Songs I’m Currently Loving II

Welcome to the second installment of the quarterly series I've aptly named “Songs I'm Currently Loving”.  Here are the songs I'm jamming to lately and some ideas on how you can add them to your wedding day!

Meghan Trainor – Dear Future Husband
If you're sticking with the seemingly antiquated bouquet toss, play this song to make the tradition a bit more modern.  Favorite line?  The last one.

“Future husband, better love me right.”

Preach.

Safety Suit – Never Stop (Wedding Version)
Was there ever a more beautiful song written?  I was planning my own wedding when I first heard this one and I bawled like a baby.  It's literally perfect for your wedding day…processional, bridal entrance, first dance, anything.  But make sure it's the wedding version and not the original, which is very much less wedding-like (unless you're into that sort of thing)!  Favorite lyrics?  The entire chorus.

“I will never stop trying.
I will never stop watching as you leave.
I will never stop loosing my breath
every time I see you looking back at me.
I will never stop holding your hand.
I will never stop opening your door.
I will never stop choosing you babe.
I will never get used to you.”

Wow.

Cossbysweater – Never Gonna Give You Up
Yes, that Never Gonna Give You Up.  I love a good cover and this one is excellent.  In fact, I love it so much I walked down the aisle to its chorus.  For a while there, my husband thought it was really funny to rickroll people.  Let's be honest – it's still pretty funny.  But he did it to me all.the.time.  So I pulled the ultimate bait and switch when I rickrolled him on our wedding day.  He thought I chose some romantic ballad to make my entrance but I went with the chorus of this Rick Astley cover.  Favorite lyrics?

Duh, all of them.

Ironically enough, the assistant videographer at our wedding looked EXACTLY like Rick Astley.

Chris Brown – Forever
Despite my dislike for Chris Brown, this hit of his will always be wedding day-perfect.  We can thank Jim and Pam for that.  Play this during the bridal party entrance or just add it to your dance play list.  Favorite lyrics?

Who cares.  It's just a fun beat.

What's on your playlist these days?

Real Wedding: Erika & Mike at J. Verno Studio

This winter wedding is all kinds of pretty.  Deep, rich jewel tones, perfect cold weather accessories, and a bride and groom who aren't afraid of low temps and a little wind, all in the name of some amazing photos.  Erika and Mike wanted their wedding to be a giant party where guests could cut loose and have a blast.  From the funfetti cake (the best kind of cake IMHO), to the felt mustaches that doubled as escort cards and silly photo props, to what appears to be the most EPIC father/daughter dance ever, it looks like their November wedding was just that.  Other noteworthy details?

  • The prettiest hem and train I've ever seen on a wedding dress.  Ever.
  • The emerald green gloves and faux fur shawl that Erika purchased from H&M for a “whopping $10 total.”  She said they were her favorite accessories.  Mine too, Erika!
  • Stunning chandeliers that added intimacy and beautiful pink and purple uplighting that added color to the reception venue
  • Donations made to charities near and dear to the couple's heart – Animal Friends and Four Diamonds Fund
  • A cookie table that was created by the long-time family friends and bakers of the Lake George Baking Company.  This is the same bakery that made all of the bride's birthday cakes as a child and they lovingly delivered all of the yummy treats from upstate New York!

These stunning images from Beth Insalaco make a great case for why winter weddings can be oh-so-beautiful.  Summer, eat your heart out.

