Introducing Allegheny County Hartwood Acres!

Gorgeous gardens, an ornate mansion, and a rich history make Allegheny County's Hartwood Acres a romantic and unique wedding venue choice.  The sophistication of this setting will bring a vintage, refined vibe to your celebration, while multiple on-site spaces are fit for a crowd of just about any size.  If you're still venue-hunting (or just want to see a beautiful space), go check them out in the Burgh Brides Vendor Guide!

Dazzling Pink & Gold Wedding at the History Center: Amie & Ben

This pink & gold wedding is going to knock your socks off!  Fox Petal Floral Design hit the nail on the head when she described Amie and Ben's big day as “pink champagne bubbles at a black-tie wedding”!  I mean the color of the bride's Bridal Beginning dress was officially called “moscato”.  Does it get any more perfect than that?!  Actually, yes.  Yes, it does.  And these photos from Aaron Varga Photography are proof.  After a fairy tale proposal, the pair chose the Heinz History Center as the venue for their black tie-optional wedding.  A color palette of blush, ivory, gold, and rose gold coupled with lots of sparkly details and a few unique twists on tradition helped to create pure wedding magic.  Amie and Ben's formal affair was sophisticated, feminine, and styled to damn near perfection.  This wedding blogger's heart is all aflutter.  I'm sure yours will be too.

Dazzling Pink & Gold Wedding from Aaron Varga Photography featured on Burgh Brides Dazzling Pink & Gold Wedding from Aaron Varga Photography featured on Burgh Brides Dazzling Pink & Gold Wedding from Aaron Varga Photography featured on Burgh Brides Dazzling Pink & Gold Wedding from Aaron Varga Photography featured on Burgh Brides Dazzling Pink & Gold Wedding from Aaron Varga Photography featured on Burgh Brides Dazzling Pink & Gold Wedding from Aaron Varga Photography featured on Burgh Brides Dazzling Pink & Gold Wedding from Aaron Varga Photography featured on Burgh Brides Dazzling Pink & Gold Wedding from Aaron Varga Photography featured on Burgh Brides Dazzling Pink & Gold Wedding from Aaron Varga Photography featured on Burgh Brides

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From the bride…

When and how did you two meet?

We were actually set up!  My dear friend Brad, whom I've known since high school, and his brother Marc, who recruited Ben and brought him to Pittsburgh for a job, thought that we would make a good match.  The two of them had actually tried to get us to meet for almost a year but we kept missing each other!

The first time I was supposed to meet Ben was at Brad's annual Halloween party back in 2009.  Ben was a no show.  Then, a few months later, Marc invited us both to his annual St. Patty's Day party, but I never ended up making it there.  Finally, in July, Brad and Marc set up a specific happy hour for Ben and me to meet at Yo Rita in the Southside.  After two margaritas, still no Ben.  I told Brad and Marc that I was giving this guy 10 more minutes and then we're calling this a failure and moving on.  Little did I know that Ben's flight had been delayed.  Fifteen minutes later, Ben walked in (yeah, I gave him an extra five minutes).  We hit it off, and the rest, they say, was history. 🙂

Juicy details on the proposal, please!  Where, when, how?

Ben grew up in upstate NY, but had never been to NYC.  What?!?  I couldn't believe it.  So, a few months after we had started dating, I surprised him on his 25th birthday with a road trip to New York City to see the Yankees (his team) play the Red Sox (my team) at Yankee Stadium.  Despite the Red Sox winning (sorry, Ben), it was an amazing trip, and NYC soon became one of our favorite weekend getaways.  We try to visit a few times each year.

Fast forward to spring 2015.  Ben and I had both been traveling like crazy for work.  We were literally two ships passing in the night, and one day Ben said, “Clear your schedule Mother's Day weekend.  I planned something fun for us, since we haven't seen each other in a few weeks.”

That Friday morning, I had arrived back in Pittsburgh after taking the red eye from LA.  When I pulled into our driveway, Ben was just leaving for work.  He told me he had made me breakfast and there was a note that would explain our weekend plans.  He left for work and I headed straight to the kitchen.  He prepared a beautiful breakfast, complete with a note telling me to pack a bag and be ready to leave at 4 p.m.

I finished my breakfast and went upstairs to go to bed, and there was another note beside a suitcase on our bed.  It detailed the type of outfits I would need (a nice dinner, comfy shoes, etc.), as well as the temperature of this mysterious place we were heading to.  Of course, I immediately went to weather.com and tried to find cities that matched the forecast.  NYC was in the running, but so were a few others, so I still wasn't sure.

I took my nap, packed my bags, and at 4 p.m. on the dot a limo pulled up to my door to pick me up.  The chauffeur grabbed my bag, and we were off to the airport.  As we pulled up to the terminal, Ben texted me a link.  It was to Billy Joel's New York State of Mind.  Yep, we were off to NYC!!

Ben was waiting for me at the airport.  He had a bag of “goodies” waiting for me, including all of my favorite travel snacks.  We flew first class to NYC and headed straight to the hotel – the Hilton on 6th Avenue – to check in and get ready for dinner.

In the hotel room, I came out of the bathroom, ready to go and there was one final card sitting on the bed.  The card was a hand-written proposal (that I'll have forever) and Ben down on one-knee with the most gorgeous diamond ring.  I immediately said yes and we headed to a fancy dinner at Buddakan to celebrate!

The rest of the weekend was just magical.  We hit all of our favorite spots and just enjoyed the first few days of the engagement together.  The ring was a little big, so I literally walked around NYC the entire weekend with a clenched fist.  It was my 2nd favorite weekend of my life (after the wedding, of course). 🙂

Describe the wedding.  The look, theme, style, colors, etc.

Ben and I are what you would call “wedding guest professionals”.  Over the 5+ years that we dated, we probably went to at least 8-10 weddings every year, which was both fun and educational (lol).  We got to see a wide range of themes from chic, rustic affairs, to beachy destination weddings to black tie NYE extravaganzas.  So when it came time for us to plan our big day, we had pretty much seen it all, and had made lots of mental notes along the way of things we really liked and things we didn't love.  We wanted our guests to enjoy our special day as much as we did, and we set out to create a truly memorable event.

Our first decision, which ultimately determined the entire direction of the day, was a venue.  We determined that our guest list would be around 150 people and decided that Pittsburgh had to play a major role.  Not only was it the place that we met, but it was also the place where we made a home and so many memories.  Ben grew up outside of Saratoga Springs, NY, so many of his family had never been to Pittsburgh or had only been a handful of times.  We wanted to show it off and to celebrate our wedding in the city.

We selected the Heinz History Center as our venue, and decided that since a wedding was kind of a big deal, we wanted to make it fancy affair.  We decided on a 6 p.m., black-tie optional ceremony that was held in the Great Hall, followed by a cocktail reception in the same room and a reception in the Mueller Center.

As for other elements of the wedding that Ben and I loved:

  • Our ceremony.  I'm Catholic, but Ben isn't religious, so we decided to host the ceremony at the History Center.  Our friend Brad, who introduced us, was our officiant and made the ceremony so personal and special.
  • The flowers.  Kelly Bishop of Fox Petal Floral is one of my closest friends (lucky me!).  She is amazing.  I gave her a budget, a gold and blush color scheme, and told her I wanted a variety of arrangements.  She somehow got inside my head and created these mood boards of exactly what I had envisioned.  The flowers were definitely a showstopper at the wedding.  They were beautiful!
  • The food.  I have had severe food allergies my entire life.  No dairy.  So when it came time to pick the menu, I was overly sensitive to making sure that there were items for every dietary need: dairy-free, gluten-free, vegetarian, vegan.  You name it, we had it.  I didn't want anyone to have to eat before they came, like I had done at so many receptions.  We decided to have three stations so that people could pick what they wanted to eat – and the amount that they wanted to eat.  The Common Plea was an amazing partner in helping us make sure that the food could accommodate everyone, and it was delicious!!  We also worked with Gluuteny Bakery to create our small wedding cake and our BIG dessert table.  We expanded the traditional cookie table to more of an all-encompassing dessert table, complete with a variety of cakes, pies, tarts, cookies, candy, etc.  It was incredible!
  • A first look.  Because the ceremony started later, Ben and I decided to do a first look and take our photos earlier in the day, so that we could enjoy as much time with our guests as possible.  Aaron Varga, our photographer, was awesome.  He hearded all of us cats and we cranked out amazingly beautiful photos in the 90+ degree heat.  This way Ben and I could enjoy our cocktail reception and dance the night away to Eric Schiemer's awesome tunes.

What inspired your vision?

We wanted our wedding to be classic, formal, and rich in our personality.  Kelly, our florist, hit the nail on the head when she described our wedding as being like “pink champagne bubbles at a black-tie wedding.”

What what your favorite moment of the day?

The entire day was perfect.  But I would have to say that my most memorable and favorite moment of the day is when I was actually walking down the aisle with my dad.  It was such an intimate space that I could see all of my friends and family as I made my way up to Ben.  It was a little surreal and overwhelming, but I will never forget that moment.

What advice would you give to other Burgh Brides planning their big day?

1.) If people ask to help take them up on it.  I’m definitely a Type A personality, so this was a hard one for me.  I know it’s your day and you want it to be perfect, but guess what?  Your friends and family want that day to be just as awesome for you.  Delegate and let people help you with some of the little details.

2.) Get your fiancé involved.  Not just to nod at the decisions that you’ve already made, but really let him own some of the planning.  It’s both of your special days, after all!  Ben created the menu (ok, with a little help from me), figured out the marriage license situation, helped with the wedding invitations, managed the budget tracker, and planned the entire honeymoon.  It was AMAZING!

3.) Excel is your friend.  Honestly, I don’t know what I would do without it.  I had tabs for budgets, guest lists, vendor contact information, registry lists, to-do’s, etc.

4.) Talk to your married friends.  These ladies have been through it, so they are going to have great advice and watch-outs.  They will also save you a ton of time researching vendors.  I’m pretty sure our DJ has played at at least 3 of our friends’ weddings.

5.) Carve out “wedding planning” time.  Yes, weekends.  But for me, I put a few half days on the calendar well in advance.  These afternoons were filled with meetings with the caterers, florists, linens, hotels, and the event space coordinators.  It was nice to be able to completely focus on wrapping up a ton of little to-do’s in one day.

6.) Enjoy your day.  Everyone tells you that your wedding day flies by, and that's the truth.  It's the best day of your life, so make sure to take a moment, take a step back, and take it all in.

Vendors

Bride's Dress: Essense of Australia from Bridal Beginning | Bride's Hair Piece: Clarissa Boutique | Bride's Shoes: Halogen | Bridesmaids Dresses: Sorella Vita from Bridal Beginning | Cake & Desserts: Gluuteny Bakery | Caterer: The Common Plea | Ceremony Location: Heinz History Center | DJ: Schiemer Entertainment | Flowers: Fox Petal Floral Design | Hair: Geno Levi Salon | Lighting: Schiemer Entertainment | Linens: Mosaic | Makeup: Makeup by Kourtney | Menswear: Men's Wearhouse | Photographer: Aaron Varga Photography | Reception Venue: Heinz History Center

Vendor-Credit-Shout-Out

Bride's Dress: Bridal Beginning | Bride's Hair Piece: Clarissa Boutique | Bridesmaids Dresses: Bridal Beginning

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At Home Engagement Session: Lindsay & Joe

Nothing is cozier and more intimate than an at home engagement session.  At the suggestion of their photographer – Rachel Rowland – Lindsay and Joe opted to take their pre-wedding pics in their South Side loft, which is uniquely decorated with nods to Joe's home town of Pittsburgh.  Seeing the joy and flirty nature of Lindsay and Joe's relationship come alive in their very own home is really something.  From smooching in the hallway to cuddling on the sofa to jumping on the bed, this shoot is comfy and oh-so-natural.  Just the way I like it.  Afterwards, the group took off for the Primanti Brothers restaurant where Lindsay and Joe first met.  And in true Pittsburgh girl fashion, this bride-to-be even stuck her diamond engagement ring into a sandwich for some super cool shots!  To round out the session, Lindsay and Joe took some playful photos on top of a parking garage overlooking the city.  If I had a dollar for every time Joe made Lindsay laugh, I could retire a happy woman.  I'm pretty sure this feature is going to make you smile too.  Every engagement shoot should be this good.

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At Home Engagement Session from Rachel Rowland Photography featured on Burgh Brides

At Home Engagement Session from Rachel Rowland Photography featured on Burgh Brides At Home Engagement Session from Rachel Rowland Photography featured on Burgh Brides At Home Engagement Session from Rachel Rowland Photography featured on Burgh Brides At Home Engagement Session from Rachel Rowland Photography featured on Burgh Brides At Home Engagement Session from Rachel Rowland Photography featured on Burgh Brides At Home Engagement Session from Rachel Rowland Photography featured on Burgh Brides At Home Engagement Session from Rachel Rowland Photography featured on Burgh Brides At Home Engagement Session from Rachel Rowland Photography featured on Burgh Brides At Home Engagement Session from Rachel Rowland Photography featured on Burgh Brides

From the bride…

Our photographer Rachel Rowland suggested the at home engagement shoot after seeing our apartment in the historic Print Shop Lofts in the South Side.  You can find details of Joe's hometown throughout the apartment – in the Pirates bobblehead dolls on the bar cart, to the hand made Primanti Brothers sign on the wall, to Joe's T-shirt commemorating Club Laga.

We also suggested taking photos in the Primanti Brothers where we first met, as well as around Oakland.  At Primantis, the employees laughed and cheered on the photoshoot, especially when Rachel put my engagement ring INSIDE a sandwich!

More photos were also taken on a dock off the Three Rivers Heritage trail, where we go on long runs together, as well as on the roof of a South Side Works parking garage to capture the beautiful sunset and cityscape.

The photo shoot was natural, energy-filled, and incredibly fun. We instantly felt comfortable with Rachel and we couldn't stop laughing the whole time.  The photos truly capture the juxtaposition of passion and silliness in our relationship.

A Wedding Website: 5 Reasons Why You Should Definitely Have One

On the fence about creating a wedding website?  Don't be.  People spend SO.MUCH. time online these days.  I’m actually embarrassed by the amount of time I spend a computer.  Whether it’s shopping, stalking, or pinning, most of the time my fingers are tapping away at a keyboard or on my phone.  The web is the first place I go to for any and all information.  And I’m sure you’re the same.  So it sort of only makes sense that your wedding guests should have a place on the web where they can find all of the details about your big day, right?  Creating a wedding website should definitely be on your to do list as a bride!  Not convinced?  Here are my top five reasons why you might want to reconsider!

A Wedding Website: 5 Reasons You Should Have One from Burgh Brides

1.) It keeps guests informed.

People like knowing what to expect.  A wedding website allows you to give all of the big day details to your guests in a convenient way.  It will limit the number of questions you receive and you can add more information as it becomes finalized.   

2.) You can include an infinite amount of information.

You have a limited amount of space to work with on your invitations.  You simply won’t be able to include every single detail that guests need to know.  That’s ok; throw it on your website!  Plus, there are some details that aren’t appropriate for your invitation, like your registries and the suggested attire.  A wedding website is the perfect place for those details.

3.) It’s easy and, in most cases, free.

You don’t need to be a programmer or know any fancy codes.  If you can use Word, you can create a wedding website.  It’s as easy as selecting a template and adding copy, a few hyperlinks, and some pics.  Most online wedding website vendors offer free styles, in addition to some fancier ones, plus upgrades, like a custom domain name or a hidden copyright.  It just all depends on what you want to spend and how fancy you want to make it! 

