Ask Heather: Inviting coworkers

Inviting coworkers to a wedding

Image courtesy of Careerealism

Dear Heather,

I work in a small office. Do I have to invite my coworkers to my wedding?

Struggling over who gets an invitation

Dear Struggling,

You don’t have to invite anyone at all, but I’m guessing that’s not what you were asking.

My husband and I also struggled with which coworkers to invite. During our engagement, I worked in a fairly small research laboratory, and he worked in an office of approximately 50-60 people. Obviously, we couldn’t invite everyone, since that would have blown our budget. So, here’s what we did: We threw “Invitation Audition” parties. We had two parties, and invited my coworkers to the first and his close coworkers to the second. If someone couldn’t be bothered to attend a social engagement that wasn’t our wedding, then we didn’t see the point of inviting them to our wedding.

All of my coworkers attend “their” party, which constituted, with spouses and significant others, eleven people. All of them had a blast, so we invited all of them, and ten ended up coming to our wedding. I can’t recall how many of my husband’s coworkers attended “their” party, but we ended up inviting nine to our wedding, and five attended.

The biggest lesson we learned – unless you can foresee yourself hanging out with your coworkers for social, non-work-related reasons, I wouldn’t bother sending them an invitation. As for working in a small office – obviously, work dynamics come into play. Inviting only a select few can definitely get awkward, which is why we held our “auditions”. If that isn’t feasible for you and you legitimately cannot afford to invite everyone or simply do not want certain coworkers at your wedding, invite the ones you want and tell them to keep it hush-hush, since not everyone received an invitation. If anyone confronts you about your decision, (1) they’re rude and (2) simply say that your venue has space constraints and you couldn’t invite everyone you wanted. And just leave it at that.

Did you invite or are you inviting coworkers to your wedding? How did it turn out? Let me know in the comments below!

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Ask Heather: Kid-free wedding

 Child-free wedding

Image courtesy of 18 Chase Street

Dear Heather,

How do we explain to people that we don’t want kids at our wedding?


Dear Child-free,

Directly, politely, and unapologetically. Alas, this is often easier said than done. Luckily, there are a few stages to this process, so hopefully everyone will get the hint during at least one of them.

First, when sending out your invitations, do not invite “The Smith Family”. With that wording, you have now invited everyone in the household, not just the adults. You need to explicitly say “Jane and Joe Smith” on the envelope. Second, you can include a “___ of ___” will be attending on the RSVP card, where you fill in the second blank with however many people in the household are invited. Third, if you are going to have a wedding website, feel free to include a FAQ section with this question addressed. Something to the effect of a more brief and direct “This will be an adults-only event” or a more wordy “Due to the size of the venue, we are only able to include adults in our celebration” should work just fine as an answer to “Are children invited?”

And now, the tricky party – be prepared for complaints. Weddings bring out the drama, and having a child-free wedding is often a contentious concept. For whatever it’s worth, my husband and I did not invite children to our wedding, and we got some grief for it. Thankfully, it did not turn into a huge blow-out. The biggest thing is to stick to your guns and not allow any exceptions. Set an age cut-off and do not deviate, other than children in the wedding party (and potentially newborns who are still nursing).

Did you have a kids-free wedding? Were there any complaints? Let me know in the comments below!

Categories: Ask Heather, Wedding

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Wedding Recap: Amisha and Ricky’s Indian Wedding at the Hyatt Regency Pittsburgh International Airport

Amisha and Ricky were married at the Hyatt Regency Pittsburgh International Airport. This was my first Indian wedding ever – I’d never even been a guest at one – and it was so exciting!

Amisha’s ceremony outfit was obviously gorgeous, as was the Mehndi she had done the night before:

Pittsburgh Indian wedding

Mehndi for Pittsburgh Indian wedding

After she was dressed, she headed downstairs for her first look with her entourage in tow:

Pittsburgh Indian wedding

Before the ceremony even started, her niece/flower girl had already had enough with her shoes and was adorably running around barefoot:

Flower girl at Pittsburgh Indian wedding

Amisha walked down the aisle with her brother and was revealed to Ricky, her eager groom:

Walking down the aisle at Pittsburgh Indian wedding

Great reveal at Pittsburgh Indian wedding

Their Mandap was absolutely stunning:

Mandap at Pittsburgh Indian wedding

Once they were married, they headed down the hall and up the elevator, to change into their second outfits of the night:

Pittsburgh Indian wedding

Pittsburgh Indian wedding

Hand-in-hand, they came back downstairs to the reception:

Pittsburgh Indian wedding

Much like everything else in the wedding, their rings and flowers were gorgeous:

Rings and bouquet at Pittsburgh Indian wedding

The two of them were a beautiful couple, entering their reception space:

Reception entrance at Pittsburgh Indian wedding

Since they are serious Krispy Kreme fans, those were obviously featured during their cocktail hour:

Krispy Kreme at Pittsburgh Indian wedding

The dance floor was packed for the rest of the night:

Pittsburgh Indian wedding

Dancing at Pittsburgh Indian wedding

Dancing at Pittsburgh Indian wedding

Dancing at Pittsburgh Indian wedding

And Amisha’s third dress was definitely suited for dancing:

Bride dancing at Pittsburgh Indian wedding

Thank you so much to Amisha and Ricky for letting me be a part of your night. It was definitely a celebration, and one I’m unlikely to ever forget!

Pittsburgh Indian wedding

Photography and Videography: George Street Photos & Video, lead photographer Jared Marsh
Venue: Hyatt Regency Pittsburgh International Airport
Mandap: Mandap Design
DJ: DJ BIKS, Bikram Keith
Florist: Botanical Emporium
Cake: Bethel Bakery
Makeup Artist: Valerie Panei

Categories: Pittsburgh, Recap, Wedding


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Wedding Recap: Alaina and Jason’s Renaissance Pittsburgh Hotel Wedding

Alaina and Jason were an incredibly sweet couple who got married at the Renaissance Pittsburgh Hotel, a phenomenally elegant venue that suited them perfectly.

Prior to their wedding, they kicked things off with these absolutely gorgeous invitations, designed by Alaina herself:

Pittsburgh wedding invitations

And the views from their banquet hall were absolutely breath-taking. If you’re a Pittsburgh fan, it doesn’t get much better than this:

View of Pittsburgh bridge

View of Pittsburgh bridges

View of Pittsburgh bridge

Because both Alaina and Jason are dog people, they went with these adorable themed escort cards. Alaina and her mom, Joyce, painted each and every little dog:

Dog-themed escort cards

Dog-themed escort cards

The ceremony space was stunning. There simply isn’t any other word for it:

Renaissance Pittsburgh Hotel foyer

Renaissance Pittsburgh Hotel foyer

Renaissance Pittsburgh Hotel staircase

And they gave a definite “thumbs up” after they were finally married, and walked back down the aisle to the Mario Bros. theme song, played by their talented string quartet:

Renaissance Pittsburgh Hotel Wedding

Joyce couldn’t have been happier about her daughter’s new married status:

Renaissance Pittsburgh Hotel Wedding

The cake was both elegant and delicious:

Bethel Bakery wedding cake

And the couple looked thrilled to be entering their beautiful reception hall:

Renaissance Pittsburgh Hotel Wedding

The views were just as good at night:

Pittsburgh PNC Field at night

Joyce baked for weeks and weeks to fill the cookie table:

Pittsburgh wedding cookie table

And they definitely partied on the dance floor:

Pittsburgh wedding dancing

Pittsburgh wedding dancing

At the end of the night, I couldn’t have asked for a better couple! Thanks, Alaina and Jason, for letting me be a part of your day!

Renaissance Pittsburgh Hotel wedding

Photographer: Craig Photography
Venue: Renaissance Pittsburgh Hotel
DJ: Pittsburgh DJ Company, Matt Medley
Strings: Innocenti Strings
Florist: Hens and Chicks
Linens: Lendable Linens
Cake: Bethel Bakery
Officiant: Meaningful Marriages, Larry Goyda
Transportation: Elite Coach
Makeup Artist: All Dolled Up, Audrey Griffith
Hair Stylist: Pretty Hair Salon, Shea
Stationary: Boxcar Press
Dress: Made by Lea Ann Belter; Purchased at Lovely Bride

Categories: Pittsburgh, Recap, Wedding

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A-Z Guide – Assumptions can be hazardous

Image courtesy of Brett Jordan

(My A-Z Guide is a resource for people planning an event, be it a wedding, birthday party, shower, etc. As long as it’s related to events, it’s fair game for this series. Please add to the usefulness of this guide by leaving your opinion, advice, or perspective in the comments below! And if you have topic suggestions, definitely mention those, as well!)

This post might be a tad random, but it’s essentially a compilation of things I’ve found that couples assume about their wedding that aren’t always true. Please feel free to contribute if there’s anything I missed!

Prior to the wedding

When shopping for a bridal gown or suit, every single person has a budget. Do not assume your consultant will stay within that budget unless you explicitly state to do so. When I shopped for my dress, my consultant didn’t even ask me my budget during our initial conversation, which blew my mind! Bring it up yourself and stress that it cannot be exceeded. And do not forget to take tax and alterations into account. Those can add up really quickly.

If you are having your hair and makeup professionally done, invest in doing a trial. And – this is key – make sure you evaluate the results at least a full 12 hours after you finish your trial. It’s great if you look fantastically awesome right after the stylist is finished, but you need that look to last for HOURS. Make sure it does. And let them know you’re going to do this, so they do full-on looks, rather than just approximations of what they’re going to do on the day of. Trust me – your hair stylist will use WAY more product for a day-of look vs just a trial.

During the wedding

This may seem minor, but make sure your officiant tells the guests to be seated after the bride’s entrance. Even if no one tells them to stand, odds are, they will anyway. But most guests won’t sit down unless instructed to do so. And unless you’re specifically doing a standing-room-only ceremony, I’m guessing you’d rather folks take their seats.

Ask your officiant to step to the side during first kiss. Again, this is minor, but it makes for a much better picture if it’s just the two of you, rather than an accidental photo-bombing officiant lurking in the background.

After the wedding

If you’re bringing in a band or DJ who has never worked at your venue before, or if you’re doing a DIY iPod event, make sure your venue has the electrical and audiovisual capabilities to support your choices. This might involve paying your DJ a little extra to do a walk-through in advance of your event, but no one wants to discover a dearth of electrical outlets on the day of their wedding. And if you have to bring in your own speakers, trust me – you’ll want to know that in advance.

For those holding an event at a personal residence, do not forget that you’ll need to supply things like plates, utensils, and toilets! Guests will need multiple plates (salad, main course, dessert) and utensils, and you will want multiple bathrooms. This could easily involve renting Port-A-Potties, but no one who has a grandmother generous enough to loan her house to them wants to clog her toilets.

If you’re offering alcohol at your wedding, make sure you have a bartender. Not all catering companies automatically supply one. And while some folks have done the whole “serve yourself” option, using dispensers pre-filled with yummy mixed beverages, this is not legal in all areas.

I really hope this helps! And if you have any assumptions you made that were proven wrong, please share them in the comments below!

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Wedding Recap: Erin and Stefan’s DIY At-Home Affair

Erin and Stefan were such an affectionate couple, I couldn’t help but smile when they were around one another. They held their wedding on their property, which used to be a train depot along a bike trail in Orlando. Stefan’s company, Roundtable Productions, is based on this site and creates props, sets, and special effects for the entertainment industry. With this background, it’s no surprise that the couple made a ton of the elements used in their wedding.

Setting the tone right off the bat were their invitations, which stressed how natural their whole day would feel:

Next, their favors, which were napkins and napkin rings. Stefan’s mom embroidered all of the napkins, while the couple and their friends etched and cut each and every napkin ring.

Napkin Rings DIY Favors

They also made the boutonnières and cuff links. If you look closely, you’ll see the “S” and “E” within the design.

Wood-carved DIY bout

While Erin was getting dressed, the lovely German Shorthair Pointer in her room let everyone know where her dress was located.

dog and wedding dress

As the wedding party was getting ready, I was setting up their tables, which turned out great, thanks to their fantastic vision.

Wedding table setup

Like I said, they’re super-affectionate (and often a bit silly)!

In the days leading up to the wedding, I helped everyone in the wedding party as we spent a ton of time hanging pennants and lighting. Erin planted all of the flowers in their various pots, and her mom made all of the pennants. They turned out great!

Wedding space with pennants and lighting

The day before the wedding, Stefan checked off “paint our names on the barn” from his to-do list! Those names ended up appearing in tons of photos.

Wedding names on barn

Right before the ceremony, the whole wedding party had their pictures taken at a nearby butterfly garden. And I absolutely love how Erin’s mismatched bridesmaid dresses match her bouquet!

Mismatched wedding party

Because everything was a bit far apart – bathrooms, ceremony site, parking, etc, Erin and Stefan rented golf carts to transport folks around. While one cart featured an official driver, guests got to operate the other cart themselves, much to everyone’s enjoyment.

Wedding golf carts

The food was provided by Chipotle, and the refrigerated items took up almost the entire fridge. Chipotle for 110 is a lot of food! After making sure my couple ate first, guests posed while in line and dug in as soon as they could.

Right after they were declared husband and wife, Erin took off with Stefan through their recessional of bubbles. I cannot get over how happy they look!

Wedding couple running

Erin wanted a picture of all of the guests, so Leah went above and beyond (literally!) and climbed up on the roof to get the shot.

Wedding guests and enthusiastic photographer

If the couple can’t photobomb their wedding party, I don’t know who can!

Wedding couple photobomb

When preparing to be introduced, it’s important to have some fun with it!

Wedding party entrance

The night’s only snafu – the bartender didn’t bother to show up. Luckily, the ushers and groomsmen stepped in. While it was sometimes (and understandably) a bit of “some for you, some for me”, everyone seemed happy with the outcome. Especially Erin :)

Wedding bar

Stefan’s brother made their cake topper, which turned out great. And given what a fun couple they were, it’s no surprise that a bit of cake smashing went on.

Wedding cake topper and smash

Once day turned to night, I went around to light all of the candles in their centerpieces. Oh, and they made the centerpieces themselves! Aren’t they great!

Wedding DIY centerpiece

They looked fantastic during their first dance, and Erin did her bouquet toss to “You Can’t Hurry Love”. It was adorable, and she had a blast.

Wedding first dance and bouquet toss

One of my favorite parts – Stefan came prepared with a knife in his mouth for the garter removal. Erin, also prepared, had a knife tucked into her garter, waiting for Stefan to find it. Hilarity ensued.

Wedding garter

Erin and Stefan spent one final moment in the very spot where they were married, now lit up and looking spectacular.

Wedding couple

And then, to wrap up the night, a friend of theirs organized a Mooning Of The Couple. Erin’s reaction was absolutely priceless.

Mooning of the wedding couple

Congratulations to Erin and Stefan! You guys are a fantastic couple, and I couldn’t have asked for anyone more adorable!

Photographer: Leah Langley
Second Photographer: Kristin Diogaurdo
Cake: Sweet Ashley Raes
Hair and Makeup: The Scarlett Olive Styling Lounge
Chairs and Linens: Party Plus Rentals
Food: Chipotle

Categories: DIY Decor, Recap


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A-Z Guide – Wedding-related Anxiety

Wedding-related anxiety

Image courtesy of Natalie Dee

(My A-Z Guide is a resource for people planning an event, be it a wedding, birthday party, shower, etc. As long as it’s related to events, it’s fair game for this series. Please add to the usefulness of this guide by leaving your opinion, advice, or perspective in the comments below! And if you have topic suggestions, definitely mention those, as well!)

I can’t say it happens to absolutely everyone, since I bet there’s that one couple out there somewhere who remained totally chill for their entire wedding planning process. However, for the vast majority of us, some type of wedding-related anxiety is inevitable. When it happens to you, please don’t beat yourself up about it!

This anxiety can manifest in many ways. For some, it’s wedding nightmares. My personal best was when I dreamt I was in a giant mega-church (note: I had a totally secular ceremony), and the preacher just kept talking and talking, and I knew I only had a limited amount of time for my ceremony before we had to leave and go to the reception. Finally, after he just wouldn’t shut up, I panicked and headed to the reception site to at least make sure things were going as planned. Except my beautiful Bed & Breakfast reception had somehow been transformed into a totally white, undecorated airplane hangar. There was no food, cake, escort cards, flowers, nothing. Just a stark white giant room. I woke up and was convinced we had forgotten to send out invitations (we hadn’t) and that the wedding day had somehow already passed by and we’d simply forgotten about it (we hadn’t).