Jewel Tone Winter Pittsburgh Wedding - Beth Insalaco Photography

Jewel Tone Winter Pittsburgh Wedding - Beth Insalaco Photography

Jewel Tone Winter Pittsburgh Wedding - Beth Insalaco Photography

Jewel Tone Winter Pittsburgh Wedding - Beth Insalaco Photography

Jewel Tone Winter Pittsburgh Wedding - Beth Insalaco Photography

Jewel Tone Winter Pittsburgh Wedding - Beth Insalaco Photography

Jewel Tone Winter Pittsburgh Wedding - Beth Insalaco Photography

Jewel Tone Winter Pittsburgh Wedding - Beth Insalaco Photography

Jewel Tone Winter Pittsburgh Wedding - Beth Insalaco Photography

Jewel Tone Winter Pittsburgh Wedding - Beth Insalaco Photography

Jewel Tone Winter Pittsburgh Wedding - Beth Insalaco Photography

Jewel Tone Winter Pittsburgh Wedding - Beth Insalaco Photography

Jewel Tone Winter Pittsburgh Wedding - Beth Insalaco Photography

Jewel Tone Winter Pittsburgh Wedding - Beth Insalaco Photography

Jewel Tone Winter Pittsburgh Wedding - Beth Insalaco Photography

Jewel Tone Winter Pittsburgh Wedding - Beth Insalaco Photography

Jewel Tone Winter Pittsburgh Wedding - Beth Insalaco Photography

Jewel Tone Winter Pittsburgh Wedding - Beth Insalaco Photography

Jewel Tone Winter Pittsburgh Wedding - Beth Insalaco Photography

Jewel Tone Winter Pittsburgh Wedding - Beth Insalaco Photography

Jewel Tone Winter Pittsburgh Wedding - Beth Insalaco Photography

Jewel Tone Winter Pittsburgh Wedding - Beth Insalaco Photography

Jewel Tone Winter Pittsburgh Wedding - Beth Insalaco Photography

Jewel Tone Winter Pittsburgh Wedding - Beth Insalaco Photography

Jewel Tone Winter Pittsburgh Wedding - Beth Insalaco Photography

Jewel Tone Winter Pittsburgh Wedding - Beth Insalaco Photography

Jewel Tone Winter Pittsburgh Wedding - Beth Insalaco Photography

Jewel Tone Winter Pittsburgh Wedding - Beth Insalaco Photography

Jewel Tone Winter Pittsburgh Wedding - Beth Insalaco Photography

Jewel Tone Winter Pittsburgh Wedding - Beth Insalaco Photography

Jewel Tone Winter Pittsburgh Wedding - Beth Insalaco Photography

Jewel Tone Winter Pittsburgh Wedding - Beth Insalaco Photography

Jewel Tone Winter Pittsburgh Wedding - Beth Insalaco Photography

Jewel Tone Winter Pittsburgh Wedding - Beth Insalaco Photography

Jewel Tone Winter Pittsburgh Wedding - Beth Insalaco Photography

Jewel Tone Winter Pittsburgh Wedding - Beth Insalaco Photography

Jewel Tone Winter Pittsburgh Wedding - Beth Insalaco Photography

Jewel Tone Winter Pittsburgh Wedding - Beth Insalaco Photography

Jewel Tone Winter Pittsburgh Wedding - Beth Insalaco Photography

Jewel Tone Winter Pittsburgh Wedding - Beth Insalaco Photography

Jewel Tone Winter Pittsburgh Wedding - Beth Insalaco Photography

Jewel Tone Winter Pittsburgh Wedding - Beth Insalaco Photography

Jewel Tone Winter Pittsburgh Wedding - Beth Insalaco Photography

Jewel Tone Winter Pittsburgh Wedding - Beth Insalaco Photography

Jewel Tone Winter Pittsburgh Wedding - Beth Insalaco Photography

Jewel Tone Winter Pittsburgh Wedding - Beth Insalaco Photography

Jewel Tone Winter Pittsburgh Wedding - Beth Insalaco Photography

Jewel Tone Winter Pittsburgh Wedding - Beth Insalaco Photography

Jewel Tone Winter Pittsburgh Wedding - Beth Insalaco Photography

Jewel Tone Winter Pittsburgh Wedding - Beth Insalaco Photography

Jewel Tone Winter Pittsburgh Wedding - Beth Insalaco Photography

Jewel Tone Winter Pittsburgh Wedding - Beth Insalaco Photography

Jewel Tone Winter Pittsburgh Wedding - Beth Insalaco Photography

Jewel Tone Winter Pittsburgh Wedding - Beth Insalaco Photography

Jewel Tone Winter Pittsburgh Wedding - Beth Insalaco Photography

Jewel Tone Winter Pittsburgh Wedding - Beth Insalaco Photography

Jewel Tone Winter Pittsburgh Wedding - Beth Insalaco Photography

Jewel Tone Winter Pittsburgh Wedding - Beth Insalaco Photography

Jewel Tone Winter Pittsburgh Wedding - Beth Insalaco Photography

Jewel Tone Winter Pittsburgh Wedding - Beth Insalaco Photography

Jewel Tone Winter Pittsburgh Wedding - Beth Insalaco Photography

Jewel Tone Winter Pittsburgh Wedding - Beth Insalaco Photography

Jewel Tone Winter Pittsburgh Wedding - Beth Insalaco Photography

Jewel Tone Winter Pittsburgh Wedding - Beth Insalaco Photography

From the bride…

When and how did you two meet?
As my husband is a talented and humourous writer, I’ll use his words from our wedding website…”During their time in the Happiest of Valleys (PSU), the couple – more aptly know as Birdle – were both involved in Penn State Dance Marathon.  They were doing their part to help beat pediatric cancer when Cupid – or Captain Morgan – shot both of them square in the behind.  However, each kissed their fair share of frogs and frogettes before Mike finally worked up the nerve to ask Erika to his fake frat formal.  He was such a romantic.  They danced, probably sang, and enjoyed a few cocktails before eventually realizing they were perfect for each other.  From that day on, the two were inseparable.”