4.) It can reflect your wedding style.

From Riley & Grey and Wedding Window to Minted and My Wedding, there is a plethora of providers to choose from.  Each of them offer all sorts of designs so you’re bound to find one that fits the look of your big day.  Consider it one more piece of your wedding stationery; it should coordinate with the overall tone, style, and other paper pieces.   

5.) It’s actually kind of fun.

You can share the story of how you met, photos of your time together, and even funny stories about each other.  Celebrate your love and give your guests a peek at what being engaged and planning a wedding is really like.  If you’re really into it, you could even blog about the planning process, wedding details, and getting ready for your new life together.  Friends and family members like feeling involved and this is just another way to connect with them.   

Did I convince you?  Hope so!  Stay tuned for another post where I break down the anatomy of a wedding website that will help you to determine what to include and where!  In the meantime, I want to hear from you.  Do you have a wedding website?  If yes, why did you feel it was important to have one?  Has it been beneficial so far?  If no, why not?  Do you wish you would have created one?  Comment below!

Puerto Plata, Dominican Republic: 7 Reasons to Make This Your Honeymoon Destination

Looking for a tropical honeymoon destination?  Forget Cancun, Punta Cana, and the Bahamas.  Puerto Plata, Dominican Republic is the new Caribbean hot spot!  This small city on the island’s northeast coast is a unique combination of relaxation, adventure, and romance.  If you’re looking for the perfect spot to celebrate your newly married status, here are 7 reasons why you should choose Puerto Plata for your post-wedding vacation!

Puerto Plata, Dominican Republic: 7 Reasons to Make This Your Honeymoon Destination from Burgh Brides

Perfect beach conditions await.

White sands, blue skies, and warm waters.  It’s the beach trifecta and you’ll find it in Puerto Plata.  With an average high of 81 and a low of 73, the weather is surprisingly mild, while the mountains of the region mean they miss much of hurricane season.  Whether you’re the type that likes to lounge in a beach chair under a palm tree, or you’re into water sports, boogie boarding, or swimming, you’re bound to spend a lot of time in or near the water.

Puerto Plata, Dominican Republic: 7 Reasons to Make This Your Honeymoon Destination from Burgh Brides

Aerial of Playa Dorada

There’s now a direct flight!

Visiting Puerto Plata just got a lot easier thanks to Apple Vacations.  Operating through Allegiant Air, you can now fly non-stop to this Dominican destination, beginning on March 2 and running on Fridays through August 24.  This short, 3.5-hour flight will get to you into Puerto Plata in no time.  No one wants to start a honeymoon off with a long layover, and Apple’s Exclusive Vacation Flights just made getting to your final stop a whole lot easier.

All-inclusive resorts abound.

It’s easy to treat yourselves to some all-inclusive service in Puerto Plata.  The Playa Dorada section of the city is a private, secluded beach area that boasts 8 all-inclusive resorts, including Iberostar Costa Dorada, Emotions Playa Dorada, VH Grand Ventana, and Sunscape Puerto Plata.  Or travel a little further east along the coast and you’ll find the excellent Viva Wyndham Tangerine in the cool beach town of Cabarete.  At each, you’ll find great restaurants, luxe accommodations, fun entertainment, and adults-only amenities for those who want a kid-free honeymoon.

There’s so much to do!

Zip lining, snorkeling, hiking to waterfalls, sailing on catamarans, exploring museums and more can be found in Puerto Plata.  This isn’t one of those you-shouldn’t-really-leave-the-resort towns.  Here, it’s perfectly safe to step foot off the all-inclusive and discover what the area has to offer.  From natural landscapes to local history to rich culture, there’s something to entertain just about any taste.  My personal recommendations are the Outback Adventures Safari tour for a glimpse into how the locals really live and the Puerto Plata City Tour that includes a cable car ride to the top of Mount Isabel de Torres!

Puerto Plata, Dominican Republic: 7 Reasons to Make This Your Honeymoon Destination from Burgh Brides

Kite Surfing at Cabarete Beach

Puerto Plata, Dominican Republic: 7 Reasons to Make This Your Honeymoon Destination from Burgh Brides

Cable Car Ride to the Top of Mount Isabel

Puerto Plata, Dominican Republic: 7 Reasons to Make This Your Honeymoon Destination from Burgh Brides

Puerto Plata City Center

Puerto Plata, Dominican Republic: 7 Reasons to Make This Your Honeymoon Destination from Burgh Brides

Outback Safari Tour

The locals can’t wait to meet you.

Unlike other places to which I’ve traveled, Puerto Plata welcomed me with open arms.  From the resort staff to the tour guides to the people I met on the street, everyone greeted me with a smile and a friendly hello.  Because tourism is such an important part of the Dominican economy, those living there are always happy to see new faces and to show off their home.  Despite the DR having over 5 million arrivals and being the most popular tourist destination in the Caribbean, the city of Puerto Plata will still feel very much like a small town full of warm people.

Planning your trip is smooth sailing.

