Using Ebates for Wedding Savings

Raise your hand if you love Ebates as much as I do!  Don’t know about this little gem of a money-saving website?  Prepare to be amazed.  Simply put, Ebates pays you to shop online.  You read that correctly. You GET PAID to SHOP.  Ebates has partnered with thousands of retailers to snag you cash back on your online purchases.  Here is a longer description of how it all works in your favor:

  •  After you’ve created your Ebates account (which is totally free and they even send you a $10 gift card to your choice of a few major retailers, just for signing up), you can install the Ebates Cash Back button to your browser.
  • When you’re shopping online, the button will alert you if that retailer has a cash back offer.  Click the button and the offer is activated.
  • If you complete your purchase, the cash back is added to your Ebates account and you get a big fat check or a big fat deposit to your PayPal account every quarter.  It’s literally free money for doing nothing more than clicking a mouse.

If that doesn’t make sense, watch this video.

Each retailer offers a different cash back percentage, and Ebates offers double cash back on select retailers each week.  Plus, they have a whole slew of coupon codes.  The savings are virtually never-ending.

So what does this have to do with your wedding?  There are a number of Ebates retailers that sell wedding essentials or items you could easily use on your big day. To name just a few:

Bed, Bath, and Beyond – 2%
Macy’s – 3%
Target – Up to 5%
Use those gift cards you received at your bridal shower to purchase some more items off your registry.

Sephora – 4%
Ulta – 4%
Purchase some pretty new makeup for your honeymoon or splurge on a new perfume to wear on your wedding day.

Ann Taylor – 2.5%
J.Crew – 3%
Extend the savings to your bridesmaids by selecting one of the many stylish and affordable dresses these stores sell.

Hotels.com – 3.25%
Orbitz – Up to 8.45%
Travelocity – Up to 4%
Hello cheaper honeymoon!

Candy Warehouse – 4%
Old Time Candy – 5%
Design a candy buffet that would make Willy Wonka proud and put a few dollars back in your pocket while you’re at it.

Blue Nile – 2.5%
Save on your guy’s wedding band or some pretty jewelry for your mom or future MIL.

Paper Source – 3.5%
Bridal shower invites, save the dates, thank you notes, place cards, favor boxes, guest books…you could probably purchase all of your wedding paper goods from this one store alone.

The Knot Wedding Shop – 6.5%
I think every bride makes at least one purchase from The Knot’s wedding shop.  They have almost everything.  Those few hundred custom printed cocktail napkins that you just have to have…might as well save a few bucks on them.

I could go on for pages and pages; there are literally thousands of retailers featured on Ebates and so many ways you can use this site to your wedding budget’s advantage.  Two percent here and there may not seem like a lot but it adds up quickly.  And if you purchase on double cash back day, you’ll score twice as big.  Don’t forget to search Ebates or Retail Me Not for coupon codes for additional savings or free shipping.  Your wedding budget and wallet can thank me later.

Ask Burgh Brides: April

Last month, I introduced a new feature to the blog, Ask Burgh Brides.  Have a question about wedding planning, need some advice, or just want to bounce an idea off of someone?  I'm all ears!  Fill out the form at the link above and I'll answer a few each month or so right here.

First up?  A question from Maddie, who is getting married this September.  Maddie writes…

“My fiance and I are having an intimate, very ‘us' wedding this September.  We're not getting married in a church, and we're only inviting parents/siblings/surviving grandparents.  Neither of us have ever wanted a traditional or big wedding, and we don't have the money to throw a party for 200 people anyway.  We're having a cookout with our friends the day after to celebrate with them, and the day after that, my fiance's parents are hosting a big party for us with his extended family.

There are some people who already have hurt feelings over our wedding plans (cousins who wanted their daughter to be the flower girl, a grandma who can't believe we're not inviting her other son).  There are also some who will definitely have hurt feelings because they wanted to attend, but won't be invited.

