn’t care if it was around his neck. 

But when it came time to take the pictures, Pepper was prepared and knew to sit facing away from me, whereas Zeke was a little overwhelmed at being outside, surrounded by people he wanted to pet him, so it took awhile to get our shot.

Can I recommend American cheese slices as practice time treats?

Doeblerghini Bunch:  Practicing with Pepper
Personal Photo

I know I’m her Mom and totally biased, but isn’t she precious?  Look at her tail wagging in anticipation of a piece of cheese!!

So here’s to the first of many DIY projects I hope to be sharing with you guys!  If anyone is interested in these signs, let me know I’d be happy to pass them on with a fresh coat of chalkboard paint!

Did you do any DIY projects for your engagement shoot?

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Coulda Woulda Venues - The Favorites



Ok, we’ve seen the No Ways, the Maybes, and now we’re on to our favorites and I promise to reward you with our venue choices if you make it to the end of this post!

Heinz History Center
I actually toured the Heinz History Center (we’re calling it HHC for short from now on due to my laziness, k?) on a lunch break one day and fell 100% totally in love.

Love doesn’t even describe it.  Every single option they gave us for our ceremony and reception I adored.  For non-Pittsburghers, the HHC is a 6-story Smithsonian-affiliate museum situated inside an old industrial building with exposed brick and giant steel beams everywhere.  It’s located in Pittsburgh’s Strip District.

They have displays for everything Pittsburgh.  Pittsburgh sports, Pittsburgh history, and a functional library!  The best part is that the rental fee you pay for the space goes right back into the museum.   

Here’s your venue porn –

Doeblerghini Bunch:  The HHC - Main Ballroom

This is their Great Hall on the first floor.  It’s a wide open space, with a gorgeous staircase that would be perfect for our first entrance to the reception.  The exposed brick, the gorgeous floor, the beams covered with string lights…I love it all!

Our next reception option was the Mueller Center on the 5th Floor.  Here it is without any tables or chairs. 

Doeblerghini Bunch:  The HHC - Mueller Center

This was an intimidating blank slate room.  But check out that wall of windows on the right!  There is a killer patio right outside those windows that looks over the city. 

Here’s the room all decked out for a wedding.  Pretty amazing transformation, huh?  Check out the tea lights along the windows… Can you imagine being the guy that has to light them all?

Doeblerghini Bunch:  The HHC - Mueller Center all done up

Side note:  Just noticed a lot of my sourced out pictures are from Jeremy Ganss.  Maybe I should look into him as a photographer since he’s been to all of our favorite venues?

Ok back to the HHC.

And then, there was the final nail in my coffin…the Library.  Since this is an actual functional library, it isn’t available for receptions because – as we all learned in elementary school - no food or drink inside the library at all.  Ever. 

The HHC’s event coordinator, Maura, had me pegged from the start and saved this room for the last stop on our tour.  I walked in and my heart went into my throat and I got a little teary imagining Dude and I promising to love each other forever in front of this window.


Doeblerghini Bunch:  The HHC - The Library & Archives
Personal Photo

Doeblerghini Bunch:  The HHC - The Library & Archives
Personal Photo

For ceremonies, these tables are moved and replaced with banquet chairs. 

Doeblerghini Bunch:  The HHC - The Library & Archives - all done up

I left the tour; contract in hand, ready to put down our deposit for everything.  I remember I called Dude as I was walking back to work so excited I could barely form complete sentences. 

I came home and talked to Dude and we crunched the numbers.  And we quickly discovered that if we wanted our entire wedding at the HHC, we’d need to make some major cuts to our guest list.  

Saying I was bummed was an understatement.

I imagined our guests exploring the museum during our cocktail hour.  I was already envisioning getting married in that library.  And most of all, I had my heart set on downtown Pittsburgh wedding photos.

But then, in my “gotta make it work” mindset, genius struck - if we had just our ceremony at the HHC, our guests would still be able to explore the museum, I’d still get my downtown Pittsburgh photos, and the ceremony bit would actually fit into our budget!

Needless to say, I signed the contract 3 days later and sent over our deposit to have our wedding ceremony only in the HHC Library & Archives.

