When you can’t take your wedding to the beach, you bring the beach to your wedding. Ashley and Rory wanted a sun-and-surf vibe for their big day, but they didn’t want a destination affair. They settled for the next best thing – an outdoor ceremony, a dreamy mix of oceanic details, and a party in the tropical gardens of Phipps Conservatory. There was no shortage of beach inspiration either. From the watercolor invitations to the ombre blue bridesmaids dresses, the colors of water were out in full force. Other nods to island life included escort cards set in a bed of sand, fresh palm leaves, cascading orchids, and even golden pineapples that doubled as centerpieces. With hand-lettered sea glass seating cards, signature drinks named after a sailor and a siren, and even a painted wedding cake featuring starfish and shells, Ashley and Rory’s wedding is about as close as you can get to the beach without actually being there. If you need a vacation as much as I do, you’ll enjoy this virtual escape beautifully captured by Leeann Marie, Wedding Photographers!
From the bride…
When and how did you two meet? How long have you been together? How did you get engaged? All the juicy details!
Rory and I met in college through a mutual friend. His proposal was a thoughtful and fun scavenger hunt. I had been away for the weekend and when I returned home, I found a note on the door, saying that Rory had planned a surprise for our anniversary. He set up a scavenger hunt throughout our house. Each clue held a special memory like my favorite flowers, movie ticket stubs from our first date, and take-out from the first restaurant we went to. The clues eventually led to Rory down on one knee and the best surprise!
Describe the look, theme, style, and colors of the wedding. What inspired it? What was unique about it?
Rory and I are total beach people and we love to travel together. We were torn between having a beach destination wedding or a hometown wedding. We knew it was important to have our friends and family around and we wanted to show off the city we love. So we decided to bring the beach to the Burgh! Phipps Conservatory was a perfect backdrop to make our beachy dream wedding a reality. Phipps has so much character and history and the tropical forest really makes you feel transported to a island wedding. I was so inspired by the ocean and this was seen throughout the day – from the mix-and-match blue bridesmaids dresses to the watercolor programs and place cards. I loved adding in personal touches throughout the day. Our signature drinks were inspired by our first date, where I wore a mermaid costume and Rory was dressed as a sailor. Instead of doing a traditional head table, we split the bridal party between two kings tables set with a palm runner and gold pineapple centerpieces. The head tables had sea glass place cards for each guest. The mix of high and low palm and orchid centerpieces really popped against the white draping and ocean blue uplighting.
What was your favorite moment of the day?
Our first look in Mellon Park’s Walled Garden was absolutely magical. The light and the flowers in bloom were so perfect; I really felt like I was walking through a fairytale. The excitement walking up to Rory is something I will never forget. After the ceremony, we had a few minutes inside the reception space before guests entered and I just had to twirl around and take it all in!
Is there any advice you would give to other couples planning their big day?
Make time for the things that are most important to you as a couple and try not to stress about the little things. We planned a timeline that allowed plenty of time for things like pictures and traveling and we tried to make the day convenient and fun for us and our guests! The day goes so fast but I truly felt like I got to enjoy every part of the day instead of feeling rushed and flustered.
Bride’s Dress: Blush by Hayley Paige from Bridal Beginning | Bride’s Accessories: Charming Charlie | Bride’s Shoes: Badgley Mischka | Bridesmaids Dresses: Revelry | Cake: Bella Christie | Caterer: Phipps Conservatory | Ceremony Location: Phipps Conservatory | Desserts: Bella Christie | DJ: First Class Entertainment | Flowers: Blossoms by Jilliann | Hair: Eye Do Hair and Makeup | Lighting: First Class Entertainment | Linens: Lendable Linens | Makeup: Eye Do Hair and Makeup | Menswear: Top Hat Tuxedo | Photobooth: Lux Photobooth | Photography: Leeann Marie, Wedding Photographers | Reception Venue: Phipps Conservatory | Rentals: Elegant Events by Andrea | Stationery: Oh Joyful Day | Transportation: Pittsburgh Transportation Group | Videography: Vision Films