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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.

.com Weddings

May 27th, 2010

My future mother-in-law was amazed at how patient I was to wait for a return email in response to a question or to schedule an appointment with a vendor. It didn’t even strike me as odd that I didn’t want to just call to get the appointment booked. You’d think with my OCD tendencies about planning, this would be my outreach of choice. Not the case. If you are like me, the first thing you look for on a website when trying to contact someone from a vendor/venue is an email. I’d much rather email someone than to call and talk in person – of course, until it comes to planning the details. Then I want to make sure they know exactly what I am thinking. But that is because I am a little overbearing when it comes to things like that :) Another perfect example my dependence on The Knot as a wedding planning bible. I have heard from other brides that they don’t like The Knot and I should try this other website or this website. It occurred to me that current brides are so completely dependent on the internet to help with researching and securing vendors and venues that I decided to do some research… online, of course.

I found it amazing how many online wedding planning tools are out there. There are quite a few big name sites that everyone, even people who detest marriage, know about. Not to mention the hundreds of individual sites that offer tools. If you are willing to pay, there are even more available. If not, no worries! You can still sit in the comfort of your own home and plan your entire wedding without ever moving or talking to an actual person. Favors can be delivered to your home, emails can have any questions answered, and blogs can provide advice on creative ideas for your place cards. Remember the days of sitting with a large piece of poster board (reception hall) with circles drawn on it (tables) and sticky notes (your guests) when creating a seating chart? GONE! I found at least 3 sites where you can do that all online with ease in about 3 seconds.

So what exactly did I find, you ask? Here are a few sites I found that seem to be pretty simple to use and are free. After all, no one wants to pay for the cow when they can get the milk for free. I’ll also include a few good sites for wedding favors accessories that I have found along the way. Included with my finds will be notes from yours truly because, well, it’s my blog. :)

The Knot
*This is one of the biggies that everyone and their mothers know about. It is very helpful for brides who are starting from scratch and need a little boost to their creative abilities. Once you create an account, you can import a guest list, complete a seating chart, build a budget, create a website, follow a checklist, and much, much more. One thing I have found that is troublesome is the inability to move quickly through the guest list options. They have recently made some updates which seem to have slowed down the process quite a bit. While I think the updates have provided a few really wonderful options (i.e. online seating charts), the ease of use is more difficult than the previous version. I highly suggest peeking at this website every few weeks to stay on top of the latest wedding fashions and trends.

Martha Stewart Weddings
* Ok, I know. She is a criminal. But she is a REALLY creative criminal and I ain’t ashamed to enjoy her ideas! This website is definitely for the do-it-yourself bride. Whether it be budgetary or just your own need to birth your own favors, this site can provide lots of inspiration. Also provided are lots of wedding tools similar to those found on The Knot, such as checklists, budgets, guest lists, seating charts, etc. You have to create an account to use any of these tools, but that is a small price to pay. Just be sure to un-check any special offers and your email should be fairly spam free. I just created an account, so I will update on any positives, negatives, spam emails, etc.

The Wedding Channel
*This is another site that I found that has lots of tools. They all seem to be the same as what The Knot offers, probably because it is run by The Knot. Again, I looked at the tools and literally the guest list looks just like the one on The Knot. The site seems to take a little longer to open up, but that could just be my computer not being fast today.

Wedding Wire
* So I am really enjoying this site. The budget tool seems to be easier than what I am using currently. The bonus is that when you actually enter items and they are less that the suggested budget amount, it allows you to allocate it to specific areas or just split it up evenly throughout the rest of your budget. So if you know something in particular will cost more than the suggested budget amount, you can allocate it directly to that and keep within your budget. I also really enjoy the checklist on this site because it is very easy to manuever and when you check something off, it automatically goes to the “Done” folder. I am a list maker and like to see things checked off, so this is quite enjoyable to me :) I’m going to give the guest list a go later and will update on that once I have time to enter all the info.
* All I have to say is… eh… If you are someone who doesn’t need advice on how much money you should spend in each area and just want to import what you spent, the budget tool is perfect. But this gives no guidance on how much money should be allocated to specific areas or anything. Also, the checklist just lists the items you need to buy. This is the first site I have seen offer a “shopping list” of sorts. It is helpful, but you might as well just use a different site where you can keep all your planning tools in one place. One thing this site does have that is not on many others is a “Name Change” area. It gives you a checklist of places you should contact after your wedding. Another bonus is that the site lists all the marriage license requirements for each of the 50 states.

Please feel free to add more if you know of some. Like I said, this is just a list of some I came across in my search. This post would be like 50 pages long if I reviewed all of the possibilities out there.


Wait, there are other people getting married too?!