Going on a honeymoon is nice and easy.  Planning one?  Now that can be another story.  Lucky for you, Apple Vacations makes arranging your trip a total breeze.  Apple’s website is a one-stop vacation planning shop.  You can book everything from flights, accommodations, upgrades, and even excursions and tours managed by their sister company, Amstar.  At most resorts, a brand rep will even greet you once you’re on the ground and be available to answer any questions and help you get settled.  Try finding that level of service from another on-line booking site.

You’ll get an authentic experience.

While tourism is their number one source of revenue, don’t think for one second that Puerto Plata is overly commercialized.  Many Caribbean destinations can quickly become cheapened by touristy gimmicks and over-saturation of major chain brands.  However, Puerto Plata is full of real people living real lives who want to show you the real magic of the Dominican Republic.  Unlike preplanned, man-made destinations, such as Cancun, Puerto Plata provides an authentic experience in a beautifully natural setting.

Puerto Plata, Dominican Republic: 7 Reasons to Make This Your Honeymoon Destination from Burgh Brides

Visiting a Village Farm on the Outback Safari Tour

Puerto Plata, Dominican Republic: 7 Reasons to Make This Your Honeymoon Destination from Burgh Brides

Tasting Freshly Ground Cacao Beans

Puerto Plata, Dominican Republic: 7 Reasons to Make This Your Honeymoon Destination from Burgh Brides

Visiting a Village School on the Outback Safari Tour

Puerto Plata, Dominican Republic: 7 Reasons to Make This Your Honeymoon Destination from Burgh Brides

Watching Cigars Being Hand-Rolled

Well, have I totally sold you on a Puerto Plata honeymoon yet?  Comment below and tell me what you’ve love to see and do while there!

While this trip and post was sponsored by Apple Vacations, all opinions, insight, and recommendations are my own.

Introducing Blanc de Blanc Bridal & A Special Offer!

Combining hip, modern wedding fashion trends with classic style and romantic touches, Blanc de Blanc Bridal is sure to win the hearts of Burgh Brides readers everywhere.  This stunning boutique is the latest addition to the Vendor Guide and I just know you're going to love BdB's approach to style.  A firm believer that you should wear the dress, the dress shouldn't wear you, Blanc de Blanc wants to help you bring your personality alive through your gown and accessories.  Head on over to the Burgh Brides Vendor Guide to meet them, and then hit them up for an appointment!

As an added bonus, you'll save $150 off the purchase of your wedding dress if you mention Burgh Brides!

Lavish City Wedding at Hotel Monaco: Christina & Adam

A city wedding that combines rooftop portraits, lavish details, lush florals, and an abundance of romance?  Um, YES PLEASE.  You're going to absolutely fall in love with Christina and Adam's big day.  A girly combo of black, white, gold, and blush pink was a chic and sophisticated color palette, and it went perfectly with Hotel Monaco – the venue of choice.  Thanks to GreenSinner, the space was filled to the brim with orchids, roses, and hydrangeas arranged in elevated centerpieces dripping with beads or cascading down crystal candelabras.  Soft uplights, a custom gobo bearing the couple's initials, an abundance of candles, and touches of gold just about everywhere gave the room a lovely glow.  Gorgeous doesn't even begin to describe it.  Planned by Poppy Events and captured by Leeann Marie, Wedding Photographers, Christina and Adam's wedding is sure to become a new favorite!

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From the bride…

Tell me about yourselves!  When and how did you meet?  How long have you been together?  How did you get engaged?  All the juicy details!

In true self-professed nerd fashion, we met while we were both attending law school.  Though it would be several years after meeting before we would start dating, our connection and chemistry were instantaneous.  We spent the next few years building an incredible friendship, bonding over our mutual, deep love of family and passion for dogs (especially our dogs – Jake and Lucy!).  Eventually Adam's persistence paid off and we went out on our first date.  From that moment on, we were inseparable.  Then in mid-November 2016, after almost 3 years of dating, we spent a beautiful fall day sightseeing in Washington D.C., ending with Adam popping the question!  As it turned out, Adam had the loose ring in his pants pocket all day (no box because he didn't want me to see it) and was just waiting for the right moment.  No wonder he seemed a bit nervous that day!  Luckily, he was able to keep the ring safe and sound until putting it on my finger that evening.  He never ceases to amaze and impress me.

Describe the wedding and what inspired it.  What was unique about it?

The color scheme for our wedding was black and white with gold and blush accents.  Our vision was to have a lavish city wedding that combined timeless elegance with modern flair, and then add some personal touches to make it truly, uniquely us.  For example, I wore on my right hand the engagement and wedding rings of my maternal grandmother, who passed away when my mom was a child, to ensure she was part of the day too.  Adam and I had the lyrics of our favorite song (“Betray My Heart”) read in poem-like fashion during our ceremony in lieu of a more traditional reading.  We let each bridesmaid choose her own dress (no store, designer, fabric limitations or anything) because I'm a firm believer that a woman looks most beautiful when she feels comfortable and confident.  We love the traditional sound of string instruments; but to make it match our vision more, we opted to have our string trio play exclusively more modern songs from the last 50 years.  Since we are both Pittsburgh natives, to incorporate a little Pittsburgh into the wedding (aside from just the must-have cookie table), we chose to have Pittsburgh Popcorn Company popcorn as our favors.

What was your favorite moment of the day?