I've explained to these family members as delicately and lovingly as I can where we are coming from, and yet some people just don't get it.  How can I address these people in a respectful way that also shows that I'm not going to change my mind about our plans?  Some people are pressuring us to change our plans to accommodate them and it's really starting to become hurtful.  Also, how can I announce to extended family members that we got married in a loving, respectful way?  I know that some people send out wedding announcements after the fact but it seems like that might reopen hurt feelings.”

Wow, Maddie, you are making me start this series with a tough one!  It's a shame that family members are pressuring you to change your wedding plans or are making you feel guilty about them.  I suppose they mean well and are just upset because they were hoping to share your special day with you.  However, that doesn't change the fact that you want what you want – a small, intimate affair for close family members.  I hate to say this because it sounds brattier than I intend for it to but – it's your wedding.  Don't feel the need to apologize for your wishes and desires, or worse yet, change your plans.  By explaining things in a respectful and loving way, you're doing all you can.  Unfortunately, there will always be some people who will never understand why you're doing what you're doing.  But that's ok because it's not their wedding (see a few sentences ago).  It's a tough situation but my best advice to remain your sweet, polite self, explaining your wishes in a respectful way, but to try and not to let them rain on your wedding day parade!  If your parents are supportive of your plans, it could help to have them in your corner, explaining things to hurt family members and trying to smooth things over with them.

As far as announcements go, they certainly aren't mandatory.  If you feel that they may pour salt on some people's wounds, then don't feel obligated to send them.  But for those guests who took the lack of an invitation in stride, wedding announcements are a nice idea.  Hopefully receiving an announcement will remind the former folks just how in love and happy you are, making them forget about their hurt feelings.

Readers, what advice would you offer to Maddie?  Comment below and help a fellow Burgh Bride out!

Wedding Design & Styling Workshop Recap

Last week, I teamed up with the super talented ladies of Sapphire & Lace Event Design, Jack+Bean Event Stationery, Mosaic Linens, and Found + Made to teach (what I'm pretty sure was) Pittsburgh's first wedding design and styling workshop!  We took over the ballroom of the Renaissance Pittsburgh Hotel and hosted an evening of inspiration and education for local brides.  If you weren't there, you missed a good time!  But lucky for you, Dawn Derbyshire Photography was in place to document all of the pretty details and I'm giving you a full recap today.

The event started off with a the simple, and probably obvious, question – “What is design?”

Ladies, listen up!  Are you paying attention?  This is really important! 

Wedding design is sooooo (o x 9863958) much more than just your color scheme!  Creating a cohesive, impactful look for your wedding day means a whole heck of a lot more than just picking out pretty bouquets to match the bridesmaids' dresses.  Instead, it means determining a style, look, or even theme and weaving commons threads of that style/look/theme into every single aspect of your wedding day.  From the invitations to the favors, and everything in between, all aspects of your wedding should be cohesive and look like they belong together.  There is a fluidity between the big aspects, such as your venue and even your dress, and all of the details, like the menu cards and cocktail napkins.  Don't just stop at picking out a few colors!  Find something that inspires you – a piece of art, a book, architecture, a flower, a hobby, whatever! – and determine what style it lends itself to.  Then, let everything else flow from there!

To give our guests a visual representation of what we meant, the team came up with three different concepts and created tablescapes to go with each of those.  Mood boards showed guests what inspired the looks and they were able to see, touch, and explore all of the elements that brought that look to life.  From nailing down a style to selecting all of the various pieces, we explained the thought process behind each and every decision.  I think this really helped our guests understand more clearly what “creating a cohesive” look really means.  Plus, it was so fun to see all of the pieces come together!

Our first concept was bohemican chic.  Think jewel tones, natural elements like antlers and feathers, bright flowers and succulents, brass candlesticks, amber glass, and even birdcages.  Our tablescape was absolutely breathtaking!  We also created a lounge area to inspire unique seating vignettes for cocktail hours, after parties, or even quiet spaces during dancing.  Colorful and a bit anything goes, this look was flawless!

