Sunday, September 28, 2008

Skip the bouquet toss!

Quite a few of my current brides have asked me if they have to throw the bouquet at their response? Absolutely not! While it still is an age old tradition, nothing says you have to do it at your wedding. Want a new up and coming tradition instead? Have all of your single girlfriends at the wedding sign the soles of your shoes instead! This tradition stems from Turkish wedding culture and is catching on here in the states. Not only is this a fun and unique element you can bring into your reception, but it's also something you can cherish for the rest of your life. Years from now when you pick up your bridal shoes, you'll have something to look back on and remember!

Photo courtesy of Simply Perfect Weddings.

Ceremony Decor

The days of those big white traditional pew bows are long gone (and thank goodness for that!)... today there are many creative ways to add an extra something to your church pews or ceremony chairs. Often times, brides don't always know that they have other options when it comes to this area, so here are a few examples of what you can do:

Images courtesy of The Knot.

Monday, September 22, 2008

Top 15 Questions to Ask Your Reception Venue

A few weeks ago I posted a blog, Top 10 Questions to Ask Your Potential Church so today I thought I would post my Top 15 questions to ask a potential reception venue. Most of the time I am hired to plan a client's wedding before their reception venue is booked; however, there are some instances when the venue is booked before a wedding planner is hired. If this is the case for you, be sure to take this list of questions along when interviewing potential reception facilities - this will make it easier on you when it comes time to choose the best venue for your wedding. No matter what type of venue you desire, these questions will help get you off on the right track!

1. Is there a minimum guest count required in order to book facility? In addition, are there any minimum food/beverage $ amounts that must be spent?

2. Are there any required vendors that we must use? (Some facilities will require that you use a specific caterer, bakery, etc… and other facilities will suggest that you use certain vendors they are associated with; however, you are not obligated to)

3. If specific caterers & bakeries must be used, are there tasting sessions available? If an outside bakery can be used, do you provide cake cutting services?

4. What is required to reserve wedding date? Is there a written contract? When is final payment due? (Always be sure to sign a written contract before any money is exchanged)

5. How many hours can facility be rented for? Are there wedding reception packages available? What are the hourly fees if reception goes over allotted time?

6. Does the venue have all the necessary licenses & permits?

7. What types of dining options do they offer? Buffet, seated, stations, etc…? What are the different price per person $ amounts? Also, is gratuity and tax included in this amount? Are there any special prices for children?

8. Do they provide linens, tables, chairs, glassware, china, silverware, etc? If so, do they provide set-up/take-down of these items?

9. Is there sufficient parking for guests? Is valet available – if so, how much?

10. Are there any music/noise restrictions? Is a DJ/Live Band permitted?

11. Do they provide a dance floor? If so, how many guests can it accommodate?

12. Are there any decorating restrictions?

13. If the venue has a hotel – is a bridal suite/room included with the package? Also, if our guests stay here – are there any discounts associated with their rooms?

14. When is our final headcount due?

15. What is the staff to guest ratio?

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Vendor Spotlight:

Cake rentals have become increasingly popular over the last few years; however, the concept of 'renting a cake' is still foreign for some people. Therefore, I wanted to talk a little more about this available service for brides on a budget. (Fun Cakes Rental) is a cake rental company available to brides nationwide (they have shipped to just about all of the 50 states). If you've never heard of this concept before, you're probably asking yourself 'how does all of this work exactly?'. Well, here's how...Fun Cakes uses real fondant & cake decorating techniques to cover foam tiers. Your wedding cake will look and feel very real...just as if you would have ordered directly from a bakery. Inside one of the foam tiers will be a piece of real cake for the bride & groom to cut into for the traditional cake cutting ceremony. Once the cake cutting ceremony is over, the cake will be brought into the kitchen and guests will receive a slice of sheet cake from a local bakery. After the wedding is over, you will ship the cake back to Fun Cakes...hence where the term 'renting a cake' comes from. This service is available for a fraction of the cost of a real wedding cake...custom design & order a traditional 3-tier wedding cake for only $250 (plus shipping) or choose from one of Fun Cakes pre-designed cakes and receive a 3-tier wedding cake for only $150 (plus shipping). Not bad, huh?!

