Monday, March 28, 2011

Pittsburgh Bride Shows (439 Days to Go)

Seashells would be perfect
for our tropical theme!
Early on (as in January), I went to two bride shows.  It was early, but I wanted to get a feel for what I was about to dive into as far as planning.  The first was a small show and the second was much larger, however, it was the first that I felt like I'd accomplished anything at all.

Of course, even going to a bride show turned into an adventure.  For the first show, I was barely on the recovery from having the flu and had nothing but the smallest whisper left of a voice.  For anyone who knows me they'd know how much of a hardship this was seeing as I usually can't stop talking.  But I went
Can it be? An honest to
goodness "you really can
wear it again" brides-
maid dress?
prepared and I would suggest doing this for any other bride-showing brides-to-be.  I made up address labels that had my name and my fiance's name, our wedding date, our address, my cell number and e-mail address, and our wedding date.  That way, as I walked around the show, it took me mere seconds to fill out forms for vendors.  Usually I'd only
need to fill in a few other random things if anything at all.  So despite the fact that my voice was cracked and hard to hear, my right hand wasn't cramped from writing my address a hundred times. 
A dress for my
Steelers lovin' FMIL?

For both shows, I took my camera.  It was a fantastic idea because I got to take pictures (I always asked permission first) of things that really inspired me.  While I didn't find my dream wedding dress on the runway, I did get some ideas of what I'd like to see my bridesmaids and the mothers wearing on the big day.  You see, my fiance really wants a "rainbow" bridal party.  No, ocean blue just wasn't good enough.  He wanted the whole tropical color pallet and with six girls (plus one junior) and six guys, we'll certainly have the entire family of colors on display.  Thus started a
I loved the asymmetrical
waistline on this dress.
dilemma.  How to make the bridesmaids all like their dress and still look uniform if they are all wearing different colors?  It's taken me three months to figure it out.  I'm going to tempt fate and try and find two dresses that are incredibly similar except that one has straps, and the other doesn't.  

But this left another problem.  How to make sure the mothers don't start to blend in?  They'll all end up in the same material more than likely: chiffon.  So I figured the mothers should probably wear longer skirts.  At that first bride show, I started to plant the seed on my own mother.  I told her I wanted the
I loved this bridal bouquet
because of it's pop of color
from Reed & Petals Florist,
Wexford, PA
girls in short chiffon dresses and the mothers to be in long chiffon dresses.  That way everyone would stay cool in the June heat but my mother and FMIL wouldn't be mistaken as trying to copy the bridesmaids.  It didn't take.  In fact I think I saw a squirrel run away with the seeds before the fashion show had even ended.  But alas, a girl can try.

But possibly the best thing that I walked away from the first show was information for my photographer.  He was incredibly patient with my mother and I (considering my inability to really hold up a conversation well and how noisy it was around us) and his style was exactly what I had in mind.  He's an
My fiance and I are huge
Penguins fans and I've been
wondering what we might
do for a topper

ex-photojournalist but he also had a really good eye for putting together cute, creative group shots.  As an added bonus, his wife is a videographer and they come as a package deal.   And their show package was incredibly affordable.  At the second bride show I attended I could only find a photographer for the same price that I got both photography and videography.  For a touch over $1700, I'll have the copyrights, video, a 10"x10" photoalbum, and an engagement session.  I couldn't wait to get back home and sell my fiance on Matthew Hovis and his wife.  A little over a week later, we signed our contract and booked our first vendor.

The second bridal show, Cavanaugh's Brideshow, I went with an entourage in tow.  My mother, FMIL, my two maids of honor, and one of the bridesmaids were all in attendance as we walked around looking at over 150 vendors.  We got to taste so many sweets that by the end of the day everyone was begging to find a caterer with substantial food.  Never thought it'd happen, but I was tired of cake by the time we finished.  But luckily, in the last corner, we found who will hopefully be our caterer, Tommy's.  His pricing is incredible starting at around $14/person.  Yes, half of what most other caterers want.  The trouble is finding a venue where we can bring our own caterer in.

There was one hopeful venue that I found at this second show, pardon me if I don't give it away right now since I haven't booked them yet and want to keep the option open for myself.  But it was by total luck that I even found out about it.  It happened when I was talking to a photographer and mentioned that I had stopped because of  a photo of a bridal party next to a pond and dock.  The girl admitted that it was her wedding on her in-laws farm and that they were just starting to get into the wedding venue business.  I got the information and am now awaiting spring weather to go visit.  Please, please, please make it all green and sunny and warm soon!

Oh, and I managed to book the tuxedo rentals.  This is another reason to bride show it up early, ladies.  Even if it's over a year in advance, it doesn't hurt to sign a contract with a tux rental shop.  They usually want very little money for a hold on this year's prices (I paid only $10) and with that you can avoid a price jump the following year.  Plus, tuxedo rental shops don't care about firm dates.  They'll allow you to change the date later on if you end up having to change it.  But American Commodore impressed me with their charm, their matching Steelers colored tuxes, and the offer of both my fiance's and his father's tux for free.  We have no ring bearer so all the other shops offering a free ring bearer tux started to annoy me.  Oh, and the chance to win an additional $60 off for my fiance and his father to get their shoes or for us to pass on to the groomsmen.  Get playing Steelers "corn-hole".  Yes, Pittsburgh is sports obsessed.  We're even more so tailgating obsessed than is probably healthy.

*All cakes were from Mimi's Bake Shoppe
*All dresses were from Carlisle's of Pittsburgh

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