Because we had a winter wedding (with limited daylight hours for photos), Adam and I considered doing a first look.  But ultimately we decided against it, and for us, we are so happy with that decision.  Seeing each other for the first time on our wedding day as I walked down the aisle to one of our favorite songs that so perfectly describes our relationship (Etta James's “At Last”) was our favorite moment of the day.  It was a magical moment that we will both cherish forever.

Is there any advice you would give to other couples planning their big day?

Do your research and choose your venue and vendors wisely – and then trust them!!  We spent a lot of time in the beginning of the planning process researching to make sure everything and everyone we chose were the right fit for our special day.  Then, we trusted and relied on their expertise and experience to take our inspiration and vision and execute it.  And boy did they!  We ended up with a wedding that matched what we had envisioned, but was a million times better than we could have dreamed.  So our best advice to couples planning their big day is to let your vendors be creative and do their thing – it's why you hired them and you won't regret it.

Vendors

Bride's Dress: Essense of Australia from Bridal Beginning | Bride's Shoes: Kate Spade | Cake: Signature Desserts | Caterer: Hotel Monaco | Ceremony Location: Hotel Monaco | Ceremony Musicians: Hot Metal Strings | DJ: DJ Selecta from Modern Era Weddings | Favors: Pittsburgh Popcorn Company | Flowers: GreenSinner | Groom's Attire: Ted Baker | Groomsmen Attire: The Black Tux | Hair: Simply Captivating Styling | Lighting: Modern Era Weddings | Makeup: Valarie Panei | Photography: Leeann Marie, Wedding Photographers | Reception Venue: Hotel Monaco | Stationery: Angela Pro Design | Wedding Planner: Poppy Events

Bride's Dress: Bridal Beginning | DJ: DJ Selecta from Modern Era Weddings | Flowers: GreenSinner | Lighting: Modern Era Weddings | Photography: Leeann Marie, Wedding Photographers | Wedding Planner: Poppy Events

Oakwood Photo + Video: 6 Reasons You Should Hire Them to Capture Your Wedding

If you’re still on the hunt for a wedding photographer and/or videographer, take some time to get to know Oakwood Photo + Video.  Alexa and Wes are a wife/husband duo who take their craft seriously.  With a rustic, folk vibe and sweet as can be dispositions, they’re two of my favorite talents.  From the smallest details to the biggest belly laughs, they long to capture every element of your wedding day with photography AND videography.  There are lots of reasons you should put them in charge of your wedding day footage, but here are my top six!

They’re a photo and video TEAM.

You guys, this is SO important!  If your wedding photographer and videographer haven’t worked together before, they could have a difficult time.  They need to stay out of one another’s shots, someone needs to take the lead and pose you, not to mention that’s just a lot of feet in the way.  Alexa and Wes work together every.single.day.  That means they know how to move around one another seamlessly, so they aren’t tripping and you aren’t annoyed.  They can read each other’s body language easily and know what the other is thinking or where they’re headed.  This TEAM performs a gorgeous, silent dance around you as they capture your love.

Oakwood Photo + Video: 6 Reasons You Should Hire Them to Capture Your Wedding from Burgh Brides

Wes and Alexa hard at work!

Your wedding day coverage will have a cohesive look.

When you look back on your wedding photos and video, it’s a magical thing if they can both reflect the same style and vibe.  Alexa and Wes apply their photography editing style to their videos as well, creating a consistent look to all of the day’s coverage.  Similar lighting, perspective, and focus can mean you’ll be re-experiencing the day in the exact same way, no matter if you’re looking at still or moving images.  Check out what I mean with this photo and highlight from Alex and Chris's wedding!

Oakwood Photo + Video: 6 Reasons You Should Hire Them to Capture Your Wedding from Burgh Brides

You’ll feel relaxed around them.

It’s easy to feel nervous with a camera in your face.  But Alexa and Wes try really hard to make you forget they’re even there.  Well in advance of the wedding, they get to know their clients, whether over coffee, a few drinks, or even FaceTime.  They ask questions about your wedding, but also about you as a couple, what makes you tick, what makes your relationship unique.  By the time the wedding rolls around, they’re almost like old friends, making you feel more relaxed and comfortable while they’re your personal paparazzi.

Oakwood Photo + Video: 6 Reasons You Should Hire Them to Capture Your Wedding from Burgh Brides

Oakwood Photo + Video: 6 Reasons You Should Hire Them to Capture Your Wedding from Burgh Brides

They’re down to earth and fun to be around.

You’ll spend A LOT of time with your wedding photographer and videographer.  You better actually like being around them.  Alexa and Wes are kind, friendly, gracious, and humble.  Always smiling, their energy is practically contagious.  I can’t think of two people I’d rather have following me around for an entire day.

Oakwood Photo + Video: 6 Reasons You Should Hire Them to Capture Your Wedding from Burgh Brides

Oakwood Photo + Video: 6 Reasons You Should Hire Them to Capture Your Wedding from Burgh Brides

They love adventure and are up for trying anything.

Climbing mountains, standing under waterfalls, or laying in a pile of fallen leaves, Alexa and Wes love to push their limits, both physically and artistically.  Got a crazy idea for a cool photo?  I bet they can make it happen.  These two love trying new things and getting outside their comfort zone.  They even have a travel bucket-list and offer a nice discount to anyone getting married in one of their must-see locations!

