It seems only fair to warn you, before you proceed any further, that this post contains an excessive amount of awesomeness. Specifically, a top hat, tails, a bride and groom sharing s’mores roasted with a blow torch, photos inside the elegant Benedum Center, a beautiful outdoor ceremony at Point State Park, and a Chinese lion dance. Yes, a Chinese lion dance. This was one of those magical days when you’re either smiling or weeping happy tears… the entire day. I did both, and I did both again when I worked on these photos.
Jen moved to Pittsburgh from Charleston 10 years ago, and Josh moved here from Chicago in 1996… which is the same year I moved here. After their first meeting didn’t go well, a few years later they crossed paths again at a friend’s game night, and this time they connected. Truly. What a pleasure and joy it was to photograph this happy couple! Their eyes light up and they both smile every time they look at each other. Jen was simply radiant with joy all day long, and the combination of Josh’s admiring gaze with his dapper top hat and tails was pure bliss.
Sara of Caviar&Curls did Jen’s hair and makeup as she got ready at the Wyndham Grand, the big hotel right across from Point State Park. After a first look in the Strip District, we went over to South Side Works for the First S’mores (see below), then the Benedum, and then PNC Park. We then returned to Point State Park for a beautiful, personal, meaningful ceremony, followed by a terrific reception in the Wyndham Grand ballroom overlooking the park, with entertainment by Dr. Zoot. Read on for lots, lots more about this fabulous day.
Many thanks to the always fabulous Pamela Anticole for photographing this wedding with me.
We begin at the Wyndham, where Jen and her bridesmaids got ready for the big day. Props to Jen’s friend Mandy, a former Girl Scout, who solved the “there’s nothing to hang the dress from” problem by taping up the hanger.
First Look in the Strip District
Jen and Josh had their first date here. This is the Produce Terminal Building on Smallman Street in the Strip District. At the time, it was the home of the Pittsburgh Public Market. After Josh arrived in an Uber self-driving car (fitting because he works on them), he bought some flowers for his bride. How perfect is his attire? The top hat with the feather… the bow tie.. the silver vest… the tails! They were so happy to see each other. I loved this moment so much.
First S’mores at South Side Works
So, the Public Market was the first date. The second date was quite unique. Jen and Josh went to the little courtyard outside the AE building at South Side Works, where they made s’mores. With a blow torch. And on their wedding day, they did it again. Josh packed a cooler of supplies. And a blow torch.
Wedding Photos at The Benedum Center
This is July, and it was hot. So our next stop, the Benedum Center in downtown Pittsburgh, offered a refreshing break from the heat and humidity. I love the architecture and elegance here. A perfect spot for a groom with a top hat and tails.
Wedding Photos at PNC Park
Jen and Josh had allowed a LOT of time for photography! On a typical wedding day, there’s no way we would have time to go to so many locations. But because they made it a priority, we had enough time for one more stop, and we decided to go to the North Shore. The PNC Park Riverwalk was open. These two are big fans – season ticket holders, actually – so we were happy to be able to use this space. Plus, it gave Jen and Josh an opportunity to practice their first dance.
Personal Self-Uniting Ceremony at the Block House at Point State Park
Ah, outdoor ceremonies in Pittsburgh… you really don’t go easy on brides or grooms (or wedding coordinators). The ceremony was scheduled to be right outside the Block House at Point State Park, weather permitting. Backup plan: in a small banquet room inside the Wyndham. Which would it be? All day everyone kept checking various weather apps, and for most of the day, it didn’t look good. I was pretty sure we would be inside. The final call wasn’t made until about 4:20, when the decision was made to go for it outside. And off we went! If rain came, those of us with lots of expensive equipment (photographers, videographer and musicians) were told to run for cover inside the Block House. Guests would have to run back to the Wyndham. But, thankfully, the rain DID hold off! It started to sprinkle just after the ceremony ended… perfect timing.
Jen and Josh chose to do a self-uniting ceremony, with Jen’s very good friend Joyce acting as officiant. And it was so personal and absolutely perfect for them. As each member of the bridal party walked in, they brought an item representing their connection to the bride or groom and placed it into a bowl, and Joyce explained the item and its significance.
Wedding Reception at the Wyndham Grand
Jen and Josh are terrific dancers, and their first dance was an elegant choregoraphed ballroom dance to “Mango Tree” by Zac Brown Band.
The Lion Dance
After the first dance and cake cutting, it was time for the Lion Dance by Steel Dragon. What’s a Lion Dance?
From the Steel Dragon website:
The lion dance is used in ceremonies ranging from the more formal and solemn to the more informal and joyous. Either way, the lion’s purpose is to bring good fortune and to drive away any malevolent spirits that might be hanging around. The lion is almost always associated with auspicious acts and events, and must obey certain rules of propriety. These types of events can include house and business blessings, weddings, and other joyous occasions.
My observation is that the Lion Dance is an entertaining and exhilaration artistic show that highlights the performers’ skill and athleticism. It also involves flying lettuce. Who doesn’t love flying lettuce?!
Congratulations, Jen and Josh! I’m so glad I got to be a part of this wonderful day.