To summarize, here's how to get your very own cake from

  • Choose your cake design from Fun Cakes' many pre-designed cakes or feel free to design your own (they will custom make your cake exactly to your specifications)

  • Secure your wedding date with a refundable deposit ($200)

  • Fun Cakes will design your cake & ship it directly to your door in a sturdy wooden box prior to your wedding date

  • On your wedding day, slide the cake out of the box and display at your reception. Guests will receive a slice of sheet cake from the back and will never know that they weren't eating the exact cake that was originally displayed!

  • Once the wedding is over, place the cake back into the wooden box, ship to Fun Cakes and your $200 deposit will be refunded back to you.

Monday, September 15, 2008

Berry-Topped Cupcakes

Check out this delicious cupcake recipe I found on - these would be the perfect treat for a bridal shower luncheon or part of your dessert table at your reception.

Berry-Topped Cupcakes

{This recipe makes 16 cupcakes}


1-1/2 cups fresh strawberries, trimmed and chopped
4 tablespoons plus 2 teaspoons strawberry-flavored gelatin
2-1/2 cups all-purpose flour
2-1/4 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup (1-1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
1 cup sugar
3 large eggs
3/4 cup buttermilk

3 cups confectioners' sugar
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
3 tablespoons milk
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract


1. Heat oven to 350°. Line 18 indents of 2 cupcake pans with paper or foil liners.
2. In small saucepan, combine 1 cup of the strawberries, 4 tablespoons of the gelatin and 2 tablespoons water. Heat over medium heat for 9 minutes or until bubbly. Transfer to a small bowl and let cool 30 minutes.
3. In a small bowl, whisk flour, baking powder and salt. In large bowl, beat butter until smooth. Beat in sugar until fluffy, about 2 minutes. Beat in eggs, one at a time.
4. On low speed, alternately beat flour mixture and buttermilk into butter mixture, beginning and ending with flour. Stir in cooled strawberry mixture. Divide batter among liners, about 1/3 cup in each.
5. Bake at 350° for about 24 minutes or until tops spring back when lightly pressed. Cool cupcakes in pans for 5 minutes, then remove to a rack; let cool.
6. In small saucepan, combine remaining 1/2 cup strawberries and remaining 2 teaspoons gelatin. Cook 5 minutes over medium heat until gelatin is dissolved. Cool 20 minutes.
7. Frosting: In bowl, blend sugar, butter, milk and vanilla until smooth. Once cupcakes have cooled, spread with frosting, about 1-1/2 tablespoons for each. Make a small indent in center of frosting with a spoon. Spoon scant 1/2 teaspoon cooled strawberry mixture into indent on top of each cupcake. Chill 15 minutes, or until set.


Photo courtesy of

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Ditka's Fine Dining Restaurant Coming to Pittsburgh

Looking for a great restaurant to hold your rehearsal dinner? NFL legend, Mike Ditka is set to open a new restaurant right here in Pittsburgh...and what name could be more fitting than Ditka's. Ditka's is set to open in the old Atria's location in One Robinson Plaza this October. The menu features delicious steak and seafood dishes including a variety of speciality wines. In it's two current locations (Chicago & Oak Brook Terrace, IL) Ditka's features complimentary valet parking, award-winning menus, and most importantly private dining facilities for a wide variety of events...all of which will be available right here in Pittsburgh. Ditka's can accommodate events up to 100 people and has a variety of private dining menus to choose from. Check out their official website for additional info about the restaurant and it's menu details.

For more information about Ditka's coming to Pittsburgh, check out these local articles:

Ditka's Restaurant Opening in Robinson

Mike Ditka to Open Restaurant in Robinson

Friday, September 12, 2008

Top 10 Questions to Ask Your Potential Church

It can be tricky for couples to decide on a church when getting married, especially if they don't belong to the church already or didn't grow up in the church; therefore, it's important for couples to interview several churches to determine the best fit. I've compiled a list of questions to ask potential churches to help couples in the selection process. No matter what your religion, these questions will help get you off on the right track!

1. Are there membership requirements in order to be married here? If so, how long must we be members in order to book our wedding date?

2. Are pre-marital classes required?

3. What are the photography/videography restrictions during the ceremony? Is flash photography permitted?

4. Are there any decorating restrictions? (I.e. real flowers vs. silk flowers, isle runner restrictions, bird seed/rice throwing restrictions etc…)

5. What is the time frame allotted for ceremony? When can we enter the church before ceremony and how long after ceremony must we leave by?

