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.