For other folks, the anxiety can creep out and make you crazy when it comes to your soon-to-be spouse. A friend of mine had a magnificent fight with her fiancé and she almost called off the wedding due to a disagreement over stamps. Yes, as in postage stamps. After the fact, she acknowledged that this was obviously crazy, but in the moment, her anxiety made her nuts.

Obviously, wedding-related anxiety can be exacerbated by things such as social anxiety, depression, or panic disorders. If you experience anything like that, please see a professional. Planning a wedding is stressful enough without piling it on top of other issues.

When it comes to handling your stress, there are tons of options! For some, meditation is exactly what they need. For me, all I could do while trying to meditate was continue to freak out about everything I had to get done, so this might not be your strategy. For others, exercise is what keeps them functioning like normal human beings. This can be anything from going for a walk to training for a marathon. It’s whatever works for you! Personally, I know that becoming totally absorbed in crafting gets me into that state of flow, where I can’t focus on anything except what I’m doing. Counterintuitively, the crafting I was doing was often wedding-related, but the act of doing it was enough to calm me down. You could also snuggle with one of your pets, enroll in a class you’ve always wanted to take, or start a blog. There are a lot of options to get your mind off your wedding. And, to toot my own horn, hiring a planner could also be enough to ramp down that stress level. There’s something comforting about knowing that you won’t have to worry about anything on the day of your wedding.

No matter what, though, I strongly suggest having one or two wedding-free nights per week with your other half. Trust me – no one can talk and think weddings 24/7. It’s a lovely way to drive you insane (see: stamp argument above), and you need time to remind yourself why you’ve chosen this person to be Your Forever. Go out or stay in and don’t talk about anything related to the wedding. Simply enjoy each other’s company and remember how awesome you are together.

Have you had any freak out moments while planning your wedding? Any wedding-related nightmares? What did you do to cope with the stress? Let me know in the comments below!

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A-Z Guide – Anniversaries

(Image courtesy of Imgion)

(My A-Z Guide is a resource for people planning an event, be it a wedding, birthday party, shower, etc. As long as it’s related to events, it’s fair game for this series. Please add to the usefulness of this guide by leaving your opinion, advice, or perspective in the comments below! And if you have topic suggestions, definitely mention those, as well!)

You did that thing – you got married or had a commitment ceremony. You’ve become accustomed to looking over at your official lifelong mate and using the word “husband” or “wife” or “spouse”. All of your loved ones know that you’ve chosen one person to be with for the rest of your life. Welcome to the world of celebrating your anniversary!

First things first: not to be harsh, but much like your wedding, no one cares as much about your anniversary as you and your spouse. Over the course of your marriage, there will be events scheduled on your anniversary. Learn to cope and celebrate on other days. And that celebration can encompass many things.

Some like to go with the traditional anniversary gifts. You know – paper for the first, cotton for the second, etc. The ideas for paper are endless – you could simply write a love letter or buy a card. You could also make a book describing your relationship so far, and where you see it going in the future, or get actual paper tickets to an upcoming concert or event. For the second (cotton), I went with Bed Hog sheets for my husband, but we are a tad sarcastic. You could also do something like a beautiful fabric print of where you fell in love or got married. (Full disclosure: I’m friends with Jessica and she’s a wonderful person. Her work is stunning.) Or just go with clothing that you know your spouse will love. For the third (leather), you could do something like a leather jacket or a bound journal, or get a bit more … carnally creative. Unfortunately, that’s as far as my ideas can go, as my husband and I are approaching our fourth anniversary, and I don’t want to give away any surprises!

You can also deviate completely from the dictated-by-year gifts and celebrate another way. One year, maybe you could make a rule that whatever you give has to be handmade, or cost less than $10, or whatever you can come up with! Perhaps a weekend at a local resort, or dinner at the restaurant you went to on your first date, or a blow-out return to where you went on your honeymoon!

Another option is to do a vow renewal. I have a couple of friends who renew their vows each year, and I think that’s quite romantic. Being married is sometimes work, and there’s something magical about looking at that same person you vowed to be with and saying, “Yes, I still want you.” This can obviously be just the two of you, or you could go all out and make a destination weekend of it in Vegas or Niagara Falls. It can be whatever you want.

