Tag Archives: wedding

Flashback Friday: Planning a Honeymoon

29 Jul

Happy Friday! After skipping out on Flashback Friday last week due to some unexpected (but very awesome company) – I’m back with more wedding planning shenanigans!

I received a comment asking me to share my honeymoon planning experience – so I figured that’s what I’d talk about today. I’m not going to review my honeymoon yet… I want to save that for a different post – or multiple posts 🙂 But I will share a little about our thoughts in terms of planning it all.

Here are some of the biggest issues we dealt with when planning our Honeymoon –

1. Cruise vs Resort

Cruise: When we first started talking about our honeymoon, I was 100% opposed to a cruise. First of all, I had never been on a cruise – but the idea of being locked away in a tiny room and not being able to take walks along the beach at night really made me upset. Plus, cruises have specific schedules – like dinner times, and excursion times, and I didn’t want to be on a schedule. On the other hand, Steve only wanted a cruise. He loved the idea of seeing multiple sites and the idea of an unlimited buffet.

Resorts: We looked into resorts for comparison – and they were just obnoxiously over-priced in my opinion. Sure, you got unlimited golf, but for two non-golfers, that’s not something I wanted to pay for. Some other resorts also offered free drinks, but I’m not a big drinker, so again I didn’t want to have to pay for that. But most of all, I’m not a big romantic. A lot of those all-inclusive resorts cater to the romantic couples envisioning candle-lit dinners and plenty of alone time. No thank you. Not my thing.

Our Choice: 3 days on land + 7 days on a cruise. Compromise. I got to walk on the beach at night like I wanted – and we both got to see multiple destinations, which was amazing. Plus our cruise was based on “Freestyle Cruising” so there wasn’t a strict schedule at all.

2. Location Location Location

Caribbean: We initially looked at the Caribbean because… well – it’s CHEAP. The flight to Florida (where we’d board our cruise) wasn’t very expensive, and we wouldn’t have to spend much time in a plane. There’s no shortage of options in the Caribbean either. Pretty much every major cruise line cruises the Caribbean – west, south, east, ranging from 3 days to a month… lots of options. Plus I saw some special on the Travel channel about a Caribbean cruise & it looked bad-ass.

Hawaii: Steve’s dream location. He was dead-set on Hawaii the entire time. He had been there before and loved it – and he wanted to go back in the worst way. Having never been, I obviously wanted to go to Hawaii – it’s freaking paradise! I was just terrified of how expensive it was going to be. The flights alone were quite pricey. But it’s Hawaii (plus since its in the US, we didn’t have to worry about passports and all that jazz)

Fiji: MY dream location. I’m obsessed with Fiji and it’s been a life-goal of mine to get there – so I obviously looked into it. Once you’re actually in Fiji, it’s not very expensive. However, getting to Fiji is a whole different monster. It’s about a 24-hour flight from the East Coast – so we’d spend 2 days of our honeymoon in an airplane… and that’s assuming we didn’t get delayed anywhere. I’d rather spend my honeymoon on a beach than in a plane. Plus, the airfare was much more than we were prepared to spend. So we had to rule out Fiji (Note: I am going to Fiji in 2012 – so my dream will come true eventually!)

Our Choice: Funny story. We booked a western Caribbean cruise that hit Cozumel, Grand Cayman, Belize, and Costa Maya… and then I got a much higher-paying job, and Steve talked to a travel agent behind my back about Hawaii… long story short – we ended up changing our plans & choosing Hawaii!!!

3. Money

Everyone kept telling us “You’ll get enough money at your wedding to go on a honeymoon anywhere you want!” True. We did. (Thanks everyone!) Unfortunately, you need to pay for your honeymoon in advance. We were really worried about having to pay for both the cruise and the flights so far in advance. We had just started working, so we were making money, we just didn’t have a lot saved up. We ended up applying for a credit card – which was the perfect choice for us. Neither of us have ever had a credit card before, but for 0% APR for the first year, we knew we could pay for our flights and other expenses up front and pay off our debt over the course of the next year without paying any interest. Capital One, you’re in my wallet. 

