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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.

Friday Finds 12.30.11 – The last one of 2011!!

December 30th, 2011

I thought this would be a good way to wrap up 2011, since so many people have gotten engaged over the holidays. I can tell. It’s been busy!

If you are wondering how much it will cost you to get married, here is a cute little chart to explain:


2012 Resolutions

December 28th, 2011

Well, I hope all of you had a wonderful holiday! I know I did. Busy, busy! Traveling to spend time with family is always burdensome, but once we arrive at our destination I am always glad we did.

I recently revisited my 2011 resolutions and found that all in all, I did pretty well. If you didn’t read it, you can here. It’s time to start thinking about 2012 and what I can do to better my life in the upcoming year.

2011 has been a great year. I’ve had so many changes and have become an even better person than I was the year before. At least I think so! I like to break out my resolutions in three different categories – health, personal, and business/career. I do this because I don’t want to skimp in any area. This encompasses my entire life and I do try to keep my career and personal life separate so that I can enjoy both fully while I am doing them. And what red-blooded American woman doesn’t have “Lose 10 lbs” on their resolution list? Well, technically, I don’t have that. But 10 would be nice!


This was the one area in which I didn’t complete all my goals from last year, specifically the races, so by default they will be added to this years. It’s not like I can’t do it, I was just too lazy to actually register for the runs. I was running a 5k every other day either on my treadmill at home or with my dog in the park. It just wasn’t an actual race. So…

1. I resolve to Run the Race for the Cure – This is actually a little closer to my heart because my aunt had a little scare earlier this year. While she has been lucky so far, breast cancer does actually run in my family. So with that said, I have actually already logged onto the website and registered myself. If you would like to donate to my fundraising goals, you can check out my personal page here. I have set my goal at $250, but I am hoping to far surpass that. If you would like to join me in the run, you can register yourself here. I would love a training/running buddy!

2. I resolve to Run a 10k – I have decided to run the City of Pittsburgh Great Race 10k in September. Registration opens January 1st, so as soon as that is available I will do that and be done. Then all I have to do is train. Again, training/running buddies are welcome!

3. I resolve to complete P90X – Yes. I am subjecting myself to this torture. Ha! I am actually joining a fitness challenge with a group of friends who are all doing this starting January 9th. Each day we will text/call/email each other to make sure we are following through. My dream is to feel comfortable in a bathing suit in public. So I guess I have to start somewhere!


I really think my resolution for last year was a success in this category. I really want to expand on that this year. It was so hard to measure if I completed this one because I am the only one who can say whether or not I did it. I think that this year, I need to be able to measure whether or not I’ve accomplished my goal.

4. With that said, I resolve to set aside at least one night per month to have a girls night- whether it be going to a movie and dinner or out on the town. I love my hubby dearly, but QT with my girlfriends cannot be replaced. I hope to do it more often, but I have to start somewhere.

5. As cheesy as it is, I resolve to spend more QT with my handsome husband. Not in the form of “date night” per se, but just by cooking him a nice dinner (or him cooking me dinner!) and watching a movie together at home. After all, we do have two kids (fur babies, I’m not hiding anything from y’all!) and they need love and attention too.


As you all know, the past year has been crazy and quite a few unexpected changes happened. All of them for the better. I am a happier person. I actually LOVE my job. Not many people can say that. Now that I have been working at the Mansion for almost 4 months, I have learned many of the ins and outs of my position. I still have a lot to learn, but it is so nice to be able to function in my new job without being completely dependent on someone else.

6. In order to better myself and learn more, I resolve to attend more seminars/webinars/conferences. I plan on reading books that will help me learn more about marketing, social networking, customer service, whatever. Hell, I might even take a class this year. So with this resolution, I plan on becoming a better event coordinator by learning as much as physically possible.

Six things. That’s it. Six. One of which I have already started on by registering for the Race for the Cure. I hope you have made some great resolutions. If you want to share, feel free! I will help you follow through!