DoubleTree – Meadowlands

I know, I know, one more DoubleTree.  There’s gotta be something in those cookies!!  There were a lot of pros and a couple of cons for this DoubleTree.

First pro – it is literally STEPS from the Meadowlands Casino.

How fun would it be to walk through a casino in your wedding gear??  Now imagine one of my bridesmaids following behind with a bucket that says” Honeymoon Fund” and people just tossing chips into it.

Ok, maybe that last part is a pipe dream.  

Another plus about this DoubleTree is that the ballroom rental comes with exclusive use of their covered patio, which is already wired for sound.  So guests can hang out there, enjoy an iPod playlist, and not be forced to hang out in the ballroom once the dance party starts.  

Also, my idea of a board game station could totally happen out there. 
 
Doeblerghini Bunch:  The DT Washington - Game Table

Catch Phrase at my wedding?  HELL. FREAKING. YES.

The ballroom was like most of the other venues we checked out, with the exception of no thin accordion bendy walls! 

Dude was disappointed that there was no natural light in the ballroom, but he said the covered patio was a nice consolation prize.

The only negative about this place is that Dude’s bff’s wife is the wedding coordinator.  The good thing about this is that I know her already and we’ve hung out a couple times.  The bad thing is she’s going to be a guest at the wedding!  The last thing we want for her (and us, if we’re being honest) is to have her working our wedding.
 
I did a side-by-side of costs and we figured that we definitely got the most for our money with the DoubleTree at the Meadowlands. 

So we signed the contract and breathed a sigh of relief.  We have a space to say "I Do" and a space to eat, drink, and dance.  It feels awesome checking those two big ones off our giant wedding to-do list! 
 
How many venues did you visit before deciding on “the one?”  Did you work with any friends to plan your wedding?  Am I an idiot for working with someone I’ll definitely have to see after the wedding??

Monday, October 21, 2013

Coulda Woulda Venues - The Maybes

Before I start this post about our “Maybe” venues, I gotta give a little shoutout to my favorite comedian of all time because this joke kept running through my head as we toured all these hotels.

“I can’t tell you what hotel I’m stayin’ in, but there are two trees involved. They said, ‘Let’s call this hotel something Tree.’ So they had a meeting; it was…it was quite short. ‘How ’bout Tree?’ ‘No.’ ‘Double Tree?’ ‘Hell yeah! Meeting adjourned!’ Well, I had my heart set on Quadruple Tree…and we were almost there!” – Mitch Hedberg

DoubleTree, Pittsburgh Airport
Dude and I loved this venue.  It was the very first one we looked at and all the other venues had a lot to live up to after this one!  Their banquet room was long and had a wall of windows that made the space feel so open and bright.
 
Doeblerghini Bunch:  The DT Airport - Ballroom wall of windows
Personal Photo

It’s a smaller hotel so our wedding would virtually take over the entire hotel, which was a big plus for Dude.

They also had this super cute patio/gazebo area that was perfect for a ceremony.

Doeblerghini Bunch:  The DT Airport - Patio and Gazebo
Personal Photo

The only downside to the outdoor area was the layout.  If we wanted to get married in the gazebo, chairs would have to be awkwardly placed around it.

And really, what’s the point of getting married kind of next to a gazebo?  Amirite?

And as far as the venue itself, it’s kind of far from everything except the airport and Robert Morris University, which is a definite negative for us. 

Although how cool would it be to crash a frat party in my wedding dress?

DoubleTree, Greentree
Next up we went to the DoubleTree in Greentree.  The only picture I took here was a blurry iPhone photo of a hawk eating a snake on the roof.   Woops! 

This was a pretty standard hotel, but here’s the one thing that made us seriously consider having our wedding here – A BACON BAR.  Yep, that’s right.  Normal weddings have a fruit and cheese display at their cocktail hour; we could have had a BACON display.  Chocolate covered bacon, maple bacon donuts, plain bacon, peppered bacon, bacon wrapped scallops...bacon, bacon, and more bacon! 

Doeblerghini Bunch:  OMG Bacon Kitty

Who else is salivating?? 

The only ballroom that would hold all our guests was actually 3 smallish rooms divided by accordion bendy thin walls and there was a yet another good chance there would be a wedding reception right next to ours, separated only by those dang walls!

This was a major turnoff, especially after our tour at the Sheraton at Station Square.  Plus, Dude was still remembering the option of more or less taking over the DoubleTree Airport. 

A bonus for their ballroom was that the ceiling came pre-decorated with tulle-wrapped string lights that gave off great mood lighting when the lights were dimmed for dancing.

Doeblerghini Bunch:  The DT Greentree - Ceiling Lighting

So these two DoubleTrees ended up on our short list of venues to compare price-wise.   In my next post, I’ll share my absolute favorite reception venues and you’ll find out where we’re getting married!   

Did you have to compare venues side-by-side before you made a decision?  Was there an awesome food option that made you drool?

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Coulda Woulda Venues - The No Ways



After deciding what kind of wedding we wanted, the next step was actually picking a venue for our ceremony and reception.  Luckily (or maybe unluckily??), Dude and I are not church people, so we didn’t need to worry about booking a church as well. 

I honestly had no idea where to start, so I Googled Pittsburgh Wedding Venues.

373,000 results. 

After a couple days of using my lunch breaks to research venues, and a bunch of lists that looked like this:


Doeblerghini Bunch:  Venue Lists Part 1

Doeblerghini Bunch:  Venue Lists Part 2
Personal Photos

Here was our final must-see list:
The Chadwick
DoubleTree Airport
DoubleTree Greentree
DoubleTree Meadowlands
Heinz History Center
Sheraton Station Square

Today I’m sharing our “hell nos.”  The venues we walked through and knew before we left there was no chance they’d make the cut.  


Monday, October 14, 2013

The Hardest Question - What Kind of Wedding Do We Want?


As you know, Dude and I got engaged in December.  But, what you don't know is that until May or so, we pretty much ignored wedding planning all together. 

Except I did start a Pinterest wedding planning board.  That counts for something, right?

Doeblerghini Bunch:  Pinterest Wedding Funny ECard

The only reason we procrastinated for six months is because we just couldn’t figure out what kind of wedding we wanted.

Once a week or so, Dude would say to me – “Did you figure out what kind of wedding you want yet?”

I’d say – “No, did you?”

He’d say no and we’d go back to watching DVR’d episodes of NCIS or The Walking Dead or I’d go back to baking and he’d go back to browsing eBay for vintage Newcastle bar pieces.  Or more likely – I'd go back to playing on my phone, where I’d probably be on Pinterest. 

You know, planning our wedding.

We tossed around all kinds of ideas for our wedding.

My first thought - due to what I was sure would be a massive guest list - was the full weekend wedding.  We’d have a small intimate ceremony and reception for immediate family and friends on Friday which would be followed by a big informal party on Saturday for everyone.  Dude hated this idea!  He said he thought the party on Saturday seemed more like a “Give Us Presents” party. 

Then we thought we could have a full destination wedding in Hawaii (or somewhere else warm with a beach) with only our immediate families.  And then coming home and having an informal reception in Pittsburgh.   I nixed this one because I couldn’t imagine getting married without my bff's by my side. 
 
Then there was a semi-destination wedding in Atlantic Beach, NC.  Getting closer…I could definitely do a beach wedding!  I grew up visiting Atlantic Beach every summer and this was the first place where Dude and I vacationed together, so I loved the idea of getting married in such a personal place.

There was also the option of getting married in the town where I grew up, on the other side of the state.  I’ll tell you my Mom pushed for this one hard.  But, even though it would have been much cheaper, it just isn’t my home anymore.  Pittsburgh is my home, Dude’s home, and where we belong.  So this one was really out before it was even in.  Sorry Mom!!

Then there was what we’re calling the Big Blow Out wedding.  That’s the one where we save all our pennies for the next 15 months and invite our full guest list to a wedding in Pittsburgh and as Dude would say, do it right.

The Big Blow Out wedding was my favorite.  Call me old fashioned, but when I envision my wedding day, I see my BFFs getting ready with me the morning of, I see me dancing with all our close friends, and I see Pittsburgh as the background.

Doeblerghini Bunch:  Pittsburgh Skyline Wedding Party

Ugh for real, don’t you love this picture?  It made me squee the first time I saw it.

So, what about you guys?  Did you put off wedding planning at all?  Did you struggle with picking what kind of wedding you wanted?