Oakwood Photo + Video: 6 Reasons You Should Hire Them to Capture Your Wedding from Burgh Brides

Oakwood Photo + Video: 6 Reasons You Should Hire Them to Capture Your Wedding from Burgh Brides

They love to create long-lasting, woodsy boho magic.

If wearing a flower crown and a long, soft dress is your thing, go for it.  If you’ve always imagined going barefoot on your wedding day, Alexa and Wes will be there for it.  And if the folksy, woody thing is your jam, these are your people.  Their free-spirited style lends itself to their signature blend of nature-meets-wedding-day artistry.  While their work is whimsical and organic, it’s simultaneously timeless, meaning you’ll love it for years to come.

Oakwood Photo + Video: 6 Reasons You Should Hire Them to Capture Your Wedding from Burgh Brides

Oakwood Photo + Video: 6 Reasons You Should Hire Them to Capture Your Wedding from Burgh Brides

Still need some convincing?  See more photography and videography work from Oakwood in the Burgh Brides Vendor Guide!

6 Big Ticket Wedding Registry Items You Won’t Think to Add

You might hesitate to add a few big ticket wedding registry items to your wish list, but you shouldn't!  Believe it or not, some guests will want to really spoil you with an expensive present!  Others will go in on a large item with a few others and purchase a group gift.  So while you're adding those kitchen gadget, towels, and sheet sets to your wedding registry, don't forget to round up a few things with a little bit of a higher price tag!  Here are some of my favorite ideas!

6 Big Ticket Wedding Registry Items You Won't Think to Add from Burgh Brides

A High Quality Mattress

While a new mattress might seem like an expensive wedding registry item, it's the single home item that you and your new spouse will both use literally every day.  If that isn't reason enough to put it on your wish list, I don't know what is.  Add this every day must have to your wedding registry to ensure a lifetime of restful slumber.  If you're looking for just the most amazing bed you've ever laid your head on, read my recent review of Tomorrow Sleep's bed in a box!

Don't forget…use the code BURGH100 and get $100 off any $500 Tomorrow Sleep purchase through March, 31, 2018!

6 Big Ticket Wedding Registry Items You Won't Think to Add from Burgh Brides

A Grill

If you're anything like my husband and me, your diet basically consists of nothing but grilled food from April until October.  Chicken, fish, burgers, veggies, it doesn't matter; we use our grill almost every day as long as the weather cooperates (and sometimes even if it doesn't).  For the best in deck cooking, throw a Weber grill on your registry.  They're well made and they offer a ton of great recipes on their website.  The best part of grill cooking?  You don't have to clean the kitchen when you're done eating.

6 Big Ticket Wedding Registry Items You Won't Think to Add from Burgh Brides

An Espresso/Cappuccino Machine

For the caffeine obsessed, adding an espresso maker to your wedding registry seems like a no-brainer.  But this one from Nespresso takes things to a whole new level.  The espresso and cappuccino machine can brew a tazzo cup full of heaven AND it can froth milk so you can be your own at-home barista.  Save money by skipping the coffee house and ask for one of these babies instead!

6 Big Ticket Wedding Registry Items You Won't Think to Add from Burgh Brides

Deck Furniture

If your backyard is your favorite place to be, make it extra cozy with some swanky deck furniture.  A sofa, a few chairs, and a “coffee table” will make sure your patio is ready for summer.  Throw a wicker furniture set on your registry and your friends and family will consider it their unofficial invitation to all those barbecues you'll inevitably be hosting.

6 Big Ticket Wedding Registry Items You Won't Think to Add from Burgh Brides

A Home Security Camera System

It doesn't matter if you live in the nicest neighborhood in the world, a home security camera system is always a good idea.  Since I'm sure your parents will always be concerned with your safety (despite how old you are), adding this protective item to your wedding registry is a great idea.  This one is rechargeable, wire free, has night vision, and works with Amazon Alexa.  Any family member or friend who wants your first home together to be a safe one will definitely pick this up for you!

6 Big Ticket Wedding Registry Items You Won't Think to Add from Burgh Brides

A Smart Thermostat

Speaking of your home, make sure it's always a cool 68 degrees no matter where you are.  A Nest Learning Thermostat allows you to control the temperature of your house from anywhere with a WiFi connection.  These smart thermostats are the wave of the future and a great gift idea for any new married millennial couple!

6 Big Ticket Wedding Registry Items You Won't Think to Add from Burgh Brides

What pricier items are you adding to your wedding registry?  Any of these items?  Comment below!

While this post was sponsored by Tomorrow Sleep, all opinions, insight, and recommendations are my own.

Luxurious Industrial Chic Wedding at the Pittsburgh Opera: Brianne & Eric

This wedding.  I.can't.even.

