Maggie and Charlie's Wedding at Club Hillbrook: Shabby Chic Wedding

Friday, November 26, 2010 No comments

After meeting Charlie and Maggie for the first time, I couldn't contain my excitement for their shabby chic style wedding. Maggie has a real eye for wedding details right down to using her very own antique white cabinet to display their programs. She was very hands on throughout the process. She painted the chartreuse letter E that was displayed throughout the evening and made her own tag board for her place cards. It doesn't surprise me that Maggie is now a contributor for Style Me Pretty! She even used their very own silhouettes for the sticker on their invitations. She thought of everything! The weather that weekend was sunny and warm and it fit their personalities just perfectly. The Hillbrook Club was a stunning backdrop for the gray linens and chartreuse napkins. The tables were finished with a beautiful floral centerpiece or set of white candles by Grand Designs. One of my favorite parts of their wedding was being able to work with the uber talented husband and wife team of Kortnee Kate Photography! I had heard so many great things about them. They certainly didnt disappoint! I knew the photographs would be unique when Kortnee asked the staff to move a couch on to the lawn! The evening was really magical and guests danced the night away with music provided by The DJ Crew. I couldn't have asked for a more perfect wedding day for a very sweet couple!

September 25 Pittsburgh Wedding: Abby & TJ

Monday, November 15, 2010 No comments

This September 25 wedding contained a lot of "firsts" for Kirkbrides.
  • One, it was the first time we did weddings for two sisters!
  • Second, it was the first time we planned a wedding in Pittsburgh.
  • Third, it was the first time I had a groom dress in his military uniform and have his fellow air force members perform a Saber Arch after the ceremony!
  • And last but certainly not least, one of Abby's brothers wrote and performed a song dedicated to her - it was meaningful, sentimental, funny and catchy! It was a wonderful moment outside of the "regular" wedding routine of events.
Abby really reminded me of my favorite classic movie star that day: Audrey Hepburn. I know she has blond hair and everything, but her style was so Audrey. :) I loved her headpiece! The wedding ceremony took place at a church right next to Pitt's campus, in the First Baptist Church of Pittsburgh which was built in 1812! Our reception was held at Springwood, one of the prettiest indoor and outdoor locations I've seen.

It was wonderful to work out of town for a weekend (and a few separate trips leading up to it!), and interesting to see weddings done in a different city. Congratulations Abby and TJ!!!

Pictures are provided courtesy of Bryan Reid Photography, who also does weddings in Cleveland!

Note from mother of the bride:
Hi Valarie,
Van and I would like to thank you for all your hard work. Both occasions were
dreams come true. Once again, thank you for all your work. I can't believe both my girls are married and gone in less than 6 months?! But the weddings couldn't have
been more beautiful. I'll recommend you to everyone. Love, Kristen

All of the pictures below were taken by me!

Wedding Etiquette

Sunday, November 14, 2010 1 comment

We’ve put together this blog post for those couples in need of some advice and tips with different aspects of your wedding. We’ve tried to touch on some of the most commonly asked-about areas for you!


Depending on the location of the wedding and its guests, invitations should be sent out 6 – 8 weeks before the wedding. If many guests will have to make travel arrangements sending a Save the Date might be a good option (below is information on Save the Date etiquette). The RSVP date should be about 3 weeks before the wedding so that you are able to call those who haven’t responded, and tell the vendors the exact number of attendees and the meal choices if there is one. The formality of the wording in your wedding invitation should reflect the formality of the event. If your wedding is in a church and the reception venue is formal, then so should the wording in your invitation. But if you’re having an outdoor ceremony, with the reception under a clear-span tent, you should consider going less formal.

If your affair is on the formal side, some tips would be to: use the letter ‘u’ in the words honour and favour, spell out all words (St. = Street), address everyone as Mr., Mrs., Miss., Dr., and use roman numerals instead of announcing someone as the first, the second or the third (instead, Richard III). Less formal weddings have less ‘guidelines’ and more room to be creative. Below are examples of both formal and informal invitations. Both are beautiful and interesting in their own, unique way.

Classic invitation wording:

Trendy invitation wording:

Along with your invitation you should include a response card with room for the guest to write all of the names of people attending, the total number of guests that are attending and room for their meal choice(s) if there is one. Generally the line on the response card for the guests names will start with an M, but if the guest your are inviting is a doctor, use Dr instead. Also, a card with information about the reception location and time should be included since information about the ceremony is on the invitation itself. There should also be a card with information about a hotel room block or directions card if necessary.

Save the Date

Save the Dates are becoming more popular, but originally were used for those who were having their wedding somewhere far away to give guests plenty of time to make travel arrangements. The Save the Date should include the following information: wedding date, location, hotel arrangements, and wedding website information. Remember, Save the Dates are not meant to be formal like the invitation. Many people send them out as a postcard, magnet, even a bookmark would be fun! A lot of times the Save the Dates will be a picture of the couple (possibly from their engagement shoot) or even a picture of their pet(s); the options are endless. These should not be sent out a year before the wedding, but generally 4 – 6 months before the wedding. Also, keep in mind that everyone receiving a Save the Date should also receive a formal invitation!


First lets discuss the bridal table. There are endless options, but think about if you would like to sit with all of your bridal party, just the maid of honor and best man, or even just get to spend the dinner portion of the night with your new hubby! Once you figure out how you would like to be seated, then figure out the rest of the wedding guests. If there is a meal choice involved, escort cards might be helpful for the catering staff because a lot of times guests will forget what meal choice they chose three weeks ago. When using escort cards, making a seating chart is necessary, but doesn’t have to be difficult. Generally you should seat the immediate family close to the head/sweetheart table, and if there are a large number of children attending, you can always designate a table or two as children’s tables.

When arranging the rest of your guests, try and be accommodating so that your single friend isn’t at a table with all couples that he/she doesn’t know for example, but don’t lose sleep over it!

Here are some tips for creating your own seating chart: Get a seating chart from the venue for the arrangement and number of tables you will be working with. Cut out one circle per guest table, make sticky notes for each guest and have fun playing around with all of the many options! (You can even color code groups of your guests with the post-it’s: family, friends, work colleagues, etc.) Remember to seat your family closest to the head table, and then work your way out from there. After all of your guests have been assigned, create a simple spreadsheet in excel with each table name/number and the guest names seated there. It should be more fun than stressful!

Receiving Line

The receiving line allows the bride and groom (and their parents if desired) to speak with all of the guests at the wedding before the night is over. It is not a requirement, and is becoming less popular. Traditionally the receiving line would be at the end of the ceremony or at the beginning of the reception with the newlyweds, the brides’ parents, maid of honor and best man. But any variation can be done and the time/location can change as well. Some like to do it at the end of the ceremony, while others do it at the cocktail hour or reception. Talk to your fiancĂ© and decide when you will be taking time to talk to guests. If this is something that you would like to do, just remember that there are many options to consider. You could have the receiving line at the end of the ceremony, during cocktail hour, or even going around to tables during dinner to greet everyone. There’s no right or wrong way to do it, you'll just have to take into consideration the timing of the events on your wedding day, and when pictures are being taken to make the best decision!

Thank You Note

The one thing that all couples dread, but remember, the faster you do it, the faster it gets done! All thank you notes should be mailed out no more than three months after the wedding. If you receive gifts before the wedding or in the mail, respond immediately with a thank you to get it out of the way, and to let the senders know that you received their gift. Sometimes creating a process is easier, for example, when you open gifts keep a record of each gift, the giver, when you got it (before, at, or after the wedding) and when the thank you note was mailed if not all at once. This will help keep you organized, and will make sending thank you notes simple. Each thank you note should be hand written and personal. You should mention the gift received and a special use you may have for it. Also remember, you must send out separate thank you notes for shower and wedding gifts from the same people.

After it’s all said and done, you’ll be thankful you took all of these details into consideration, and your wedding day will be even more enjoyable because of it! Hopefully this will give you a little insight and help when trying to figure out what to do for all of those wedding details. Good luck with the planning!

Photos from

Alyson & Collin's Wedding at Happy Days Lodge: Summer Soiree

Tuesday, November 9, 2010 1 comment
Alyson and I worked together to create her rustic and summer themed wedding for almost a year. She loved bright colors and I think you can see that by the design we came up with! We brought in her italian culture by incorporating a truly unique and delicious Italian menu with a soup course of Italian wedding soup, an Italian salad served with warm breadsticks and a make your own pasta station from A Taste of Excellence. Our gorgeous cake and cupcakes were by The Grande Finale.

One notable aspect of this wedding that I think would be helpful for future brides is that Alyson had her hair styled half up/half down for the ceremony and formal pictures, and then put it up for the reception. I absolutely loved both styles!

Click here to watch their wedding trailer from Saturn Studios.

Note from Alyson:
I hope you are doing well, I still read your blog :-) and wish I could do my wedding all over again because it was so amazing. Everyone had such a great time.
You and your team were nothing but awesome that day! Our families really enjoyed themselves and my mom refers to it as "the perfect wedding" - she thought was never possible :-) I have had so many compliments on everything. It was amazing - I could not have done it without you!! I really can't even say thank you enough for all of your hard work. Both of our families were so happy with the wedding so it truly was perfect!

Pictures by Sofia Photography

The rest of the pictures below were taken by me!