May 13th, 2010

I’ve been so wrapped up in my own wedding that I forget others are in this process too! So I recently started reading the boards on Wedding book, which is a Facebook application if you are not familiar. Brides write in to ask for opinions, to update about their own weddings, or just to vent about a situation they are facing. I found a few that I thought were interesting and I responded to. I thought I would copy/paste some here because I felt really creative :)

This post was a call for help from a bridesmaid whose friend decided to move her wedding up from 2011 to the following month. The bride is on a tight budget, but did have the food, tent (it is an outdoor wedding), alcohol, gown and tux covered by her parents. She needed everything else. Her colors are lime green and black, favorite flowers are orchids, and wanted a 50s twist on the decor. My response was as follows…

“Since her colors are lime green and black, a cute centerpiece idea is green apples. Having things other than flowers for centerpieces is slowly becoming more and more popular. You would just get a silver or black cake stand or bowl and fill them up to make a pyramid shape. … 0ideas.jpg (top right hand corner is kind of what I am thinking of!) is awesome and so is eFavormart. So I second (or third) that! Also, look at Some stuff is cheap looking, but there is a ton on there that would be cute and it is SUPER cheap.

Also, if you are getting the signable picture frame, she can consider skipping the guest book itself. Just have the DJ or someone else if there isn’t a DJ announce it to make sure everyone knows where it is so they can sign it.

Also, check out Michael’s, JoAnn Fabrics, or Pat Catan’s (the last one is only in Pittsburgh and Ohio). They have unity candles and everything. You can find a ton of stuff there. One thing that I am doing is getting plain glass votives, spraying them with spray glue and adding red glitter to the outsides. When the light from the candles comes through it will give a really awesome glow. I found some at Pat Catan’s for $.25 a piece. She could use lime green glitter. Who doesn’t feel like a princess when glitter and bling are involved??

For the veil, are you talking about a birdcage veil? The ones that cover just the face? If you have anyone who is crafty, you can absolutely make one. You would just get a plain, thin headband and find the netting for it. You can go to a store to look at them and how they are made. It would be pretty simple to make.

Another thing I am doing for mine is getting those round paper lanterns for inside the tent. You can find a bunch of them at and hang those from the middle. My FH (future husband) thought it would look cheesy, and I agree, until you see it does sound cheesy. I think it looks really funky though.”

The other bride I responded to was a huge baseball fan and so was her fiance. She wanted subtle hints of baseball themed decorations mixed in with her vintage styled wedding. Brides were responding with ideas such as having pilsner glasses filled with cracker jacks as a favor, cupcakes with a baseball design as the wedding cake, signing a bat in lieu of a guest book, etc. Now, my ideas were limited on this one because there were so many other great ideas, but I still thought they were cute!

“I love the idea of using actual baseballs as a centerpiece (a previous response from another future bride). You could also do wheat grass as a centerpiece in a vintage-style pot or flat. Or incorporate the two together. I am not sure how crafty you are, but you could also make a home plate shaped photo frame for people to sign as a guest book. Depending on your budget (maybe if you haven’t done engagement photos already), you could get dressed up in some vintage baseball costumes and take photos of the two of you.”

If you are a bride and looking for new and cute ideas for your wedding, I highly suggest adding this application to your Facebook. The ideas just keep coming! There are so many creative women posting on there. You can also post and get responses on your own issues or questions. It is difficult to be creative all the time. Sometimes you just need to have someone else do the thinking for you!!


E Session!!

May 12th, 2010

For those of you following, you know that one of my bestest and bridesmaids is a fabulous photographer, Jen McKendrick aka Jen McKen. I couldn’t have her as my wedding photographer, so I decided to force her to come to Pittsburgh and take some engagement photos for us. It was like pulling teeth *sarcasm* to get her to have fun with us Friday night when she and Greg, her “baby daddy” she so fondly refers to him, came into town. We went to Benihana for dinner and then to The Saloon in Mt. Lebanon for a few cocktails. We didn’t stay out and party the night away like we may have back in our younger years, but we had a really good time. The next morning, I let her sleep in since she never does, and I went to get my hair cut. Now, normally, it isn’t suggested to get a hair cut the day before or even few days before any big day, but my stylist is awesome and knows my hair pretty well now.

We headed out about 11:00am and found the weather to be less than ideal. It was cold, windy and gloomy. The gloominess was perfect for photos, but the wind was not. We didn’t let the weather ruin our day though. We started in the Strip District where we parked the car and just started walking. I know Jen knows what she is doing so I said, “When you see something, just yell stop!” And she did. She found so many unique back drops that I NEVER would have picked out. She really has some talent.

I had the brilliant idea to go to Primanti Bros. for lunch. But after seeing the line out the door and around the corner, we quickly changed our minds and headed to Station Square. We had lunch at Houlihan’s and of course, out of the corner of her eye, Jen spotted good lighting at the bar so we took a few there as well. While Joey and I went to the parking garage to do a costume change, she went in search of some places for photos along the river. She found plenty of options and our photo shoot continued.

As usual, Jen posted a few “teasers” on Facebook. The anticipation for the rest was unbearable!! But only 2 days later (and I am sure it was only this long because Mother’s Day was Sunday), she had created a collage of photos and video recorded during the session in a short clip available for your viewing pleasure here. If you can’t view this for some reason, I have posted the ones she chose as teasers here.

We will be having a photo session later in the summer with our wedding photographer Erica Hilliard. I am really looking forward to getting some more photos with her. I mean, who doesn’t like being the center of attention???