6. Are there any receiving line restrictions after ceremony is over?

7. What are the fees associated with renting church for ceremony AND rehearsal? Are there additional fees for priests, altar servers, ceremony musicians, custodians, etc…?

8. Are there any designated parking facilities? Will the church block off section for limo/bridal party transportation?

9. Who is responsible for cleaning up after ceremony?

10. Are there any rules regarding wedding ceremony dates/times? (Some churches will actually have specific times that wedding ceremonies must be held at; for example, only Saturdays at 2pm or 4pm)

Thursday, September 11, 2008

9/11 Remembered

Today's blog is dedicated to all of the men & women who lost their lives on 9/11...may we all stop and reflect today in remembrance of them. Our hearts go out to all of the victims' families and people that were effected by this tragedy.

May we always remember this day....

God Bless the USA!

Photo courtesy of Simply Perfect Weddings.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Sundae Parlor at Your Reception!

Looking for a unique idea to incorporate into your wedding? Skip the traditional favors and give your guests a sweet treat instead by having an ice cream sundae bar at your reception! This can easily be accomplished as a 'DIY' project - head to your local Sam's Club or Costco to stock up on all your favorite ice cream sundae essentials. You can typically find your staple ice cream flavors (vanilla and chocolate) in a 5 quart bucket at these stores. On average, a 5 qt bucket can serve approx 20 guests (figure 2 scoops per person). You can also find all your toppings here as well...don't forget to stock up on chocolate sauce or hot fudge, whip cream, nuts, cherries, crushed candy & cookies, and any other yummy treats that you like! To make the sundae bar as efficient as possible, have your reception facility or caterer scoop out the ice cream beforehand and place in bowels/cups/cones. Guests can pick up their favorite flavor and head to the topping station to make their own personalized sundae! Don't forget to ask your reception facility if outside food is allowed to be brought in...some venues do not allow any outside food, so be sure to check with them beforehand.

Photo courtesy of The Official Website of the Ice Cream Sundae.

Sunday, September 7, 2008

New Blog Feature: Subscribe via email

As promised, we now have a subscription service available to our readers via email. You can start receiving updates by signing up in the left hand side tool bar where it states 'Subscribe via Email' - you will receive an email asking for confirmation and then you're all set to start receiving our daily blog updates directly in your inbox!

Martha Stewart Wedding Collection at Wal-Mart

She's done it again - if you haven't heard by now, Martha Stewart has a new collection, Martha Stewart Celebrate now available at Wal-Mart. She has tons of
D-I-Y goodies... everything from invitations to programs to tissue paper pom-pom and flower bouquet kits (both seen pictured in this blog). I must say that I'm a fan of this collection! Not only is this line cute and creative, but also very AFFORDABLE! I highly recommend going to check it out!

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Our Wedding - Professional Photos

There is something about black & white photography that is so timeless...I absolutely love it and can't get enough of it! Therefore, since we recently received our professional wedding photos back from our photographer, I thought I'd share a few of our b&w images with our readers!


Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Cheesecake Nibbles for Bridal Shower

I came across this delicious dessert on Nestle's website and immediately thought this would be a perfect fit for a bridal shower! These yummy chocolate swirled cheesecake nibbles are the perfect finger food for pre-wedding celebrations or can even be served as a midnight snack at a wedding.

{This recipe makes 3 dozen mini cheesecake nibbles}


36 vanilla wafers
1 2/3 cups (10-oz. pkg.) of Nestle Toll House swirled morsels
2 pkgs. (8 oz. each) cream cheese, at room temperature
1/2 cup granulated sugar
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract


Preheat oven to 350° F. Place 36 2-inch foil bake cups on baking sheet(s) with sides. Place one vanilla wafer, flat-side down, on bottom of each cup. Place 5 to 6 morsels on top of each wafer.

Beat cream cheese, sugar and flour in large mixer bowl until creamy. Add eggs and vanilla extract; beat well. Spoon heaping tablespoon of cream cheese mixture into each bake cup.

Bake for 15 to 17 minutes or until just set and not browned. Remove from oven to wire rack. While still warm, top cheesecakes with remaining morsels. Morsels will soften but will retain shape. Cool completely. Cover and refrigerate.