The Willow Room Launches Operation: Dream Wedding

February 8, 2016 at 2:00 pm (Event Planning Tips, News and Events, Wedding Planning Tips)

ODW Logo

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:


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How to Solve the Most Awkward Wedding Situations

December 11, 2015 at 4:46 pm (Wedding Planning Tips)

How to Solve the Most Awkward Wedding Situations

  1. 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.

  1. 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.

  1. 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!

  1. 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!

  1. 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!

  1. 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.

  1. 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.

  1. 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.

  1. 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.

  1. 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.

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4 Reasons Friday Weddings are Better

November 20, 2015 at 12:19 pm (Wedding Planning Tips)

4 Reasons Friday Weddings are Better

Why Choose a Friday Wedding?

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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!
  4. 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?

  1. 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.
  2. 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!

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Picnic Theme Wedding Inspiration!

July 10, 2015 at 5:09 pm (Wedding Planning Tips) (, , , , , , , , , , )

One of the great things about getting married in this day and age is that when it comes to your reception, there is no right or wrong way to go about it. Case in point, a picnic theme. While wicker and gingham might not be the first things that come to mind, there are endless ways to bring the laid back vibes of a picnic into a wedding, no matter how casual or formal you’d like it to be. And – great news is, no need to worry about ants or rain clouds when your “picnic” is inside!


Brown kraft paper, simple doilies and the quintessential red gingham will leave no doubt in guests’ minds what to expect on your big day.

Photo Found Here:

Photo Source Here

Cocktail Hour

Why not let your guests loosen up a bit between the ceremony and reception with some activities? Face painting will be a hit with both young and young-at-heart.

Photo Source: Photo Credit: Channing Johnson

Photo Source
Photo Credit: Channing Johnson 

No matter how distinct the cocktail menu is, fresh lemonade will always be a great idea to mix in.

Photo Source: Photo Credit: Megan Evans Photography

Photo Source
Photo Credit: Megan Evans Photography

Table Décor

Make it super simple for guests to grab and go with utensils wrapped in portable bags or tied together with string to keep the carefree theme going.

Photo Source

Photo Source

Wicker will no doubt be incorporated into the décor. Even something as subtle as a miniature basket will do the trick.

 Photo Source: etsy – item is no longer available and no shop listed though

Photo Source: Etsy – Item is no longer available and no shop listed.

Same goes for gingham. Go for small touches like napkins or a bold statement like a table runner.

Photo Source  Photo Credit: Rustic Wedding Chic


Picnic food is simple and comfort at its finest. Allow guests to mingle amongst stations or tables instead of a formal sit down meal. Or make it family style with dishes passed around. Either way, let guests know what’s for dinner with chalkboard menus.

Photo Source: Photo Credit:  Red Shoes Photography

Photo Source
Photo Credit: Red Shoes Photography 

And see them off with homemade or local jam topped with what else, string and gingham!

Are you throwing a picnic-themed wedding or event? Tell us about it!

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Gatsby Themed Wedding or Bridal Shower Ideas: Classic and Elegant!

April 2, 2015 at 1:44 pm (Wedding Planning Tips) (, , , , , , , , , )

The Roaring 20s may have been nearly a century ago, but the decade’s affinity to host a grand celebration isn’t likely to become a dying fad anytime soon. Overindulgence was more normal than rare for many – including the characters in F. Scott Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby. The book has become synonymous with the times. If you, too, are a fan, here are some ways to bring it to life on your wedding or shower day. Just a few will easily carry out a theme, but if you’re staying true to form, you may want to incorporate every one!

Pay homage to F. Scott Fitzgerald by displaying one of his many poetic quotes about love during your reception.

Photo Credit: Dixie Pixel

Photo Credit: Dixie Pixel

Or use it as a backdrop for a dessert table or makeshift photo booth.

Photo Found Here

Photo Found Here

Ostrich feathers were a standard of 1920s style. With their luxurious aesthetic, they can turn something as simple as a place card into an elegant talking point for your guests.

Found On Etsy

Found On Etsy

Use varying sizes to create a large centerpiece or add an element of flair to the tables.

Photo Found Here

Photo Found Here  Photographer: Fan Jiang

Dress the part! Adorn a classic 20s hairstyle – finger waves – with an ostrich fascinator.

