Once we locked down Heinz Chapel as our ceremony site, I assumed that we would create our block of hotel rooms at the Holiday Inn directly across the street.
See that awesome location? Less than a five-minute walk to Heinz Chapel! Also, it's a very, very easy walk to many great attractions in the lively Oakland/University of Pittsburgh area, including the University's main building, the Cathedral of Learning, the super-awesome Carnegie Museums of Art and History, and lots of great, busy bars and restaurants, including the Holy Grail of Pittsburgh foods, Primanti Brothers' sandwiches:
Fluffy Italian bread, tomatoes, cole slaw, grilled deli meat, melty provolone cheese, and a big handful of FRENCH FRIES. I get mine with roast beef and nix the tomatoes and slaw for optimal artery destruction. I have literally dreamt of these. (Source.)
Earlier this week, I called the Holiday Inn to inquire about blocking off our rooms (a month ahead of schedule, according to my wedding planning book, no less!), only to discover that the Society for Botanical Artists (?!?!?!) is having a convention in Oakland that week (?!?!?!?) and already scored all the rooms. Mental reaction: "*#!%&!!!"
So, okay, I am a resilient bride. I rebounded, and decided to go instead for the Marriott very close to our reception site, the Children's Museum, which is about fifteen minutes away from Oakland. The overall neighborhood is not quite as fun and easy to navigate as Oakland, but it's still cool. It provides easy access to the Warhol Museum, a few bars, the Carnegie Science Center, and Pittsburgh's two major sports venues, PNC Park (home of the Pirates) and Heinz Field (home of the Steelers).
I was really optimistic about this choice, and then I spoke to the sales person on the phone. Surpriiiiiise! Given that the hotel provides immediate access to Heinz Field--home of the Steelers--and my wedding is in late September--the opening of football season--they will not reserve a block of rooms for us until after the Steelers' schedule for 2010 is released. In April. Five months before the wedding. And if there is indeed a home game that weekend, not only will they not provide a discounted rate to our guests, they will in fact jack the rates up so high our guests' noses will bleed. Mental reaction: "*#!%&!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!"
All is not lost--these aren't the only two hotels in Pittsburgh, obviously. But they ARE the only two hotels that are in such easy, convenient locations to either the ceremony site or the reception site, and also provide a nice surrounding atmosphere for guests to partake in if they so choose. Other hotels in Oakland are a rather annoying distance (as in, not at all walking distance) away from Heinz Chapel, and definitely not in the midst of the fun of the University neighborhood. There aren't really any other hotels on the North Shore, where the reception is. The next closest one is in a whole other neighborhood, over a bridge.
So now I'm not sure what to do. What would you do? Suck it up and wait for the Steelers' spring schedule and keep fingers crossed we can score the best hotel, or book something that's not in a convenient location to either place? Maybe find out the cancellation policies on the less-desirable hotels? Any Pittsburgh brides out there? I'd love some other suggestions!