As I look back on nine seasons as a wedding photographer, one thing I realize is how few of those weddings were for people I knew. I didn’t go to high school or college in Pittsburgh, I don’t have family here, and pretty much all of my friends were married when I started shooting.

So this past weekend’s wedding felt extra special to me, because this time the bride was someone I knew. Cara, the bride, is one of the senior event coordinators at the Heinz History Center. Any regular readers of this blog will know that this is my favorite Pittsburgh venue. And Cara is a huge reason why! Cara is one of those people that sees what’s around her as an opportunity, finding the best in every situation. She’s always on the go, and often on the go to be with her family.

Cara and Justin met through friends, and once they straightened out a little confusion resulting from Justin having a twin brother, they hit it off, and have been together since. Justin proposed on the beach in New Jersey, and, spoiler alert, Cara said yes.

I’ve already given my opinion on the History Center as a wedding venue, but I think it tells you even more that Cara – who works there – loves it enough that she and Justin chose it for their wedding venue. As you never know what weather November will bring, this was a great choice. It was cool and rainy almost the whole day, so we were fortunate to have so many indoor locations available.

I was absolutely thrilled to be a part of this celebration, and it was truly wonderful to photograph a friend’s wedding :)

Many people put in a lot of work to make this day possible. There’s a full vendor list below, and a separate detail post will follow.

Special thanks to Erica Dietz for photographing Cara and Justin’s wedding with me!

Cara’s pink wedding dress, from One Enchanted Evening

Cara’s hair & makeup by Hannah Conard Beauty, bouquet by The Blue Daisy Floral Designs

Heinz History Center Great Hall Wedding Ceremony

I love that as Justin looks out toward his bride, you can see his mom and one of the groomsmen looking back at him.

This was the first time I’ve seen this setup for a ceremony in the Great Hall. In the past, I’ve seen the chairs facing the other way, with the couple at the far end of the room close to the elevator. I really like this setup! I decided to step into the trolley and shoot from there, looking out.

Ian from Adorkable Weddings officiated a touching ceremony, with a perfect blend of humor and meaning.

Heinz History Center Wedding Reception

Cara and Justin wanted a fun, laid back reception. Basically, a big party! So, instead of formal seating and a seated dinner, they chose a cocktail-style reception with open seating and food stations. I can’t say if it was the lack of assigned seating, the open food stations, the superb performance by The Move Makers Band, a great group of guests, or a combination of all of the above, but I can say that it absolutely was a fun, upbeat reception, with so much great food, cookies, and a ton of dancing, all the way until the very last song.

The room looked amazing! Love the combination of high and low floral centerpieces by Stephanie of The Blue Daisy Floral Designs.

After the wedding, Cara donated her flowers to Centerpieces 4 Seniors.

Martha, Mother of the Bride, gave a very sweet speech… with a little unintended double entendre.

Cara with her Heinz History Center associates, Suzie, Maura and Daniella

Like many wedding vendors, I’m plagued by wedding-related mishap dreams. Like, I can’t find my cameras, I’m late, I’m lost, etc. etc. And sometimes at a wedding, something goes awry, and it feels like a bad dream come to life. For this next photo of Cara and Justin’s rings, I took them into one of the exhibits. When I returned to the reception room, I discovered that I was now missing the flash transmitter on one of my cameras. Thinking perhaps it had fallen off in the exhibit, I retraced my steps, looking all over the ground. No luck. I returned to the reception room again, and decided I might as well pack up the second camera, as I didn’t want to shoot without those off camera lights. Of course, once I had put the camera, lens and flash away, I found the missing item. The velcro on the back of the transmitter had somehow attached itself to the overlay on my shirt. So while I was going back through the exhibit, it was on me the whole time! Ha ha ha!

The Move Makers Band was superb! Guests were raving about them all night. I thought their Stevie Wonder songs were especially good.

Congratulations, Cara and Justin! What a pleasure to have been a part of your wedding. THANK YOU!

The Vendor Team