Weddings Pittsburgh

Ten Tips to Being a Spectacular Holiday Hostess!

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Courtesy of Cuttings Flower and Garden, Sewickley
Courtesy of Cuttings Flower and Garden, Sewickley

Thinking of hosting a special event over the holidays? Here are some tips to help you focus on what’s important.

  1. What type of event are you thinking of? Whether you are inviting guests to your home for a quiet evening or a big holiday party, clearly define your vision. Cozy dinner and drinks, large holiday soiree or hot chocolate party; think it out beforehand and decide exactly what you’d like to do.
  2. Decide on your budget. Easier said than done but this is an important step in the process. This will help you decide whether or not to spend hundreds of dollars on those special favors or if you’d rather put your money elsewhere. Put a bit of a buffer in there too, just for things you might miss from the get go.
  3. Decide on a theme. Themes are really fun and there are so many ideas floating around out there on the web and on Pinterest, etc.Since it’s Christmas, choose shades of red, white and green, go for pine and pomegranates and make a splash.
  4. Make a list. Do you need a bartender? Write that down. Using real plates and glasses or plastic? Do you need to rent linens? Do you need to find the perfect dress? Write it all down.
  5. Get more specific. Make a menu and if you are doing the cooking, start writing down your shopping list. If you’ve hired a caterer, list everything you will need from start to finish of your event, including the napkins, paper products, wine, candles.
  6. Recognize your limits and ask for help. If you are having a large event, consider recruiting family members or hiring a “day of “ or part time event planner. You can only do so much and you will run yourself ragged before the big day.  (Give me a call and I’d be glad to help you out!)
  7. Do as much as you can beforehand. Make a timeline for the day of the event and do as much as you can in the days leading up to and including the morning of. The more you do beforehand the easier your life will be. Imagine taking a hot bath a few hours before the event. You can do that if you plan ahead.
  8. Set things up so all you have to do is minimal maintenance. If you have to constantly heat appetizers in the oven, it will be hard for you to enjoy your party! Think of ways to prepare, serve and replenish food that does not involve constant kitchen time. Or, hire someone to be in the kitchen, taking care of food and other necessities.
  9. Enjoy your own event! Put your favorite dress on, light the candles, and pour the bubbly. Time to enjoy the fruits of your labor and enjoy your guests. Do the best you can to keep an eye on things, but also expect that things may occur that no one anticipates. Spills, unexpected minor disasters can all happen but be a sport and smile and solve the issue. Don’t be a drama queen if things fall apart.  Just keep going!
  10. Have a plan for the next day. Do some clean up but also have a good day of rest. Heat up any leftovers for dinner and save a bottle of wine for yourself. Don’t give in to the urge to put everything away in a single day. Just relax and reflect on your great party!
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Spotlight On: Greek Wedding Shop

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Photo Courtesy of Greek Weddings and Traditions
Greek Crowns – Photo Courtesy of Greek Wedding Shop

Ever been to a Greek wedding? If you have, you may have noticed the beautiful crowns the priest placed atop the bride and groom’s heads. The crowns are called Stefana and are usually joined by a white ribbon.

The significance of the crowns is this: The wedding crowns, or Stefana, symbolize the glory and honor that is being bestowed on the bride and groom by God during the sacrament of marriage. The Stefana are joined by a ribbon which symbolizes the unity of the couple and the presence of Christ who blesses and joins the couple. Through the crowns, Christ establishes the couple as the King and Queen of their home, which they rule with wisdom, justice, and integrity. (source)

Pretty impressive? I think so!

When I first began blogging on WordPress, I found a website with the name Greek Weddings and Traditions. Sia Aristidou and I became blogging friends and I realized what a great source of impressive Stefana and other wedding articles her little Greek website/shop is!

Here are a couple of questions I asked Sia about her business:

1. What are your most popular items?

Definitely the Stefana. However Stefanothiki boxes are also popular and christening sets.

2. What is the average shipping costs to the USA for wedding crowns and the average length of time to receive them?

This depends on the item. I work with amazing designers from around the world. My products are shipped directly from the designer to the client. Some of my designers are located in the USA so postage time is very fast. However, other items are handmade in Greece or Cyprus or Australia and they might take a little longer.

3. How did you get started in your business? What motivated you to begin?

Great Question! I love Greek Weddings! I have always been fascinated by Greek traditions and Greek culture. So I started to write a blog about wedding traditions. The blog was just a hobby to begin with it but it gained a lot of engagement from Greek people around the world. Many others started to join in the conversation. Soon, I started to receive emails from couples asking about products like stefana and lambathas for their wedding. So I tried my best to help them by connecting the designer with the bride. The Greek Wedding Shop was a natural progression from that. Now I feature beautiful handmade wedding and christening products made by some of the best Greek designers in the world.

Please take a few moments and check out Sia’s great Greek wedding shop! Click HERE to be connected.

My thanks to Sia for being my first SPOTLIGHT vendor!

Photo Courtesy of Greek Weddings and Traditions
Photo Courtesy of Greek Wedding Shop
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Jessica and Jason’s Rustic Wedding

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Thank you to Dalton Photography
The beautiful bride Jessica! Thank you to Dalton Photography

It was a day meant for love. I headed up north, to Camp Lutherlyn with my assistant Leah, ready to GO for Jessica and Jason’s wedding!

Jessica contacted me months ago, after her brother and his fiance had arranged for me to be the “day of” coordinator for their wedding in November (looking forward to that!). Jessica impressed me by saying she wanted her family to enjoy themselves on the day of her marriage. And then, when we met to go over everything she said, “I just want all the guests to have a good time.” (WOW!)

And how could they not? With a gorgeous setting, rustic cabins, tall trees, beautiful sunset, delicious food and sweets- everyone had a good time!

The ceremony was held in the forest amphitheater within the camp itself. It was only a short walk down into the majestic sanctuary where cello and soft keyboard music greeted the guests. Jason’s father officiated the sacred event and participated in the most special day of his own son’s life. The beginning of a life with Jessica.

The Bride Arrives! Photo by Dalton Photography
The Bride Arrives! Photo by Dalton Photography
Photo by Dalton Photography
A Forest Cathedral. Photo by Dalton Photography

After the ceremony, it was all fun and good times on the deck of the reception hall. Music, photo booth, and a fantastic S’mores set up awaited the guests. We swooned over the beautiful twinkly chandeliers that Jason created just for Jessica and this special day.

Photo by Leah Marino
S’more Fun! Photo by Leah Marino
Photo by Leah Marino
Love those Chandeliers! Photo by Leah Marino

I will never forget this beautiful wedding, the family and Jessica and Jason. There was lots of love there that day,among all the friends and family. May they have many joyous years together!

The Happy Bride! Photo by Dalton Photography
The Happy Bride! Photo by Dalton Photography
The beautiful couple. Photo by Dalton Photography
Best Wishes to Jessica and Jason! Photo by Dalton Photography

 

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Hanging Out at Harvest House

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The Front Porch Pumpkin
The Front Porch Pumpkin

I am always on the look out for creative ideas and my favorite place to find them is cuttings flower and garden, located in beautiful Sewickley, Pennsylvania.

I visited the store recently for “Harvest House” and owner Jim Price has his 1860’s house all decked out in the coolest fall and Halloween garb you can imagine! The front porch looked amazing!

The Front Porch at cuttings
The Front Porch at cuttings

I especially loved these hanging children’s games, complete with tiny metal balls you have to carefully roll into place!

Looks like fun!
Looks like fun!

There were a few wicked witches on hand there as well.

I'm Melting!
I’m Melting!
Perfect for the front door!
Perfect for hanging on a doorknob!

Ride a broomstick over to cuttings soon and be inspired. Tell them Katherine’s Daughter sent you!

Gorgeous Fall Wreaths!
Gorgeous Fall Wreaths!

 

 

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Think About Your Guests

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Photo by Zack Wilson Photography
Picture Perfect Entry! Photo by Zack Wilson Photography

Aunt Claire and Uncle Jim are coming from New York. Cousins Sue and Nick are arriving from North Carolina. Your old college friend Maddie can’t wait to get here.

It’s your daughter’s wedding. Guests are arriving from all over the country to celebrate the big day. You’ve booked the Hyatt, made Pittsburgh gift baskets for their rooms, planned the rehearsal dinner to include them all. Now what?

Recently, a good friend of mine told me how she and her husband traveled miles to attend a wedding. She bought a new dress, shopped for the bride and groom’s present, and booked a hotel room.

Upon arriving at the wedding, there was no one to greet them. Then a young twelve year old girl welcomed them and told them where to sit. During the ceremony (I kid you not), the fire alarm for the building went off. Everyone went outside. After a while, it was the little girl who told everyone when to go back into the building.

I said “Where was the coordinator?” My friend said, “There wasn’t one.”

As I continue to work with brides and their families, it becomes more and more apparent to me that brides who want a coordinator do so for a couple of reasons. First, they want to enjoy their own day without worrying about every little detail. They want someone else (and not a family member) to watch over things, keep to the timeline for the day as best they can, and make sure any emergencies (like that fire alarm) are tended to.

Photo by Zack Wilson Photography
Lots of Happy Guests! Photo by Zack Wilson Photography

Second, they want their guests to have a good time. When it is obvious there is a coordinator, people will notice and take questions to that coordinator, instead of bothering the family. A coordinator is added insurance for a contented day, sort of like a big warm blanket for the entire wedding.

I think of myself as a warm blanket because I bring on smiles and soothe the nervous. Your guests are going to have questions at the ceremony and the reception. And they don’t want to bother you. They want to know where the bathrooms are, where to put their card, when it’s ok to raid the cookie table. They may get to the reception a tad bit late and want to know if they should wait in the foyer while the maid of honor gives her toast, or go and find their table? (answer: WAIT) Even the vendors have questions like when is dinner, when do I start the music for the buffet, etc etc etc.

Ah, I answer their questions. I am the go to person. I don’t bother the bride and groom or the family unless absolutely necessary. And then I keep it brief and non dramatic. Your guests will have a good time, I promise. And so will you.

Photo by Zack Wilson Photography
I love this picture! Thank you to Zack Wilson Photography

Think of your guests. Call us at 412-498-1607 and let us help you on your special day!

Please share and pass this post along to friends who are having a wedding. Thank you!

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Jessica + Jason, September 20, 2014

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JessAndJason

You have to love a couple that is as warm and friendly as Jessica and Jason. The first time I met them, they smiled from ear to ear and gave me a big hug. They already had a wedding website and these are the words from their lovely welcome page: “Jason and Jess met in the winter of 1998 at Penn State – University Park.  They met through mutual friends and first faced off on the field of battle…..an epic snow covered game of King of the Hill (if memory serves, Jessica won)…..

Their lives took them on separate paths after college and in Februrary 2013, Jason reached out to Jess via Facebook as he was reconnecting with old friends.  They met up for a casual beer at the Sharp Edge in Pittsburgh… and have been pretty much inseparable ever since….and plan on keeping it that way.” I love it!

Jessica is a well organized bride. She had her thoughts down on paper. Here’s what she wrote- “Goal for having a Wedding Coordinator: I think Jason and I are pretty comfortable with the arrangements that have been made so far. Our biggest goal for having a wedding coordinator is to make sure our families can enjoy the day as much as possible without having to worry about little details.”

It is a great act of love on the part of a bride and groom to want their families to enjoy the day. And I view that as my goal- to take the “day of” details off their plates so they can live in the moment of their wedding day.

Out of respect for their privacy, I am not disclosing the wedding location but it is a beautiful, rustic setting amid trees and nature. The ceremony will be outdoors and the reception in a large hall nearby. A campfire and s’mores will wrap up the evening!

Follow this blog for more details on Jessica and Jason’s wedding! Sign up for our free newsletter (see sidebar) and receive great tips on special event and wedding planning!

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What Inspires You?

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Mango Tables 2Inspiration can come in many shapes and forms. For some, it is a quote or saying. For others it is something more tangible.

Laura's PillowFor my latest client, a pillow was her inspiration for a color scheme. Yes, a pillow. Laura loved the colors on her eclectic throw pillow and we used them to create an event that was WOW!

Laura and I utilized these colors by having a big white tent, orange overlays on the tables, orange gerbera daisy centerpieces, and paper lanterns in turquoise, orange, lime green and white. This provided a stunning palate of color among the trees and beautiful backyard of Laura’s house.

Wait staff from White Glove Host Services passed delicious appetizers created by Sean Conley of Tallulah’s Catering. (I especially loved the wild mushroom and goat cheese strudel!) The guests dined on chicken with olives and lemon, salmon with tomato and chipotle, grilled vegetables, and roasted fingerling potatoes.

Many small touches were provided by the couple, such as air plants in glass balls, situated at every place setting. Chilled champagne awaited when you returned from the buffet line.

Mango Tables 3

The delicious white, chocolate and raspberry filled cake was provided by Oakmont Bakery. Sweet Bites provided the delicious cookies in shapes of hearts and compasses.

Cake by Oakmont Bakery
Cake by Oakmont Bakery

Here’s what Laura had to say about our service:  My life partner and I decided to get married within a week and throw a reception just 6 weeks later. Joanne helped us move quickly to pull together an exceptional event on a very tight schedule. She contacted and coordinated all the moving parts into a synchronized event. It was great peace of mind to know that she was there to handle everything so we could spend time with our guests and enjoy our special day!

Let us help you create the event of your dreams!

 

 

 

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Make Your Busy Life Easier!

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Planning a wedding, graduation party, bridal or baby shower in the near future? We know some very talented people who are available to assist! For your next special occasion, consider hiring a great planner (like Katherine’s Daughter!) to help you with any or all phases of your happy day!

For instance, we know a great cookie baker:Photo courtesy of Sweet BitesPhoto courtesy of Sweet Bites

And a talented cake baker:Photo Courtesy of Cuttings Flower and GardenPhoto Courtesy of Cuttings Flower and Garden

And a gorgeous florist: Courtesy of Cuttings Flower and GardenPhoto Courtesy of Cuttings Flower and Garden

We can bring it all together and help you plan an event to remember!

Give us a call at 412-498-1607 or click on the contact tab above and enter your information! Let us help you enjoy your own event!

 

 

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A Perfect Day for a Wedding!

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Riding in the Model T
Shaina and Rob – Riding in the Model T! Photo by Zack Wilson

It’s been one week since Shaina and Rob’s wedding and I am still in awe of what a beautiful day it was! Everything was perfect! From the gorgeous flowers by Cuttings, to the delicious food and the cookie table, to the wonderful details in so much of the day. I am waiting for Zack Wilson, the photographer to send me more pictures, but here’s a few great shots that my daughter Michelene and Zack captured that day! Let me know if I can assist YOU in your special day!

Welcome to the Reception! Photo by Michelene
Welcome to the Reception! Photo by Michelene
Their own special coaster! Photo by Michelene
Their own special coaster! Photo by Michelene
They were all gone by 8pm! Delicious cookies! Photo by Michelene
Delicious cookies! Photo by Michelene
Beautiful mercury glass vases filled with flowers! Photo by Michelene
Beautiful mercury glass vases filled with flowers! Photo by Michelene
Delicious cake by Ligo Cakes! Photo by Michelene
Delicious cake by Ligo Cakes! Photo by Michelene
Delicious Cheeses for the Cocktail Reception! Photo by Michelene
Delicious Cheeses for the Cocktail Reception! Photo by Michelene
Table Assignments flow in the breeze- Photo by Michelene
Table Assignments flow in the breeze- Photo by Michelene
Amazing Peonies from Cuttings! Photo by Michelene
Amazing Peonies and Hydrangeas from Cuttings! Photo by Michelene

 

The magnificent venue! Call me for the details! Photo by Cuttings
The magnificent venue! Call me for the details! Photo by Cuttings

 

Photo by Zack Wilson
Photo by Zack Wilson
All married and celebrating with lavender!
All married and celebrating with lavender! Photo by Zack Wilson

 

 

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Choosing Your Wedding Venue

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Lewis Family Farms barn 2(1)

Picking a site for your wedding or special event is almost as important as the event itself. The venue you choose will say much about you so it should reflect your tastes and what you wish to experience on your big day!

I am going to focus on wedding sites for this post, but these suggestions can be applied to any special event like a landmark birthday party, non profit fundraiser, or anniversary celebration.

Here are some questions to ask yourself:

1. In what time (or season) of the year do I want to be married?

2. What is my budget?

3. How many guests do I want to invite?

4. How much time do I have to devote to planning and managing my wedding?

5. What are my personal tastes and preferences?

The time of year you want to get married in is significant if you are thinking about an outdoor venue, such as a botanical garden or barn. There are challenges to hosting an event in those locations, especially in early spring (rain!) or early fall (brrr!). When the sun goes down at the end of the day, your choice of venue will need to have heat ready to go, even if it is just portable gas lanterns. I’ve worked outdoor weddings where many guests left early simply because it got too cold! Indoor locations have no worries about the weather but you can definitely have an outdoor event that is comfortable if you do your homework. Having a wedding planner is crucial when choosing a rustic venue so that all the bases can be covered!

Your budget will definitely have an impact on the venue you choose. Do some research on the locations of your choice and see where they fall with pricing. Hotel or country club weddings can run upwards of $100 per person, especially with an open bar. You can tailor a smaller venue, such as a boutique bed and breakfast or consider a (nice) church banquet hall to bring pricing more in line. Most venues will require you to use their food and beverage services. The exception to this may be barn venues which are sometimes more open to you bringing a favorite caterer.

Table at Cuttings

The guest count is important to your locale choice. Too many people squashed into a venue is no fun. There needs to be room for dancing and a good time. Alternately, you don’t want TOO big, because you want the room to be cozy. And remember, count on 15%-20% of your guest list to decline because no date is good for everyone! (Remember to send those SAVE THE DATE postcards at least six months in advance!)

How busy are you? Do you have time to devote to researching and creating your own decorations or flowers? Do you want to be at the venue the morning of your wedding or the night before hanging your own colorful pinwheels or laying tablecloths? I would rather see a bride who has a smaller wedding, thus affording herself availability of services that would do the decorating or any other readying for her. The bride and her family should have a morning of carefree serenity rather than dealing with the stress of managing or handling any last minute decorating or emergency issues.

What are your tastes? Do you love modern, traditional, or rustic? Based on your budget and how you answered the previous questions, a clear choice should emerge. Think calmly and patiently about your day. Envision yourself in your dress, with your groom, among your surroundings. What is your dream? List your options, the positive and the negative of each venue you’re thinking of. Make your choice and engage a planner to help you through all the details.

A wedding planner who is thoroughly knowledgeable about the indoor and outdoor venue options of your city or area is an asset and well worth the investment. Saving you countless hours of research and exhausting leg work, I can help you focus on what’s important and at what location those wishes can become a reality.

Michelene on Staircase

 Give me a call and let’s talk about your big day! 412-498-1607

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