As for me, while my fourth anniversary gift is still under wraps, I already know what my husband and I will be doing for our fifth. When we got married, rather than doing something like a sand ceremony, we did a wine box/love letter ceremony. I cannot wait to open that bad boy up and read what his love letter says, and see his reaction to what I wrote to him.

Would you do something like a wine box ceremony at your wedding? And what are you hoping to receive on your first, second, or third anniversary? Are you more traditional, or looking for something on the path less traveled?


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A-Z Guide – Asking for and accepting help

Image courtesy of Peanuts Wiki

(My A-Z Guide is a resource for people planning an event, be it a wedding, birthday party, shower, etc. As long as it’s related to events, it’s fair game for this series. Please add to the usefulness of this guide by leaving your opinion, advice, or perspective in the comments below! And if you have topic suggestions, definitely mention those, as well!)

A while back, I became the advice columnist for The Broke-Ass Bride, and I had a reader write in about how her family had offered to help out with her wedding, but hadn’t gone any further than just offering. My response – Ask For Help! When you’re planning a wedding, odds are fairly high that you’ll get vague, “Let me know if you need anything…” types of offers. While some folks might just be being polite, I promise that some of them genuinely want to help. Let them! The catch: you have to be the one who goes back and specifically says, “I’d love it if you’d help with [x],” because they will not know exactly what you need.

Planning a wedding (or most events, really) is a celebration, and a lot of people want to be included in the early stages. Personally, I’ve had a blast helping out a friend glue together her pocket fold invitations and assemble her wine charm favors. I’m a crafty person, and my friend took advantage of that. She put me to work, knowing I’d have a good time hanging out with her while crafting. I strongly suspect there are people in your social circle with talents of some sort. If that group overlaps folks who have offered to help, use their skills! They get to do something they enjoy and you get to cross something off your never-ending to-do list – it’s a win-win!

For some of you, the hardest part will be asking someone to perform a specific task, because you’ll feel like an imposition. Trust me – you’re not. For others, the tricky part is giving up absolute control. Believe me when I say this – for your own sanity, let people help you, especially if you’re trying to DIY a lot of things. For at least one of your projects, there has to be something that you aren’t particularly fussy about, whether it’s how the bows are tied on your programs or the evenness of the embossing on your escort cards. Let someone do that for you. And if everything truly does matter that much to you, find an equally perfectionist friend and hand over the embossing tool. Sure, you could do everything yourself, but wouldn’t you rather be hanging out with friends or loved ones vs. slaving away alone, tying 194 program bows?

Did you allow others to help out with an event you’ve thrown? How did it work out? Were their efforts up to your standards? Or have you been the helper? Did you enjoy yourself? Let me know in the comments below!

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Ian’s 37th Birthday Party

I threw a birthday party for my husband recently, and decided to go all out, making all of the food and decor. We started off with some simple chips and dip.

I’d like to take this opportunity to point out the napkins next to the stack of plates. About a year ago, I decided that grown ups have fabric napkins. But rather than being a normal human being and just buying a set, I got all crafty and sewed my own. That is one set. There are two more holiday-specific (Thanksgiving and Christmas) sets. To those folks out there who want to sew their own napkins for their weddings – just don’t.

Because my husband prefers my cookies to my cupcakes, I also made his favorite two varieties (brown sugar and oatmeal/chocolate chips/cherries/pecans). We also had guests attending who are huge fans of deviled eggs and shrimp cocktail, and you gotta please the guests!

This was also a lovely opportunity to show off my “cacti”, an idea I flagrantly stole from Pinterest.

I also got to use my awesome Cheese Wheel Cheese Platter from Pop Chart Lab. (And more cacti!)

And no party would be complete without mashed potatoes. My husband adds blue cheese to his, which I find gross. So, we had two versions for our guests, labeled accordingly.

Because I am ridiculously competitive, I feel the need to point out that there were way more of his gross potatoes left over at the end of the party.

Would you cook everything for your own big party? Or are you more of a, “Screw that – we’re hiring a caterer!” kind of host? Let me know in the comments!

(All photos personal)

Categories: Birthday party, DIY Decor, Pinterest, Pittsburgh, Recap

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Flawless Planning.  Flawless Execution.  Flawless Events.