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.

Jen was so happy! This was her smile all day long. Love it! Smiling happy bride getting ready at the Wyndham Grand Happy bride puts on her jewelry

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.

Groom in top hat buys flowers for his bride in the Strip District Bride and Groom first look at the Terminal Building in Pittsburgh's Strip District Bride and Groom first look at the Terminal Building in Pittsburgh's Strip District Bride and Groom first look at the Terminal Building in Pittsburgh's Strip District

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.

Bride and Groom make S'mores at South Side Works in Pittsburgh Bride and Groom make S'mores with a blow torch at South Side Works in Pittsburgh

New wedding tradition: first s’mores? Bride and Groom eat S'mores at South Side Works in Pittsburgh

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.

Bride and Groom in the Elegant, Formal Lobby of the Benedum Center in Pittsburgh Bride and Groom in the Elegant, Formal Hallway of the Benedum Center in Pittsburgh

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. Bride and Groom Season Ticket Holders by the outfield ivy wall at PNC Park Bride and Groom at the PNC Park Riverwalk

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.

Bridesmaid in Purple Dress at Point State Park Wedding Ceremony Aunt of the Bride Bride Walking through Point State Park with her father Groom puts his top hat on his bride during their wedding ceremony Bride and Groom looking out at their guests at their Point State Park Wedding Ceremony

Love seeing the Point State Park fountain in the background of these photos. Bride and Groom with Top Hat at Point State Park Bride Reading Her Personal Vows

I loved that instead of a folded-up piece of paper, Josh read his vows from this pretty notebook, which even matched the bridesmaids’ dresses!Groom with Purple Notebook Reading his Personal Vows Summer Wedding Ceremony at Point State Park Block House Guests at Point State Park Wedding First Kiss near Point State Park Fountain

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.

Bride and Groom Choreographed First DanceBride and Groom Choreographed First Dance

Prantl's Burnt Almond Torte Wedding CakeBride and Groom Eating Cake at the Wyndham Pittsburgh

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?!

Chinese Lion Dance at Pittsburgh Wedding Chinese Lion Dance at Pittsburgh Wedding Chinese Lion Dance at Pittsburgh Wedding Chinese Lion Dance at Pittsburgh Wedding Bride Laughing during the Father Daughter Dance Wyndham Grand

Mother Son Dance at Wyndham Grand Bride and Groom Dancing at their Wedding Guests Dancing at Wedding Reception

Dr. Zoot provided the evening’s entertainment, with lots of classics and jazz standards. Dr. Zoot Guests Dancing at Wedding Reception Guests Dancing at Wedding Reception Guests Dancing at Wedding Reception Guests Dancing at Wedding Reception Guests Dancing at Wedding Reception  Guests Dancing at Wedding Reception Bride and Groom Sunset Silhouette Wyndham Grand Pittsburgh Point State Park

Congratulations, Jen and Josh! I’m so glad I got to be a part of this wonderful day.


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