Operation: Dream Wedding is in full effect! The Willow Room has teamed up with McMillen Photography, Lethal DJ Services, Bettis Floral Event Design, and Bethel Bakery to make one military couple’s wedding dreams come true with a FREE all-inclusive wedding package!
To enter, make a five-minute video telling us all about your love story, and you could win an all-inclusive wedding package for Saturday, October 29, 2016 at The Willow Room in Belle Vernon, PA! For full contest rules, package details, and to submit your entry form/video, please visit: www.operationdreamwedding.com.
We are in the peak of engagement season, so if you recently entered the newly-engaged club or are thinking it might just be around the corner, congratulations! Check out our top 16 things to do once you’re engaged:
- First thing – pop the champagne and celebrate!
Guys – you just ENGAGED! Before you do anything at all, take the day/night to celebrate this seriously joyous moment. If you have family or friends who were in on the proposal, be sure to thank everyone for sharing in your big moment and soak up the moment!
- Call your friends and family
In the digital age in which we live, it is just about the most natural thing to want to share your joy online in 140 characters or less. Fight the temptation, though, and take the time to actually call (yes, you read that right!) your friends and family first. Not only is it proper etiquette and polite, but they’ll appreciate being in the know before your social media acquaintances!
- Get your ring sized and insured
If your fiancé already picked out the perfect sparkler, then head out ASAP to get it sized properly and insured. You’ll be showing that bad boy off quite a bit from now on, so make sure it fits securely. To get your ring insured, simply call your broker to add it your already existing home or renter’s insurance policy. You may need an official appraisal or complete other paperwork, but your broker can guide you on the process.
- Daydream with your fiancé
Set aside some one-on-one time with your partner to just daydream – what colors do you love? What ambiance do you envision? What are some of your favorite foods? What sort of feeling do you want your guests to have on your wedding day? Don’t make any plans yet – just give yourselves permission to dream big and talk!
- Set a budget (and create a savings account)
Weddings can be very expensive, so it’s important to establish your budget before any serious planning takes place. Make sure to include both families in the discussion if they will be helping to pay and ensure that everyone is comfortable with the decisions. If you and your fiancé are paying for even a portion of the wedding, considering setting up a wedding savings account and depositing a portion of your paychecks every payday. You’ll be surprised how it will add up, and it will help save you from reaching for the plastic! Just make sure to use it for wedding-related items only.
- Get organized
Once your budget is squared away, it’s time to start the real planning! Figure out a way to get organized, though, first. Use spreadsheets to track appointments, keep a binder of tangible items like swatches and clippings. Also, get that wedding Pinterest board made if you haven’t done so already! If you decide you want to hire a wedding planner, start sending out inquiries and choose a person who you can see yourselves working well with throughout the entire process. You and your fiancé can decide how best to keep yourselves organized, but make sure you have a plan in place.
- Assemble the perfect wedding party
You and you fiancé will have to decide on how you’d like to structure your wedding party. Is it limited to brothers and sisters, or will you include other relatives and friends? Do you want a large or small party? Flower girls and ring bearers? Just know that your wedding party is your choice – don’t feel that you must include your best friends from high school who you hardly speak to anymore if you don’t want to! If you’re looking for a unique, cute way to ask the members of your wedding party to stand by your side, a quick Pinterest search will yield a plethora of ideas!
- Take a stab at an initial guest list
You don’t have to set it down in detail quite yet, but you’ll need to have to at least have a rough headcount in order to seriously start considering venue sites. Every venue site has a maximum capacity, and most will have minimums that you must meet in order to book your date, too.
- Set a date and lock down your ceremony/reception venues
Whether you are planning to get married in peak season, in just a few months, or even if you are planning your wedding for a year down the road, it’s important to set a date and investigate your venue choices. Why should you lock down your venue first? To ensure you secure your date, and also because some venues (like The Willow Room) offer all-inclusive packages that might help you take care of other details such as catering, florist, DJ, lighting, and much more! Even if you aren’t looking for an all-inclusive package, your venues are the foundation for the rest of your planning. That all being said, it is perfectly okay to take your time deciding on when and where you’d like to get married! Don’t feel like you have to rush, and don’t let anyone else try to rush you into deciding either.
- Reach out to vendors you’d like to work with
Once your date and venues are set, now it’s time to add in all of the really fun details! Contact the vendors who you’d like to work with and let them know the date of your wedding and where you will be having your ceremony and reception.