I should have expected nothing less than style perfection when {SHE} teamed up with Brianne, the owner of the hip Lawrenceville boutique No. 14.  When she wed Eric, all the stops were brought out.  Brianne's style is girly and chic, but she wanted the wedding to contrast that and to also reflect her new hubby (it was his day too, after all).  They pair opted for the Pittsburgh Opera (one of my FAVORITE locales) because of it's raw canvas-ness and an old warehouse in the middle of the Strip District was the perfect representation of the city they love.  To juxtapose the grit and industrial vibe of the venue, Brianne and Eric brought luxury to life.  Crystal chandeliers and strands of bistro lights hung from exposed duct work.  A black and white checkered dance floor looked sharp against exposed brick walls.  Soft pink, white, and green floral arrangements – including an epic runner trailing all the way to the floor – brought an airiness to the space.  In a word – it was incredible.  My favorite details:

  • Brianne's dress.  O.M.G.  I won't spoil the surprise but the Anne Barge gown from Anne Gregory for the Bride is literally show-stopping.
  • That cake.  Bella Christie knocked it out of the park with the black and floral, three-tiered confection.  Can a cake be sexy?  Because this one totally is.
  • Custom branded set pieces.  A DJ booth displaying their first names and a bar announcing “The Kordenbrocks” were focal points.  All Occasions even worked the look of Brianne and Eric's floral scheme into it.  THIS is how you wow your guests!

The fact that Bri and Eric have been together since their early teens make this day, which was captured by Hot Metal Studio, even sweeter.  Brace yourself.  This one is a total doozy.

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You absolutely have to watch Brianne and Eric's highlight video from Evermark Studios.  It will literally give you goosebumps.

From the bride…

When and how did you two meet?

I was 14; Eric was 15.  Eric was invited to my best friend Kara's 15th birthday party at her house.  He was coming to meet Kara because a friend thought they would hit it off.  Instead, we ended up talking and never stopped.  Kara is still my best friend in the entire world and was my maid of honor.

Juicy details on the proposal, please!  Where, when, how?

I opened No. 14, a contemporary clothing store located in Lawrenceville, on October 14, 2014.  On October 15th, 2015, No. 14 was throwing a huge first birthday bash.  A bunch of our friends came into town for it.  In the middle of the party, Eric's little sister pulled me aside to ask me about sizing of a skirt.  She walked away in the middle of me talking to her; Eric stepped in and asked me to be his wife.  I was never the type of girl who was super insane about my proposal or my wedding but I did have one request – I wanted my entire family there.  All of my family is local with the exception for one of my brothers, Quinn, who lives in Denver.  Eric and my parents arranged for Quinn and his girlfriend (now fiancé!) to fly in and surprise me right after it happened.  It was one of the best nights surrounded by all of our favorite people.  No. 14 is named after a lot of life milestones for both me and Eric.  More than anything, it is because his college football number was 14 and so much of our time in college was spent on the football field.  I loved how the original No. 14 proposed at No. 14.

Describe the wedding.  The look, theme, style, colors, etc.

The Pittsburgh Opera is a very raw, blank canvas.  The exposed brick warehouse-feel in the middle of the Strip District is so Pittsburgh.  This city is underrated, and I'm so proud to live here.  We wanted all of our friends from out of town to see where we spend so much of our time and why we love Pittsburgh the way we do.  I wanted to keep the space raw, but bring the luxurious feel to it.  We added the black and white dance floor, custom bar, and giant farm style tables.  We added some plush chairs and had our head table (a whopping 47 people) at a high top in the middle.  Our flowers were out of control!  Lauren from The Farmers Daughter is so talented.  Two of our tables had a flower runner that went all the way to the floor, and the others had incredible arrangements on them. The florals were all whites, greens, and dusty blush, to tie in my dress.

What inspired your vision?

If you have been to No. 14, you know it is very girly.  Pink, metallic, light and airy.  It is the most inspiring place to work everyday, and I adore it.  I think a lot of people expected my wedding to look exactly like No.14 and to have that same exact feel.  I wanted to counteract that aesthetic.  We kept using words like: classy, sexy, sharp, and crisp.  Weddings get so caught up in “the bride” but it was Eric's day too!  I wanted it to resemble both of us.

What advice would you give to other Burgh Brides planning their big day?

Enjoy it and don't sweat the small stuff; at the end of the day, it is just a party.  On your wedding day, take a step back and soak it in.  Understand that all the people in that room are there for you and your new husband.  How special is it to have all of the people you love in one room, celebrating you and your new life together?

Any must haves, must dos, or can't live withouts?  Anything you would do differently?

I truly loved every single one of our vendors.  Everything went off without a hitch.  I think it is all thanks to Shayla, our wedding planner.  She knew us, she knew our vision, and she knew exactly which vendors would work for us.  I had the vision, but no knowledge of how to make it come to fruition.  Shayla knew the perfect vendors to make it all come to life.  We couldn't have done it without her.

Vendors

Bride's Dress: Anne Barge from Anne Gregory for the Bride | Bride's Accessories: J. Crew and her grandma's diamond bracelet | Bride's Shoes: Valentino | Bridesmaids Dresses: J. Crew | Cake: Bella Christie | Caterer: Big Burrito | Ceremony Location: Sts. John & Paul Roman Catholic Parish | DJ: DJ Digital Dave | Flowers: The Farmer's Daughter | Hair: Brooke Rockwell Hair Designs | Lighting: Gray Phoenix | Linens: Mosaic | Makeup: Carly Tuscano of Fluhme Glam Bar | Menswear: Jack's Tuxedo | Photographer: Hot Metal Studio | Reception Venue: The Pittsburgh Opera | Rentals: All Occasions Party Rental | Videography: Evermark Studios | Wedding Planner: {SHE} Shayla Hawkins Events

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Rentals: All Occasions Party Rental

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