Juicy details on the proposal, please!  Where, when, how?
Again, my husband’s words from our website…”After stringing Erika on for more than four years, Michael finally popped the question in upstate New York on June 17, 2011, at roughly 2:00 pm.  His ploy began weeks earlier when Erika had bought him a Nikon D3100 to get him started with his new hobby, photography.  However, Erika didn't know that the gift she bought Mike would be the excuse he needed to get her to the perfect location – Congress Park in Saratoga.  The plan was to head up to the park – the first place Erika had taken Michael on their first visit – take a few photos and find the perfect spot to pop the question.  Keeping true to Murphy's Law, it was a crappy day full of rain and humidity but that didn't stop Michael.  After walking through the park, taking some crappy pictures of ducks, and sweating like a fat kid, Michael finally found a cute spot in the park and dropped to one knee to ask Erika to be his wife.  Even with the grandiose hand gesture, Erika was on-board to spend the rest of her life with Michael.  The ‘holy crap we got engaged' text message was sent to friends and family and the calls began flooding our airwaves.  From that moment on, the two have been happy, healthy and ready to party.”

Describe the wedding.  The look, theme, style, colors, etc.
Mike and I decided from the very beginning to stay true to our personalities and to our wishes for our wedding.  This meant a lot of fun and laughter.  While we wanted to have a traditional wedding ceremony, the plan for our reception was to throw an all around fun party to enjoy with our family and friends.  The party started off right by steering clear of traditional table numbers and providing all of our guests with their own felt mustache-on-a-stick.  Each table was represented by a famous mustachioed figure from Mario to Burt Reynolds.   Since we were getting married in November, I wanted the rich, romantic colors – plum, emerald green, and wine red.  I have a slight obsession with green so I did not hesitate to have some green accessories for the day.  As our venue was visually pleasing in its bare state, we did not feel like we needed to do much in regards to floral arrangements.  We had clean, simple arrangements and, of course, dark green moss on every table.

What inspired your vision?
I knew from the start that I wanted a clean and relatively simple dress for our big day.  Wedding dress shopping felt stressful.  I didn’t like getting gussied up with belts and tiaras by the salespeople.  I only went to one store and tried on about four dresses before I took my search online.  I came across PreOwned Wedding Dresses and was amazed to find that brand new dresses were up for grabs at incredible prices.  I would not recommend this method for everyone.  I didn’t try on my dress until I was fully committed and opened up the package at my in-laws home.  Thankfully, it was perfect.  The Art Deco style touches, like the cord details and the amazing scalloped hem and train, had me falling in love at first sight.  At this point, it only felt right to go 1920s with the rest of my wedding day style.

Bride to Bride

What advice would you give to other Burgh Brides planning their big day?
The best advice I can give is to just be you.  Corny, I know, but so true!  It feels wonderful looking back on our wedding knowing that Mike and I decided on details regardless of what the “norm” was or the heart attack we may have induced in our mothers.  (Although, anyone who knows us was surely not surprised by any of it!)  Mustaches aren’t the first thing that comes to mind when most people think of weddings but for us it was just the hilarious punch our wedding needed.

Vendors
Bride's Dress: Matthew Christopher via PreOwned Wedding Dresses | Bride's Jewelry & Accessories: Earrings & bracelet: Macy's; Beaded clutch: Borrowed from the groom's nana; Fur shawl & green gloves: H&M; Veil: Alex Bridal | Bride's Shoes: Mia via 6pm | Bridesmaids' Dresses: Lazaro via Wedding Shoppe, Inc. | Cake: Cakes by Tammy | Cookies: Lake George Baking Company | Caterer and Linens: Yes, We Cater | Ceremony Location: Assumption Church | Ceremony Program: Different Designs | DJ: Dan Koch of Fifth Ace Entertainment | Hair & Makeup: Val-Lerie's Hair Design | Menswear: BLACK by Vera Wang at Men's Warehouse | Mustache Tie Clip: Tsaiclip | Photographer: Beth Insalaco | Reception Venue, Lighting, & Photo Booth: J. Verno Studios | Videographer: Steady Creek Cinema

Wedding Budget Breakdown

Before you book a single vendor, purchase any items, or basically spend one red penny, you and your fiance need to have an honest conversation about your wedding’s budget.  This talk might be tough but it’s absolutely essential.  Weddings are expensive.  In fact, the Huffington Post reports that the average cost of a wedding is approximately $30,000.  Unless you have buckets of money lying around (who does?), you’re going to need to spend wisely.