- Start trying on those dresses!
Although it might seem a little bit odd, it’s important to have your venue planned before going wedding dress shopping. Your choice of dress will most likely depend upon the backdrop for your ceremony and reception – are you going ultra elegant, or more rustic casual? Again, feel free to take your time searching! They say you know it when you see it on, but don’t be afraid to take a dress on and off multiple times before deciding. Your dress is going to be in all of your photographs and videos for the rest of your life, so be choosy, enlist your bridesmaids for opinions, and try on and on and on!
- Create a wedding website or blog
A wedding website is an essential tool for you and your guests, especially if you’re having a reception with a lot of out-of-town guests. Include some of the items that make your relationship special – include a “how we met” page, photos of your proposal, your engagement portraits, etc. Make sure to include information and advice on the specifics of your big day, such as: wedding details, hotels, maps, and local sightseeing.
- Create a registry
This step may very well happen earlier on in your planning process depending on if you’re having an engagement party and/or if you’re being bugged about what people should buy for you. If you and your fiancé are already established and don’t want or need to create a traditional registry, consider setting up a savings account for something like a down payment on your future home or honeymoon that guests can donate to. Include the details in your invitation and on your wedding website!
- Plan your honeymoon
No one says that you must take a honeymoon after you’re married, but if you and your partner want to take one immediately after your wedding or at some point thereafter, discuss where you’d like to go, when, and for how long. Again, it’s important to set up a budget and come up with a savings plan, and be sure to check out multiple sites for deals, or consult a travel agent for packages and savings.
We’re going to level with you – wedding planning is stressful stuff, and there will be things that go wrong and things that will stress you out along the way. If you start to feel completely overwhelmed, give yourself a break by grabbing a latte, getting a manicure, leaning on the people in your bridal party for support, or all of the above!
- Set up a weekly date night with your fiancé
You’re getting married to the person you love and want to spend the rest of your life with. Make sure to set aside time every week to just be together without talking about wedding planning; simply enjoy each other’s company and delight in being in love!
Looking for an affordable yet elegant way to bring a touch of the outdoors inside for your winter wedding? Look no further than the pinecone! These little guys can be used to help you spruce (pun absolutely intended) up everything from your tables and chairs to your bouquets and even your cake! Take a look below at seven of our favorite ideas:
These fire starter pinecones are a cute and memorable way to say “thanks” to the people who came to celebrate you on your big day. And, you can easily make them yourself with this handy tutorial or buy them.
Bouquet and Boutonnière
Looking for a truly unique option for your bouquet and/or boutonnières? A mix of pinecones and delicate frosted stems or succulents are a beautiful choice for your winter wedding. We recommend something a little softer for the bouquet toss, though!
Cake and Cake Topper
Pinecones make for an excellent minimalist cake decorations and toppers. Consider adding doll accessories to your pinecone cake toppers for a new take on the traditional bride and groom!
Using pinecones as holders for table assignments is not necessarily a new idea, but you can make it uniquely yours with a few simple touches. Consider adding a glittery silver tablecloth underneath, or add holly and sleigh bells to the table to give it extra pop!
A ring shot is a must-have for any wedding photo album, and pinecones make are a natural holder for you and your spouse’s rings!
Flowers are a timeless way to dress up the seating at your ceremony site, but for your winter wedding, swap out the flowers for wreaths, and dress them up with pinecone accents and tartan ribbons.
Kissing balls can be used in so many ways from bouquets for the bridesmaids to decorations at the reception. Plus, they are another great DIY option that’s easy on your budget!
- Saying “No” To Unexpected Plus-Ones
The best way to deal with this problem is head-on: pick up the phone and call the person. Be direct but polite with your explanation, whether it’s an issue with having a structured guest list or capacity limits at your venue, just be straightforward. If you’re worried about hurt feelings, say that you and your partner would love to meet up with the person and his/her significant other after the wedding.
- Inviting Your Ex
The honest truth is that inviting an ex to your wedding (even if you share a child) is usually a bad idea, but this is a situation where it is truly unique to the people involved. Answer a few questions: is your future spouse okay with you inviting your ex? Will your ex get along with you, your family/friends, and your future spouse at the wedding? Will your family/friends be comfortable with your ex being at the wedding? If you answered “yes” to all of the above questions, then you’re probably in the clear, but make absolutely certain that the chance for any sort of altercation is nixed before doing so.
- Seating Divorced Parents At The Ceremony
Hopefully, your parents (or your partner’s parents) divorced amicably and they will be happy to sit together and share in your big day. If that’s not the case, though, etiquette says that the father and his close family sit behind his ex-wife and her family at the ceremony. If your relationship is estranged with any stepparents, they may want to sit a few rows back out of respect. Keep in mind, though, that it’s your wedding ceremony – you are more than entitled to seat people however you feel is best!
- Including Exes And “Frenemies” In The Bridal Party
Your wedding party is going to be your support system from start to finish for your wedding, and you will all have to intermingle at certain points. As such, you’re going to want people who can generally get along and that you can lean on when times get tough. If that group of people includes friends and family who have butted heads in the past, though, you’ll need to address the issue from the very start. When you ask the people who don’t get along to be in your bridal party, make sure you tell them that they’ll be doing so with individuals with whom they don’t always see eye-to-eye. Explain that you’ll understand if they don’t feel comfortable being in your bridal party under the circumstances. Hopefully maturity wins the day and everyone can set their differences aside for you and your significant other, but if they decline your invitation, consider it a bullet dodged!
- Dealing With The Raging Family Feud
As with many “people” issues related to wedding planning, it’s best to address this one directly with the individuals involved. Explain to them how important your wedding day is and how you would love everyone to be there to celebrate with you, but you need them to agree to be cordial and behave with everyone attending. Make sure they understand the consequences ahead of time for causing any sort of scene: they will be asked to leave, no questions asked. If they can’t promise you that they will set their differences aside, try proposing only coming to the ceremony and avoiding the reception. If that still doesn’t work, then do not invite them. You definitely do not want your wedding to be remembered for an epic family showdown!
- Disagreeing With The Future In-Laws
Whether or not they are helping to pay for the wedding, when disagreements creep up with your future in-laws, try to keep in mind this old saying: you catch more flies with honey than vinegar. When you approach your future in-laws with any disagreements on the wedding planning, do so with respect and gratitude for their contributions and feedback and try to find a compromise. If there’s no getting to an agreeable solution between you, then have your partner try talking to them.
- Deciding Who Makes It Into The Bridal Party
So, your fiancé has 7 sisters. How do you decide who makes it into the bridal party? First, consider this potentially hard truth: you are about to marry into your spouse’s family for life, and friends will probably come and go. If you’re sacrificing family members in your wedding party so that your best friends from high school who you hardly speak to now can be in the bridal party, you might want to reconsider. That being said, if you have size constraints for your bridal party, you may simply have no choice but to pare down. The most important thing to remember is to be considerate and explain the situation and why you’re making the decision. Consider giving them other important roles in the ceremony, such as the readings. However, make sure anyone who isn’t included in the bridal party is still invited to participate in other areas, such as the bachelor/bachelorette parties.
- Asking for Cash On Your Registry
While Great Aunt Mildred might tell you different, there is absolutely no reason to have a traditional registry if you don’t want or need one! If you’re asking for cash, services like PayPal can help you create a “digital registry” of sorts where your guests can send you money electronically, usually through a phone number or email address, for a small fee or no fee at all. Name the account accordingly for what you’re planning to use the cash on: Our First Home, Honeymoon Fund, etc. Then, include the link and any other applicable information on your wedding website for guests to easily find.
- Fixing Problems With Your Vendors
The chances of you having a rift or problem (hopefully all minor!) with at least one of your wedding vendors is likely. First, find out what exactly is making you upset – is someone not listening to your feedback? Is the person not returning your phone calls as quickly as you’d like? Did the seating arrangement change unexpectedly? Remember that your vendors are usually focused on multiple events at once, so it very well could all be a misunderstanding. Keep a cool head and explain clearly what you have a problem with and why, then work together to come up with a plan and communication strategy to keep you both on the same page moving forward.
- Having an Adults-Only Wedding
Make it clear from the get-go who is invited by addressing the invitations to exactly who is invited, as in Mr. and Mrs. Smith and not The Smith Family. Most etiquette sources today agree that it’s better to avoid putting “Adults Only” on your invitation. A more tactful approach would be to include the information on your wedding website with babysitting recommendations while also having family members and bridal party members spread the word, if necessary. If someone directly questions you on why they can’t bring their children, simply explain that it’s for budgetary purposes. Absolutely DO NOT back down and have an “adults mostly” reception by allowing certain people to bring children – this will almost certainly not end well for you! However, you are still fine to have as many flower girls, ring bearers, and junior wedding party members as you wish. Just make sure to come up with a plan for them at the reception, whether it’s having a babysitter present or other entertainment scheduled to keep the younger bridal party members occupied.
Everyone loves a good summer wedding with the warm weather, long nights, and bright sunshiny days, but there is something seriously cool (pun intended) about the magic of a wintertime wedding! We asked real Pittsburgh-area newlyweds why they decided to have winter weddings, and here are their top 10 reasons why they recommend a winter wedding:
- Picture Perfect
We have two words for you: winter wonderland. If you’ve never seen pictures from a winter wedding blessed with delicately falling snow, we recommend you pause in your reading to do a Google image search right now to see what you’ve been missing! While no one can guarantee snow (especially for a Pennsylvania wedding!), the possibility of having photos of a snow-kissed scene while you and your spouse share a kiss make it worth it!
- Lower Costs and Better Availability
Wintertime weddings tend to have an advantage of cost savings over peak periods like summer. Depending on the date and day of the week you choose, you could end up receiving significant discounts as well as better availability for your favorite photographer, venue, DJ/band, and much more. Plus, you could take advantage of the huge savings during the holiday months to purchase your rings, décor, and accessories for the big day.
- Holiday – Celebrate!
If you and your spouse-to-be have family and friends living outside of the area where you plan to be married, having a winter wedding around the holidays could be the perfect opportunity to include guests in your wedding who might otherwise not be able to make it. Although the holidays are usually “the most wonderful time of the year,” you can make it even more special and personal by choosing to be married on a holiday itself!
- Built-In Décor
Whether you’re watching your budget or simply in love with the festiveness that comes with the holiday season, choosing a winter wedding means beautifully built-in décor everywhere from churches to reception sites to even city streets and squares!
Sweetly scented garland, pops of bright holly, flickering candles, tinkling sleigh bells – winter weddings outright boast of romance! Plus, the chilly weather means extra snuggling for both newlyweds and guests. 😉
- Color Palette and Fashion
The colors of the season – deep blues with bright silver, or rich combinations of red, gold, and green – give winter weddings a stunning sophistication. In turn, long, flowing cloaks and capes with furry accents will keep you warm while also providing a distinct elegance. You could also choose to get funky with your accessories – consider wearing white winter boots and carrying an umbrella if it’s snowing!
- Earlier Evenings
Having the evenings setting in earlier can be a bit of a drag, but having the sun set earlier on your wedding day can add romance to your ceremony, reception, and your photos. Plus, an early evening means more time for you and your guests to dance and celebrate the night away!
- Be Different!
We all know that summertime means wedding time – you and a lot of your guests will travel from wedding to wedding, week to week all summer long. A winter wedding could mean higher guest attendance since you won’t be competing with as many weddings, and it could be a welcome break for your guests! And while there is traditional winter wedding décor and color palettes, don’t be afraid to incorporate bright colors and vibrant patterns into your wedding day if you long for a break from tradition.
- Comfort Food and Drinks
Each season brings its own seasonal food and drinks, and wintertime means deliciously filling comfort food and warm drinks that give you a hug from the inside. The Willow Room offers gourmet menus as well as coffee bars and other fun stations, so we can work with you to get a wintertime menu you and your guests will love!
While having a winter wedding can be spectacularly beautiful with snow and ice, going on a tropical honeymoon and coming back with a tan can make your winter wedding experience that much better! If the tropics aren’t quite what you had in mind, though, consider going on your honeymoon over a holiday break from school and work in order to get the most out of your travel time.
Are you officially dreaming of your own white winter wedding?! Visit The Willow Room online at www.thewillowroom.com to view photos, floor plans, and more, and contact The Willow Room at (724) 379-5666 to schedule a tour, discuss availability, and start your journey to the perfect winter wedding!
Why Choose a Friday Wedding?
- Discounts for Non-Saturday Weddings – Do you have your heart set on having your dream wedding, but you and your fiancé are watching your wallets? A Friday wedding is the perfect opportunity to get significant discounts on vendors ranging from venues to photographers and everything in between.
- Wider Range of Availability – Not only will you be able to take advantage of serious money-saving discounts, but you will also have a greater choice of dates and availability from the vendors you really want to book (especially during peak times) by choosing a Friday date.
