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Weddings at The Mansion

Nicki Ann's Wedding Blog

In her blog, Nikki Ann shares with you her insights, thoughts, and feelings on all things women, wedding, marriage, and event-related.


G-L-A-M-O-R-OUS

March 26th, 2010

Yes, I quoted Fergie. That is how I am going to feel on my wedding day because I just booked an awesome photographer. Erica Hilliard was a suggestion from my bestest, Jen McKen. Unfortunately, I cannot take advantage of her skills, but I do trust her judgment. I was really impressed with the photos on Erica’s blog. We met on Sunday to go over a few things. She showed us a few more photos while we were there and both of us were blown away. We really loved her work. It is not the usual posey-posey work. It really captured personalities and the moment. Neither one of us thinks we are photogenic – but then again, who does think of themselves that way? She offers a complimentary engagement session with her package, which is a great idea to allow for the couple to become familiar with her style and how she works. We will be completely comfortable for the day of the wedding because we will know her a little better.

Not only are we doing an engagement session with Erica, but we also booked one with Jen. I couldn’t let her get away without taking any photos for us! It is going to be a blast. There are a ton of really great locations where we can do photos. It would take all day to get to all of the cool spots. So we will have one day with Jen in the South Hills and one day with Erica elsewhere. I was thinking of La Casa Narcissi Winery in Gibsonia for a session with Erica and maybe Armstrong Farms in Saxonburg as well. I am going to have to look into this more. I also think Phipps would be awesome, but they charge $350 for a 45 minute session. I think that seems high, but they do put a ton of work into maintaining the facility. I am unsure if the winery or farm charge, but I will definitely research it! There would be some really interesting backdrops for photos in these places.

I am finally able to enjoy the planning aspect because the level of anxiety is VERY low. The date and places are set. Now I just get to work on the details. After all, presentation is everything.

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Wow, I’ve been gone a long time!

March 11th, 2010

I know I had intented to write daily on what I am working on and what has happened. But as usual, life gets in the way. Since I last wrote, I have been continuing my search for a reception venue. We were a year and 4 months before our wedding date, so I knew I had plenty of time. Or so I thought…

After visiting numerous venues and asking about dates, it seemed that everyone else also had the idea to book weddings for June 18th. I had my heart set on an outdoor reception. I have pictured it for years. Big white tents, candles galore, and a warm, breeze to cool us off from dancing the night away. I had found a few more places – Phipps, Pittsburgh Center for the Arts, and the Mansion at Maple Heights. I made some appointments and Joey and I went on the search.

Our first stop was Phipps. They have a lovely outdoor garden which is used for weddings. It was covered in snow, of course, so it was hard to picture what it would be like when it was summer and in full bloom. I mean, it is Phipps. I am pretty sure it will be beautiful. One downfall is that the space where the tents would be set up is kind of long and narrow. So if we were having our first dance, the guests who were stuck at the tables on the ends would have a hard time seeing. Not the end of the world, but still a downfall. It was a beautiful space in general.

The Pittsburgh Center for the Arts did not require an appointment, so I decided we could just stop there following our next appoinment at the Mansion at Maple Heights. After reviewing the online pricing, I was unsure about if we could even afford this place. After coming up to the front door, I just had to see this place. We were super early and were offered the Library to sit in while we waited. We hung out and You Tubed a few videos on our new phones (yep, we broke down and bought the Droid. We are loving it!). I was of course you tubing potential first dance songs, while Joey looked up It’s Always Sunny clips. Gotta love kitten mittens.

Our appointment was at 1:00. In walked a very large man, who shook our hands and said, “Hi, I’m Chuck.” We introduced ourselves and I stood there slightly shocked. I was so surprised that a man had walked in. As we were sitting there giving him some info about what we wanted for a wedding, I noticed a large ring on his hand. Slowly, I realized it was a Superbowl ring. Yes, ladies and gentleman, we were sitting there with former NFL football center, Chukky Okobi. You know how they said brides have a certain glow about them? Well, the glow was coming from the groom this time.

That aside, we proceeded to go through the whole tour and I continued to be impressed. He really knew what he was talking about – from votives to sashes and so on. He had really done his research and impressed the fact that he wanted us to be happy with our wedding and it was “your wedding, your way.” The mansion is absolutely beautiful. The bridal suite was almost the size of our house. The closet in the bridal suite was bigger than my master bedroom. It was amazing. They have a large lawn in the back and side where tents can be placed for outdoor events. However, the nice part is that the entire venue is rented, so there are no worries of other people wandering around and we can use every room in the mansion.

Chukky told us to go ahead and roam around and take a few minutes to talk about it. We walked out of the room and the first thing that I said to Joey was, “I want it!” It was perfect. It had the outdoor space like I wanted plus clean bathrooms and lots of indoor space to allow people to come inside in case the night air was too chilly. We thought of a few more questions and told him we’d let him know. We left and I had a sad feeling in my stomach. I still didn’t know if we could afford it.

Needless to say, the Pittsburgh Center for the Arts was no longer a thought in our minds. I would love to still see this place, because I think it would be a beautiful venue. There was no getting our minds off of the Mansion though. We decided to stop at his parent’s house to work out pricing and see what we were looking at. On the way there, we decided that we wanted it and were willing to do whatever we had to do in order to make it work. After all, it was only slightly above our budget. Once we were at his parents and told them about the place, we called Chukky back and asked if we could come and sign the contract. We signed for June 25th.

I had spoken with Father Fronk at St. Bernard’s earlier in the week, who told me that the 25th was indeed still open. So I was hopeful it was still open. Shortly after getting home from signing, my bestest friend for the last 15 years (holy crap, I can’t believe it has been that long) told me she was unable to come on the 25th. There is no way I could picture getting married without her being there. I mean, a 15 year friendship is a pretty long one, especially for someone who is only 27. And the anxiety sets in…

Finally, after 3 days of going back and forth and trying to find a date that coordinated with Jen’s schedule, the church and the mansion, we set our new and final date of July 16th, 2011. A month later than we started with, but what is another month when you have everything you want for your wedding?

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