The first step toward doing that is deciding an overall budget and breaking down how you're going to spend said budget  Determining what you can expect to spend on different aspects of the wedding, such as food and beverage, transportation, and printed materials, can help you stay on track and eliminate a shocking grand total at the very end.  Countless (and various) wedding budget breakdowns can be found online, but I find this one from David Tutera’s The Big White Book of Weddings to be the most realistic and easiest to work with.  Of course, I put it all into a pretty infographic for you.

Whether you'll be spending $30,000 or $3,000, the percentage of your budget that you can expect to dish out for each category generally stays the same.  Having trouble figuring out what 8% of your budget is?  Let’s face it, no one remembers high school algebra (Sorry, Miss Harris!).  I created a helpful tool that will easily calculate all of the percentages…and I'm sharing it with all of you!  To use the Wedding Budget Breakdown Calculator (someone please think of a better name and let me know), just enter your total budget at the top.  The rest of the fields will self-populate with the correct percentages and totals.  You're welcome!

However, there are a few things you should keep in mind!

This breakdown is flexible.  Maybe your ceremony and reception are both taking place in a hotel.  In that case, you likely won’t spend 2% for transportation.  Allocate that to another category, such as flowers, decor, or something else that is important to you.  Perhaps you aren’t interested in a videographer but want to splurge on a top shelf bar instead.  Take that 1 or 2% you would have spent on video and add it to the food and drink.  If you spend 5% on the cake, you’re going to need to cut 2% from another area in order to stay on track.

Be aware of “hidden” costs.  The 2% allocated to your dress should include the cost of alterations, while that amount put aside for hair and makeup should include the cost of trials.  Besides the wedding invitations, the Save the Dates, calligraphy, and postage for all mailings should also come out of the 2% budgeted for printed materials.  The venue rentals should include both your ceremony and reception sites.  Things add up very quickly!

While helpful, this breakdown isn’t all inclusive.  Items like marriage license fees, bridal party gifts, a wedding planner, or a honeymoon aren’t included.  Some of these purchases could come out of your extra cushion allotment, but try and save this for unexpected or higher-than-anticipated costs.

Remember, these aren't hard and fast rules.  Some couples prefer to choose three or four areas that are the most important to them and splurge on these accordingly.  They can then cut costs when it comes to other items that aren't on their must have list.  You could try this method instead!  I personally think the best way to keep track of your spending is to combine the two…select the aspects that are most important to you and shuffle percentages around accordingly, allotting more to those must haves and less to those items you aren't going to miss if they aren't there.

But most importantly, what you need to keep in mind is that a wedding doesn’t have to be lavish or over the top to be beautiful.  I put that sentence in bold to really hammer it home.  A wedding is about you and your sweetie.  Not the dress, the flowers, the food, the favors, or anything else.  All of those things are just icing on the proverbial wedding cake.  It isn’t worth ending up in the poor house or having credit card bills you can’t pay off.  Before you do any other wedding planning, have a heart-to-heart with your fiance (and any other parties who might be contributing) about what you can comfortably spend, both overall and on those most-important areas.  Make a pact to stick to that budget no matter what.  Your wallet and relationship will thank you later.

Featured Vendor: Bella Bridesmaids

Bridesmaid dress shopping can be painful.  Pleasing everyone's taste, body type, and budget is difficult and can make the experience an unpleasant one for all involved.  But it doesn't have to be this way!

Enter Bella Bridesmaids, the epitome of stress-free, worry-free shopping for your ladies.  This franchise is relatively new to the Pittsburgh area, celebrating two years of business last month.  Owner Bridget had a wonderful experience shopping at the Nashville Bella for her own wedding and decided to bring the chain to the Steel City.  And I'm so glad she did.  The store is welcoming, colorful, girly, and chic.  Step one foot inside and you're immediately relaxed, knowing you're in good hands.

What makes Bella so awesome?  You are encouraged to bring along your wedding binder or inspiration from your Pinterest board.  They love learning about your vision and working hard to make sure the bridesmaids' dresses help bring it to life.  Whether you have two gals or twelve, local or all over the world, Bella makes the order process quick and easy with their online form.  With hundreds of fabrics, colors, and selections from the hottest designers – Adrianna Pappell, Alvina Valenta, Amsale, Dolly Pearl, Ivy & Aster, Jenny Yoo, and Monique Lhuillier, to name just a few – you are bound to outfit your maids in something that makes both you and them happy.

If you're still on the hunt for the perfect bridesmaid dress (or even a wedding dress like this Burgh Bride!), look no further.  Check out some images from Meaghan Elliot Photography, read more from Bridget, and make an appointment to see for yourself!

View More: http://mephotography.pass.us/bellabridesmaids

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From Bridget (above!)…

What type of services do you provide?
As the name states, we specialize in bridesmaids, although we do also offer flower girl dresses and have found gowns for moms and anyone looking for a fun party dress.  We carry 18 handpicked designers that range in style and price – we have everything from traditional to boho to glitzy!

Tell me a little bit about your company!  How long have you been in business?  What makes your services unique?  Why should brides and grooms hire you? 
Like many wedding pros, I have always been obsessed with weddings.  I literally came out of the womb loving weddings, and this is no joke since I was born the day Princess Diana and Prince Charles were married.  When it came time for me to marry my Prince Charming, I visited Bella Bridesmaids in Nashville and had a fantastic experience.  When I moved to Pittsburgh, I realized the market was really missing out on some of the unique designers that Bella carries, so I decided to bring it here.  I've been open since February 2013, and every day is a dream!

Brides (and bridesmaids!) love us because we give them personal attention to help them find the right dresses.  During their appointments, brides have the undivided attention of their personal Bella stylist.  Our showroom is a comfortable, stress-free zone where the bride can sit back, relax, and view lots of styles, fabrics, and fits that will bring her wedding to life.  Brides also love Bella not just because of our gorgeous dresses but also because we are sticklers for details.  Wedding planning can be a crazy time for some brides, so we try to make the bridesmaids dress part of it as easy as possible!  Need to add a bridesmaid?  Just found out one is pregnant?  All of your bridesmaids live in different states?  We can help with any and all situations.

What is your ideal client like?
My ideal client knows what she wants and has a sense of style that she totally owns.  She’s open to trying new things and even brings her own accessories or shares her Pinterst page with us so we can really understand her vision.  One of my brides brought in different art deco sashes from Anthropologie that she wanted each bridesmaid to wear.  Another had robin's egg blue shoes. One brought in a floral crown that she wanted the girls to wear.  Brides with distinct (and unique!) visions are my favorite!

Contact, Like, and Follow!
Email: pittsburgh@bellabridesmaids.com
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Color Palette Idea: Cranberry Red & Dusty Lavender

This is the first of a new monthly series – color palette ideas!  One of the first wedding decisions you'll likely make is selecting a color scheme.  For some unique pairings and inspiration on how to make them work, look for a new combo idea the last Thursday of every month!

First up…cranberry red and dusty lavender!

Swoon.  The mixture of deep red with the lightest shade of purple is about as romantic as it gets.  This set of colors is warm without being too dark.  For a winter wedding that is off-the-charts gorgeous, throw in natural elements like wood barrels and faux fur, as pictured below.  Year round, incorporate fresh cranberries or red hypericum berries and branches of pussy willow or raw cotton into your centerpieces.  Use silver charger plates or mirrored vases to add a touch of metallic.

Cranberry Red and Dusty Lavender Wedding

Clockwise from top left: 1 and 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7

Check out my Pinterest board for even more ideas in this pretty palette!

Real Wedding: Molly & Zach at Clear Story Studio

Pardon my french, but this wedding is totally kick ass.  Clear Story Studio provided the perfect backdrop for Molly and Zach's industrial-inspired September nuptials (maybe they started the trend!).  From the stunning bride to the fun-loving groom and from the cool venue to the unexpected style, I literally love everything about this wedding, such as:

  • Custom made t-shirts for the bridal party that made for the perfect getting-beautified attire
  • An in-the-round set up for the ceremony, providing guests with a new perspective and a great view no matter where they were seated
  • An eclectic mix of materials used in the floral arrangements…brass candlesticks, beaded necklaces, satin ribbons, and peacock feathers mixed together for a winning combination
  • A cocktail style reception, meaning no served meal and no seating assignments, just eating, drinking, dancing, mixing, and mingling at guests' leisure
  • A subtle incorporation of sugar skulls, including custom cookies, a cute bride and groom cake topper, and fun buttons for guests to wear
  • Hot sauce favors, complete with customized labels, and a DIY'd photo backdrop that is out-of-this-world cool

I'll warn you – approximately 98375 images follow.  And I don't even care.  This wedding is insanely unique that it wasn't fair of me to only share a few dozen.  So block off the next 20 minutes to so to just ogle at these seriously stunning shots from La Candella Weddings.

View More: http://lacandellaweddings.pass.us/mollyzach

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From the bride…

When and how did you two meet?
In the spring of 2008.  A friend of mine from college worked with Zach at the time. She kept talking about this really smart and talented guy, and after weeks of me pestering her, she finally set us up.

Juicy details on the proposal, please!  Where, when, how?
Zach proposed at the Pittsburgh Zoo & PPG Aquarium on October 26, 2013 – my birthday!  His birthday is October 27; we're just hours apart.  Last year, Zoo Boo was on October 26 so it was packed with kids running around in costumes – super cute!  We walked through practically the whole zoo before finding a little spot to ourselves, by the river otters.  He got down on one knee and asked me to marry him!  We both love the fall, our birthdays and Halloween; it's been a special bond between us so the timing was very fitting.  We have a lot of amazing memories together at the zoo and it has a special place in our hearts.

Describe the wedding.  The look, theme, style, colors, etc.
Our wedding was urban and industrial.  Our main colors were black, purple and blue but we didn't limit our florist or ourselves.  We incorporated some reds, greys, and other colors within those spectrums as well.

What inspired your vision?
Fun!  We just wanted everyone to have a blast!  We wanted meaningful and sentimental moments perfectly balanced with an awesome celebration!

Bride to Bride

What advice would you give to other Burgh Brides planning their big day?
Be creative.  Pittsburgh has A LOT to offer!  Start by figuring out what is important to you and build upon those ideas.  We wanted a party so we started with the concept of a cocktail reception rather than a sit down dinner and went from there.

Any must haves, must dos, or can’t live withouts?  Anything you would do differently?
Must haves: supportive friends and family
Must dos: incorporate both your and your partner's styles.  It's his/her special day too!
I honestly wouldn't do a thing differently.  We had a wonderful engagement and a perfect wedding! We are very fortunate and I am proud of the beautiful memories we made!

Vendors
Bridesmaids' Dresses: ModCloth | Cake: Bethel Bakery | Caterer: All the Best Catering | Ceremony & Reception Location: Clear Story Studio | DJ: George Tyson aka DJ Master Gee & DJ Alex | Flowers & Decor: Green Sinner | Hair & Makeup: Beth Vermillion of Evolve Modern Hairdressing & Mia Scarfone of Metamorphosis Salon & Spa | Photographer: La Candella Weddings | Videographer: Light Motions Studios

 

First Anniversary Gift Ideas

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Who here is celebrating a first anniversary soon?  If you raised your hand, I have some great gift ideas for you!

First Anniversary Gift Ideas from Burgh Brides

Professional Wedding Album
The traditional first anniversary gift is paper and when Justin and I celebrated year one, we figured that a professional photo album was pretty close to paper.  It turned out beautifully and our photographer Beth Insalaco did an amazing job with the design.  I'm so glad that we have such a nice keepsake from our big day.  The pages are thick, the cover is soft leather, and the colors and images are crisp.  Definitely worth the splurge!  My iPhone photo doesn't do it justice.

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Plane Tickets
Surprise your sweetie with that honeymoon you didn't get to take or the long weekend you both need.

Spa Day
A gift certificate for a couples massage sounds like a great, relaxing way to celebrate your anniversary.

Vow Print
There are lots of these custom vow prints available on Etsy, but Jenna Sue Design's is my favorite.  The layout is clean, the script font is the right amount of fancy, and there are lots of color options for both the background and the text.  If you wrote your own vows, this is the perfect memento.

Love Letters
If you're super ahead of the game, write your other half a love letter every day during your first year of marriage.  Have them printed on beautiful paper and bound to make the most romantic book ever.

Chic Stationery
Bring back the fine art of letter writing with a personalized stationery suite, including note cards, a note pad, and maybe even a Mont Blanc pen if you're feeling extra fancy.  I'm absolutely loving the latest foil-stamped collection from Minted, available in all sorts of designs and colors and able to be customized with your sweetie's name.

Event Tickets
Ladies, surprise your hubby with front row concert tickets or backstage passes.  Gentlemen, I know most of you might not enjoy sitting through a musical, but I bet your wife would love it.  Treat her to a night of dinner and Broadway in the Cultural District.

Photo or Coffee Table Book
Mixbook has made photo books super easy to make and one of images from your first year as husband and wife is a great gift idea.  Or find one full of works from your spouse's favorite artist or images of their favorite city.

Boudoir Session
Speaking of photos, step in front of the camera again but this time for a boudoir session.  Boudoir photography has many forms and it doesn't have to be overtly sexy!  There are many styles out there and you're bound to find something that fits your comfort zone.  Make a for-his-eyes-only photo book with all of the amazing proofs!  A special thanks to the Girlfriend Experience Boudoir for this suggestion!

Homemade Card
Bust out your scissors, rubber cement, and construction paper.  Get crafty and make a card instead of buying one.  Write a heartfelt message instead and I guarantee that card will be the most meaningful one you ever give to your sweetie.

What about you?  What did you and your spouse gift to each other on your first anniversary?  Did you stick with tradition, or did you go rogue?  Comment below!

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1000 Instagram Followers!

1000 IG Followers

1000 Instagram followers.  Thank you thank you thank you.  I can't believe it. I don't know who all of you are but you're all amazing and awesome and my little wedding-loving heart is doing a happy dance.  This baby/blog of mine has only been live for a few months but I'm so proud of how it's done so far.  I'm even more excited to see where it goes from here!

I try not to get caught up in the numbers game but I feel like this milestone calls for a celebration, right?!  So I'm hosting a giveaway!  One lucky winner will receive a $10 gift certificate to each of the following, to enjoy some of my favorite Pittsburgh treats:

How to enter?  This one is pretty easy.

  • Follow @burghbrides on Instagram.  Already do?  Gee, thanks!
  • Locate the above image on my Instagram feed and repost it.
  • Spread the word about Burgh Brides by tagging a friend in your repost.

Each step will earn you an entry.  Do all three and you're entered to win three times.  Make sense?  Contest starts now and will run through Friday, February 20.  The winner will be announced on Saturday, February 21 on Instagram.  This is my first time using Rafflecopter so I hope this thing works!  Good luck!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Featured Vendor: Veronica Varos Photography

Le sigh.  One look at the work of Veronica Varos and I'm instantly overtaken by romance.  I find myself swooning and filled with butterflies.  It's as if her creativity is limitless.  The layering, the angles, and the composition of her photos is quite unique.  But more than that, there is something crazy special about the way she captures unexpected or unplanned moments.  It's almost as if she's a chameleon, blending right into the background.  The bride and groom and others go about their business, not noticing her, not posing or changing their actions, just simply being themselves, making for some of the most real, most genuine, most strikingly beautiful images I've ever seen.

While her work on Jessica and Brian's wedding was featured right here last month, I'm not the only one who thinks Veronica is insanely talented.  Her work has been featured on Brides, Ruffled Blog, Style Me Pretty, and The Today Show, not once, not twice, but three times!  She also just landed the cover of the latest Whirl Wedding Guide.  See what all the (totally deserved) fuss is about!

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From Veronica…

What type of services do you provide?
Wedding, engagement, and boudoir photography

Tell me a little bit about your company!  How long have you been in business?  Is this your full time gig or a part time passion?  What makes your service(s) unique? Why should brides and grooms hire you?
I’m a full time wedding photographer who specializes in creative documentary work.  Prior to weddings, I was exclusively a concert photographer but made the switch to weddings in 2008.  I take pride in the fact that I'm not a cookie-cutter wedding photographer; I'm not a traditional photographer.  My goal is to be a fly on the wall at each wedding I photograph.  I prefer to photograph things as they happy naturally, rather than posing or staging moments.  I absolutely love receiving emails after the fact, saying things like, “I don't even remember you being there for that!”

What is your ideal client like?
My ideal (and luckily – my usual!) client has a strong appreciation for the arts, any type – whether it’s music, poetry, illustration, or photography.  They are looking for something different, something naturally beautiful.  They don’t want to be told what to do, don’t follow traditions.  Their focus is on friends and family and the love surrounding them on their wedding day.  And as a bonus – they love nature and the outdoors just as much as I do.  They want to be photographed as they truly are, in the beauty that surrounds us.

Contact, Like, and Follow!
Email: hello@veronicavaros.com
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Surprise Proposal: Heather & Adam

Just in time for Valentine's Day, I thought I'd share the most romantic Real Love submission I've received yet!

Any guy that plans for a photographer to be present the minute he pops the question deserves 982375923 brownie points.  I mean how sweet is that?!?!  Now, any guy that hires a photographer AND a horse-drawn carriage AND gathers both of your parents to celebrate with you immediately afterward…real life Prince Charming right there.

Enter Adam, who I am officially declaring as Pittsburgh's Most Romantic Man.  This amazing guy planned out a surprise proposal that is straight out of a Nicholas Sparks novel (keep reading for the full story below!).  As if that isn't sweet enough, Adam also kept a journal of sorts, chronicling the entire process…from shopping for rings to eventually designing one with a jeweler, from various proposal plans to how he chose the exact date, from getting Heather's parents' blessing to faking her out a bit (to throw her off!), and from picking up the ring to mapping out the night with the Jeannine Bonadio, the talented photographer Adam hired to capture “the” moment.  Yes, seven love-filled pages (that Adam kindly shared with me) to clue Heather in on just how he planned and pulled off the most magical surprise ever.  My heart just skipped several beats.

A special thanks to Jeannine for sharing these images and to Heather and Adam for sharing their story.  Congrats, you two!  Heather, you're one lucky gal…and you're also now the envy of all the other ladies in Pittsburgh!