- Weekend Kickoff – A Friday wedding is a fantastic kickoff to the weekend for you and your guests, and you will all still have your full weekends available. You could also consider keeping the wedding fun going with a post-wedding brunch, local sightseeing, or other activities!
- Surge in Popularity – The Friday wedding trend has been steadily growing in popularity over the past few years, so most of your guests are familiar with the new tradition and many have probably attended a Friday wedding already. Give your guests plenty of notice and your guest list shouldn’t take a huge hit.
What Are Some Issues With Having a Friday Wedding?
- Wedding Party Hustle – With having a Friday wedding, this usually means a rehearsal needs to take place on Thursday, which may be difficult for members of your bridal party depending on where they live and work. If you find that a Thursday rehearsal would cause too many problems for you and your bridal party, consider having it another day or skip it altogether. If you are eschewing the tradition of not seeing your future spouse prior to your nuptials, you could also schedule a quick rehearsal on Friday prior to the ceremony. Last but certainly not least, don’t forget to consider elements like traffic when scheduling a Friday wedding. Double check with everyone in your bridal party to ensure that they will arrive with plenty of time prior to the start of your ceremony.
- Guest Struggles – If you have guests coming in from out of town or you are planning to get married earlier in the day on Friday, some of your guests may not be able to attend or will be late due to work or other constraints. To combat this, send out save-the-dates and/or invitations with as much advance as possible to allow for your guests to make arrangements.
Just remember: your wedding is your wedding. Of course you want your guests to be happy and have a wonderful time, but if you and your future spouse have strong feelings about having a Friday wedding for any reason at all, go with what you want. The guests who are able to attend will be thrilled to celebrate with you, and you’ll have a night to remember with a few extra dollars in your pockets!
Planning a wedding is an amazing time in your life, but it can also be overwhelming. There are so many little details to think about and you still have to go about your daily routine.
Here are five tips to get you started:
- Enlist the help of your bridal party and/or friends and family members. You could ask each bridesmaid to help you research one aspect of the wedding: venues, flowers, DJs, photographers. It gives them a chance to be a part of the planning and helps you by seeing all their research, coupled with your own.
- Use an app. Ones like Pinterest can you get you started thinking about themes, colors, inspiration, everything! You can even add people to your boards so that your bridal party or friends and family can pin things that they think might be of interest to you.
- Visit wedding websites. There are a ton! The Knot, Wedding Wire, MyWed, the list goes on and on. Use these sites to help you research vendors, read reviews from other couples, schedule appointments or request information. Information is right at our fingertips.
- Talk to those who have been married recently or work in the industry. Have a friend that works in a flower shop or know someone from work that recently got married? Ask about their experiences and opinions. Sometimes you have no idea what people you see every single day can tell you about vendors, locations, favors, etc.
- Try to de-stress. We know this is tough. But try setting aside dedicated time to work on planning, so you can focus the rest of your time on other things you love doing. Date nights, visits with family, etc. Try not to have wedding on the mind all the time.
We wish you happy and fun planning!!!
The wedding industry has no qualms about making a big to-do about the dress. And while it certainly can be a centerpiece to the entire wedding, there is something to be said for a sharp-dressed groom. Gone are the days when it’s as simple as a tux. Grooms and their groomsmen’s style now ranges from ultra casual to classic black. Here are a few ways to break from tradition and give your wedding day look a personal touch.
Since black-tie isn’t for everyone, many grooms are now choosing to go with a cotton or linen suit and opt for simple white shirts or a pattern that can be dressed up, like gingham.
If it’s a more timeless look you’re after, you can’t go wrong with a matching tie and pocket square. These can coordinate well with bridesmaids’ attire, too!
One way to tie in some personal flair is through cufflinks. Sometimes just a peek of fun is all it takes to set your style apart – these make great groomsmen gifts, too!
And don’t forget about those kicks! Another great gift (and a more comfortable way to spend the day!) is by swapping out dress shoes for sneakers or boat shoes.
What special touches did the grooms in your life choose?
If you just love a great proposal story, you must check out HowHeAsked which shares some of the sweetest proposal stories we’ve ever heard.
We thought we would share just a few of our favorites from the site:
Rachel and Patrick – New York City!
Chase and Brit – Outdoors!
Aroha and Wynne – Video Included!
Rob and Danielle – In Paris!
We also found some more awesome stories on this Bridal Guide site. There are 48 truly spectacular stories to read here. Each one is so special. We can’t stop reading!
Do you have a fantastic proposal story? We would love to hear it!