Groovy Groomsmen Gifts | Awards for Outstanding BROfessionalism


Looking for a meaningful, fun, yet classy way to show your best buds how appreciative you are of them standing beside you on what’s to be the biggest day of your life? Well gents, look no further than Groovy Groomsmen Gifts.

Groovy Groomsmen Gifts is the perfect online destination “to help you hunt for the ultimate cool and unique personalized gift ideas, delivered quickly to your doorstep”. They have a very large range of different types of gifts that can be customized to meet your specific criterias. It’s truly a one-stop-shop made easy!

Some of our brides often ask us, on behalf of their grooms, about the proper type of groomsmen gift to give - of course, they want it to be special and thoughtful, however they do not want to break the bank (if you have planned a wedding, or are in the process of doing so then you know exactly the importance of budgeting!).

We believe with Groovy Groomsmen Gifts, any groom, on any budget can find the perfect party pleaser for his gang! Recently, after being approached from the website, we had the opportunity to review one of their top items -- The to the 9s Tri Pack.

Let’s get into the facts. Currently, The to the 9s Tri Pack is priced at $39.99, a very reasonable price for the high quality goods it is comprised of. The gift comes in a small wood box, personalized with the name of your groomsman. The box easily opens by pulling the top compartment off, revealing what is inside. Inside, your groomsman will find a set of initialed cuff links, a money clip, and a tie clip. These accessories are an ideal way to spiff up any suit or tux, especially the one worn for wedding day!

Not only was the wooden box housing the accessories engraved with the first name of each groomsmen, the items inside were made out of silver and stainless steel. They were modern, clean and crisp - adding just the right amount of shine and sophistication to your groomsmen party get up. For the price, you really can not beat this deal. Plus, it is a complimentary gift for everybody, no matter how different your groomsmen may be, all will appreciate a gift that keeps on giving.;-)

Overall, we give Groovy Groomsmen a 10/10. Their customer service is extremely polite and positive, their items are high quality, their variety is outstanding and their delivery was right on time. We call that a win.

Spread the word. If you are in search of gifts with “BROfessionalism” you now know where to go -- Groovy Groomsmen Gifts.

A big thank you to Tom Ryan for connecting with us, we loved having the opportunity to feature Groovy Groomsmen and showcase The to the 9s Tri Pack on our blog!


Stay Groovy Pittsburgh,



PS - who got the Anchorman reference? :-)



Megan + Justin | A Memorable Memorial Day Weekend Marriage

June 4, 2017


This past Memorial Day Weekend surely was memorable for us. We celebrated, laughed, cried [happy tears, of course], and celebrated a little more. Megan + Justin’s wedding weekend was one for the books and certainly a wonderful way to kick off our 2017 wedding season!


Let’s chat about the couple.



I cannot say that I remember formally meeting Megan and her family because, well, I have known them since the “diaper days”. Our families became fast friends through our close-knit church community, so our Sundays were spent together as well as many other days; Dads & Kids Camping trips, Molinaro cookouts and the infamous annual Shidel Christmas Eve Parties. Megan always was the cool, older girl that had a great sense of style and the kindest, caring personality -- she is still the same way today!



Then Justin came into the picture. One year at the Shidel Christmas Eve Party, as my group of friends and I stood stationed around the cookie table [which was always our spot] we saw Meg walk in with a tall, strapping man.. I remember thinking two things to myself, 1) wow, Disney World should hire them as Ariel & Prince Eric and 2) whoever he is, he better treat her like Prince Eric treated Ariel. PS - you are never too old to love Disney. For the record, I was not the only one who initially felt that way; all of the dads had to scope out this situation as well, I guess you could say we were all a little protective. However, long story short [because I actually could go on forever], we all learned there was nothing to fear and if real life emulates fairytales, Meg and Justin’s love story is pretty darn close.



Let’s fast forward a bit.



