Thursday, September 2, 2010

Our Lady of Victory Basilica FAQs

I've received a few emails about weddings at OLV in Lackawanna from both brides that want to get married there and current brides planning their wedding there. I wanted to share some guidance for frequently asked questions.

1. How much does it cost to have a wedding at OLV?

Like most churches, OLV asks for a contribution. Of course, if there are any financial hardships it's best to speak with a priest. The requested contribution is $450 and includes everything (organist, sacristan/altar servers, priest). In my opinion, this keeps it simple, no need to fret over how much of a contribution you give to the priest, organist, etc.

2. How can I have my wedding at OLV?

First and foremost, you need to be a member of the parish (this is typical of most Catholic churches in Western New York). This, in my opinion, ensures that the party getting married is getting married in the Church for proper reasons. To ensure that you are a practicing member, OLV requires that you are a member for at least 9 months prior to setting a wedding date.

3. What days of the week/what times can weddings take place?

Saturdays are without a doubt the most requested day. For Saturday weddings, there are two time spots: 11.30am and 1.30pm. They also have weddings on Friday afternoons and evenings. You can inquire about other days of the week as well, however you cannot have a wedding on a Sunday, per the Diocese of Buffalo's regulations.

4. Is there a bridal preparation or waiting room?

No. You will need to be dressed prior to arriving at the church. You can wait in the basement, where there are some benches, if you're looking for a spot to sit or are worried about anyone seeing you prior to the ceremony.

5. What are the photography/videography restrictions?

Each priest at OLV has their own guidelines whether or not flash photography is allowed. The priests at OLV during my preparation had no problems with flash. Photographers and filmmakers are encouraged to be as discrete as possible, but they are allowed to walk around for coverage. They can also go up into the organ and choir loft for photos/film. In my opinion, they were overall lax in this category compared to other churches I've heard about.

Other Guidance:
* The floor of the Basilica is quite dirty. The heavier the dress, the more dirt seems to adhere to it according to a few OLV Brides I've spoken with. You cannot use an aisle runner in the church.

* There is a Pepsi machine downstairs. This is helpful in case you need or want a drink after the ceremony to take with you for your formal portraits.

* Getting a phone call in return from a priest or secretary can be difficult. Stay on top of them. The secretaries don't seem to know anything and always defer to the priest -- even down to the question "who needs to be in attendance at the rehearsal?" We had to call our local parish in Washington, DC to inquire about the norms of rehearsal because we never received a phone call back after numerous attempts.

* If there is another wedding taking place the same day you can work with the other couple to share in the cost of flowers, etc.

Grotto Shrine of Our Lady of Lourdes
(personal photo)

* If you choose to give flowers to the Virgin Mary during the ceremony, you will be giving them to her in the Lourdes Grotto (where Father Baker is located) and not the Mary behind the altar (and out-of-view from the church). It's important to notify your film crew and photographers because it's behind where the filmmakers/photogs generally cover -- they set up their tripods facing the altar -- and they may not be prepared for this if you don't notify them.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Our Nuptial Mass Music

We had a full Catholic Mass that included Communion (aka a "nuptial mass").

We narrowed down the selections to the following and linked the choices to YouTube videos:

considered Trumpet Tune in D Major, David Johnson

selected Holy God, We Praise Thy Name

We selected Holy God, We Praise Thy Name to walk down the aisle together because we met at Adoration, so this song holds a special place in our hearts. Although when I heard that Trumpet Tune, I was stunned! It's beautiful!!

Offertory Hymn (Preparation of the Gifts):
Improvisation/Organ Music (organist just plays something he likes/makes something up)

Sign of Peace:
Prayer of St Francis ("Make me a channel of your peace") -- I'm not sure if this was actually played.

Agnes Dei (Lamb of God):
Agnes Dei (in Latin)

The groom requested the Latin version although it's not typically used wide-spread in Buffalo (and not at all at Our Lady of Victory, but the organist was fine with it)

considered One Bread, One Body [organ-only version]

selected Gift of Finest Wheat

We wanted a Eucharist-related song for communion, as it is a highlight of the ceremony. However, as we were having many non-Catholics attend the ceremony we didn't consider "Taste and See" due to the lyrics, knowing that those non-Catholics would not be able to receive communion (and therefore won't be able to 'taste'). We thought that "One Bread, One Body" may be a bit along the border too.

Post-Communion Meditation (taking flowers to the Virgin Mary):
Ave Maria

Hallelujah Chorus, Handel [this rendition wanted me to have a choir]

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

(Catholic) Wedding Music Resources

There isn't one place that lists sites for options for Catholic wedding music. Each diocese and parish (and sometimes each organist) has it's own regulations, so it's important to find out what those are. I found it very helpful to narrow down selections at home before meeting with the organist (in fact we had everything in order prior to meeting with him) and it looks like on various forums, including WeddingBee, many brides are looking for music resources.

Here are the general guidelines from the Diocese of Buffalo.

Wedding-specific song sites (please add more to the list if you know of any!):

St. Patrick Cathedral in New York

St. Clement Catholic Church

St. Paul Cathedral in Pittsburgh

Diocese of San Diego
[pdf file of guidelines and suggestions]

Regis University [pdf file of guidelines and suggestions]

Adoremus Bulletin

Catholic Books that address wedding/nuptial mass music:

Celebrating Marriage: Preparing the Roman Catholic Wedding Liturgy [I have personally not used this resource]

Catholic Song Sites in general:

Spirit and Song

Tomorrow I will post more about the music we included in our nuptial mass.

Monday, August 30, 2010

DIY: Wedding Water Bottle Labels

For our out-of-town gift bags we decided to put in two bottles of water, and to jazz it up a bit we decided to customize the labels. It was a good way to use our engagement photos. The wonderful Erich Camping came to Washington, DC to take our photos since he was unavailable for our wedding day. My family loved it so much that we decided to label some of the water bottles for the reception as well.

People kept commenting about this so we feel that it was very much worth the effort -- it was a little detail that stood out. However, we created five designs and people at the reception were trying to 'collect all 5' and I'm worried that's a reason why the water ran out (it was a hot day to begin with but with people hording... not a good idea). So if I had to do it again, I would limit the designs to two or three.

Product: We ordered the 8.5" x 2" waterproof labels from Online Labels* (they come in virtually any quantity and various sizes that you could imagine). The labels we ordered fit around Aquafina water bottles. In the end we found Eco-fina (Aquafina's eco-friendly line) at Sam's Club and the labels needed to be trimmed a little bit on one of the five designs for it to fit without overlap.

Design: Online Labels has downloadable templates which were easy to use and we had no troubles printing on them. For the design, we just took a photo and popped it in and added our names, wedding date and a quote/verse. We kept it simple. Here is how they turned out:

We had our engagement photos taken at the Franciscan Monastery in Washington, D.C.
These are screen shots of the design which accounts for the squiggly red line. I also added the black border to help visualize what it looks like.

It was a perfect day: hot but not blistering and sunny.

Tips for taking engagement shots: bring water, wear comfortable shoes, and you do not have to wear the same color as your significant other. I really like how the red and the blue works in the photos.

This design incorporates our "Shuffle off to Buffalo" theme for the wedding.

We wanted to take our engagement photos at the tidal basin with the Cherry Blossoms, but they came too quickly and ended too soon, so by the time Erich got to DC we decided to have a plan B, and we still got beautiful flowers!

It was super easy to put these labels on the water bottles. We put them on four cases of bottles in under 20 minutes. It's as simple as tearing off the labels and attaching the new ones.

Other options: we also looked into printing the designs on plain white paper using a laser jet printer, and I even tried it to see if the color would run with water....and it didn't. However we decided that it would be too laborious (print out, measure each one perfectly, hand cut out or pay Fedex kinko's to cut them out, and glue them on...and wait for them to dry).

Plus, the price of the labels was very reasonable: 9 cents a piece. Totally worth it!

* Product Number OL1985LP; 5 labels per sheet; weatherproof polyester laser

Friday, June 18, 2010

We made our own wedding rings!

Yes, we made our own wedding rings --- how cool is that?! I found out about the Wedding Ring Workshop thanks to Miss Pencils on Weddingbee. As soon as I read about this (and couldn't believe my eyes) I went to dear fiance and told him all about it. He was really excited too and he went ahead and booked us an appointment!

This solid piece turned into our rings (two rings)! I love the symbolism.

The day was so wonderful. We picked up a rental car from the airport and drove out to the Virginia country-side. Chris, our expert (and was Miss Pencil's expert too), was so much fun to be around and it was so easy going. We took part in each step with Chris helping along the way to make sure that our rings would turn out perfect. I love it that our bands have the smallest soldering mark (that can only been seen if you're looking for it) because I soldered his and he soldered mine.
Working hard to bend the metal.

Chris told us that people have travelled far-and-wide to partake in this experience (Maine, Georgia, etc); and I can see why. I would describe this to people as a build-a-bear type moment: it's the experience that makes the bear that much more special and it's the same thing with the wedding rings. Prior to this experience the rings to me were just that: rings. I honestly would not have cared if I had one. But now when I'll look at my ring, I'll know my husband made it. :-)

Looking busy.

If you're thinking about doing it -- just do it. If you're wondering about the money -- just do it. Find a way. You will wear these rings every day.
Our rings. Yes, we made those.

FYI for those going to a Workshop: I'd suggest you'd wear closed-toe flat shoes, tie up long hair and wear comfy clothes. At the end of the Workshop you get Champagne...but if you don't drink alcohol, Chris (he thinks of everything) has sparkling cider that tastes wonderful!

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Registries: REI and Bed, Bath and Beyond

In order not to get random gifts from family and friends, we decided to register for some items, despite having lived on our own (and now combining households) for many years.

Registry Experience #1: REI

I looked into a registry with EMS (Eastern Mountain Sports), a favorite backpacking/hiking store, but they do not have a registry service (and I really needed a 'footprint' for my tent...the groundcloth that goes under the tent to protect it). REI, a similar store, does have a registry feature.

It's been effortless -- we've been building the registry only online (have not set foot in the store). Catholicgauze needs hiking boots and a backpack for our adventures, and I'd like to get some add-ons to the JetBoil I purchased at EMS a few years back. We'd be purchasing these items anyway, so if family and friends would like to give them as a gift, that would be great.

Registry Experience #2: Bed, Bath and Beyond

We decided on Bed, Bath and Beyond (BBB) for multiple reasons. First, they have locations all around the country (important for family and friends that are from far-away lands). Secondly, they have a wide variety of merchandise and options. While we already have most household items that we need, there are a few items that would be nice to have, but we're indifferent if we receive them. This registry is structured more towards those that are inclined to purchase a gift off of a registry than give money.

The folks at BBB were great. They took the time to explain the process, and the associates around the store were quick to say "hello" when they saw us coming with the 'scan gun' and when we had a few issues, they were quick to solve it and eager make it easy on us. They even offered us something to drink. You can build the Registry online as well, but it's nice to be able to touch the towels and sheets in order to select the one you like best.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Special Delivery

We invited President George W Bush and Mrs Bush to our wedding. They sent a reply back stating that it was an honor to be invited but unfortunately their schedules would not allow them to attend. Oh well, better luck next time. :-)

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Second Hair Trial

I had a second hair trial at Capello Salons in the Avant Building (same building as the Embassy Suites) in Buffalo, NY. The purpose was to see how my hair would look like with hot curlers instead of a curling iron to curl my hair. The aim was to look more like the photos that I brought the first time. (see previous post)

After the curlers were taken out, the curls were not there. I'm not sure if it's just my hair or the woman doing my hair -- but she decided to improvise and turn it into something else. In the end I thought it turned out fine, but I'm not sure if it quite suits the dress.

Doesn't look so bad in the front...

Not sure if I like the back.

There were over 25 bobby pins in my hair!

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Not fretting over Fonts

My fiance and I are designing our invitations through Zazzle. We selected two fonts for them.

Now that we're thinking about signage at the wedding itself, I decided that I would try to find the same fonts for free. I've read (on Weddingbee, etc) of brides/grooms going so far as to pay for fonts -- I wasn't about to do that; if the fonts weren't available, then I would find something suitable.

But don't fret -- I was able to find the main one: Parisian. I found it within seconds on Font Space.

(example of the font 'Parisian')

And for the other one, P22 PanAm, I haven't been able to find it (for free/open source). PanAm really brought me back to a style of font used around the turn-of-the-century and I suspected that the font was titled for Buffalo's Pan-American Exposition in 1901. That is exactly what we were looking for, as our reception is in a building that was built just at the end of the 1800s and our wedding is not a black-tie event (we didn't want script font thinking that it would convey that the event was overly formal).

(example of the font 'P22 PanAm' - source)

So when I checked out P22's website, I was pleased to see that indeed, the font was created for that reason. According to P22,

"This font was created to help celebrate the centennial of the Pan-American exposition of 1901 which was held in Buffalo, New York. It is based on a variety of printed ephemera from the exhibition (which incidentally is most noted not for the spectacular electrical illuminations provided by nearby Niagara Falls, but rather for the assassination of President William McKinley)." [cite]
One thing that I noticed that P22 was selling their font cheaper (by five cents) on their website than other third-party websites (such as sell them. But, if I were to purchase a font, I would see about buying it directly from the source, as they are the ones that put their sweat equity into designing it in the first place!

Friday, April 16, 2010

Out of Town Guest Bags

We're going to be giving a welcome bag to those traveling for our wedding (a majority). On many websites there are ideas for welcome boxes, baskets, tins, etc.; however, since people will be traveling on an airplane, we decided that a bag was the best option.

I was worried that a small cute paper bag may break after putting in some bottles of water, etc. so I started to price canvas and polypropylene bags. We're going with cotton, as it is the easiest to decorate (for instance, you cannot use an iron-on transfer on a polypropylene bag as that is essentially plastic).

I looked for bulk/wholesale/etc. bags and came upon many that were rather expensive (especially if the website was wedding-related).

Here are options I narrowed down looking for 100 bags:

Company: Discount Mugs
Size: 15" x 15"
Price per bag: $1.09
Shipping: Free/included
NB: They offer volume discounts (order more, save more); they also offer printing services

Company: Cheap Totes
Size: 14" x 16"
Price per bag: $0.99
Shipping: $22.99
NB: $0.99/each regardless of the amount ordered

Company: Tan's Club
Size: 15" x 16"
Price per bag: $0.75
Shipping: $27.48
NB: It's cheaper if you buy them by the dozen; they also offer volume discounts (making it cheaper than 75 cents each!) if you order more than 19 dozen.

I placed an order for the Tan's Club bags! Stay tuned for more updates and what we'll be doing with the bags.

Monday, April 12, 2010

Centerpiece Ideas: Holiday Concepts

July 4th Theme Tablescape/Centerpiece
(personal photo)

While checking out party rental prices, etc., my fiance and I went to visit Buffalo Party Rental (after calling around, I can assure you they have the best prices and cheapest set-up fees). It was nice to walk around their showroom and see tables made-up. I thought their centerpieces were great and simple (...and inexpensive!).

An Easter Basket for a centerpiece! So simple!
(personal photo)

(personal photo)

Close-up of the Fourth of July Centerpiece. Just layer two/three napkins and add a tiny basket with American flags. The napkins in the water glasses also carried on the theme.
(personal photo)

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Hair and Makeup Trial

I went to Capello Salon in the Avant Building in Downtown Buffalo. One of the reasons I think they are a good choice is their convenience factor (the current plan is that I will get ready at the Embassy Suites, conveniently located in the same building). The other main reason is that they are highly regarded in the Buffalo community.

The cost of the pre-wedding trial service is $90 (which I think is a bit high for Buffalo, especially when my "bridal up-do" isn't an up-do at all)!

After the trail, the woman assisting me stated that anything could be changed for the wedding day, or that I could have her us anything that I use (such as lipstick/gloss). Weird thing is, I had to ask for her to write down the shades of the lipstick and gloss (how would she remember the day of the wedding if I said, "let's do it exactly as the pre-trial").

The immediate reaction with the hair was 'great' -- but after the day, and thinking more about it, the 'look' wasn't quite me. For the makeup, I thought it was 'great' in some aspects but not in all. First of all, I have some spots of acne, and some were still red (a noticeable spot on my chin). I mentioned this and she said that the day of the wedding they can make sure that there is no red. And while I don't wear a ton of makeup on a day-to-day basis, I wasn't sure if I would need more coverage for the wedding day (it is a long day after all, and there will be many photos taken!).

When my mother saw me about 3hrs later, she said that she loved the eyes and eyelashes (which I love too) but that I still looked too pale (I don't tan) and that I needed more foundation. Her reaction to the hair was it looked like I had two "horns" in the back -- and if I went with curls on the wedding day, I should have them more spaced out so that it looks more natural and not contrived.

During the weekend, I met with my photographer, and she mentioned that she had two trails before her wedding. I'm thinking of doing the same. I have confidence in that the woman working with me has the skills and ability -- and I'm sure the majority of clients ask for a rather typical up-do/bun.

Here is the inspiration I showed the hair dresser (who also did the makeup):

And this is how it turned out (photos taken without flash...if that makes any difference to you):

The two "horns" are on the right-side (the more defined curls) and became more pronounced as the day wore on (it was a windy day in Downtown Buffalo...but it could also be just as windy on my wedding day)

The total cost of the services for the day-of-the-wedding (or any of their bridal packages, found on their website) do not include a touch-up kit (unlike major metropolitan areas).

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Review: Eco-friendly Dinnerware II

Company: Branch

Company that Manufactures: Wasara

Line: Wasara tableware

Materials: Tree-free renewable materials (sugar cane fiber, bamboo, and reed pulp)

Dimensions: 3.1”, 5.9”, 8.0” in square (aka “Kaku”)
3.5”, 6.5”, 9.0” in circle (aka “Maru”)

My Overview: The Wasara collection comes in all-white. The plates, both square and circle, have a little lip on one side of the plate; I suppose it’s in order to help with gripping. The bottom side of the plate is textured and fells/looks like a paper plate. The plates feel thin and do not have the heaviness that I’ve seen in other similar options. The plates are stylish and the collection at-large looks like a Japanese design (they market it that way).

The Bottom Line:
They come in bulk packs or smaller consumer sizes

Small (sleeve of 200): $104, $0.52 each
Medium (sleeve of 100): $90, $0.90 each
Large (sleeve of 100): $128, $1.28 each

My Thoughts: While stylish, the overall collection would not work for the wedding. I believe this collection might be good for a cocktail party or rehearsal dinner. (I will review the collections bowls, cups, etc in a later post.)

Other: You can order a sample pack from Branch on their website.

The 8" square plate
The bottom side of the 8" square plate is a textured, slightly rough surface.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Review: Eco-friendly Dinnerware I

Company: Branch

Company that Manufactures: Bambu (located in China)

Name of Product Line: Veneerware Plates

Materials: 100% organically-grown bamboo, peeled directly from the stalk

Dimensions: 7”, 9”, or 11” diameter

My Overview: These are sturdy (heavier than a ‘heavy paper plate’) good-looking plates. I would use these for a wedding or special occasion. Each plate has a nice ~1 inch raised rim around the plate. On the back side of the plate, it states “Bambu.” If you were thinking about using chargers, you could spray paint the 11” plate and have the 9” nestle inside it. The 7” plates would be good for appetizers.

The Bottom Line:
Bulk packs of 100 (they also come in other amounts):
7” -- $65.00, $0.65 each
9” -- $ 85.00, $0.85 each
11” -- $127.00, $1.27 each

My Thoughts: We may select the 7” plates for the appetizers; I think that the plates are very nice (one of my top choices) but the price is a bit high.

Other info: You can order a Sample Pack from Branch's website.

(personal photo)
The three sizes of plates. They have a good texture and heaviness. A guest looking at them will tell that they are made out of a material other than paper pulp.

(personal photo)

This is the 9" nestled in the 11" plate. The line you see down the 9" looks like a stitch mark of where the materials came together (I think that adds, not detracts, from the plate). All of the plates have these marks.

(personal photo)

The bottom of the plate states the manufacturer "bambu." I like this feature, as it distinguishes itself as something more than a regular 'chinet' paper plate. You can also see the grain.

Monday, March 1, 2010

Cheaper Options: Eco-friendly Dinnerware instead of rented

By choosing a unique venue that does not come with tables, chairs, plates, etc. we knew that it could potentially cost a bit more for having to rent everything. After checking out rental prices for dinnerware, we thought we could save money by choosing bamboo plates. After looking at various options, we found that to be true. [I also looked into the cost of plastic plates, and melamine ones; they tend to cost just as much as the rental plates plus they look and feel cheap.]

I ordered sample packs from various companies, and will review each set over the course of this week. I will also review other compostable/biodegradable cups, silverware, etc. as well.

After the reception, I will be giving the dinnerware to a friend of the family who composts (a win-win solution: saving money while keeping more garbage out of landfills). For those thinking about having a “green wedding” and/or thinking about ways to save money – it is possible if you think outside of the box.

Sunday, February 28, 2010

Marriage Moment:

[This Sunday segment features marriage planning resources. As you're planning for your wedding, take some but be time out to focus on marriage. Remember, a wedding is a day – a marriage is a lifetime!]

Sara, at 2000 Dollar Wedding, recently wrote a post about taking pre-marital counselling after she and her husband got married. They weren't having problems, but instead wanted to gain strategies for their marriage. There are religious and secular pre-marital classes out there, although I assume that the secular ones are a bit harder to come by.

She writes about some topics that her husband and herself are working on. It's a good read!

Saturday, February 27, 2010

Group Discounts: American Airlines & Avis

The groom has been making lots of phone calls lately inquiring to various airlines and car rental companies whether or not they can provide us with group discounts for our wedding weekend. American Airlines, according to him, was the most organized (they actually knew that they had a group discount program for weddings) and was the most excited out of all of the major airlines. They also told him they have an agreement with Avis rental car to work out group discounts for them as well.

The bottom line: 5% discount on flights into/out of Buffalo
and a 5% discount on Avis rental cars

While these may or may not be the best deals out there (I think you can find better discounts for rental cars), it shows out-of-town guests that you're trying to make life easier and cheaper for them!

Contact: Although many companies have online forms to fill out for such group discounts, we found it easier to call and speak with someone (sometimes the forms would go unanswered from various companies).

8:00 a.m. - 7:00 p.m. (CT)
Monday - Friday

Friday, February 26, 2010

Miss Manner's on Destination Weddings

Miss Manner's was asked by a bride planning a destination wedding what costs are involved for her inviting family members that could not afford to attend. Read the exchange here.

[While we're in a little different situation than the woman asking Miss Manners for advice, it was hard for my fiance and I to decide where to have our wedding. I'm originally from Buffalo-Niagara, and he is originally from the Mid-West. We have family and friends all over the US, including here in Washington. We both have family members that can't travel due to health and financial concerns. No matter what, the wedding would be considered a 'destination' one. Good luck to those brides out there with similar situations!]

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Choosing a videographer

[I haven’t seen a good list of “what to ask a videographer” similar to "what to ask photographers" online, so I wanted to add my two-cents.]

Websites with highlight clips from weddings are helpful at narrowing down the type of videographer you’d like to hire (style, content, overall editing/special effects). However, in order to determine who on your short-list you should hire depends on details and the entire film package. Ask videographers to send you information on their packages, and if it’s within your price-range, ask to see two or three full-length films in order so that you can see [non-]consistency and style (note: not all of them do this; they often want you to visit them in their office).

If you’re getting married in a particular church or religion (e.g. Our Lady of Victory Basilica) ask for a film of that church or religion (e.g. if they filmed at Our Lady of Victory take a look at that film, if they haven’t ask for Catholic weddings). Outdoor weddings can be filmed with different angles than a restrictive church.

Questions to ask besides the normal “what packages do you offer”:
• What videography/film training do you have? -or- How did you get started in the business?
• How many cameras do you use? Any stationary cameras? Do you have options to add
more (get their viewpoint if more is necessary, or what they can do with two cameras that they cannot do with one camera)? Is there a possibility to have two for the ceremony and one for the reception (to save on cost)?
• Do you put a microphone on the groom during the ceremony?
• How much do you charge for overtime?
• Can you describe how you work with photographers on the wedding day?
• Do you shoot in High Definition and provide copies of the wedding film on Blu-Ray (ask if this is important to you)?
• Can the bride and groom provide input prior to the wedding day on what aspects to shoot/are most important?
• Can the bride and groom be involved in the editing process?
• Can the bride and groom provide/suggest/state the music for any highlight segments of the
• Do you “interview” guests? (note: you may not want guests to be interviewed)

While watching the films look for the following:
• Is the lighting and picture quality good and sharp?
• How does the audio sound? Can you hear the bride and groom say their vows?
• Can you see the groom's and the bride's face during their portion of the vows?
• How are the scene transitions and effects? Do they look like it is fresh or from the early 1990s?
• Is there vibration/camera movement jerky or choppiness in the video? Is the video blurry?
• What is the length of the video/film – is it too short, too long, just right?

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Drink Calculator

We’re considering hiring an independent licensed bartender for our reception (our venue does not come with a required caterer). A plus is that we can purchase our own alcohol and save substantially on the cost. In order to estimate much alcohol to purchase, I found a few drink calculators online.

To get an idea of how it works, I stated that we were going to have 130 average drinkers for a 5-hour party with Beer and Liquor (there is an option to include wine). These are the results:

390 cans of beer
20 bottles of liquor

The Green Bride Guide
9 cases of beer
11 bottles of liquor

Perfect Party Planning
62 2-liter bottles of soft drinks
260 bottles/cans of beer
13 1-liter bottles of liquor

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

DIY: Save-the-Date Christmas Card

We decided to save money by combining our Christmas Cards with the Save-the-Dates (aka STD). We also sent out 'normal' non-STD Christmas cards to those that we were not going to invite). This saved us time (not having to design a specific "STD") and money (we're only sending out one card and not two, only need one set of postage for each guest/family). Plus, because we send out Christmas cards anyway, this item doesn't get budgeted into the wedding!

If you're having a summer wedding, consider sending out the STDs at Christmas! We ordered ours from Shutterfly with a coupon code.


It reads: "We are excited to inform you that we are engaged to be married.
July xx, 2010 ~ Invitation to follow"

We also included some pictures from our trips from the past year so those that may not have met one of us will get a visual of our significant other, as well as our wedding website.

Monday, February 22, 2010

Niagara Falls: Get Married in the Mist

After Jim and Pam from NBC's The Office wed on a Maid of the Mist boat ride in Niagara Falls, interest in Niagara Falls weddings increased. also lists Niagara Falls among a list of 19 U.S. and Canadian "hot spots" for a honeymoon.

According to CNN's recent travel article: Lovers take fresh look at Niagara Falls, Niagara Falls State Park (NY) issues about 350 wedding permits each year; Queen Victoria Park (Ontario) has about 250 weddings. And it is possible to get married just like Jim and Pam, on-board the Maid of the Mist -- however, you need to bring along your own minister to officiate.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Marriage Moment: Changing your spouse

[This Sunday segment features marriage planning resources. As you're planning for your wedding, take some but be time out to focus on marriage. Remember, a wedding is a day – a marriage is a lifetime!]

The US Catholic Conference of Bishops has a website all about marriage, including sections for those preparing for marriage. The tools and information they include can be used for any religion, as they give you just that – tools and information (not heavy lectures).

A good article they have is regarding the thought that once you’re married you’ll be able to change your spouse for the better. It states that “personal change and growth can become issues in marriage because we develop at different rates.” Instead of trying to change your spouse, you should engage them in self-change by asking them to help and support you to change something in your life. Usually this helps to generate change in other spouse too (an example might be: you want them to exercise more, so you decide to start exercising and invite them along).

Saturday, February 20, 2010

First Meeting with the Priest

Catholicgauze and I took a trip to Buffalo so that we could meet with the priest at my parish, Our Lady of Victory, in order to get the wedding ceremony process started. It was a wonderful experience.

At the first meeting we did a little chit-chat and he went through the guidelines (gave us a nice little booklet and a list of things to check-off before our second meeting). He also spoke about the process of getting married in the Catholic Church at the parish.

He told us that the second meeting will be more focused on planning the actual ceremony and said that
the parish uses "Together for Life" as a guide for couples to choose and customize their wedding (contrary to what most people think, the wedding ceremony is highly customizable) and that we would receive it on our next visit. Well, we're both so excited and eager Catholics whose number one priority throughout this (wedding planning) process is the sacrament itself. So, we bought the book (only $3.95 and free shipping from Amazon prime) and are spending time reading and praying about the choices we have.

Friday, February 19, 2010

Hyatt Visit: Hotel Block #1

(personal photo)

The Buffalo Hyatt Regency recently had a tremendous makeover. I decided to stop over there to check out the guest room potential for our many out-of-town guests. The lobby is gorgeous with a huge globe right in the middle. The atrium bar and restaurant area was large and inviting. The guest rooms were beautiful, clean and the wallpaper is unique. The sizes of the rooms are average.

Internet, parking and breakfast are not included in the room rate. Valet parking is currently not available, and the parking ramp is located a half a block away, but the hotel is currently working on that detail and they hope to have a solution in place before the summer. The staff is extremely friendly --from the bellhop that showed us around the hotel, to the person that worked with me on blocking the rooms and the front desk staff.

Overall: We have a block reserved for our guests

The Bottom Line: $119 a night (the going rate on the travel sites is $179) - a substantial savings

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Which One is it? Buffalo, Buffalo-Niagara, WNY, Niagara Falls?

Obviously, there is a bit more to the region -- but you get the point!

My hometown is Buffalo-Niagara, Western New York, Niagara Falls, Upstate New York or simply, Buffalo. Which one it is depends on who asks me. If they know that New York is more than a city, I usually tell them Upstate. If they know what Upstate is, I tell them Western... you get the picture.

We will be having wedding guests that originate from around the world (over 13 countries) and around the US (I can count at least 6). It's been interesting describing the region and answering their "what is there to do" questions. Many are surprised at the ample amount of attractions.

I'm proud to show-off the Buffalo-Niagara region (that's my favorite name to use... it's the best of both worlds and unites the best things we have to offer).

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Statler: Closed

As the Statler saga continues, the building's first two floors are currently protectively covered up, and weddings are canceled for the foreseeable future. There hasn't been reports on how many weddings and events Park Lane (the sole caterer for the building) had to cancel; however it has been reported that one final wedding was able to take place, with the bride's father actually going to the bankruptcy court to appeal for the wedding.

I wonder if those that left deposits with Park Lane received them back, and what those brides and grooms are doing in the meantime (are they looking for a new venue on the same date, did they have to change their date, or postpone in order to accommodate their wedding)?

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Budget: What's included, what's not

Many people claim to include everything in their wedding budget, but I beg to differ. Many people buy a wedding planning book or a binder/notebook specifically for the "big day" and the planning leading up to it. Do they include this in their budget? Should they include this in their budget? What about the deprecation of utilizing a personal computer while you're wedding planning -- or time spent phoning vendors while you're technically supposed to be at work (doing work)? Does this get budgeted somewhere?

What we are NOT including in the budget:

Category 1 --- includes anything that "lasts a lifetime"

-wedding rings
-marriage license, marriage prep classes/pre-cana
-visiting the Priest (we need to fly into Buffalo in order to meet with him) for wedding ceremony prep
-Papal blessing

Category 2 --- includes anything that is or will be considered a "gift"

-the photography parent albums (their Christmas gifts, and therefore goes in a different budget)
-the photography album for ourselves (our Christmas gift, see above)
-my bouquet of flowers (I will be offering them to the Virgin Mary at the Church, and therefore is considered a tax write-off)
-Church offering (again, a tax write-off)

Category 3 --- includes anything that will be "re-purposed"

-our pairs of shoes
-any jewelry that we may buy
-the centerpieces to the tables (we're not having flowers)
-the woman's bathroom supplies basket

Things that are IN the budget..... but we hope to recoup the costs (by reselling):

-silverware (if we decide to buy instead of rent)
-linens (if we decide to buy instead of rent)

Monday, February 15, 2010

Wedding Planning Books

Miss Scissors from Weddingbee recently posted that the only wedding planning book you need to buy is Mindy Weiss' "The Wedding Book: The Big Book for your Big Day." I wholeheartedly agree. I first picked up the book in the local library (along with other guides) and this one stood out. I never thought that I would actually end up buying any planning guide, but this one has content that you can't find on the internet and good pointers (so you don't have to search aimlessly on google for the answer to "what date should my RSVP be?").

Sunday, February 14, 2010

A Buffalo Wedding Cake Challenge

This amateur entry from Jackie Wodzinski won "Best interpretation of the theme"
Wow! Great job on thi
s cake! Love it!


Would you like Buffalo Chicken Wings on your wedding cake? The Nickel City Wedding Cake Challenge took place on Saturday in Buffalo. Similar to what you can see on the Food Network's cake challenges, the Buffalo chefs had two hours to make a cake with the theme: “Buffalo Wedding”

The winning cake from Panaro’s on Delaware Avenue included wings, beef on weck (with horseradish of course!), and pizza. The two other contenders were Zillycakes and Pumpernick n’ Pastry Shop. There was also an amateur competition and food demonstrations.

The Buffalo News has a video of the event, including the cakes! Buffalo Spree has an article (before the event) as well.

The winning cake from Panaro's


Pumpernick n' Pastry

Choosing our photographer

I love the photographs of the kids hanging out at the wedding!

We were engaged for over a month before we started to plan the wedding. After speaking with my Buffalo parish to secure a date, the very next thing I did was email my favorite photographer (I had stalked out wedding photography blogs, especially of those photog's in the Buffalo-Niagara and Rochester areas. Unfortunately at the time, the photographer I loved was booked.)

I looked around, emailed around some more, and found a really great photographer, Deanna Wallace, from the Rochester area (studio name is Visually Deelicious). While her main trade is as a successful self-employed website designer, she has a great interest in wedding photography, and possesses a real eye for detail and the creative elements that many of the top (and way more expensive) photographers exhibit. We're both excited for her joining in our day.

What main things did we look for while selecting a photographer?

We both wanted a dynamic photojournalist-type photographer from the Western New York area. It's important for us to have photos that will showcase our personality.

We looked for a photographer that was able to take really great shots as well as a cohesive set (don't just look at 5 "best shots" they post on their blog, ask to see entire portfolio of one particular wedding -- not the "best shots" of all the weddings -- the quality you see there for that one particular wedding is what you should expect for your own).

Since photographers of this caliber charge more for their talent, it was important for us to find a photographer that has customizable packages and features (what may work for a majority of clients may not work for all!). We wanted an album, two parent albums, and reproduction rights (which is included in all of Deanna's packages). She put together a great package for us.