Wedding Design & Styling Workshop - Boho Chic Inspiration

Wedding Design & Styling Workshop - Boho Chic Inspiration

Wedding Design & Styling Workshop - Boho Chic Inspiration

Wedding Design & Styling Workshop - Boho Chic Inspiration

Wedding Design & Styling Workshop - Boho Chic Inspiration

Wedding Design & Styling Workshop - Boho Chic Inspiration

Wedding Design & Styling Workshop - Boho Chic Inspiration

Wedding Design & Styling Workshop - Boho Chic Inspiration

Wedding Design & Styling Workshop - Boho Chic Inspiration

Wedding Design & Styling Workshop - Boho Chic Inspiration

Wedding Design & Styling Workshop - Boho Chic Inspiration

Wedding Design & Styling Workshop - Boho Chic Inspiration

Wedding Design & Styling Workshop - Boho Chic Inspiration

The second style was modern.  Minimalistic but bold, this look was inspired by black and white stripes and lots of greenery.  In contrast to the boho chic look, you won't find much color here.  But it still packed a mighty punch.  The linen grabbed your attention and kept it, since the other details are subtle.  We also worked up a styled cocktail table.  Your cocktail reception is a great place to have a little fun with specialty linens, unique centerpieces, or even cute signs with your wedding hashtag or fun facts about the bride and groom.  This look was sleek and stylish in a quiet way, but it definitely made a statement!

Wedding Design & Styling Workshop - Modern Inspiration

Wedding Design & Styling Workshop - Modern Inspiration

Wedding Design & Styling Workshop - Modern Inspiration

Wedding Design & Styling Workshop - Modern Inspiration

Wedding Design & Styling Workshop - Modern Inspiration

Wedding Design & Styling Workshop - Modern Inspiration

Wedding Design & Styling Workshop - Modern Inspiration

Wedding Design & Styling Workshop - Modern Inspiration

Wedding Design & Styling Workshop - Modern Inspiration

Wedding Design & Styling Workshop - Modern Inspiration

Wedding Design & Styling Workshop - Modern Inspiration

The final concept was classic and sparkly.  We were inspired by lots of candlelight, mixed metallics (yes, it is ok to mix gold and silver!), and monochromatic florals.  This style is perfect for the traditional bride or the one who wants a pretty, feminine look.  The navy blue linen was rich but was softened by the white and ivory flowers, pastel blue napkins, and menu card with its subtle punch of coral. Gold beaded chargers, lots of mercury glass, and candles galore completed this tablescape.  We also created an escort card table that had a big wow factor!  A large display of various candles set a romantic tone and the sequin linen was just gorgeous.  The entire look was soft, glowing, and romantic!

Wedding Design & Styling Workshop - Classic Inspiration

Wedding Design & Styling Workshop - Classic Inspiration

Wedding Design & Styling Workshop - Classic Inspiration

Wedding Design & Styling Workshop - Classic Inspiration

Wedding Design & Styling Workshop - Classic Inspiration

Wedding Design & Styling Workshop - Classic Inspiration

Wedding Design & Styling Workshop - Classic Inspiration

Wedding Design & Styling Workshop - Classic Inspiration

Wedding Design & Styling Workshop - Classic Inspiration

Wedding Design & Styling Workshop - Classic Inspiration

Wedding Design & Styling Workshop - Classic Inspiration

Wedding Design & Styling Workshop - Classic Inspiration

Wedding Design & Styling Workshop - Classic Inspiration

After exploring the three tablescapes, it was time for my favorite part of the evening…the Design Bar!  We had various shaped tables in place and lots of extra linens, centerpieces, table numbers, menu cards, candles, and other accessories and guests were encouraged to play and create their own beautiful tablescapes.  The team was there to spark creativity and help guests think outside the box.  It was like playing dress up!  So fun!

Wedding Design & Styling Workshop - Design Bar

Wedding Design & Styling Workshop - Design Bar

Wedding Design & Styling Workshop - Design Bar

Wedding Design & Styling Workshop - Design Bar

Wedding Design & Styling Workshop - Design Bar

Wedding Design & Styling Workshop - Design Bar

Wedding Design & Styling Workshop - Design Bar

Wedding Design & Styling Workshop - Design Bar

Wedding Design & Styling Workshop - Design Bar

We even spent a little time getting to know our guests, learning about their wedding looks and helping them come up with ways to bring those to life.  The ladies asked great questions and I hope that they found the night to be fun, educational, and inspirational.  We're already looking forward to bigger and better workshops!  If you're in the midst of wedding planning, let us what you would like to see at the next one!

And a HUGE thank you to the amazing vendors who helped me bring this idea to fruition!  Bethany, Julie, Molly, Jen, Laura, Dawn, and Katy – you gals are the best!  Thank you from the bottom of my wedding detail-loving heart!

Exciting New Program for Burgh Brides!

Happy Bonus Post Friday!  I’m in a crazy good mood for a few reasons: 1.) It’s Friday!  2.) Today is the first day of spring!  3.) Fish fry dinner tonight!  And 4.) I have a crazy BIG announcement to make!  Drum roll please…

I’m partnering with the my most favorite downtown venue, the Renaissance Pittsburgh Hotel, along with the talent behind Sapphire & Lace Event Design, Mosaic Linens, Jack + Bean, and Found + Made, to bring you Pittsburgh’s FIRST EVER WEDDING DESIGN WORKSHOP!

(Cue the applause. Pop the champagne.)

You guyssss!  I’m so excited about this I can barely stand it!  You see, I’ve had this idea for a little while now – a different kind of wedding event.  The city already has so many bridal shows where you can meet vendors and find great deals.  But, I never thought that those were the areas local brides needed the most help.  What I DO think brides often need help with is wedding design and styling.  Let’s face it…designing a wedding can be stressful and a lot of hard work, especially if you don’t consider yourself to be creative.  Can you really take all of your Pinterest boards, mesh them together, and create a cohesive look?  How do you bring to life all of the ideas swimming around your head?  What about making sure the style of your wedding is carried throughout the entire day (and even before that)?  So many questions, right?!  We’re packaging up the answers, plus providing a ton more information and inspiration at our workshop on April 22!  I don’t want to give away too many secrets so I’ll just say this – mark your calendars now!  If you’re in the midst of wedding planning, you do not want to miss this event!

I went to my friends at The Renaissance with the idea, hoping they want to be on board as well.  Things exploded from there.  The idea for this wedding style and design how-to session eventually became a part of a larger program recently implemented by The Renaissance.  It’s called Bridal Boot Camp, it’s amazing, it’s FREE, and it’s open to ALL local brides-to-be who want a little help preparing for their big day!

2015-03-19_0004

Here is my good friend and fellow wedding lover Katy, catering sales manager at The Renaissance, to explain more.

What is the Bridal Boot Camp?
The Renaissance Pittsburgh Hotel is inviting all future brides to complete a complimentary 8-week Bridal Boot Camp program featuring various physical and wedding-themed informational sessions.  Brides are encouraged to bring their bridesmaids or a fellow bride-to-be to weekly sessions featuring either PiYo classes and running hours or scheduled workshops focused on hair and makeup, healthy detox and diets, and reception design from various Pittsburgh-based vendors.  In celebration of the completion of the program, participants will be treated to a cocktail party at the hotel!

Where did the idea for this program come from?
Our social media committee meets every week and we were throwing around ideas for our RLife events, which are events each Renaissance Hotel provides to their guests during their stay at the hotels.  We wanted to tie in our brides, and as a result the workshop ideas starting rolling.   It turned into its own program, which we are now opening up to ANY bride, not just the Renaissance Bride.

What can brides expect?
The Bridal Boot Camp program offers an exclusive experience that is not offered elsewhere.  The program was designed to feature basic wedding topics that may be overlooked or under-considered during the wedding planning process.  By merging various educational segments with physical activity, Pittsburgh’s brides will be encouraged to put their minds and bodies to the test before saying “I do”.

Eeeeeeek doesn’t this sound so fabulous?!  Not only will this program help whip you into shape, but it will also help immensely with planning your big day!  Although the program is already a few weeks in, there are still plenty of excellent sessions on the horizon.  View the complete Bridal Boot Camp program calendar or see more details on the Burgh Brides event calendar.

So, how do you sign up?  Call 412.992.2042 and ask to be put on the email list.  You’ll receive a reminder before each session. You don’t have to go to every session; just RSVP for those you’re interested in attending.

Just sayin' though…you’ll DEFINITELY want to RSVP for our design and styling workshop on April 22!  I’ll be there, we have lots of information to share, and a few surprises in store.  It’s going to be EPIC!

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.

Say Hello to Burgh Brides

Hi there!  Welcome to Burgh Brides!  I’m so excited to finally be able to share this blog with you.  It’s been a little dream of mine for many, many years.  As a matter of fact, I first purchased the domain name back in 2009 when I originally came up with the idea of a blog dedicated to all things Pittsburgh weddings.  However, life happened and it got put on the back burner…for nearly six whole years.  But today, here I am, and here you are, and I’m thrilled you’ve stopped by!

Burgh Brides - A Pittsburgh Wedding Blog!

So what is Burgh Brides all about?  I’ll get to that.  Before I do, let me tell you why a Pittsburgh wedding blog in the first place.

I’m a born and raised Yinzer, minus the accent somehow.  I love this city, its history, and its kaleidoscope culture.  Where else can you find one of the best hospitals in the nation, a sandwich with French fries on it, and a global university that is renowned for its fine arts AND computer science AND engineering programs (high five, CMU!)?  This place is awesome!  But for a while Pittsburgh was getting a bad rap.  How many “worst of” lists were we placed on?  Worst dressed, worst place for singles, worst traffic nightmares, ugliest accent, ugliest women (rude!), and the list goes on.  Quite frankly, I never understood it.  And I was sick of it.  Luckily, in the past few years our reputation for being one of the “worst” cities has turned around and Pittsburgh now ranks #1 on numerous “best of” lists.  People are finally learning what we've known all along – this place is special.

Throughout my near-decade in Pittsburgh’s wedding and event industry, I’ve seen some incredibly beautiful things…weddings that are styled nearly to perfection, details that would knock your socks off, unique venues, gorgeous gowns, and vendors who are true artists.  I wanted to share all of this with all of you!  Sure, there are a million wedding blogs out there.  But most of the time, Pittsburgh gets overlooked.  They feature New York weddings, they feature Chicago weddings, they even feature Philly weddings.  But very rarely do you see a Pittsburgh wedding featured on Style Me Pretty (unless you work with Elizabeth Craig, who is insanely talented and has been featured multiple times, rightfully so).  So what do we Pittsburghers do when the rest of the world isn’t talking about us?  We talk about ourselves, and know that the rest of the world will start listening eventually.

That’s how Burgh Brides was born.  I created this blog to show off the awesome weddings that take place right here, so that we could toot our own horns.  I want to share ideas and inspire brides to create their own gorgeous day.  I want to be able to pass along some of the logistical know-how that I’ve gained from years as a wedding and event planner, and hopefully make the planning process just a little less stressful.  I want to introduce brides to all sorts of awesome, super talented vendors who are just waiting to help make their day magical.  I want to be your unofficial wedding planner, your second maid of honor, and your wedding cheerleader!  It’s going to be so fun!

So what can you expect to see?  For starters:

  • Real wedding and engagement sessions (and hopefully some styled shoots too!)
  • Vendor features
  • Ideas and inspiration
  • Trends projected and traditions explained
  • Planning tips and logistical help
  • DIY tutorials
  • Resources and tools

And I’m just getting started!  I’m so hopeful about what this blog can turn into and I’m excited to see it grow and transform.  For now, I’m just so glad to see you!  I'll be posting twice a week so check back on Thursday for the first of the Real Love Series.  I hope you like what you see so far and I can’t wait to become better friends!

P.S. I'd be remiss if I didn't send a HUGE shout out and an ENORMOUS thank you to Beth and Sam Insalaco!  These two.  Oh my goodness.  So much talent between the pair.  Sam is the master tech mind behind Burgh Brides.  If you need a website or help with SEO, give his company, theBREWROOM, a holler.  Beth is not only an incredible photographer who took the head shots you see but she also created the pretty logo and graphics.  Burgh Brides really wouldn't have been possible without these two and I'm so thankful I get to call them my friends!  xo

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