Looking Back

I’m so glad we ended up choosing Hawaii over the Caribbean. I’m sure the Caribbean is beautiful and one day I’ll get there – but we wanted to go to Hawaii, and we made it happen. You’ll always remember your honeymoon, so if you have the opportunity to make it to your DREAM location – DO IT! You really will make enough money at your wedding to choose your dream location.

Perhaps I should have consulted a travel agent instead of trying to plan it all on my own. Steve ended up finding a travel agency that made our lives incredibly easy. They picked us up at the airport and transported us to our hotel that they booked for us – they set up a tour of Pearl Harbor for us – and they provided transportation to our ship on the day we departed. It was great not to have to worry about anything once we landed.

Cruises are not intimate. I didn’t mind this at all. I actually enjoyed talking to other guests, other couples, making new friends, etc. But if you’re looking for privacy & seclusion, don’t pick a cruise. I don’t regret the cruise at all though. Not one bit.

Flash Forward

Tomorrow Steve is taking me out for a Birthday surprise!! And tonight he gave me my gift! I don’t know what to call it – but it’s the contraption that I can set my road bike on to make it a stationary bike indoors. (Does this make sense?) Anyways – I’ve been wanting one so I can cross-train in the winter / rainy days. I’m pumped to set it up & to see what Steve has in store for tomorrow 🙂

On Sunday, I’m biking 65 miles from Philadelphia to Atlantic City as part of Tour de Shore. Wish me luck!!

Monday, I turn 24. Woohoo!

Flashback Friday: Wedding Flowers

15 Jul

Happy Friday! Even though I didn’t go see Harry Potter, and I’m not going up to Penn State for Arts Fest, and I’m not going to a beach (like every other person I know) – I’m still pumped about the weekend. I’ll get to kayak, run a midnight race, look at some awesome classic cars at the car show, and relax. Sounds wonderful. But before that all starts, it’s time for my weekly wedding flashback.

I figured I’d talk about all the decorative details of the day – including my flowers & centerpieces. As dumb as it sounds, I honestly might have taken a longer time decided on centerpieces than anything else. I had a very particular look in mind and I wasn’t settling for anything less.

1. Flowers!

  • So my middle name is Rose. My new last name means “Rose” in Italian. I love roses. Obviously, there were going to be roses in my bouquet. Easy enough.
  • My wedding colors were blue, white, and silver. Now think about it – have you seen many blue flowers? There’s a lot of purple-blue flowers, but not many that are truly blue. And I wasn’t all about dipping flowers in blue paint. No thank you. So I was set on finding some kind of blue flowers.
  • I don’t like nosegay bouquets. I wanted something more elegant and unique.
  • Pretty much, I saw this picture & I wanted to copy it.
  • I LOVED how the bridal bouquet was like an “explosion” of flowers. I loved the way the flowers cascaded down in front of her.
  • I also loved the bridesmaids very simple, very elegant cala lillies.
  • With that said, I didn’t want any flowers in my wedding aside from the bouquets and corsages. It’s January. There’s no point in having flower-y centerpieces for a wedding with a snowflake theme.
I met with 3 different florists to get ideas and test out pricing. Everyone warned me how expensive the cala lillies would be, but I didn’t much care. It was my wedding and I wanted cala lillies. My mother also said she felt that cala lillies reminded her of funeral flowers. Thanks, Mom. Anyways – I was dead set on white roses and white cala lillies, but I let the florists introduce me to some other beautiful blue flowers.

  • Blue Delphinium – Perfect for the “explosion” bouquet I wanted

  • Blue Dendrobium Orchids – the world’s most beautiful flowers. I saw one picture and knew I had to have them. I’m obsessed.
I thought the hard part was over, but who knew how many options there were for grandparents & parents & readers & everyone else you can think of. I pretty much left that all up to the florist – but made sure that the mothers just had a single white rose to carry. Wrist corsages can get annoying really fast when you’re hugging people all day. And I didn’t want them to have to pin their dresses. God forbid something should snag.

Here’s how it all worked out!

I was amazed at how beautifully everything turned out. Michelle at Brides & Butterflies did an amazing job – and I would highly recommend her services to any bride in the Pittsburgh area. Not only did she design the bouquets and give me a great price, but her company also made a seating chart and helped out with some of the hall decorations. I was a very happy bride when it came to all things flowers.