Found On Etsy

Found On Etsy

No Prohibition laws here. Wow your guests with a champagne tower at the entrance to your reception. You may not be able to replicate the flow of bubbly, but your guests will certainly notice your nod to the times with these vintage coup glasses.

Photo Found Here

Photo Found Here

A string of pearls can dress your space just as well as it can you. Turn an ordinary piece like a candelabra or the bride and groom’s chairs into décor draped in class.

Photo Credit: EVENTful Moments

Photo Credit: EVENTful Moments

Photo Credit: EVENTful Moments

Photo Credit: EVENTful Moments

Leave your guests with a lasting impression of indulgence and glamour by sending them home with a slice of art deco wedding cake. The ultimate over-the-top send-off to ensure the sweetest (and most decadent) of dreams!

Photo Source: Gaby J Photography

Photo Credit: Gaby J Photography

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Update from Willow Writer Danielle: Food Selections!

March 30, 2015 at 12:57 pm (Wedding Planning Tips) (, , , , , , , , , )

This month has been quite eventful! We tasted the amazing food for the reception, and to say the least I was stuffed when we left! I personally like the idea of giving guests a choice between a beef and a white meat. We chose the Chicken Marsala (it was so flavorful and tender) and the Beef Tips (it literally fell apart it was so tasty!)

We started the meal off with Potato Leek soup, Wedding soup and the Wisconsin Beer, Bacon and Cheese soup! (All of them were amazing!) However, I wanted to think as one of our guests and what they would want so we chose the Wedding soup.

After, the delicious assortment of food tasting the Chef came out to meet us, and my husband-to-be commented how the cheese soup was the best he had ever had in his entire life, but that he got over ruled by me.

After we were almost finished with our meals, the Chef came out with two quarts of cheese soup and told David this was his wedding gift from the Chef and to enjoy! Well, after we got home and ate the entire two quarts of soup that evening we both decided that this was going to replace the Wedding soup option for our dinner menu!!

Our other sides are going to be the Potato Cups that reminds me of a twice baked potato and the Glazed Carrots with no nuts because David is deathly allergic!!!

I just really appreciated how The Willow Room went the extra step to make us both feel so special on that day and we got free soup! Can’t wait for what April has in store…….choosing invites, favors and more!!!

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All About Flowers: Wedding Ideas

March 18, 2015 at 5:56 pm (Wedding Planning Tips) (, , , , , , , , , , )

No doubt about it – flowers are quintessential to a wedding. Whether you’ve got a green thumb or you can’t keep a houseplant alive, the centerpiece and bouquet are not the only way to spread their beauty throughout your big day.

Adorn the pews or seating with sweet bunches of baby’s breath or wild flowers.

Create a romantic aisle with loose petals and candles.

Photo Found Here.

Photo Found Here.


If you like the idea of flowers, but find the scent to be overwhelming, try incorporating them into art and decoration. This works anywhere from the dessert table to signage.


Photo Credit: Greer G. Photography


Embrace your inner craft queen and try your hand at paper flowers.


Photo Credit:

Photo Credit: Lia Griffith

Photo Credit: Tara Dennis

Photo Credit: Tara Dennis 

Whether you prefer fondant or the real thing, flowers can add elegance or whimsy to your cake.

Photo Credit: SMS Photography

Photo Credit: SMS Photography


Photo Credit: Cotton and Crumbs

Photo Credit: Cotton and Crumbs

Send your guests home with an eco-friendly (and budget friendly!) reminder of your day with a packet of seeds. Easy-to-plant options include poppies and sunflowers. Or make the flower memorable – literally – with forget-me-nots. Include a sweet phrase and your wedding date to add a personal touch.

Photo Found Here.

Photo Found Here.


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St. Patrick’s Day / Irish-Inspired Wedding Ideas

March 6, 2015 at 2:56 pm (Wedding Planning Tips) (, , , , , , , , , , , , , )

Whether you’re decked out in shades of green or simply offer a nod to Irish heritage by way of a Guinness toast, celebrating your wedding with a St. Patrick’s Day or Irish-inspired theme practically guarantees fun.

The best part of this theme is you can go as little or as big as you’d like – whether it’s the traditional “Top of the Morning” breakfast (think: sausage, baked beans, soda bread) with your bridal party or offering an Irish blessing over dinner. Here are some ideas we love.

Have your guests take and hold a smooth stone while you say your vows. Irish tradition believes this to be good luck and so the words said at this time are, in fact, “set in stone.” Further remember this by asking guests to write their names and well wishes on the stones before returning them – a great alternative to a guest book!

Photo Credit: Marissa Rodriguez

Photo Credit: Marissa Rodriguez 

Another “literal” touch? Bind your hands with your bride or groom during the ceremony, a Celtic wedding tradition called hand fasting that is thought to have given way to the phrase “tying the knot.”

Green may be your favorite color, but if you’d rather keep the touches subtle, try adding a brooch to your bouquet or shoes.

Photo credit: Katelyn James

Photo credit: Katelyn James


Whether your guests decide to partake early on or as a nightcap, indulge them with an Irish whiskey tasting bar.

Remember, green is not the only color choice – gold and white make perfect complimentary hues. Check out this gorgeous cake – it almost looks too good to eat! Almost…

Before the night ends, send your guests home with a sweet favor like green and white M&Ms.

Or personalized mints with a Celtic knot or four-leaf clover.

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Sports-Themed Weddings – Part 2

February 25, 2015 at 5:52 pm (Wedding Planning Tips) (, , , , , , , , , , , , , )

We wrote a blog a few weeks ago featuring some awesome sports-related wedding ideas. This week, we take a look at basketball, hockey, tennis, and running.

Check out this awesome centerpiece for a basketball-themed wedding. It’s illuminated from below! It won’t interfere with your guests’ space at the table either!

Image courtesy of

Image courtesy of Sports Themed Weddings

If you want a more subtle approach to your sports theme, how about this basketball inspired ring bearer pillow? You can custom order a lot of great items from this Etsy shop!

Image courtesy of jbconaway Etsy

Image courtesy of jbconaway Etsy

These gold puck escort cards are a perfect way to add hockey action into your wedding. And what a cool souvenir for your guests!

How about this prop for the back of your Mr. and Mrs. chairs? Use a men’s skate for the groom and a women’s skate for the bride.

Photo Courtesy of Elizabeth Anne Designs

Photo Courtesy of Elizabeth Anne Designs 

Favors are a great way to incorporate your theme and give your guests a gift to take home. These tennis-inspired favors included favor packets of Sugarpova gumballs and a deck of racket-adorned playing cards.

Photo Courtesy of Martha Stewart Weddings

Photo Courtesy of Martha Stewart Weddings 

And how adorable is this cake topper? Such a personalized way to show your love of the game. Find Genefy on Facebook.

Image courtesy of Pinterest

Image courtesy of Pinterest 

We love this shoe box card holder. A simple way to add a running element to the big day!

Photo found here.

Photo found here.

And here is a really cool cake with a running theme. A sweet way to show your love of the sport!

Image found here.

Image found here

Well, we hope you enjoyed our sports-themed blog part 2. If you want to see a certain theme or idea explored, let us know! Thank you for reading!

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Willow Writer Renee shares her final post! Just a few days to go…

May 13, 2014 at 7:33 pm (Wedding Planning Tips) (, , , , , , , , , , )

The day is drawing near and we couldn’t be more excited. Both Lorenzo and I feel like it’s not real yet.  We imagine the reality will sink in at rehearsal.

We have had the absolute pleasure of working with some of the most amazing vendors. Everything came together so easy and we have the following people to thank.

Church – St. Sebastian Roman Catholic Church
Reception – The Willow Room
Photographer – Ovation Images
Videographer – Flashbox Films
DJ – Entertainment Unlimited Scot Anderson
Cookies – my mom and family friends, plus Beverly Seese
Transportation – A Tortorice Limousine
Accommodations – Hampton Inn            *Willow Room Preferred Vendor 
Bridal Dress and Bridesmaids – Zelenskis
Tuxes – Men’s Wearhouse
Flowers – McShane’s Florist                          *Willow Room Preferred Vendor
Cake – Bethel Bakery                                           *Willow Room Preferred Vendor 
Hair and Makeup – Vain Salon
Invitations – Nota Bene
Honeymoon – Broadhill Travel
Shower – Cedarbrook Clubhouse

It really was an absolute pleasure meeting all these wonderful people.  And most importantly, we want to thank our amazing parents for making all our dreams come true!  Also, our bridal party for standing by our side!  Looking forward to the best day of our lives as we start on our journey as husband and wife!!!

Love, Lorenzo & Renee

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