Monday, August 13, 2012

Year One

Exactly 366 days ago (remember, 2012 was a leap year!), I put on a gorgeous white dress,

 took my dad's arm and walked down the aisle,

to exchange vows

and commit myself to my most favorite person on the planet.

I've occasionally heard that the first year of marriage is the hardest, and prior to being married, I always poo-pooed that idea. Turns out, I was a little premature in my assessment.  Obviously I've only been married for one year so I can't weigh in on whether year one is any easier or harder than year five or year fifty-five, but I can definitely say that year one wasn't without its challenges.  I dated Mr. Snow Cone for just shy of nine years before exchanging vows and rings, so I was quite confident that I knew every nook and cranny of his existence.  And I still do feel that way today.

However, I'd say the biggest lesson from year one was that I didn't really know myself.  Specifically, I had never taken the time to recognize how my personality would both mesh and conflict with another's on an every-day, every-minute basis.  You see, Mr. Snow Cone and I had never lived together before getting married, and as a result, we had our fair share of "You're kidding me, right?" moments.  I'd be fibbing if I said every moment of the past year was newlywed bliss.  Heck, I'd probably be fibbing if I said every moment of the past year was newlywed civility or tolerance!

To me, though, the important thing is this -- 366 days in, and I can now, more clearly than ever, understand what our relationship needs in order to work and why it works.  We're far from perfect, but that's OK.  Even though our marriage may have its flaws, those truly pale in comparison to the strengths and supports that are fundamental to its success.  He brings out the best parts of me, plain and simple.  I can only hope I do the same to him.

Here's to many more years of laughter! (And don't forget that you can find out what the Snow Cones are up to at my new blog, The Strawberry Blonde Life!)

All photos courtesy of Christina Garber

Thursday, June 14, 2012

A Lifetime of Tomorrows

Sadly, it's about that time.  I've said all I have to say about our engagement and wedding, and now it's time for me to retire this pretty little blog and, with it, this chapter of my life.

Just about two years ago, I moved to Pittsburgh with a shiny new ring on my hand, transitioning to a new city with a new support system.  It wasn't the hardest move ever, as I had Mr. Snow Cone by my side, but there was a definite vacancy in my life.  The vast majority of my social life consisted of hanging out with guys who, for the most part, wouldn't even know that there are different chair options for a reception, let alone that people go gaga for specific varieties.  I had all of my bridesmaids and my mom to go along the planning journey with me, but I always felt that I (rightfully so) cared more about the nitty-gritty details than they did.  I was trying to be sensitive and not eat up all of their time with the grand debate of ivory versus white, so I needed a space of my own to discuss these details with people who were engaged, interested, and understanding.  And that, my friends, was WeddingBee.

It's been such a special privilege to tell my story here, and I will forever be grateful for the support, camaraderie, feedback, and love that I've experienced.  Being engaged was already such a fun, exciting chapter of my life, and the opportunity to contribute to this site made it that much more memorable.  I'm so glad I took the time to transcribe this journey, from start to finish; I have no doubt that I will look back on these words with fondness in 5, 10, or 50 years.  I hope you've enjoyed this experience a mere morsel as much as I have.

I've truly loved being your Snow Cone.

 Photo courtesy of Mrs. Bunting!

As much as I've loved being engaged and newly married, I'm even more excited about what comes next - a lifetime of tomorrows with my amazing husband.  Feel free to check in on what we're up to at my new blog, The Strawberry Blonde Life.

 Photo courtesy of Christina Garber

Hugs and high fives,
Mrs. Snow Cone

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

A Bee's Life: Snow Cone!

WeddingBee, I just can't quit you.  So you get one more post before the dreaded farewell.

How I Found WeddingBee
About 48 hours after I got engaged, I got the planning bug and started to Google color schemes.  I think my search for some peacock inspiration landed me on the WeddingBee boards.  I was shocked that a resource existed in which people could upload their own photos as ways of sparking inspiration for others.  All of my knowledge of the online world prior to this point was limited to "Real Weddings" on other sites which normally come with no budget information but you have no doubt that they're, well, lavish.  Not exactly helpful.  I loved the accessibility of this new little treasure trove of ideas.

