Looking for a unique wedding reception venue in Pittsburgh? The Water’s Edge at the Pittsburgh Zoo & PPG Aquarium may be for you.

The Water’s Edge exhibit has only been open a few years. But it’s not just an exhibit. It’s been designed to look like a coastal village, called Pier Town. As you stroll along past the polar bears and sea otters, you feel like you’re somewhere very far from land-locked Pittsburgh.

Pier Town is a perfect spot for cocktail hour.

But Water’s Edge is much more than just Pier Town. The main attraction… underwater tunnels!

Guests enter through the polar bear tunnel. I love the effect of the sunlight filtering through the water.

Guest tables and the dance floor have an excellent view of the sea otters.

If you choose buffets or stations for dinner, they’ll be set up right in front of the sand tiger sharks.

And the sand tiger sharks do cruise around, checking out what the guests are eating. (That tomato and fresh mozzarella salad was my favorite!)

There’s plenty more room in the sand tiger shark tunnel for a cookie table. And in this case, a candy table, too!

I asked Jaime Szoszorek, the Zoo’s Group Sales & Rentals Manager, to answer a few questions about weddings at the Zoo.

Christina: The Pittsburgh Zoo & PPG Aquarium is quite a departure from the traditional ballroom. What are some of the specific reasons that make it an ideal spot for a wedding?
The Pittsburgh Zoo & PPG Aquarium has the unique advantage of being able to offer clients and guests an reception experience they are sure to remember. Our site offers not only the typical flavor of a reception, but the additional entertainment factor that many receptions may lack. Imagine enjoying a cocktail hour surrounded by tropical fish and beautiful exhibits, before moving into the traditional items of the dinner, dancing, and camaraderie of a reception.

Christina: The zoo offers multiple choices for wedding receptions. Do you have any guidance that might help couples choose one over another?
Jaime: We have three locations ideal for a wedding reception (PPG Aquarium, Water’s Edge, or Garden Tent). Each venue is unique and offers a different experience for the client and guest. A client’s selection may be based upon event size, pricing, availability, and general venue preference. We will meet with clients to show them our sites that would work best for their needs.

Christina: Can couples have both their ceremony and reception at the zoo?
Jaime: We only offer receptions at our locations.

Christina: During the day, the zoo has a casual, friendly vibe. What are some ways that it is transformed into a festive venue for a wedding?
Jaime: For a wedding reception, our goal is to emphasize the fun and unique atmosphere of our site, while still providing the more formal and traditional feel of a typical wedding reception. Receptions will have the exceptional service expected, beautiful linen, china, and glassware selections, with the incredible background of our animals and venues. I often tell clients that we are just like your typical reception site, but we have sharks!

Christina: Does your exclusive caterer, Taste of the Wild, provide different types of meals, such as buffet, stations, sit-down? Have there been any specific menus or events that you felt stood out?
Jaime:Yes, A Taste of the Wild is our exclusive in-house caterer. They offer sit-down, buffet, station, cocktail, casual, and any other menu style that the client would like. A typical wedding reception menu is the traditional buffet or sit-down service, however stations menus offer the opportunity to have a unique mix of menus. A station menu could consist of carving station items, along with ethnic themed fare, in a unique arrangement. Many clients enjoy our ‘Pittsburgh Station’ that is comprised of choice of pierogies, stuffed cabbage, potato pancakes, and mini ham barbeques. In addition, this could be mixed with a salad station, seafood station, southwestern station, and mashed potato bar for a fun social event.

Our Catering Department also works with individual requests from clients to create the theme or style of their choice.

Christina: Can guests visit the zoo exhibits before or during events?
For safety reasons guests do not have access to the entire Zoo grounds during events, however, they do have access to the facility reserved by the client for the duration of their event. This is especially great in our PPG Aquarium which houses our penguins, octopus, eels, smaller sharks, sea dragons, sting rays, and a wide variety of tropical fish. Our Water’s Edge venue is home to our polar bears, sand tiger sharks, and sea otters. With the Garden Tent guests do not have access to the entire Zoo, but they have a beautiful venue surrounded by evergreens, and native plantings.

Jaime, thanks for sharing with us!

Pittsburgh Zoo & PPG Aquarium
One Wild Place
Pittsburgh, PA 15206

Telephone Number:
(412) 665-3640
1 (800) 474-4966


Christina Montemurro Photography is a top-rated photography studio specializing in special events, including weddings and bar mitzvahs, serving the greater Pittsburgh area. Christina’s focus is on creating genuine, heartfelt, relaxed images, with extraordinary attention to detail and customer service. Contact Christina now to check availability for your engagement session, wedding, bar mitzvah or bat mitzvah. Christina has been rated among top Pittsburgh photographers. You can read reviews by Christina’s past brides and grooms here and here.