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Surprise Pittsburgh Proposal - Jeannine Bonadio Photography

From the bride-to-be…

To begin, you must know that Adam and I were high school sweethearts at the age of 15.  We met in our sophomore year German class, and eventually ended up falling in love with each other.  He was my best friend and other half, and we continued to date into our first year away at different colleges.  We continued to grow and experience other things which led to us splitting up and taking different paths in life.  We remained friends throughout the entire time we were separated, and were even there for each other when we got our hearts broken by someone else.  I have always held a special place for Adam in my heart, but it wasn’t until the day I moved back home to Pittsburgh on June 29th, 2013 that I knew we were truly meant to be together forever.  Things worked out and we were officially back together on October 17th, 2013.

Fast forward, and it was one year later that our anniversary of being back together was approaching!  I knew Adam was planning something special for us, and when he started dropping every hint in the book I assumed the proposal was coming!  He said everything he could besides actually telling me that he was going to pop the question.  Everything was a surprise, and he told me it would be the most memorable weekend together.  I told my friend at work and my mother that this was it, he was really going to propose!  Well, Friday, our one year anniversary, came and went.  We had a fun pumpkin patch ride at Trax Farms, followed by a lovely dinner at P.F Changs; however, no ring was given that night.  My mother had mentioned the next day that she really thought that he might be proposing around Christmas time, and since we always do a traditional, fancy Christmas dinner together, I thought she might be right!  So I put the idea out of my head completely.

It is ritual for Adam and I to talk daily on Google Chat while we are at work.  Earlier in the proposal week, I mentioned that we should have a relaxing night together soon, and he responded by asking me out on a date that coming Friday night.  We had been picking one night a month for the past few months to treat ourselves and go out to a nice restaurant and keep the romance alive!  That is why it was not out of the ordinary for Adam to choose the Grand Concourse in Station Square as the place he would take me, since I had mentioned to him that I had never been there.  Adam has always been a hopeless romantic kind of guy, so big surprises and presents are not out of the ordinary for me to receive!  And since it was a spur of the moment decision that I came up with, I thought there was no way he was planning any type of proposal.  I was even the one to come up with the plan of going to the Grand Concourse’s happy hour for a few drinks before dinner!

With my first graduate class and work stressing me out, I was so relieved when Friday arrived and it was time for a drink!  Adam was cool as a cucumber the whole time, and we even danced and sang in the ride over to the Grand Concourse.  There were no signs of him being nervous, which is another reason I did not suspect a thing!  Dinner reservations were not until 7:30, and we quickly realized after two drinks and appetizers that it was only 6:30 with much time to kill.  So I asked Adam if he would go ask them if we could possibly get a table now instead of waiting another hour.  When he came back to the table, it was not with the answer I expected.  He told me that we were not actually eating at the Grand Concourse and that he had a surprise waiting for me, but we had to leave right away.  I was disappointed at the time, because I was so excited to eat at the Grand Concourse that I had my meal planned out and everything!  He asked me if I remembered the date, and it wasn’t until then that I realized that the date was November 7th, exactly 10 years from our high school anniversary and the first time he asked me to be his girlfriend.  Upon leaving I realized that I was in for an even bigger surprise now that I knew it was our 10 year anniversary and Adam is the most romantic man I know!

Behold, there was a beautiful lit-up horse and carriage waiting for us outside the Grand Concourse to take us on a ride through Pittsburgh!  I was told that the carriage was going to take us for a short ride to where we would really be eating dinner to celebrate our 10 years together.  It wasn’t until I realized we were pulling into the bottom parking lot of the Duquesne Incline that something special must be happening.  The thought of a proposal flickered in my head; however, I was expecting that it could happen at the top look out platform once we got up there.  Before I could even complete the thought, Adam was already out of the carriage and instead of helping me down, he dropped to one knee and pulled out the most beautiful ring I have ever seen!  Tears instantly started flowing, and I can’t remember a thing that was said other than, “Heather Kathleen Kroll, will you marry me?” and “Yes”!  It was not until I was out of the carriage and walking towards the incline that I realized someone was snapping pictures of us!  Adam had hired a photographer to capture the most precious moment of our special night, and we could not have been smiling harder in all of those pictures.  On the ride up the incline, I mentioned to Adam that I wish we could celebrate with both of our families that night instead of choosing one house to go to.  Little did I know, that both of our parents were waiting for us outside of the top look out area with confetti to throw all around us!  It was the most magical night of my life, and I was able to spend it celebrating with all of my favorite people!  To top off the night, Adam had booked reservations at the LeMont, which was “our spot” from high school.  Every detail of the night was carefully planned out, and he even wrote up our story for all of us to read over dinner.  I could not have asked for a more perfect proposal, and I cannot wait to marry my best friend.

BB: Happy Valentine's Day, Pittsburgh!

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