A few days later, I stumbled across the blog portion of the site.  I think I was looking for Pennsylvania weddings, and Mrs. Octopus had been introduced mere days before I got engaged.  It was clearly meant to be.  That serendipity didn't help me to make heads or tails of this site, though.  As far as I could tell, a bunch of anonymous people were creating fake identities to exist in this online world, and why anyone would want to be known as Mrs. Insert-Inanimate-Object-Here was beyond me.  I decided it was a little too "out there" for me and kindly bid it adieu.

Fast-forward a few weeks, and I was honestly just curious to figure out the whole schtick behind this site with Cheeseburgers and Octopi and Penguins.  If I happened to pick up some wedding inspiration along the way, so be it.  Once I figured out the whole blog element of the site, I was totally hooked. 

My Application Story
Shortly after I fell in love with the site, I decided that I would apply to be a blogger, even though I hadn't ever blogged, with the exception a semester abroad.  Before I could begin my wedding blog, though, I got cold feet.  What if I started it and never saw it through?  I considered this to be a very real possibility, given that I had school, work, and wedding planning eating up most of my time.  I decided to table the whole blog idea before it even got off the ground.

As I neared the eight-month mark, though, I started to feel the itch.  I desperately wanted to blog for WeddingBee, and if that meant I had to work on my time management, so be it.  I realized I had never identified a specific goal and not thrown myself head-first into trying to make it happen, so why should this be any different?  After confirming that I didn't need to be marrying in a major metropolitan area, I took the plunge and started my blog.

I plodded along happily, walking through the story of us and our wedding planning to date.  On December 13, I sent in my application and then waited.  I was both wildly confident and horrifically wary about my chances of being selected.  I even kept a chart of the brunch generation icons, putting red x's over the selected one so I could have a head start in choosing my hypothetical future moniker.  Well, the weeks came and passed.  I read between nonexistent lines, thinking that a dry spell with no response maybe meant I was an automatic no.  Or I was a maybe.  Or I was a yes but they needed to space out introductions.  I drove myself insane and then, finally, the day came.  The day I realized I'd passed the five-week mark and needed to check back in.  Sure enough, my application had gotten lost in the shuffle and would be immediately evaluated.  A few days later, I woke up to a rejection email and actually felt great about it.

Sure, it stung at first, but I was driving myself bonkers with the incessant email checking and stressing.  I decided to put my head down and keep blogging.  After about a month of new posts and a mild refinement of my writing voice, I reapplied.  And, finally, the day I'd been waiting for arrived.  The day I realized that I had, once again, passed the five-week mark.  So, I emailed Pengy, and a few days later, I found out I was in!  I still remember all the details of that day and how nervous I was as I crafted my intro post at 5 in the morning because I was too jazzed to sleep.

 something like that

Being a Blogger Bee
At the risk of sounding dramatic, being a blogger bee is the best thing that has happened to me in a long time (minus that whole marrying my soulmate thing).  It's provided me with such an outlet in every sense of the word.  Few things are as gratifying as laboring over a detail or an event and receiving positive feedback from people who may not know you, but still support you.  Still to this day, a full year after I joined the site as a blogger, I get all warm and fuzzy reading through the comments on any of my posts.  And, still to this day, it occasionally surprises me to remember that just as I sapped inspiration from bees past, some readers may like an idea that I used!  While I may not blog with the site in mind (see below), that hasn't prevented me from putting down deep, happy roots in this wonderful online world.