Tuesday Shoesday, Edition 26

December 27th, 2011

It’s after the holidays, which means one thing. You are broke from buying gifts for everyone. The problem is that New Years’ Eve is in just a few days. At this point, you may just not care if you add one more thing to your credit card. But if you do, here is an awesome way to dress up a pair of heels you already have for your hot date out on NYE.

I found this on the HonestlyWTF blog. You can DIY a pair of heels to make them spectacular! Follow the instructions here to really make them your own.



Best of Nicki Ann 2011

December 26th, 2011

I think this was a pretty good one too :)

Well ladies and gents, I have exciting news. Some of you may know already, but some of you don’t. I have accepted a position with the Mansion at Maple Heights as the Wedding and Events General Manager. Those of you who know me personally know this is a dream job for me. And you may also know that my day job was not quite my cup of tea. I love the lovey-dovey, gooey-ness of weddings and now I get to do what I love everyday.

So you may wonder what effect that has on Nicki Ann Events… Well for those of you who hold contracts with me, it doesn’t mean a darn thing. I am still here and going to uphold those contracts. I will be there every step of the way and will help you to plan your event perfectly down to the very last dance of your big day. For those of you who have not booked Nicki Ann Events, you will have to hold on for a bit.

While I have put a lot of energy into building my own business in the last year, it has not grown enough to support me or my family. Don’t get me wrong. I knew it wouldn’t happen overnight. So I was waking up and dragging myself out of bed every morning to go to a job that was just that. A job. It paid the bills. I worked with such wonderful people and thank goodness for them because there is no way I could have lasted 5 years there without them. Three of my co-workers even ended up being my bridesmaids and best friends. I am so excited to wake up in the morning and actually want to go to work. I know that when the time comes and I have gotten and given all I can from the Mansion, I can move on to my own thing. And the best part is that the rest of the staff at the Mansion believes the same thing.

Now for the really exciting news! You will still be able to get your fill of Tuesday Shoesday, Friday Finds, and the rest of the witty humor I bring to this blog. So rest assured I am not going anywhere… except to a new web address. You’ll be able to follow the adventures of Nicki Ann more frequently too since it will actually be part of my job. The address to be announced. But for now, I’d like to leave you with a little something to make you jealous and hopefully make you reach for your dreams like I did mine.

My “office” :)


Friday Finds 12.23.11

December 23rd, 2011

I found these super cute invites and thought they would be perfect for my photographer friends (hint, hint Jen!!). I came across these while Stumbling. If you aren’t familiar with Stumble Upon, you need to be. Or maybe you shouldn’t. Depends on how addicting you find it. Anywho…

I would just love to receive one of these adorable little invites in the mail. Two photographers from Ambient Studios in Toronto created these as their wedding invites. And I must say what a perfect way to share your love with the world!



Best of Nicki Ann 2011

December 21st, 2011

The next post featured is going to be my very first Tuesday Shoesday ever written on July 5th.

I noticed a trend. My Friday Finds were ending up to be mostly shoes. Not that they aren’t great finds too. But you deserve more. So here’s my newest edition to the blog. There won’t be many words, but sometimes you don’t need them.

Guiseppe Zanotti, I’d send you flowers any day.



Tuesday Shoesday, Edition 25

December 20th, 2011

Oh Tabitha Simmons… you bestill my heart and bejewel my foot…

I LOVE these heels. I honestly am speechless and for those of you who know me know that is nearly impossible.


Vendor Spotlight: ShoFilms

December 19th, 2011

Next up on our vendor spotlight is ShoFilms. They are absolutely spectacular at what they do. I mean, I cannot even express how awesome they are. I had a chance to dig down into their creative minds to find out what makes ShoFilms tick. Here’s what they had to say!

NA: Tell me about ShoFilms.

SF: ShoFilms got its start in Pittsburgh when a few wedding photographers wanted to do more to share couples’ stories! ShoFilms is comprised of 3 people (Paul, Justin, and Mindi) with diverse backgrounds in photography, video production, graphic design, audio, the arts, and business spanning 10+ years of experience. It only made sense for us to join creative forces and offer couples compelling stories of their days and not just a stagnant camera sleepily recording every last second from the very same angle for hours on end.