My advice on flowers:

  • Be as specific as possible when you are meeting with your florist. You aren’t going to see the bouquets (or the centerpieces if you have a florist design them) until the day of your wedding. If you don’t like them, it’s already too late. Be very, very specific. Bring pictures.
  • Be open to your florist’s suggestions. Chances are if you love a flower that’s really expensive, she can find something very similar for half the cost.
  • If you have your heart set on a certain flower, don’t let anyone talk you out of it. I could have easily been talked out of the cala lillies, but I’m so glad I stuck with them because they turned out exactly how I wanted.
  • If you like the idea of my “explosion” bouquet over a nosegay – be prepared for it to weigh about 50 pounds. ha Don’t get me wrong, I loved my bouquet, but I was shocked at how heavy it was.
  • A lot of florists put the bouquets in water to keep them fresh for when you walk down the aisle. Take them out of the water way before you walk down the aisle. You don’t want them to drip or possibly stain anything with dye from the ribbon of the flowers themselves.
  • If you’re looking for an easy way to make your MOH stand out at the wedding, make her bouquet different.

I was going to also write about my decorations / centerpieces today – but this was really long without it… so I’ll save that for another Friday!

Today’s Workout: Swim

  • Warm-up: 200 SKIPS [200 each of Swim, Kick, IM, Pull, Swim]
  • 100 Fast on 1:30 (Touch between 1:10 and 1:15)
  • 200 Swim on 3:00
  • 300 Pull on 4:30
  • 4 x 200 on 3:00 [1st 200 – 4th 50 sprint. 2nd 200 – 3rd 50 sprint. 3rd 200 – 2nd 50 sprint. 4th 200 – 1st 50 sprint.]
  • 300 Pull on 4:30
  • 200 Kick on 4:00
  • 100 Cool-down easy
  • Total: 3,000 yards

Have a great weekend everyone!!

Flashback Friday: Pittsburgh Wedding Venues

8 Jul

It’s very fitting that I’m doing a wedding post today because today marks the *Half-Year-Anniversary* of my big day 🙂

Happy 6 months Steve!

Today I figured I’d write about choosing the venue for the reception – which apparently is one of the most daunting tasks when it comes to wedding planning. I am so glad we had a year & a half to plan our wedding because it took us a WHILE to find the perfect venue. For one, we were both still in school… a solid 2 hours away from where we were getting married, so we had to pack a lot of venue visits into weekend trips home. Secondly, we didn’t have a clear budget to work off of, which makes it really difficult when pricing things out. Anyways – we must have looked at about 2304895 venues before finally making a decision.

I’ll go through some of the places we considered, since going through all of them would take forever. And I’ll offer some of my own thoughts looking back.

1. Pittsburgh Zoo & Aquarium

Pros: This was the most unique venue I could think of. I love animals, I love aquariums, I loved the idea that guests could walk around and take pictures and see the entire aquarium as part of my reception. It would give the kids at my reception something to do other than dance. I LOVED this option.

Cons: Being that it’s an aquarium, it kind of smelled like fish. It was also on the smaller side. The pricing was also confusing mainly because alcohol wasn’t included – so we’d have to buy our own – and I have not the slightest idea how much alcohol to buy for 150 people.

2. LeMont, Mt. Washington

Pros: See above picture. I’m obsessed with Pittsburgh.

Cons: As you can imagine, this place was fairly pricey. And by fairly, I mean it was expensive.

3. DiSalvo’s Station, Latrobe

Pros: This is an old train station converted into a restaurant, so it has so much history & charm. The tunnel entrance was gorgeous, the inside was adorable, there was a downstairs cigar lounge, and it was reasonably priced. This was actually our #1 choice until…

Cons: We went to pretty much seal the deal & go over details with the venue’s wedding coordinator… and the man was the most un-professional, annoying, condescending idiot I have ever spoken to. I couldn’t imagine working with him at all. Honestly, if they would have had a better coordinator, I would have had my reception here.

4. Pittsburgh’s Grand Hall at the Priory

Pros: See above picture. This was the most amazing / stunning / beautiful place i have ever seen. It’s an old Cathedral converted into a banquet hall. Imagine the beauty of old Catholic Cathedrals & then imagine them offering a winter wedding deal where they decorate everything in blues & white & have an actual snow machine sprinkling snow from above. This was my ultimate dream venue.

Cons: It was super, super expensive. It was downtown Pittsburgh, it was gorgeous, and I’m pretty sure they had no issues getting people to book this site, so they weren’t really negotiable on price. I could have booked it anyways, but then I would have had to make a lot of sacrifices elsewhere…

5. Syria Shriners Hall

 Pros: This was my mom’s favorite venue. It was quite the grand hall with the high ceilings and the world’s largest chandelier. The staff was very friendly and accommodating and the price was very reasonable.

Cons: While my mom loved the look, I thought it looked straight out of Aladdin. It was just a little too middle-eastern for me. I wanted something more contemporary.

6. Lakeview, Greensburg

Pros: This place was very affordable, and close to home.

Cons: The “lakeview” they speak of is a view of a very green-ish lake, so that wasn’t impressive. And for some reason, they put up a miniature statue of liberty next to the lake as a 9-11 Memorial… and who the hell wants a life-size fake statue of liberty in their wedding pictures? We also heard some negative reviews.

7. Stratigo’s Banquet Center

*My Reception*

Before I get into the pro’s & con’s… I’d like to say that I REFUSED to look at Stratigo’s as a venue for the longest time. Like it wasn’t even an option (I’ll explain below). Once again, I was so wrong.

Pros: The food was excellent. The staff was professional, friendly, helpful, accommodating, personable, & friendly. The venue was beautiful. They offered a 30% discount for my “winter” wedding. It was close to home / to the church. All of the DJ’s / photographers / bakeries were very familiar with the venue and the set-up. There were flat-screen TV’s in the bathroom. Their menu options were extensive. They provided the alcohol.

Cons: It wasn’t close to hotels (for the guest’s sake). And… I had my high school prom there. Dun Dun Dun. This was the reason I refused to look at this place. Prom. With my ex. Not exactly what I pictured for my wedding. (Although it looked so totally different for my wedding, that it didn’t even cross my mind when it came down to it)

Overall Thoughts

  • Location. Just like in real estate, the closer you are to a major city, the more expensive it will be. I would have LOVED to be downtown, but in the end, it wasn’t worth sacrificing on the small things to be in the city.
  • Staff. I didn’t consider how important the staff would be when it came to the venue – but trust me, you want people at your venue to accommodate your every wish – no matter how big or small. It can make a huge difference.
  • Cost. Your venue will most likely the majority of your budget. But you want to make sure you leave enough room for all the little details that creep up at the end. I could have picked my dream location in the city – but I probably would have had to make a playlist on my iPod instead of getting a DJ.
  • Food. People are traveling & likely paying a lot of money to come to your wedding. The least you can do is pick a place that offers GREAT food.
  • Alcohol. It was nice not to have to worry about providing my own alcohol because with my luck, we would have ran out half-way through and been screwed since PA liquor stores close at 9. The open bar was key. Plus we paid by the head, not the bottle, so there were no surprises at the end of the night.

Hopefully this was helpful! Especially to any Pittsburgh brides 🙂

And just to keep up with my work-outs….

Friday’s Workout: Swim

  • Warm-up: 200 SKIPS [200 each of Swim, Kick, IM, Pull, Swim]
  • 4 x 200 Pull on 3:00 [1st 200 – Sprint last 50. 2nd 200 – Sprint 3rd 50. 3rd 200 – Sprint 2nd 50. 4th 200 – Sprint 1st 50]
  • 100 [50 easy, 25 scull, 25 swim]
  • 200 Fast
  • 5 x [100 Pull on 1:30, 50 Sprint on 1:00 – trying to touch between 35 & 40 sec]
  • 150 Cool-down
  • Total: 3050 yards

Flashback Friday: Winter Weddings

1 Jul

Happy 4th of July weekend! I’m going to do my Flashback Friday Wedding post this afternoon.. and then I’m not sure when I’ll get to post again because I’m heading to the beach all weekend and won’t have much internet access. (Darn.)