Tips for Aspiring Bees!
When I applied (and re-applied), I voraciously read these "Bee's Life" posts and was always kind of put off with the abstract advice.  While they were undoubtedly accurate, I still needed real, hard suggestions to put into motion, people! So, in the hopes of helping some neurotic little ladies like myself, here are some "real" tips that helped me in my applying.
  • Have one of your nearest and dearest friends who knows you really well but isn't afraid to give you honest feedback read your posts.  Ask her (or him!) if she can hear your voice telling her this story.  I struggled with my writing style in the beginning, and bounced posts off one of my best friends.  I felt so validated when she finally assessed that my writing actually sounded like me!
  • Write for you.  It's really easy to get caught up in the mindset that there's a formula for preparing a WeddingBee-worthy application blog, like you need x posts about your proposal, y posts about picking a florist, and z posts about font selections.  In reality, that's more than likely going to set you up for some stiff, clunky writing.  Instead, recognize that you are already a reader of WeddingBee.  What is it that you want to read about?  And, along those same lines, write about what's important to you.  In 10 years, the only person who is likely to flip through these posts is going to be you.  Create a version of this special chapter in your life that will still resonate for yourself.  Sure, there are readers who could also be taking a look at your posts, but it will ring truer if you do it for you.
  • Tell a story.  Instead of rattling off a list of what you need to accomplish this month, delve into a few specific details of one specific task.  Tell the readers (and yourself) why you were stressing over picking your invitation design, or why you've always been so confident about your wedding band selection.  Think of it this way - what's more interesting, when a friend tells you what she bought at the grocery store, or when a friend tells you about that crazy guy she saw smelling all the melons in the produce aisle?
  • Along those same lines, try to find a hook within your story.  Lots and lots of people buy wedding dresses.  What detail about your experience with your dress hunt is most interesting or surprising?  What detail are you going to tell your kids about when they ask you about how you decided that dress was the one?
  • Don't worry about your wedding not being _____ enough.  When I was waiting to hear back on my first application, I fell into a nasty mindset in which I convinced myself that a rejection would mean my wedding needed improvement, rather than my blogging.  This could not be further from the truth.  The only "improvement" I can think of that an applicant wedding may need is purely nailing down specifics.  It's a lot easier to tell interesting stories about places you've visited, rather than places you've considered traveling to, you know?  But, back to my original point.  Everyone's weddings will have repeated aspects and individual details.  What's important is that you embrace the path your wedding is taking and tell us about it.  Simple as that.
Sorry for going on and on; I can be pretty easily excitable and run on at the mouth keyboard.

Monday, June 11, 2012

You're My Everything: Inspiration Turned Reality

One of my favorite posts on WeddingBee is seeing brides compare the wedding's inspiration board as it stood during the planning phase, and how it compared to the eventual finished product.  Apparently, during planning, I decided that one inspiration board just wasn't enough, so I crafted an original one shortly after we got engaged and needed to pick colors and then updated it to check my progress on how our "updated classics" style was coming together.

Here's inspiration board #1, which helped seal the deal that purple, green, and grey would indeed be our wedding colors.

Collage created by me.  Sources, clockwise from top left: (1) Cake via TheKnot / Photo by Look Photography / Cake by Classic Confection Cakes, (2) Pew flowers via TheKnot / Photo by Alliance Photography / Flowers by Indigo Floral, (3) Bridesmaids via TheKnot / Photo by Melissa Jill Photography / Dresses by Priscilla of Boston, (4) Boutonniere via TheKnot / Photo by L Photographie / Boutonniere by Thorn Studio, LLC, (5) Bouquet via TheKnot / Photo by Kay English Photography / Bouquet by Kay Reynolds, Bridal Bouquet Design, (6) Groomsmen via TheKnot / Photo by Elizabeth Messina Photography / Attire by Banana Republic,   (7) Menu via TheKnot / Photo by Marni Rothschild Photos / Menu by Studio R, (8) Shoes via TheKnot / Photo by D. Bryant Photography

Here's inspiration board #2, that I made 100 days before our wedding.  Some of the pictures were representative of choices we'd already made, while others were still details we hoped would come together for us.
Collage created by me.  Sources, clockwise, starting at bottom-left: (1) BM dress via Jasmine Bridal, (2) B&W photo via hive member Lindsay05 on the Weddingbee Boards / Photo by Joi Photography, (3) Shoes via, (4) Letters via Elizabeth Anne Designs / Photo by Jennifer Brum Photography, (5) Jumping via Milla C. Photography, (6) Dudes via Milla C. Photography, (7) Wedding dress via Recycled Bride, (8) Candles via Weddingbee Classifieds, (9) Tie via, (10) Cake via Long Island Weddings, (11) Veil via Wedding Spotter, (12) Bouquet via Holly Chapple Flowers, (13) Hydrangea stamp via Kissin’ Krafts on Etsy, (14) Necklace via Ann Taylor

And, finally, here's our "reality board," complete with images from our very own event.

