Planning a Wedding Long-Distance
One thing we learned from planning our Pittsburgh wedding? Just because you grew up somewhere, it doesn't mean you know anything about who would make good wedding vendors. It turned out to be less difficult than we thought, though, thanks to the good ol' Internet! Our motto in planning our wedding long distance (from Chicago) held true: if you aren't on the web, you aren't at our wedding. Thanks to Google
(including its vast newsgroups) and The Knot
for making it easier! A few other tips for planning long-distance:
- If you trust the tastes of friends and family in the remote city, by all means leverage them!
- Try to find places that have multiple (nationwide) locations to make appointments more convenient.
- Make a simple checklist to guide you... and watch out for version control!
- Vendor choice is everything. They have the potential to make your wedding truly worry-free. If you can't meet every vendor in person, be sure to research their experience and get testamonials ...and it's worth it to pay a little extra for professionals. (There are reasonably priced professionals out there--shop around!)
Reception Hall: Carnegie Music Hall Foyer
Our photographer called it "the most beautiful reception site in Pittsburgh." We tend to agree. While you do pay a relatively hefty hall rental fee, it is absolutely worth the price. The event planner we worked with, Sarah, was as professional as they come, and she spared us from ever having to worry about a thing.
Caterer: Parkhurst Dining Services
They are the exclusive caterer for the Carnegie, but if we had the choice, we would have picked them anyway. Bill, the easygoing yet professional head of catering, made everything clear and simple, and he even researched off-menu wines for us. The food was just as amazing for 150 people as it was at the tasting, and we still have guests commenting on the 4-star waitstaff. Food to die for, spectacular service, and great cosmopolitans. :-)
Band: Matt Ferrante and Modern Times
An amazing band and a great value. The reception wouldn't have been the same with anyone else! Matt's band played swing and jazz selections first--per our desires--but "mixed it up" upon request after we noticed there were still people sitting. The dance floor filled and didn't empty until the last song. They even accommodated playing a surprise audio clip of Jeff singing when he was 10 (much to Jeff's chagrin). These guys (and gal) are a class act, for sure.
Photographer: Garry Weber
We love Garry's photojournalistic style. He caught great moments on film and really brought out the supermodel in both of us (who knew?) Garry's funny, aloof (in a good way), and responsive to what kind of look we wanted. Another kicker for us was his "Fine Art" album—a new, magazine-style spin on the photo album that we plan to order. 100% digital photography means your photos are ready within a couple weeks(!) and available online.
So many brides sacrifice taste for looks in the cake department. There was no trade-off at Scozio's! Pittsburgh has a dearth of bakeries with websites, as we discovered, but trusty Google led us to the "Italian Romance" cake. We fell in love (ha!) with the look of the cake and went to a Scozio's satellite in a nearby grocery store to sample the goods. Yummy. We wish we had some right now...
Flowers: Herman J. Heyl Florists
This is the only vendor with whom we had prior experience (proms, holidays, etc.). Herman's great! You meet with the man himself to plan your ceremony and reception, and he's got years and years of wedding experience. He's reasonable and has great suggestions, if you aren't positive what you want (like us).
Lighting: ADS Lighting & Staging
As a design freak, Jeff understood how a little investment in good lighting could make a dramatic effect. The Music Hall Foyer is certainly beautiful enough, but positioning pinhole spotlights in the balcony allowed our centerpieces on each table to be brilliantly highlighted. Andy Shick was recommended by the Carnegie staff very and easy to work with.
Vocalist: Kelley Krepin-DeFade
Utilizing Erin's mom's Mars High connections, we found Kelley, a Mars graduate and now a professional, classically-trained soprano. She was exactly what we were looking for in a vocalist. Not only is her voice spectacular, but she also took most of the worries about ceremony music completely off our hands. Once we picked the music and met with her, she brought in her fantastic accompanist, Paul Johnston, and coordinated with the string quartet.
String Quartet: David Sinclair Quartet
Because we didn't have opportunities to actually listen to every performer live, we looked for professionals who credentialed, yet reasonably priced. The DSQ proved to be an great choice. There were no problems with our music selections, and when the prelude pieces finished 15 minutes early, they filled in the gap by playing appropriate wedding music from their own repertoire.
Simplicity. Invitations were one area where we were able to save a bundle of money by going simple and going online. IWeddingBands.com's classic designs were well priced, and their user interface made designing easy. We received our invitations in just a week!
With so many people on the web these days, wedding planning websites are becoming more and more popular. Because we wanted ultimate flexibility (and Jeff had the skillz), we designed our own. In addition to the resources you see on the site, we put out additional links to help folks anticipate and plan for the wedding. Here they are: