Hello Productions

Pittsburgh Wedding and Event Planners

Buffet vs. Sit Down vs. Stations May 16, 2017

In most cases, the bulk of your wedding budget will be spent on food and beverage. When providing dinner service to your guests, you as the host will choose from 3 styles: Buffet, Sit Down, or Stations. Each choice has pros and cons… it just depends on which fits your style!


Reception Style #1: Buffet

What is a buffet? It is a meal consisting of several dishes stationed on a long table from which guests streamline through and serve themselves. To create a more formal buffet, servers will sometimes assist guests. But in the end, this style is considered to be the most casual of meal service.


Pros: Buffets provide your guests with more options of meat, sides and sauces. You can please the masses without having your guests choose their entrée prior to your event. Buffets also save a small amount of money for wait staff since the caterer needs fewer people tending to the buffet instead of each table.


Cons: The downfall of buffets include time. Since guests are not professional food handlers, they tend to move at a slower pace when moving through the line. Also, a buffet requires an overage of each dish to ensure no entrée or side runs out. Caterers cannot guess how much each guest will take; therefore, an overage of food increases the cost.



Reception Style #2: Sit Down

A sit down, plated style of dinner is considered the most traditional and formal option as guests are served an individually plated meal… in most cases, one they have pre-selected in their RSVP. The meal typically consists of three courses: an appetizer/salad, entrée and dessert. Caterers will usually give guests the option between two entrées, which are selected beforehand, or they will offer a duo plate consisting of two proteins.


Pros: All of your guests will be served at the same time! With preselecting meal options, the caterer will know exact amounts. A plated dinner also provides the opportunity to time event formalities (such as dances and toasts) between courses to keep guests entertained and engaged throughout the meal service.


Cons: A greater number of serving staff is required to cater every table individually. Also, some venues do not offer a plated sit down due to lack of kitchen space. Imagine 300 entrée plates lined up in the kitchen… that’s some major square footage!

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Reception Style #3: Food Stations

A station style reception is where the event’s meal choices are distributed at various tables in your main event space. Station examples include a carving station, a raw bar, a tapas station, a pasta station, a dessert station, and the list goes on.


Pros: A fun variety of dishes can be made available including themed stations (like a pierogi or taco bar) that you might not see at a more formal setting. With “cook to order” stations, guests can request the amount of sauce or level of spice, etc.


Cons: Considered a new-age style of event dining, many of your guests treat it like a buffet… taking a full dinner plate of food at each station. Stations are made for snacking, tasting, and enjoying smaller portions of each fun theme. The amount of consumption and waste may rack of up your catering bill.

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Five Fun Ways (Plus 5 Free Ways) to Promote Your Business or Event October 7, 2014

At Hello Productions, we do more than just plan events – we also handle marketing and promotions for companies and their events. We are often asked to design and print flyers, signs, banners and other marketing pieces. With online and in-store print services, it is easier than ever to get the word out. Here are some of our favorite new ideas to promote your company or next event. And keep reading for five free ways to promote your business or event!


Clockwise from left: Mason Jars, Custom Gum, Tshirt Sponsor, Calendar Magnet and Die Cut Postcard.

Clockwise from top left: Mason Jars, Custom Gum, Tshirt Sponsor, Calendar Magnet and Die Cut Postcard.

Promotional Mason Jars

Mason jars are in right now so they’re the perfect way to have your logo be seen. These 16 oz mason jars with threaded tops (lids optional) are available from Adco Marketing.


Promotional Gum

Put your name or logo on a 12-piece sugar-free gum pack, like the one available through Staples.


Promotional Magnets

Magnets, such as calendar magnets from Vistaprint, are a fun giveaway at trade shows or just to thank customers (and encourage new business). If you are going to use them to promote your company, make sure to include your name, phone number, website and hours (if applicable).


Die Cut Postcards

We’ve all seen business postcards that come in the mail. Some catch our eye and some don’t. Make sure yours do with these unique die cut postcards from ShipShapes. Send these to new customers to encourage new business, as well as existing customers, to invite them to a special event or send them a reminder.


Sponsor An Event

Whether it’s a 5k walk/run event or a beer tasting, you can give your company exposure by being a sponsor. Make sure you submit an attention-grabbing logo for their materials and don’t forget to advertise the event on your own website, blog or Facebook page. You can also hold an event and get other business partners to sponsor. Advertise their logos on tshirts, like the one above from Rockwall.


Promotions don’t have to be pricey! Here are five FREE ways to promote your business.


Set up an online presence. Promote your business using Google Plus, Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. Set up a free website. Sites such as WordPress.com have themes for all types of businesses.


Write an article for submission to a local newspaper, magazine, blog, and/or website. Include new business (such as new locations or employees), events, and other topics that demonstrate your expertise in that particular field. You can also offer to be a speaker at a conference, community event, or local business group.


Network! Take advantage of any local or online networking opportunities to share information about your business and increase your potential client list.


Hold a contest to collect Facebook “likes” or emails for your newsletter distribution. You can offer a product or service from your business, or partner with another local business that may be willing to donate something in exchange for the exposure.


Offer a free consultation. Once you narrow down prospective clients, offer a no-obligation consult where you can find out more about their needs and suggest how your business can help them.


Looking for more help promoting your business? Give Hello Productions a call today (412-298-7333)!


Plan a Motivational Company Picnic August 16, 2013

Filed under: Hello Corporate — Hello Productions @ 10:57 am
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It is easy to feel sluggish about work when the weather is gorgeous and you would rather be outside, in the pool, on vacation, etc. Show your employees you appreciate them with a company picnic and use it as an opportunity to keep them motivated. Here are a few ideas to help you plan a company picnic!


A team meeting (disguised as a picnic) can reenergize your employees as individuals and as a team. Here are a few things to add to your agenda.


Make sure to properly invite your employees, with the location, date and time made very clear. It’s a lot harder to motivate your employees when they aren’t there.


Serve lunch. It’s not easy to concentrate when you’re hungry, so start the meeting out with lunch. You can do traditional picnic foods or have it catered.


Clockwise from top left: Invitation (tinyprints.com), Outdoor Layout (helloproductions.com), Boxed Gourmet Lunch (www.elizabethannedesigns.com), Horseshoes.

Clockwise from top left: Invitation (tinyprints.com), Outdoor Layout (helloproductions.com), Horseshoes, and Boxed Gourmet Lunch (www.elizabethannedesigns.com).


Encourage the managers to attend and mingle with their departments, not just other managers. Have a problem getting different groups of employees to mingle? Number each picnic table and give each employee a number as they walk in, encouraging them to sit with different groups.


Review the company goals for the recent quarters and note which ones have been met and which ones need improvement. Visual aids, such as an outdoor screen or poster board-sized charts, will help keep everyone’s attention.


Recognize different employees for mid-year accomplishments. This can be goal-related or just above-and-beyond behavior, such as going out of their way to train a new employee.


Have a question and answer time for all the employees to voice questions and concerns to the managers and/or CEO.


End the day with something fun – such as team activities or friendly competitions.


Need help with the details? Contact Hello Productions today!


Top 10 Things to Remember When Planning a Conference or Corporate Meeting in Pittsburgh May 10, 2013


1. Double-check the date. You want as many attendees as possible, so make sure your dates do not conflict with any holidays or other industry conferences. OPM.gov has a list of the upcoming national holidays.


2. Discuss the budget. Knowing your budget ahead of time will help determine your conference agenda and whether or not you will include meals or other activities.


3. Have online registration. Using an online registration website is a great way to collect your attendees’ information, keep it organized and print agendas and sign-in lists. Hello Productions has online registration experience and can easily help you set up and manage your registration.


4. Promote the event. Whether your conference is geared toward employees within your own company or open to the public, make sure you get the word out there! Advertise internally and with industry-related sources.


5. Select the right venue. It’s important to pick a venue that can adequately hold your group. If you are going to have breakout sessions, make sure the venue has plenty of rooms that you can use. A hotel is a great venue if you want to include a meal with your conference. If you’re looking to get away for a team-building retreat, pick a location that is a farther away from your everyday work. Companies will often opt to have a conference or meeting at their own facility, but remember that you will have everyone’s full attention if you are at a new location.


6. Check the technology. When picking a venue, be sure to ask if the technology requirements you will need are available. These may include projectors, screens, microphones, sound systems and podiums. If you have any speakers who would prefer a flipchart and markers, be sure to have these ready ahead of time.


7. Have a guest speaker. Even if your meeting is small with just internal employees, it’s still a great idea to have a guest speaker. It can be someone who is an expert in your industry or someone with a motivational story to tell. If your budget doesn’t include a speaker, why not ask one of your employees to share an inspirational story?


8. Prepare for registration. When you are planning out registration and getting ready to print your attendee packets, imagine yourself as an attendee and walk through the day. Make sure you have the appropriate signage, instructions and people to answer questions. You may want to ask yourself: When I first get to the venue, where do I go? Is there a map in the packet? Will lunch be provided and if so, where? What if I have a dietary restriction? Are there bathrooms nearby? Will there be breaks so I can check my cell phone, email, etc.?


9. Memorable moment. Every conference or meeting should have something memorable for its attendees. Here are just a few examples:

a. Use a real-time polling system (such as http://www.polleverywhere.com/) in your sessions to create audience interactions. Use it to find out their opinions about the company or products, submit questions or new ideas, or have silly polls to get everyone paying attention and involved!

b. Hand out something fun for questions asked, answers submitted, ideas given, etc. These could be fun stress reliever ball, raffle tickets for prizes later or candy.

c. Have a themed lunch or dinner, such as a taco bar or different items from favorite local places. If you’re not including a meal, surprise attendees with snacks, such as popcorn brought to each table or a make-your-own trail mix bar so they can be re-energized for the afternoon session.


10. Wrap up. Email your attendees a survey after the conference (or have them fill out one before they leave) so you can use their comments to improve next year’s conference!


Hello Productions is happy to help plan, organize and run your next conference! Contact us today at 412-288-7333 or ashley@helloproductions.com. For other ideas, feel free to check out our Corporate Photo Gallery.


Plan a Rehearsal Dinner or Private Party at One of These Pittsburgh Favorites March 2, 2013

Looking for a rehearsal dinner restaurant in Pittsburgh or place to hold your next special event? Here are a few of our favorite restaurants for private parties in Pittsburgh. While most of these restaurants have private rooms you can reserve, all are happy to accommodate private parties.

six penn 



Six Penn Kitchen

Website: www.sixpennkitchen.com

What we like: Their chic private room upstairs and rooftop bar.


Sonoma Grill

Website: thesonomagrille.com

What we like: They have offer a several different dining options, from sit-down dinners to food stations.


Common Plea Restaurant & Catering

Website: Commonplea-catering.com

What we like: Their catering team will work with a variety of venues in Pittsburgh or come to your home.


Olive or Twist

Website: www.olive-twist.com

What we like: Depending on the day of the week, you can rent a variety of spaces, from their VIP Room to their entire second floor.


Lidia's Pittsburgh

Lidia’s Pittsburgh

Lidia’s Pittsburgh

Website: www.lidias-pittsburgh.com

What we like: They have several options for private parties, including a private space upstairs, a semi-private dining option downstairs or patio dining. And we love Lidia’s brunch!


Sharp Edge (The Loft)

Website: site.sharpedgebeer.com/loft

What we like: The Loft was designed for all types of groups, including meetings and presentations. It is outfitted with Wi-Fi and a 54” flat screen TV.


Station Square


Buca di Beppo

Website: www.bucadibeppo.com

What we like: Unique, themed dining rooms at no extra charge with one of their group dinner packages.


Grand Concourse

Website: www.muer.com

What we like: This classic Pittsburgh location has three private rooms that can accommodate any number of guests.


The Melting Pot

Website: www.meltingpot.com

What we like: Their large party room can hold up to 42 guests and has A/V capabilities.


South Side



Website: www.ibizatapasrestaurant.com

What we like: Their menu features over 45 tapas from around the world and they have a private upstairs room.



Website: www.eatatnakama.com/

What we like: This 1893 historical landmark building has been totally renovated and their semi-private party room is available for private functions.


McCormick’s & Schmicks

Website: www.mccormickandschmicks.com

What we like: Their River Room can hold up to 100 and their location in the heart of the South Side Works.


Cheesecake Factory

Website: www.thecheesecakefactory.com

What we like: They offer large party seating throughout the restaurant and of course, 50 legendary cheesecakes and specialty desserts.


There are so many other great venues in Pittsburgh – our list can’t possibly include them all! Have another suggestion? Leave it in the comments below!


Do you need help pulling together your next Pittsburgh rehearsal dinner or private party? Hello Productions’ event planners are here to help! Call us at 412-298-7333 or email us at info@helloproductions.com.


Celebrity-Worthy 2013 Oscar Party Ideas February 10, 2013


Looking for an excuse to throw a party? Why not celebrate the 85th Academy Awards (commonly known as the Oscars) in style! They will be televised live on Sunday, February 24th, beginning at 7pm EST.


First, set up the proper viewing equipment. If you only have one TV, center the party in that room. Decide ahead of time if you’re going to keep the sound low so everyone can talk (consider putting closed captioning on), or if you’re going to have the sound up. If your guests want to watch and listen, put the drinks in a separate room to create a space for those who want to talk instead of watch.


If you are able to set up multiple TVs in separate rooms, keep the TV sound low in one room and turn it up in another room, giving options for your guests to just watch or watch and listen.


As for the decorations, keep it simple and classy. Blogger Hostess with the Mostess created fun Oscar printables, including 2013 nominee labels, napkin rings, patterned papers, drink tags and more. For the templates and instructions to print, visit her blog: www.hwtm.com.

oscar collection 

Play Oscar bingo. Give guests blank bingo sheets and have them write down things they think are going to happen in each space. Examples: Amour is going to win Best Picture, Steven Spielberg will be seated in the front row, Hugh Jackman will cry, etc. Let the games begin! As these things happen, guests will cross off the spaces and the first to get 5 in a row, wins a prize. Pick a movie-themed prize, such as movie tickets or an iTunes gift card. Click here for a free bingo template.


Have fun with the food and cocktails. Pick things that represent the nominees for Best Picture. For example, an old fashioned cocktail to represent Lincoln or a fruity drink for Life of Pi. Bambara Restaurant (in Salt Lake City) created 2013 Oscar nominee-themed cocktails. For their list, click here. If you’re feeling really adventurous, head over to Epicurious to see their sample menus for each of the 2013 Oscar nominees.


Appetizers and finger foods are always easy to serve and eat, but if you want to dazzle your guests, set up a gourmet popcorn bar. Pop different kinds of popcorn and set it out with scoops, personal bags and toppings. You can get as creative as you want with the toppings – from Parmesan cheese to caramel and sea salt, and from buffalo-style hot sauce to curry powder and shredded coconut.

wedding popcorn bar

Here are just a few gourmet popcorn topping combinations to get you started:
Parmesan and Black Pepper

Mini M&M’s and Chocolate Chips
Curry Powder and Shredded Coconut
Caramel Drizzle and Sea Salt
Buffalo Style Hot Sauce and Blue Cheese Crumbles
Ranch Seasoning and Dill
Peanuts and Wasabi
Bacon Bits, Cheddar and Chives
Mini Marshmallows and Crushed Graham Crackers


For more information on the Oscar nominees, visit: oscar.go.com.


Great Venues for Your Company’s Holiday Party October 30, 2012

Yes, the time has come to begin (if you haven’t already) planning and coordinating your company’s holiday party. Whether big or small, companies have begun to invest in this tradition again after a few shaky years when they were scaling back or even all-together eliminating company events in an effort to save money in a tight economy. A holiday party is a great way to show valued employees a good time and to thank them for their year-long efforts for the organization. In Pittsburgh, we’re blessed with a wide variety of venues capable of handling very large, very small, industrial-chic to high-end functions that fit every taste and style. We’ve picked five unique locations to showcase:


Clockwise from Top Left: Lexus Club, Soldiers & Sailors Memorial Hall & Museum, The Mattress Factory, Stage AE, Engine House 25.


The Mattress Factory: Any company could enjoy this interesting and industrial space for either a sit-down or a blast of a cocktail party. It’s combination of contemporary art and flexible rental spaces make this a very unique gem on Pittsburgh’s North Side.


The Lexus Club: Whether a hockey fan or not, you’d be hard-pressed not to enjoy this classy venue inside of Pittsburgh’s Consol Energy Center. With enough space to host over 250 people for a sit-down meal, or 400 for cocktails and hors d’oeuvres, you have many options in this space. Overlooking downtown and with the facility’s Aramark catering staff at your beck-and-call, this is a pretty fabulous place to reflect on 2012’s victories!


Stage AE: As Pittsburgh’s newest concert and event venue, Stage AE has hit the North Shore by storm by bringing not only a four seasons entertainment venue to the area, but one that provides numerous options for a variety of hip and urban event styles. With its minimalistic interior space, it can accommodate between 400-1500 easily in a multitude of configurations. It’s also a great place to book a band for your after-dinner entertainment so guests can dance the night away.


Engine House 25: Located in the heart of Lawrenceville, and home two event spaces, an operational winery and wine cellar as well as the Clemente Museum, this is one venue that is unlike any other in town. With ample parking and a very unique blend of baseball history, industrial-chic interior design and intimate wine cellar, you have many options when it comes to entertaining your team in this fun location. They can even custom-make wine bottle labels for your event in-house, an added special feature your employees will surely be impressed with!


Soldiers & Sailors Memorial Hall & Museum: Providing a “distinctive alternative to conventional venues” in the heart of Oakland, this venue would give your guests both a fine place to party as well as a glimpse back in time to the history of our military. With its newly renovated interior and large ballroom space, this is an ideal location to host a large corporate gathering of any kind. Ideally situated near the University of Pittsburgh and public transportation, your guests will be impressed with your ability to combine convenience, affordability and a first-class space all within one location.


Looking for more venue ideas or help coordinating your company’s upcoming event? Contact Lindsey at lindseyb@helloproductions.com, or message me on Twitter @lbradleypgh today!