 Collage created by me, all photos courtesy of Christina Garber

Not too shabby, right?  Overall, I couldn't be happier with the finished look and feel of our wedding.  It was fun, familiar, and traditional, with just a touch of modernity.  I'm obviously biased, but I think we achieved our goal of "updated classic!"

How did you use inspiration boards in your planning?  Any other newlyweds compare planning inspiration versus reality after the wedding?

Monday, June 4, 2012

I Hate Regret.

If I had to describe my attitude/mentality in three words, I'd say "I hate regrets."  Seriously.  Hate them.  I'm not just talking about wishing you had majored in something else in college or wishing you had traveled the world before settling down.  Nope, I get majorly upset at even the tiniest comments that could be twisted into regrets, like when Mr. Snow Cone says that he wishes he would have gotten Beer A instead of Beer B at the restaurant.  A statement that seems off-handed to him makes me cringe and grit my teeth.  I've done a bit of soul-searching on this matter, and here's what I've come up with - for better or worse, I am at my happiest when those I care about are at their happiest.  So, when Mr. Snow Cone says he wishes he would have ordered a different beer while we're out to eat, I hear that he's not at his maximum happiness, and I feel a nearly overwhelming urge to do something to problem solve this situation.  It's just not in my nature to sit idly by and let a "problem" persist; I want to help!

Anyhow, this mentality has motivated me to recognize what I can and cannot change and form my reactions along that fundamental divide.  I try my hardest to not let something I perceive to be unchanging eat away at me, becoming a regret.

So how does all of this psycho babble relate to weddings?  Here's the truth of the matter.  I regret not having someone, anyone videotape the important parts of our wedding day.  Nearly 10 months after the fact, and I still can't shake this deep, pit-of-the-stomach, ugly regret that one of the most monumental moments of my life could have been captured on film, and yet, it wasn't.  Don't get me wrong, we considered videography, but came up empty-handed when travel and cost logistics were realistically evaluated.  I intended to ask someone to tape it, but that detail kind of got lost in the shuffle as the wedding day approached.  I guess I assumed someone would whip out a video camera and catch the moments came.  Wrong. 

The good news is that these pangs of regret come less frequently now that we're almost a year after the fact.  But, when they do come, I throw a pretty mean pity party for myself.  To be perfectly honest, since our wedding, I've pretty much avoided watching anyone else's wedding videos, for fear of stirring up some largely-repressed emotions.  While this strategy has been working on some level, still even seeing others' video posts is enough to make me fall into a minor funk.  The worst part?  I know I can't do a gosh darned thing about it.  If you regret ordering Beer A, shell out the extra five bucks and order Beer B.  If you regret not filming your wedding, you... pout.  And stew.  And try to forget it.  Those are about your only forms of recourse, so it seems.

But, here's the decision I've reached.  Yes, I can't do a single thing to capture moments of the wedding day on film.  That doesn't mean I have to feel sorry for myself or, God forbid, lump my entire wedding day under this tiny umbrella of disappointment.  From a rational approach, I've recognized that I likely would watch the video multiples times the first year of marriage, and increasingly infrequently thereafter.  What I may lack in video footage (I feel) I more than make up for with this blog adventure and our gorgeous photographs.  I poured every detail I could remember into our recaps, and I'm confident that I'll enjoy and connect with those artifacts in a more meaningful manner than I would with a video.  It may be just an attitude I'm forcing myself into, but it's what I'm focusing on right now.  That attitude should hold me over at least until Marty McFly and Doc Brown pick me up in their souped-up Delorean to transport me back to August 2011 to watch the entire thing unfold all over again, right?

Photo via Giant Robot; photo credit Universal

I guess all of this is to say that you should take a moment to reflect on what type of wedding memories are going to be most fulfilling to you, because you only get one shot at this.

What wedding regrets have you faced?

Monday, May 7, 2012

Snow Cone Vendor Reviews

During my planning, I loved hearing other brides' opinions of their vendors' work.  I really enjoyed reading others' reviews, but always grew a bit dismayed at the fact that most of the reviews focused on Pittsburgh or Harrisburg vendors.  Hopefully this post should help to redirect some focus to the small-town vendors in Western/Central Pennsylvania.

Accommodations: Holiday Inn in Johnstown, PA
Recommend, with special considerations.
We chose to set up a block of rooms for our guests at the Holiday Inn.  Additionally, this hotel served as the location for the gentlemen to get ready for the ceremony, and as the wedding night accommodations for us.  Overall, they were an easy vendor to work with.  Mr. Snow Cone said that, despite his request that a shuttle arrive at a specific time to take the groomsmen to the church for pre-ceremony portraits, the shuttle ran late for them.  Additionally, we paid a bit of extra money to have a "honeymoon suite" as they termed it, which amounted to a regular hotel room with a conference room adjoined to it.  Both Mr. Snow Cone and I felt the use of the term "honeymoon suite" was far too generous and frankly misleading.  Overall, we had only minor bumps in the road with this hotel, so I'd recommend them but wouldn't recommend falling for their honeymoon suite.

Bridal attire (gown, veil, and alterations) and BM dresses: The Exquisite Bride in Murrysville, PA
Recommend to everyone I know.

When dress shopping, I visited The Exquisite Bride just so I can say I tested the Pittsburgh bridal salon waters.  I had fallen in love with some gowns already, so I expected to stop by, try on a few, and return to another salon.  I told my consultant what I thought I wanted, she pulled some based on those guidelines, and then noted what feedback I was providing and pulled one based on her assessment of what would suit my preferences.  It was the total opposite of what I originally outlined, and it was absolutely the perfect choice.

I purchased my veil, necklace, and BM dresses there, and everything was a breeze.  Because I purchased my own gown there and had seven 'maids, the shop granted us a 15% discount on BM dresses, which was very helpful to us all. I also worked with the in-shop seamstress, who wasn't pushy or irked by the short turn-around time for my alterations.  Without a doubt, this shop was a gem in the wedding planning process.

Cake: Cindy Leech in Johnstown, PA
Highly recommend.

Admittedly, Cindy is a family friend who agreed to do our wedding cake shortly after we got engaged.  However, that doesn't diminish the fact that she whipped together a gorgeous cake based on a rough design plan I communicated to her a whopping two to three weeks before the wedding.  She also didn't bat an eye when I asked her to coordinate with our florists to work out the details of the flowers for the cake.  The cake looked amazing and tasted even better.  If you'd like contact information from her, as she runs her cake business out of her personal home, please contact me directly for her phone number.

DJ: Top Dog DJs in Johnstown, PA 
Highly recommend.

Top Dog made planning the music for our reception, in addition to our reception timeline, a very simple process.  One of my favorite parts of working with this company was their online event planner.  One simple form with all of the blanks that needed to be filled in, along with a library of song suggestions for each specific part of the reception.  Dustin, our DJ, walked me through the entire evening during a planning session and really worked in a lot of our preferences for special reception moments.  I am still in love with the pair-by-pair grand entrance montage he prepared; I think it added a really unique detail to our big evening.  Most importantly of all, our dance floor was packed the whole evening!

Flowers: Bob's Floral in Seanor, PA
Highly recommend, but no longer available.

Bob's Floral was a complete a total joy to work with.  Bob and his partner, Greg, provided top-notch customer service, from our very first planning session all the way through the wedding day.  They provided an experienced eye when it came to picking out floral arrangements, and they were very transparent when it came to the costs associated with any specific floral decision.  Our flowers were gorgeous and completed our wedding day.

The reason this vendor is no longer available is that Bob passed away unexpectedly a few months ago.  I'm still saddened to hear about this loss, having gotten to know Bob and Greg through our planning conversations.  I will be eternally grateful that we were lucky enough to have Bob's floral talents grace our wedding day.

Makeup: DIY based on bridal makeup lesson from Pittsburgh Makeup in Pittsburgh, PA 
Highly recommend.

While I did my own makeup for my wedding day, I decided to have a professional consultation a few months prior, and it was one of the best decisions I made.  Julie Marckisotto was very helpful and warm during our meeting.  I loved that she took the time to look at my existing makeup supply, rather than telling me I needed to spend $300 on all new supplies.  Along the same lines, for the makeup she suggested I purchase, she provided a good mix of department store and drugstore brands, which was kind to my wallet.  She walked me through proper application, helpful hints, and common errors, ending the appointment by giving me notes on our session to help me recreate the look.  Even if you don't think professional makeup is what you want or need for your wedding day, I highly encourage you to consider a consultation to make sure you're confident you're looking your best on your wedding day.

Men's suits: Miller's Formalwear in Johnstown, PA
Would not recommend for large group purchases.

I have worked with Miller's in the past for individual suit purchases or individual tuxedo rentals, and they've always delivered.  However, I do have to say that I was not very happy with the service we received during our relationship with them for the wedding.  Simply put, we had arranged to order about 10 suits from them six months in advance of our wedding, and provided them with the measurements they requested.  We were then repeatedly told that the suits should be in "by the end of next week," and many of our follow-up calls went unreturned.  Finally, about two months before our wedding, we were told that the original suit we had requested (a three-piece ensemble) would be unavailable due to an alleged fabric shortage in China, so we were forced to go with vestless suits for the gentlemen. I was (and still am) put off by that response, given that we had done everything within our control to ensure an easy ordering process, and we were not given the same attention to detail in response.  Sure, the men looked dapper, but there was definite room for improvement.  It seemed as though this shop is quintessentially mom and pop and didn't handle bulk orders for weddings on a regular basis, leaving everyone a bit uncertain about how to proceed.  Overall, I wouldn't recommend going to this shop if a bride expressed interest in a bulk suit order.

Photography: Christina Garber in Altoona, PA 
Recommend to everyone I know.  

I stumbled upon Christina's website through a lucky Google search, and I have a feeling I'll be thanking the internet gods for a few decades to come for this discovery.  I honestly cannot say enough about how grateful I am that we worked with Christina for our special day.  She's a joy to work with, both in-person and via email/phone.  Her images are undeniably amazing, and we had all of our wedding photos in-hand within two weeks of our wedding.  Truthfully speaking, I'm mildly upset that I don't know more people planning weddings in the Johnstown-Altoona area; I feel robbed of the chance to gush over this amazing vendor!

Printing: Copies Plus in Johnstown, PA
Highly recommend.

As our wedding weekend drew nearer, I was in a major bind regarding printing.  I had a seating chart, programs, and menus that were completed but needed to be printed, trimmed, backed on foam, and bound, and I didn't have the time or focus to get it all done myself.  Fortunately, my mom suggested outsourcing it all to Copies Plus, and it was a total life-saver.  I dropped a thumb drive and some specific instructions off, and less than 24 hours later, it was all ready to go, and reasonably priced at that!

Reception venue: Sunnehanna Country Club in Johnstown, PA
Highly recommend.

Our reception at Sunnehanna was perfectly executed.  We worked very closely with Sunnehanna's on-site coordinator, Denise, who was a great combination of experienced and innovative.  She took all of my ideas and made them work, creating what I thought was a very personalized, warm reception.  We've fielded many compliments on the food (we used Sunnehanna's on-site catering), and the night flowed perfectly.  I'm not entirely clear on the membership restrictions associated with having a wedding at Sunnehanna, given that it is a private club, but if you're looking for a wedding site in Johnstown and Sunnehanna's an option, you should definitely look into it.

Rehearsal dinner catering: Clark's Corner Store in Johnstown, PA 
Highly recommend.

photo by my brother P
Clark's is a company that my family has worked with innumerable times in the past, yet they always manage to impress me with their food, service, and attention to detail.  Our rehearsal dinner was one of the highlights of our wedding weekend.  While Mr. Snow Cone's parents hosted the event and my parents provided the facility, I don't think either of them had to manage the actual execution of the evening.  Everything was gorgeously prepared and presented, and clean-up was a breeze.  Somehow, Clark's was able to expertly pull off an event that included both hometown pizza and surf and turf, all while making it look natural and effortless.  I'd definitely recommend Clark's for any catering needs, weddings or otherwise. 

Rings: Brooks Diamonds in Pittsburgh, PA
Highly recommend.

Mr. Snow Cone worked closely with Stacey Brooks, owner of this store, to design my engagement ring.  Therefore, it was a no-brainer for us to use the same vendor for our wedding rings.  Neither of us were very high-maintenance in our ring selection, but Stacey still walked us through some options, never rushing our decisions.  Our rings were ready for pick-up in a very timely manner, which allowed us to cross that off our to-do list.  My only cautionary comment about working with Brooks Diamonds is to make an appointment to view rings; the facility isn't very large and it's staffed by only a few individuals.  By making an appointment, you'll ensure you have great customer service and a positive shopping experience.
Transportation: McIlwain Charters in Johnstown, PA
Highly recommend.

 photo by my brother P

McIlwain made it very easy to book wedding day transportation.  We weren't sure if we wanted to shuttle the bridal to the ceremony and/or from ceremony to reception; we also toyed with the idea of shuttling guests to and from the reception.  I can't tell you how many different quotes I requested from them over a span of just a few weeks, but they took it all in stride.  Finally, we settled on the party bus for just the bridal party, for just after the ceremony.  The bus was right on time, the driver was beyond courteous, and the bus was wonderfully air-conditioned.  This party bus was the perfect choice for our group.

Which vendor choice made you happiest during your planning/wedding?

All photos courtesy of the amazing Christina Garber unless otherwise noted.

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

You're My Everything: Forgotten Details

As our final song ended, the lights came up, and our guests started to grab their purses, jackets, and shoes from their respective tables.  Before I could even wrap my head around what was happening, the only souls left at Sunnehanna were us, our parents, and a smattering of siblings and bridal party members.  Prior to the wedding, we hadn't arranged any sort of fancy-schmancy send-off, as I wasn't really interested in organizing another detail like a vintage car to whisk away to newlywed bliss.  I assumed that we'd manage to wrangle some spots in a car headed down to our hotel without issue.

Fortunately, that turned out to be true.  Mr. Snow Cone and I, and an errant abandoned groomsman, squeezed into the backseat of Mr. Snow Cone's parents' SUV.  On the one hand, it was nice to just sit and let myself unwind for a few moments.  On the other hand, this makeshift plan definitely had some flaws.  Namely, while we were sitting and waiting to be dropped off at the hotel, our parents and the venue staff were making a few dozen trips from the ballroom to the SUV, toting decor, gifts, and cards.  As a result, we probably spent the better part of an hour idly waiting.  Sure, we were able to capitalize on a free ride, but the actual mechanics of hopping into a parent's car and scooting away were a bit flawed.  If I had to do it again, I'd probably appoint someone specific to be available at a certain time to drop us off, allowing us to operate on a more independent time table.  By the time we made it down to the hotel, a relatively impromptu after party had begun.  I think Mr. Snow Cone and I were open to the possibility of joining our friends at the bar, but we were so totally exhausted that the allure of sleep was far more appealing than the allure of more standing and socializing.  We skipped the party and headed up to our room to shower and call it a night.

Once we arrived in the room, all I wanted to do was get out of my tight dress and wash my hair.  I quickly realized, though, that plan would be hard to accomplish, as I had forgotten shampoo, conditioner, and a comb for myself.  So, I decided to make-do and used Mr. Snow Cone's manly-scented shower stuff and then spent what felt like an eternity combing through my crazy post-updo hair with one of those combs they hand out on picture day in elementary school.  Not my finest moment.

The next morning, I woke up totally refreshed.  We lazily recounted our favorite moments from the previous evening and changed our relationship status on Facebook.  Finally, we decided it was time to pack up and head back to my parents' house for a send-off brunch.  And that's when I realized that not only had I neglected to pack my shampoo and conditioner, but I also forgot some other essentials like a pair of shoes and a bra.  So, I did what any newlywed, mature young woman would do, and walked through the lobby of the hotel barefoot, clutching my crumpled up wedding gown to my torso to hide my lack of undergarments from any curious observers.  Classy.