It seems like choosing a wedding venue / date is the biggest decision in the whole wedding planning process. Luckily, I had a year and a half to plan my wedding, so there was no rush. Unluckily, I planned my Pittsburgh wedding from State College and it required a 2-hour trip home anytime I wanted to be useful.

Choosing a date

  • To break it down, Steve and I got engaged in July 2009. He graduated in December 2009. I graduated May 2010.  I guess normally, we would have chosen to be married the following summer (2010)… but I felt stressed out even thinking about finishing classes, finding a job, finding a place to live, and planning a wedding all at the same time. So summer 2010 was out. Fall 2010 was out because Steve’s brother was studying abroad. So… winter 2010-2011? Random. I hate cold. I hate snow. I hate winter. But I also didn’t feel like waiting 2 years to get married. So – a winter wedding it was.
  • Alright so we narrowed it down to winter. I figured I’d try to pick a date over the holiday break so not to interfere with anyone’s finals, etc. Well – in 2010-2011, both Christmas and New Years Day fell on a Saturday. Fail. Apparently people were a little busy the Saturday before Christmas as well. How about New Years Eve? Sounds awesome, right? Until you figure that the reception should go through midnight, which means it wouldn’t start until 8 or 9 with a typical 5-hour reception. That’s just weird to plan. Plus, places were already booked.
  • Magical Date: January 8. If you would have told me when we were first engaged that I’d be getting married on January 8, I would have laughed. I wanted a summer day that ended in a 7. Fail again.

Positives to a Winter Wedding:

  • Cost. If you want to save some serious money on your wedding day – get married in the winter. It’s such a slow season that pretty much every vendor will give you a crazy discount just so that they get some business. My reception hall gave us a 30% discounton our whole package because we chose January. That’s HUGE.
  • People aren’t very busy in January. As nice as summer weddings are, it can get crazy / expensive / cumbersome to travel to a wedding every other weekend in the summer. Plus, in the summer you’re competing with family vacations so guests might have previous plans. We found that most of our guests were excited to have something to do in January other than tear down Christmas decorations.
  • Availability. Chances are you’ll have your top choice of vendors available in winter. You’ll also have your choice of date. There’s no competition. You get what you want. Personally, it helped that no one else had booked my venue at any point the whole weekend, so my mom was able to go in and set up decorations (DIY) on the Wednesday before the wedding. She made sure everything looked perfect in advance so there were no surprises on the big day
  • Christmas Decorations. If you get married close enough to Christmas, a lot of places still have their twinkle lights and other decorations up – so you get them for free. Free decorations = good decorations.
  • Escape the cold on your Honeymoon. We could not have been more happy to arrive in Hawaii after a winter in Pennsylvania. I mean, Hawaii is going to be amazing no matter when you go – but it just makes you feel good knowing that you escaped winter.

Negatives to a Winter Wedding:

  • Weather. This is obvious. We got married in January in Pennsylvania. It was effingcold. It was always a small fear that we could get a blizzard and flights could get cancelled / delayed or that our limo wouldn’t be able to drive in the snow.We were so lucky. It snowed a solid 2 inches. Just enough to give an even white coating without causing any travel delays. However, our bridal party wasn’t too thrilled about my idea for snowy outdoor pictures in the freezing cold. Oh well, the pictures look AMAZING.
  • Indoors. There were some venues that could only accommodate a small number of guests indoors. Most of these offered an outdoor tent or outdoor areas, but we obviously couldn’t use them in the winter.
  • It gets dark really early. We had to make sure that we could take pictures before the sun went down – which is crazy early in the winter. Not only would it look weird to be in the dark, but it also got even colder. No one wants to be cold.
  • Flowers aren’t in season. I digress on cost when it comes to flowers. Flowers aren’t really in season in January. You’ll pay extra. I wanted cala lillies. They’re tropical. The cost reflected that. But I didn’t have any flowers for decorations /centerpieces – I only used flowers in the bouquets so it didn’t matter to me.

In the end, the date isn’t nearly as important as  you might think. Either way, you get to marry your best friend – and celebrate with friends & family. So even though I got married on probably the most random date I could think of, everything worked out beautifully.

Flashback Friday: Wedding Edtion

24 Jun

Since I didn’t have a blog leading up to my wedding – I thought it would be fun to “re-live” all the planning and details here. I’m going to establish Flashback Fridays from here on out. It’s probably best that I didn’t have a blog during all of my wedding planning because there would have been a lot of posts about eloping, skipping all the planning, and not wanting to do anything wedding related ever again. So – I’ll take a less stressed out, happier approach to my wedding here 🙂

Colors & Dresses!

So pretty much as soon as I got engaged, two of my best friends were already planning a trip to David’s Bridal for me to try on wedding dresses and for them to try out some bridesmaids dresses. Even though we weren’t actually getting married until a year and a half after we got engaged, how could I say no? So I went into David’s Bridal with a few assumptions…

  1. I wanted my wedding color to be baby blue (think UNC Tarheels)
  2. I wanted a simple, light-weight, frills-free halter wedding dress (Like the one below)

My advice: Don’t bother making assumptions – you’ll definitely change your mind.

What actually happened:At David’s Bridal, bridesmaids dresses come in a variety of colors, but chances are that the dress you like in the size you need won’t come in your dream color. So you try on whatever color happens to come in your size.

So no one tried on baby blue… but it didn’t matter. I thought that the royal blue was such a gorgeous color that I didn’t even want to look at other options. Plus, all of my bridesmaids looked pretty awesome in such a bold color. Assumption 1 = Fail.When it came to bridesmaids dresses, I only wanted a few things. I wanted floor-length dresses because we got married in January – it was going to be freezing. I also wanted everyone to match. Otherwise, I really didn’t want to dictate what they chose because they had to wear it – not me. I tried to get most of my bridesmaids to look at dresses at the same time so they could make a group decision – and it worked out pretty well I think! (If anyone of them hated their dresses, they haven’t told me yet)

Here’s what we ended up deciding on 🙂


2. I ended up trying on the dress that I had been eyeing up on-line forever. (You know, the one, what I always envisioned, what I always wanted… etc). Holy not-at-all-what-I-was-expecting. I looked like a prostitute. Obviously the dress of my dreams was designed for a flat-chested girl. I was hanging out of that dress like Janet Jackson at the Super Bowl. It was bad. Assumption 2 = Fail. I tried on a whole bunch of other dresses – and let my friends pick some out for me too.

Tip: Bring honest friends when you shop for dresses. Mine told me flat-out that some dresses were ugly on me and I appreciate it.

Anyways – so they pick out this extravagant beaded strapless gown and bring it to me to try on. I tried it on just to appease them. There was no way I was into beads and lace and “fru-fru”

I was wrong… again. Despite having never worn anything like this before in my life, I loved it! It really made me feel like a snow princess – which is what I was going for in my winter wedding. I would have never picked out this dress for myself in a million years – but my friends loved it, my mom loved it, my dad loved it – and here’s the BEST part of all …

As my mom was browsing the sales rack – aka the 50% off rack – she saw my dress. (So the chances of it being my size are like 0%, right?) Oh no, it was my size, exactly. Since I was going to buy it anyway – I tried on the dress from the sales rack – sold “as is” and searched all over for any reasons why it was being sold “as is”. To this day, I have no idea and I don’t care. I found MY DRESS for 50% off. Talk about winning. Needless to say, I walked out of the store with my dress and didn’t look back 🙂

Flash forward…

Friday’s work-out: Swimming 

  • Warm-up: 200 SKIPS [200 Swim, 200 Kick, 200 IM, 200 Pull, 200 Swim]
  • 4x [100 Sprint on 1:30, try to touch by 1:10-1:15 + 200 Pull on 3:00]
  • 200 Swim, 200 Kick, 200 IM, 200 Pull
  • Cool-down: 300 of whatever
  • Total: 3300 yards

Breakfast of Champions

  • Smoothie + Granola
  • Smoothie: frozen banana, vanilla protein powder, cocoa powder, peanut butter, milk, ice

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