It began with lots of conversations full of big ideas, capturing our first wedding film, and word of mouth spreading quickly.  We soon had a handful of weddings booked thanks to our first and only film.  It took us a while to come up with our name… probably longer than any of our films have taken to create!  ShoFilms is simply the first initials of our last names.  Lucky for us, they spell “show” (just without the W!).  We sifted through different terms for “cinema”, but “films” seemed to fit us the best. ShoFilms was the perfect name for us and our studio.  The studio is located in South Park, PA where it was an office space remodeled into a modern and inviting space for us to both work and host newlyweds with their families and friends to view their special HD film on our 10 foot screen.

NA: Why is cinematography better than your regular old videography?

SF: Cinematography is better than regular old video because, well, it looks like a movie! It tells a story of the couple’s day in a cinematic, artful, and thoughtful way.  We have our couples stop in and get to know us, and we film a private interview with both the bride and the groom.  We hear their story from both sides before we even begin.  We incorporate this getting to know the couples into our films, and it really provides an emotional connection in the film.  Even to people who don’t know the couple! The look of our films also has a lot to do with our equipment and knowledge of how to use it.  We use small noninvasive digital SLR cameras along with sliders, steadicams, and the same tools as Hollywood filmmakers.

NA: How long in advance should brides book your services?

SF: Brides should book our services as soon as they begin considering all of their other vendors. Six to twelve months is best and preferred, but we’ve been known to swing a gorgeous film within as little as a month’s notice.

NA: Where do you get your inspiration from?

SF: Everything! Especially our couples!  Every story needs character, setting and a plot.  After hearing their story, how they met, and what their future holds…we have all the inspiration we need.   We are also constantly watching films and browsing websites like vimeo and flickr to keep up to date on trends and beautiful work in general.

NA: How long does it take to go from shooting the video to the finished

SF: It takes us about 4-8 weeks to have a completed film, shot, edited, and burned onto a disc ready for our couples to enjoy.

NA: What goes into creating the finished product on the bride and groom’s side of things?

SF: All the couples have to do is go about their day, enjoy themselves, and we do the rest! Although if they chose venues with great lighting with us in mind (like the Mansion!), that wouldn’t hurt!

NA: What else do brides need to know about ShoFilms?

SF: We are storytellers at heart!  Our approach is a little different. We don’t strictly document your wedding.  We want to tell your story.  We’d like anyone watching your video to feel like they were there… feel what you guys felt.. cry with you.. laugh with you!

If you really want to get an idea of what ShoFilms does, it’s best to let the work speak for itself. Check out the video from their 11.11.11 wedding!

Bree + DJ from ShoFilms on Vimeo.



Friday Finds 12.16.11

December 16th, 2011

I came across this site because of Dress Rush, who I posted about here. I got a $25 gift card for List Charming. What is List Charming? Well, it is a gift registry site where you can register for just about anything! You can add items from all over the internet or anything you can dream up! From sofas and TVs to cotton candy machines and puppies. If you want it, you can register for it. I love this idea, especially since my husband and I had already established our home prior to getting engaged or married.

Since I am already married, I really don’t need the gift card. And since it is the holiday season, I am feeling especially giving. So guess what? I’m giving the gift card away! Just leave a comment on this page with the item you can’t live without on your registry and I will randomly draw someone! And don’t forget, if you are already married, be nice and pass it along to your engaged friends! I’ll draw on Dec. 23rd, so get to commenting!


Best of Nicki Ann: 2011

December 15th, 2011

Of course, one of my favorites is going to feature one of my besties… I love her and I trust that you will too if you check out her work for yourself. Amazing!

I have known Jen McKen for over 17 years. I knew her before she was Jen McKen. I called her Jennifer, Jenny, and Popeye among many others. But most of all I called her my best friend. And I still do. Her mom was “Mama Kenrick” for Pete’s sake. We spent every waking moment together from the time we were in 6th grade until graduation. Even when we decided to go to different colleges, our friendship never faltered. So needless to say, I know her pretty well.