First comes love, then comes the engagement, then comes a beautiful garden party wedding. The couple exchanged vows and tied the knot as husband & wife at Pittsburgh’s picture perfect and historic Heinz Memorial Chapel. Megan is a Pitt grad, so to be married on the campus she studied on during the time she fell in love with Justin was a special element added to their day. The celebration was held at Dundee Farm, a place the bride spent many previous summers at. Dundee Farm is a working sheep and honeybee farm located in Sewickley Heights. Megan and Justin wanted an elegant, yet relaxed, garden party feel for their wedding day, and the French countryside atmosphere that Dundee Farm provides made it the perfect venue for their reception.



Working together with this amazing couple and their families was an experience that we will always hold dear. Sending Meg down the aisle and watching her and Justin take their first dance as husband and wife put happy tears in our eyes and happy flutters in our hearts. There is nothing more satisfying or heart-warming for us than to see the way our couples look at each other on their wedding day. It’s those beautiful moments that become cherished lifetime memories. Megan and Justin’s sweet story was something special to share in, and we truly consider it a gift that we were apart of it.



Let’s give the vendors a round of applause.



We had the opportunity to work with a group of incredible vendors for this wedding who brought the magic and made this Memorial Weekend Wedding so, so memorable!





To see more pictures of Megan + Justin’s wedding please visit our Portfolio tab, as well as photographer Lindsey Zern’s blog post on her website: click here!



Thanks for stopping by, we look forward to sharing more of our charming 2017 couples with you!



Stay lovely,





Painted Bouquets Captured by Ashley Cecil

Hi Friends! Happy Spring!


Being ever so lucky to be apart of the Pittsburgh wedding industry has connected us with so many incredibly talented professionals. So genuine, so unique, and so creative.  It wouldn’t be fair to keep all of these wonderfully talented people to ourselves, so…  



Meet Ashley Cecil. Ashley is a Pittsburgh-based artist and illustrator specializing in paintings of flora and fauna. We stumbled upon Ashley’s floral design work and all we can say is—WOW! Her love of flora blossomed while studying landscapes with accomplished painters in London, painting live observation at Phipps Botanical Gardens, serving as an artist at the Carnegie Museum of Natural History, and collaborating with various top-notch floral designers.



So, you might be wondering, what ties her to the wedding industry? Well, Ashley believes that brides should treasure their special day for a lifetime and what better way to do that than with a custom painting of their unique bridal bouquet.



Ashley is an artist that creates ‘Painted Bouquets’, and boy, are we in love. Flowers are a game changer when it comes to weddings – from bouquets and boutonnieres, to centerpieces, to flower petals down an aisle; they capture the feeling, mood, and expression of your special day. Unfortunately, more times than not, flowers get tossed, sent home with guests, or delivered to others at the end of the night when the celebration is over.  You’ll cherish your memories, but why not cherish your floral designs as well? From simple to elaborate, Ashley’s stunning paintings vibrantly represent the sentiment of your wedding day and bridal bouquet.



We recently had a conversation with Ashley about what she creates, what inspires her, and more. Learn more and see for yourself – she produces amazingly beautiful work!



A & L: What first inspired you to start painting personalized wedding bouquets?


Ashley: About a year ago, while scouring the web looking for reference photos to use for new paintings of flora and fauna, I realized the majority of images I was saving were of wedding bouquets. That's when I had my ah-ha moment - I should paint actual bouquets for newly weds. It's only a slight variation on the style of paintings I create when I'm not working on commissions, and it's an excellent way to keep my botanical rendering skills sharp.


A & L: What is your favorite part about what you do?


Creating artwork for someone that captures one of the most stunning components of their big day. I've come to learn that many people dislike (dare I say hate) preserving flowers. Not only is a painting a far more vibrant representation of someone's bouquet, but it also allows for a little more creative license. For example, a bride asked me to incorporate a few visual elements from their honeymoon - what a great idea! I added a delicate pattern in 22k gold that was reminiscent of the pattern formed by the windows of the Louvre Pyramid, which they visited. I also included a crescent moon from the facade of one the buildings they stayed in.


A & L: Being in the Pittsburgh creative industry, what do you, as an artist, enjoy the most about it?


Ashley: Just about anything is possible here. My husband and I moved to Pittsburgh from London in 2011 and I immediately fell in love with the warm vibe and can-do attitude of this city. London, as much as I thoroughly enjoyed it, was exhausting and expensive in suffocating way. There's room to breathe in Pittsburgh. It's also affordable enough to take risks, like buying a building for my studio, which I did in 2016 (studio visits are encouraged!).


A & L: Because you pay such close detail to floral/flowers in your paintings, do you have any advice for future brides who are deciding on their bouquets/floral arrangements?


Ashley: Tell a story with your flowers. I'm a raving fan of 17th century Dutch still-life painting largely because the artworks made visual commentary on social and political goings-on. In other words, I love botanical symbolism. You're fluent in the language of flowers as well - what does a red rose symbolize? Love, of course. But how about a sunflower? It's thought to represent devotion. And an anemone? Grief - possibly fitting if a loved one recently passed who you want to honor at your ceremony. If you're hoping to start a family right away, ask your florist to include a pomegranate, a symbol of fertility. It will make for a wonderful story to tell future generations.


A & L: Do you have any upcoming floral trends in mind you think we will see this wedding season? / Do you have a favorite?


Ashley: I'm seeing adventurous bouquets forming dramatic and organic shapes with a broad variety of flowers. I love when a bouquet looks like someone just got back from picking flowers by hand in a garden - natural and a little messy. Also, being someone who loves dramatic value contrast (bright highlights on deep dark backgrounds, like Dutch still-life paintings) I'm really into this trend of showing off a bouquet on a dark gray backdrop (such as a steel gray bridesmaid dress). It makes flowers like white peonies and saturated coral poppies pop.


Whether you’re a blushing bride, a thoughtful groom, a loving mother, or the best bridesmaid, Ashley can help you commemorate the special occasion with one of her customized Painted Bouquets.



If you would like to talk flowers with Ashley, you can do so by clicking here! Or, check out her work on her website at or across her social media platforms @ashleycecil.



Now, please excuse me while I dream about springtime, beautiful flowers, and bridal bouquets! TGIF!








Eva's Winter ONEderland

Yesterday we threw a party. Not just any party, a FIRST birthday party.

Before I was a mom, I truly never thought I was going to be the type who goes "all out" for a 1st birthday party. Wellllll, turns out I am. And you know what? I own it. I think 18 hours of labor, 365 days of #momming, and 24/7 care for a little human calls for one big celebration. Celebrate we did. 

Before I go into the party deets, let me give you a little bit of background info.

Last year at this time, I was a little over 9 months pregnant. Our condo was the cleanest it has ever been. My nails were freshly painted a new color everyday. I had read a plethora of books. Basically, I had too much time on my hands waiting for this little girl to make her world debut. During my "nesting" period the unpredictable Pittsburgh weather was chilly, yet no snow in sight. Up until Friday, January 22 that is. The Steel City was Snowmageddon. We're not talking a few flurries, my Pittsburgh peeps will understand this.

My husband came home from work that Friday the 22nd covered in snowflakes. A perfect reason to start a fire and Netflix the night away. We could see the snow falling heavier and heavier outside, and I do remember thinking to myself "If baby girl decides to come now we will be screwed driving to the hospital". 

Yep, you guessed it. That night I started having serious contractions so Danny and I grabbed our overpacked, pre-packed (first time parent probs) hospital ready bag and off we went into the tundra. 

That next day on Saturday, January 23 5:26pm our little sweetie Eva Alyse was born. I can still remember it so vividly. It is an unexplainable thing to those who have not yet experienced the overwhelming joy and awe of becoming a parent. We just can not get enough of our little Evie.

Ok, I'm done with the emotional momma stuff. Let's talk shop.

Because Eva was born in the January 2016 snowstorm, I wanted to incorporate that into her birthday party somehow. Hence, Eva's Winter ONEderland. 

I am a sucker for a pink and gold color combo - that's the girly girl in me. We incorporated a color scheme of pink, blush, gold, silver, ivory and rose gold. We were in luck when it came to the decor of this party, a local craft store was discounting most of their Christmas goodies so we cleared them out taking any winter-esque/sparkly/glittery related decor item we knew would look amazing paired with our theme. 

For balloons, table cloths, eating ware as well as other party necessities we went to one of our favorite party supplying websites; ShopSweetLulu. They have absolutely everything under the sun when it comes to throwing a snazzy shin-dig. 

The centerpieces we wanted to keep fairly simple. We used mason jars and filled them with pink, blush and gold bits of crinkled confetti paper then arranged sparkly, winter white faux branches in them with a gold glitter accent. To complete the centerpieces we added foiled gold and ivory tissue paper molded around the mason jar, then we added a pink fluorescent confetti circled around the entire piece. 

My very favorite part of Eva's Winter ONEderland was the desert table. OBVIOUSLY. Mediterra Bakehouse was the lovely creator of Eva's smash cake and the cake for our guests. They did a lovely job of keeping the sweet, dainty feel I was going for and keeping with the ONEderland theme. Not to mention how delicious the buttercream icing and burnt almond batter was! Yum, yum, yum.

Cupcakes were baked by my bestie and business partner, Toni. She's always been a cupcake connoisseur, baking delicious treats yet always coming out with a creative style more charming than the last - for Evie's cupcakes she topped each with beautiful blush pink frosting and either a sparkly white snowflake or a glittery gold "1" with the cutest little pink tulle bow. She's like Betty Crocker, but better. They were a fan favorite for sure.

The French macaroons were from one of our absolute favorite bakeries when it comes to macaroons; Bartram House Bakery. Pink and ivory of course! Got to stick with the theme. Those are their raspberry buttercream and white chocolate ganache flavors. They were such an elegant little touch to the desert table.

Eva's Winter ONEderland was certainly sweet but definitely made even sweeter with the loved ones who celebrated with us - I feel so overwhelmed with love and happiness when I think about all of the amazing people in my life, who now are in my baby girl's life. All the heart flutters. 

A & L Events would love to be apart of your special little guy or gal's first birthday - there's not a lot we love more than babies and cake. Beside brides and cake, of course. :) 



New Year Resolutions: 2017 Edition

Happy, happy New Year to you all! Can you believe it is 2017? Let's just take a second to let that sink in. 

Ok, are we good? Just checking.

As another year begins, another one ends - this can be a bittersweet feeling for some of you. Those of you whom had a smashing 2016 might not have wanted it to end. However, some of you probably could not wait to start 2017.  Or maybe you experienced a mix of those feelings. Wherever your heart and soul may be coming into 2017, we hope they are happy places. <3

Now, the whole concept of New Year Resolutions is life-changing and gripping to some, yet completely mainstream and silly to others. To be honest, we are those people who like to create goals more so than resolutions when approaching a new year. These goals center around our personal and professional lives. This blog post is a compilation of just that; personal and professional goals to conquer in 2017. This is YOUR year.

Enjoy, and cheers to this New Year! 



1. Personal - Confidence, confidence, confidence. Did we say it enough times? This is HUGE. Confidence has everything to do with how you view yourself, view others and view life. You are unique and special - own the amazing person you are 24/7 365. Once you do this you will see how many doors open up to you. 

2. Professional - Improve communication skills. Whether you are an entrepreneur or an employee of an enormous corporation, improving the way you speak and listen to people (face-to-face or via a computer/phone) will open your eyes to different perspectives you did not see before. When you understand different perspectives, you gain more and more wisdom.

3. Personal - Spend more time with those who matter most. We all know life is busy. Life throws you for loops all the dang time. Plans change on the fly. People's feelings get hurt. Eliminate those who bring no positivity or happiness into your life. Yeah, it sounds a little harsh but why waste time on catering to those who give nothing in return? Be with that niche of people who celebrates you, confides in you and genuinely cares for you. It will do wonders for your life.

4. Professional - Be polite. So this one could count as both but we wanted to list it under professional because often professionals can forget politeness! DON'T ever forget politeness. Politeness is the fuel to business. Word of mouth referrals are one of the biggest ways businesses become out-of-garage shops to giant enterprises. Always treat those the way you would like to be treated and we guarantee almost every time you will reap those benefits.

5. Personal - Meet new peeps. Take that leap of faith out of your comfort zone. Go to a coffee shop by yourself without your laptop or cell and sit there. Just sit there. Putting away the consistent need to pull out your phone and scroll through your Instagram feed just because you're alone. Instead, get up and say hi to a stranger. It may sound old fashioned, but since when is that a bad thing?

6. Professional - Persistence. Make 2017 the year of persistence. Persist at work - whatever it is you do. Persist through the fears, the self-doubt, the anxieties holding you back. Persevere. Because we all know how very sweet it is when you work hard and get your desired result. There is nothing like it. 

Tis The Season... To Not Be Stressed!

5 DIY Holiday Inspired Favors


Weather is getting colder, houses are getting decorated, presents are being bought, but for those of you planning holiday parties or winter weddings—we know you have a lot more stress [and fun] on your plate.


That’s why we’re here to inspire you! 


You want to give your guests something special to leave with besides memories, but you’re unsure of what to give. You may want to do something creative, but you probably want to save money where you can, am I right? These 5 DIY holiday inspired favors are perfect for any small holiday gathering or a huge winter wonderland wedding. 


Relax by the fire, slippers on, hot chocolate in hand, and read away.


Tis the season, 



1. Brownies/Hot Chocolate In A Jar

YUM. Need I Say More? Everyone Loves Brownies And Everyone Loves Hot Chocolate, Especially During The Holiday Season.  This Is An Easy And Thoughtful Favor That Will Be Sure To Put A Smile On Every Guest’s Face—Regardless Of Age! Not To Mention Your Guests Will Remember How Great Of A Time They Had At Your Wedding Or Event When They’re Baking Those Brownies Or Making That Hot Chocolate Weeks After Your Special Day! 


2. Mini Evergreen Trees

Maybe I Am A Fan Of This One Because I Adore Greenery, But How Much More Holiday-Inspired Can You Get Than A Mini Christmas Tree? Simply A Great Seasonal Gift. Plus, Your Partygoers Are Headed Home With A Tree (Well A Tree Seedling), But How Cool Is That? 


3. Gold Champagne Cork Name Place Holders

I Love, Love, Love This One! It May Not Be The Most Use-Able Something For Your Partygoers To Leave With, But They Are Cute And Festive In My Book! All You Need Are Champagne Corks (Perfect Excuse For You To Drink Endless Amounts Of Champagne—You’re Welcome), A Paintbrush, Gold Paint, And Name Cards Of Your Choice Decorated However You Would Like With Your Guests Names! Perfect For A Chic Wedding Or A New Years Even Celebration! 


4. Snowball Cake Pops

The Easiest, Yet Yummiest Way To Please Your Guests Taste Buds! Even If You’re Not A Baking Connoisseur, A Cake Pop Is Simple To Make! Decorate Them By Dipping Them In White Chocolate And Then Rolling In Coconut Or Sugar Crystals And Voila—A Snowball Inspired Cake Pop! Get Extra Fancy By Tying A Customizable Tag And Wrapping Them In Small Plastic Candy Bags. Even Your Guests Who Don’t Like Snow Will Be Sure To Like These Sweet Treats!


5. Holiday Colored Wine Glasses

Is the saying “great minds think alike” or “great minds drink alike?”    We know which one we prefer, and we know which ones your guests will prefer too! Cheap wine glasses are a fun and affordable way to give your guests something practical they can use all the time. And, who says all of the glasses need to match? If your wedding or event is far enough away, collect holiday colored glasses, as you see them to have a unique collection for your guests to choose from. Cheers!


Photography Inspo: Pinterest

Kylie Mascara: Bold Beauty Inside & Out

It is rare to come across the kinds of people in life who have the ability to make another person feel like they are something; feel like they can make something of themselves. However, sometimes you meet someone who does have that ability; someone who genuinely wants to help others feel their best. Wardrobe Stylist and Image Consultant Kylie Mascara is one of those people.

We recently got the opportunity to sit down with Kylie and talk; and talk we did. What was only supposed to be an hour meeting turned into an almost three hour discussion. We chatted about Kylie’s journey, her professional business, and bridal style.

In her own words, Kylie summarizes a little bit about her background and what inspired her to be the leader of her own successful empire today. “I grew up witnessing beautiful transformations. I would watch as women walked into my Mother’s salon and spa, and walked out looking and feeling better about themselves. Inspired and desperately wanting to attend beauty school at the age of 18, my parents insisted that college and grad school be my next steps. I have always been fascinated by fashion and what that means to us as individuals. Modeling with Docherty Agency after college and working on sets of photo shoots really brought everything to the surface for me. After years of working in the corporate world, I began working for Anthropologie in 2012. I started my own personal styling business that same year. Today, I am transforming closets and wardrobes, guiding my clients to local boutiques, and clothing them in confidence. I encourage every one of my clients to look and feel their very best and see their true potential and self-worth – all without spending a fortune.”

Talking with Kylie you can immediately tell how passionate she is about what she does. Yes, because of her fascination in fashion but more so because of the results; empowering others to realize their worth. She believes there is nothing more fulfilling than building yourself by building others. We could not agree more with her. Even though our businesses are different, they are also very similar - we are both motivated by encouraging others to find happiness. 

Kylie was a wealth of information during our meeting, the amount of insight and advice she had for two young, female entrepreneurs was unbelievable (we told her multiple times that she needs to write a book, yeah she is just that dang awesome). She explained that energy is the best thing you have, your energy determines every aspect of your life. Kylie went on to tell us that as an entrepreneur, especially as a young woman, the worst set back you can create for yourself is seeking affirmation where you will not get it. Toni and I will never forget that piece of advice. As Kylie put it, if you are hungry for something you will not stop until you are full, therefore the criticism and negative opinions are irrelevant. Basically, she is the ultimate #ladyboss. 

Over the course of her lady boss reign, she has taken on a handful of brides-to-be seeking professional styling assistance. Kylie has an eye for body frame and what would be the most flattering style for her bride. However, bridal styling does not just include the actual wedding day, it extends beyond that. Her services have been used for rehearsal dinner wardrobes to honeymoon wardrobes - she does it all. The most important part of bridal styling, and styling in general, according to Kylie, is asking the client "how do you feel?". She will ask this while dress shopping with a bridal client and if they say they "like" the dress, it is back on the hanger before they can say "I do". Kylie wants her brides to feel fireworks. There is no time for so-so feelings when it comes to your wedding dress.

Kylie, Toni and I went on to talk about the current bridal trends of today. Kylie mentioned how she has noticed a shift in the bridal industry, a whole new level of romanticism is evolving; she calls it refreshing. We discussed how our generation is bringing it to the surface, there seems to be a yearn to recreate the classic and timeless elements from weddings in the past. Much inspiration has been drawn from those classic weddings that our grandparents grew up witnessing. Kylie expressed how this form of elegance, grace and poise is coming back with a vengeance and our generation is hungry for it. 

We can not express how happy we were to meet Kylie and have the chance to hear all the intriguing information she had to offer - not only in terms of bridal style but also in terms of entreprenuership and self-motivation. Stay tuned to see the even bigger things to come from this driven, passionate and BOLD beauty. She is showing Pittsburgh one person at a time what it means to be beautiful from the inside-out. 

To connect with Kylie, you can visit her website and learn more about her confidence-making services.

A special thank you to Kylie for participating in this blog!




Photography provided by Elizabeth Craig

Make-up provided by Hannah Conard Beauty

Six Ways To Repurpose Your Wedding Dress

Hello lovelies,

So, we know most of you have a one-track mind when it comes to finding your wedding dress - it needs to be perfect. And by perfect I mean all the stars have aligned in heaven, you've had at least 5 signs telling you it is the one and you can not picture yourself in anything else when walking down the aisle to forever with your best friend. We know, we get it.

However, what happens to that beautiful gown post wedding? You have loved it unconditionally up until the "I do's"; it has become a cherished memory engraved in your mind symbolizing the love you share with your spouse so hanging it up in a dark closet would just be wrong.. right?

Depending on the type of person you are, you may want to get creative with it - incorporate your dress into something that you can look at on the daily. Below we have shared 10 ways that your wedding dress can be re-created into something new, hopefully some of the ideas inspire you :)

Happy weekend,


1. Lace Pendant - If your wedding dress has lace detailing - snipping a small section of the lace off and inserting it into a locket-type necklace make for a beautiful and beloved piece of jewelry.

2. Bouquet Wrap - Whether it is your daughter, niece or another special gal in your life making a wrap for their bridal bouquet is the perfect sentimental touch.

3. Throw Pillow - For those of you who adore home decor, using material from your gown to create a throw pillow for you and your partner's bed would add a romantic feel.

4. Christening Gown - This one is one of my favorites. How special would it be for your children to get baptized in the dress you wore to marry their father. Such a symbol of love coming full circle.

5. Wall Art - If you are really artsy then you would be brave enough to create a wall piece with the material from your dress; something special to hang in your bedroom or anywhere in the house that your eyes often wander.

6. Photoshoot - This one is fun. Once your closest group of gals (sisters, friends - whoever they may be) are all married put on your wedding gowns and do a photoshoot. These pictures will be the ones you love looking back on in years to come.

Pittsburgh Photography & Videography: Jake Carlson Media


We wanted to start another series here on our blog specifically about Pittsburgh photographers and videographers who work in the wedding and event industry.  We love collaborating and getting the chance to learn from all the wonderful talent Pittsburgh has to offer in the creative space. 

Today, I am excited to share a post about local Pittsburgh photographer and videographer, Jake Carlson. Jake is owner and founder of his own business, Jake Carslon Media.  He is experienced in all areas of his industry - shooting a wide variety of exceptional content. Jake's talent spans from capturing the intricate movement in athletics to the enchantment and raw emotion in engagement and wedding shoots. The beautiful image included in today's post is among many of the moments Jake has caught on camera in his accomplished portfolio.  I recently had a conversation with Jake about his business, what inspires him and more. Definitely worth a read!


L: How did you get started in wedding/engagement videography and photography?

J: I filmed my first wedding at the beginning of my senior year in college.  This was one of my first paid opportunities to use a camera.  Everything until then had been for fun.  I had absolutely no idea what to charge, what equipment would be needed, or really what I was doing.  Before this my experience consisted of making edits with friends at 7 Springs (before being hired to work there) and side projects on my own.  Luckily the job was for a friend, so we agreed for it to be experimental at a very low rate.  Looking back I did so many things incorrectly.  It was incredibly eye opening as to what shooting weddings on a professional level was going to require.  Since then, I have researched and studied multiple techniques behind wedding films and photography.  Weddings for me came at a challenge at first.  I have been filming things since I was a kid and was always influenced by action sports films, music videos, and things of the sort.  In other words, I needed to take my style and slow it way down.  At first this was a challenge.  After years of practice and new experiences I have learned to appreciate art of the event, and to capture accordingly.  So far this year I have shot photo and video content at seven weddings. 


L: What is your favorite part about this business?

J:  No job is ever the exact same.  I love experiencing new things and this industry definitely allows for that.  I’ve personally never wanted to work in an office/cubicle environment.  Fortunately while shooting content I never really know where I’m going to end up.  2/2 – As far as capturing weddings, there’s a sense of satisfaction in being able to capture the biggest day in someone’s life.  Wedding albums are rare in the sense that people may be looking at them sixty plus years down the road.  I like that.


L: What inspires you when shooting engaged or married couples?

J: As an artist other photographers and videographers constantly inspire me.  Today with social media we are constantly exposed to top of the line work from all over the world.  Some times I find myself scrolling through an Instagram or Facebook account that belongs to someone I don’t even know. Although it’s mildly addicting, I think it’s good to step back and observe other work to fuel my own mind with new ideas.  Any time that you think you’re on top in this industry, think again.  There is always someone out there who sees the same scene in a different light and will create images that will make yours obsolete.  I’m constantly trying to stay ahead and discover new things.  


L: What is it you'd like to say with your photographs? And how do you get that message conveyed?

J: A sense of mystery.  I have always been very intrigued by images that leave questions.  “Where was this taken?”  “What settings did you use?” “How did you end up there?”  People with no background in photography or videography so easily fall into an illusion created by the image.  They see it and are struck by it.  I’ve found this to be incredibly true through social media.  The image that people paint around themselves on Instagram blows me away. Yet, there is a level of interest there.  I can expose my work on the Internet to enhance my image while marketing myself as a business, so why not?  I think the most important way to get that message conveyed is to keep expanding my horizons.  I for one am never satisfied, so I am constantly shooting new things in different ways.  For years, my images were focused around the Free-Ski industry and other action sports.  I could tell people were getting bored with it after awhile.  At the time a door opened for me to start shooting EDM shows at clubs in Pittsburgh.  I’m not even a huge EDM fan but it was something different to display.  Since then I’ve shot things from Snoop Dogg performing, to cows posing in a field to be sold on line.  People rarely know what I’m doing which I like, and the sense of mystery creates itself.


L: In the wedding industry, what is the biggest thing you've learned in regards to photography and videography?

J: I’ve learned to overshoot weddings.  It creates more work in post, but it is so much better to be in the position when you’re deciding which images to use rather than coming to terms with the fact that you don’t have enough content. 


L: What is the best thing about the Pittsburgh wedding industry that you've experienced as a photographer and videographer?

J: Work is steady in this industry.  I’m sure that my age helps, but people around me everywhere are getting married and the jobs keep coming.  


L: What is the most important thing to establish in a videographer/photographer relationship with a client?

J: A level of comfort and trust.  I’ve learned that some people get very uncomfortable when a camera is pointed at them.  I try to make shoots as relaxed and fun as possible while ensuring the client that they will be happy with the final product.



If you, or someone you know, is looking for a skilled professional photographer or videographer - A & L Events would highly recommend Jake Carlson Media. We personally know satisfied clients of his and they could not be happier with his work. 

If you would like to contact Jake regarding business inquiries you can do so by clicking here

Until next week, 


The Infamous Pittsburgh Cookie Table

They Say ‘I Do’, And Then You Say ‘Where’s The Cookie Table?’


Everyone knows that aside from the couple saying their “I do’s” and the dancing [duh], the next most important thing at a wedding reception are the desserts!


Wedding cake is a must, and as most of you probably know, I am a huge fan of cupcakes. However, if you’re from Pittsburgh, I know what you have your eyes open for …

THE COOKIES! Hundreds of dozens of them. Or as many of you like to call it – The Pittsburgh Cookie Table!


Wedding receptions in the Pittsburgh area have, for as long as most people can remember, featured cookie tables. It is one of the most beloved wedding reception traditions in Pittsburgh. These tables display thousands of homemade old-fashioned cookies, the traditional favorites, and some of the most popular well-known cookies from bakeries in the area.


For weeks, or if you’re like my Italian family, maybe months, family members buckle down in the kitchen making dozens and dozens of delicious cookies to be showcased and later enjoyed by guests. Some may have moms, grandmothers, aunts, or friends making these cookies, but it’s not such a bad idea to buy some cookies from the delicious bakeries around Pittsburgh as well.


So, here are some of my favorites [Although, let’s be real, any cookie is my favorite cookie]:


Prantl’s Bakery: They offer a variety of different cookies. Really anything you could think up. Thumbprints, vanilla fudge, cutout cookies with jimmies [If you’re not from Pittsburgh, that means sprinkles!], and last but not least, the toasted almond cookie—about as close as you’re going to get to the infamous burnt almond torte cake from Prantl’s, without having the actual cake itself—aka a must!


Bethel Bakery: You can absolutely not go wrong ordering your mini lady lox from Bethel Bakery. They. Are. So. Good. Every. Single. Time. In addition to that goodness, also try out the buck eyes, chocolate chip half dip, jelly tea, and you cannot forget about the strassberger butter!


Oakmont Bakery: Assorted mini cheesecakes, mini creampuffs, peanut butter blossoms (classic!), and nut and apricot kolache. Don’t even question me, just go try these, and then order!


Eat’n’Park: This is me half being silly, half being semi serious [ok, really serious]. But for real, what’s a Pittsburgh cookie table without SMILEY COOKIES?!


How many cookies? How many is too many? Well, I say you can never have too many cookies. However, being realistic, most bakeries and people suggest about 3-4 cookies per guest. Personally, I would double that and say 6-7, and then some extra J


So, a little words of wisdom: Do not be the Pittsburgh couple that doesn’t know what to say when guests as “Where’s the Cookie Table?”


NOTE: Be sure to include goodie bags/boxes on the table, because I can bet you that all of your guests are going to want to take some home!


- A