All of this is to serve as a cautionary tale to brides-to-be: don't assume the planning responsibilities are done once the reception is underway.  Do yourself a favor and map out how you're getting to your wedding night destination and what supplies you'll need.

What oversight did you make while wedding planning?

You’re My Everything: Dancing the Night Away :  wedding pictures pittsburgh pro pics recap Snowco Snow+Co

Friday, April 27, 2012

You're My Everything: Dancing the Night Away

At this point in the reception, the only thing left on the to do list was celebrate.  Coming into our reception, I hoped all of our guests would have fun, and I knew with full certainty that I'd have the time of my life.  I didn't form any concrete expectations regarding how that fun would emerge; I knew that with good food, flowing drinks, and all of my favorite people in the same place, I'd be one content newlywed.  I figured that I could split my time between dancing, visiting with guests, and enjoying some of the quieter spaces of our reception.  As the evening progressed, though, it became clear that the center of the dance floor was exactly where I wanted to be.  Mr. Snow Cone was never far from my side, and we spent the first evening of our marriage dancing the night away.


Part of the reason we couldn't tear ourselves away from the dancing action? It was absolutely packed with our friends and family!  I have to say, the facial expressions that emerged during the non-stop dancing are quite entertaining. 


 Some of the highlights of all of this dancing fun?
  • Mr. Snow Cone and I somehow decided, on the fly, to do an impromptu dance to Michael Jackson's "The Way You Make Me Feel."  It started out of nowhere and we just decided to go with it.  A small circle of guests formed around us while we busted a move... aaaaand then we realized that that song is a solid six minutes long.  The last third of it was spent with us taking turns wondering when it would be over and encouraging each other to tough it out.  Apparently, some of our guests even thought we took dance lessons and planned this in advance!
Above 2 photos from BM K
  • Ahead of time, we made arrangements with our DJ to play both parents' first dance songs during the reception.  My older brother and sister-in-law did this at their reception, so I don't think my parents were completely shocked, but they still seemed happy and nostalgic to hear their song again.
  •  It wouldn't be a wedding with a sizable contingent of Pitt guests without Neil Diamond's "Sweet Caroline."  As you can see below, Mr. Snow Cone's college friends were pretty amped to sing along.

Photo by FIL Snow Cone
  • We also played the Notre Dame Victory March, which was one of the most fun moments for me.  All of my college friends and siblings came scurrying into the room with the opening chords; it's like some sort of collegiate bat signal or something.  Either way, I have a very clear memory of screaming at the top my lungs, jumping up and down, and clapping until my palms were red.  Quite the sight, I'm sure.
  • Most of the guests formed a huge circle to sing along to Billy Joel's "Piano Man," swaying arm in arm.
Now, not every moment was spent on the dance floor.  My poor feet needed a rest!


As I went to rest my feet, I found my some family members enjoying the cookie room,


my dad, dubiously examining the groom's cake devoted to a college rival,

 Above 3 photos by family friend F

and my brothers, high school friend, and Mr. Snow Cone in a big male group hug.  Evidently, good times were had by all.


As the evening came to a close, my bustle completely ceased to exist.  I decided to just grab a few yards of satin and tulle and keep enjoying my wedding reception. 

Classiest thing ever?  No.  Did I mind?  Absolutely not.

Finally, 17 hours after my wedding day started, the night fittingly ended with Michael Bublé's "Save the Last Dance for Me."  Mr. Snow Cone held me tight, slowly dancing until the final chords.  Neither of us was ready to break that final embrace, so we just hugged and soaked the entire atmosphere in for a few precious seconds.  It was the perfect way to end the perfect day.

 Photo by BM K

And, just like that, our wedding day was over.  Nine years of dating, 16 months of planning, 24 wonderful hours of celebration, all resulting in one shared lifetime, waiting to be discovered and enjoyed.

All photos by the amazing Christina Garber unless otherwise noted