Because I do know her so well, I know it would be a shame if you didn’t. I asked her a few questions that I thought would help you get to know her and her photography style a little better. Let’s see what she had to say:

NAE: Tell me about your ideal client.
JMP: This may sound cheesy but….an optimist. I see a pessimist and I go running in the opposite direction. Life is too short to be negative. I like to surround myself with like-minded people, both in my personal and professional life. When I’m around an optimist, my work glows. I love clients who aren’t afraid to think outside the box, who are successful in their own right and who aren’t afraid to laugh at themselves—or at me! LOL

NAE: How long have you been at this and how did you get your start?
JMP: I’ve been doing the “photography gig” since my sophomore year in college. I started working at the school newspaper with NO experience other than I wanted to take awesome photos. My junior year, I traveled to Costa Rica as part of a college summer class and collected life style photographs to start building a portfolio. Soon after I returned I saw an ad in the local newspaper that they were seeking a photographer. I applied with my portfolio in hand and got the job. Now when I look back, I was horrible (hey everyone has to start somewhere!! Haha) I was able to hone my craft while working there for 6 or so years. I decided to quit the paper job when my business and family began to grow.

NAE: Besides weddings and engagements, what other services do you offer?
JMP: I specialize in PEOPLE! Preferably happy people!! LOL I love shooting families and senior portraits on location HOWEVER….I just finished a small-scale boudoir, maternity and newborn studio. This will serve as my space for meeting with wedding/engagement clients but a shooting space for those shoots that require a bit more privacy like boudoir…bow chica wow wow!!

NAE: What advice do you have for the bride and groom in preparation for photos on their big day?
JMP: Meet with your vendors IN PERSON if possible. Not only do you get a sense of their personalities but you can also get a clear understanding of what you can expect for your final product. Pick a photographer that compliments your style, personality, and overall look you’re going for. If you don’t like the images you see on their website, you won’t like the final product or images. Just like each wedding planner, DJ, cater is different-so are photographers. We all have our own style…just because they have a business doesn’t mean they are the right vendor for you.

NAE: What is your favorite moment during a wedding?
JMP: There are soo many! My personal favorite moment is when the father and daughter see each other for the first time, or the moment before the doors open at the back of the church and the anticipation and excitement between a father and daughter. No matter how grown up, successful or independent a woman is, she turns into “daddy’s little girl” again for a brief while. It tears me up every time!

NAE: What is your advice for choosing a wedding photographer?
JMP: Brides, you will be with your photographer longer on your wedding day than the man you’re about to marry. Make sure you “LIKE” your photographer. Hire someone you could see yourself be friends with outside of the “wedding world”. The day goes so much smoother and your photos are so much more personal when you have a photographer that you enjoy being around. Long gone are the days of a grumpy, pushy photographer…….and consider doing a first look. I talk in-depth about it here.

NAE: How do you break the ice and get your clients to relax?
JMP: We laugh and we talk-just like old friends. People typically love to talk about themselves-especially their engagement story. While they are spilling the beans and laughing at each other’s version of the story, I’m getting my shots! Before long, having a camera there is “no big deal”.

NAE: I had a tough time figuring out what to wear for my engagement sessions. What suggestions do you have on this?
JMP: The safest thing: BE YOURSELF!! Often times I see people going out and buying all the trendiest outfits, etc and trust me they look fabulous…..but if you think about it…REALLY think about it, if that’s not how you really dress everyday-why fake it for the photos. On the other hand, if you want to “take it up a notch” there are great resources available such the gals from Wardrobe Wednesday . They do an amazing job at putting together inspiration boards from everything from kids, families, engagements session AND they list coupons for stores periodically. My only other advice is to try not to be “matchy matchy.”

NAE: Where can brides find you?
JMP: Holla at me, tell me a joke or just say hi!
About me: