I love a bride and groom who can roll with the punches. Many of you are probably aware of how difficult it can be to secure Heinz Chapel for your wedding ceremony. In case you aren’t in the know – you can’t reserve a date until exactly one year in advance, by the month. Inquiries are taken by phone and calls are answered in the order they are received. Ceremonies can be held at one of five times, only two of which are in the afternoon. It’s tough stuff, especially when you’re hoping to get married in October. So what do you do to better your chances of securing your special date? You snatch up the not-so-popular ceremony time slot of 10:30 a.m. and you have a kick ass brunch wedding. That’s exactly what Heather and Zach did last year, and it was amazing. Here are my favorite details!
- Ok, let’s go back to this most amazing idea ever…A BRUNCH RECEPTION! The ceremony was followed by an early afternoon party full of day drinking (the best kind of drinking) and my most favorite food in the entire world. Donuts, muffins, bagels, waffles, an omelette bar, carving stations, homefries, mimosas, you name it! The best part is after the reception was over, the couple still had the entire night to celebrate with family and friends! Seriously, more people need to do this.
- The ladies wore adorable gray brocade dresses (that they could totally wear again) from BCBG and kept the fall chill at bay with ivory pashminas. Make sure you check out the cute hangers too!
- Heather actually had parts of her mom’s wedding dress sewn into her own. How special is that?! The lace around the bottom was the trim on her mom’s dress, and other pieces of lace were blended into the beading on the waist.
- Cute signs galore but my absolute favorite was the one at the cookie table. If you aren’t from Pittsburgh, you just don’t understand this tradition. A sign explaining the custom and its importance to Pittsburghers (and thanking those talented bakers!) is a great idea!
- Favors that paid homage to the couple’s last name – Jones. Each guest took home a bottle of Jones Soda to enjoy!
The ladies of the Leeann Marie, Wedding Photographers were there to capture all of the fun, fall-inspired elements. Brunch > everything else. In life. Period. Brunch. Wedding. Amazing. Do it.
From the bride…
When and how did you two meet?
We met junior year while studying Industrial Engineering at the University of Pittsburgh. We had some classes together and were acquaintances, but didn’t hit it off until we were paired up to do a project together in our Communication Skills class that spring semester. Our friends knew from there on out that we were bound to fall in love. We both had previously decided to go on the spring break trip organized by the Pitt Program Council to Panama City, Florida. Our friends actually placed bets on how far into the trip we would realize we were meant to be. Needless to say, by the end of the trip, we were already falling in love and we went on our first official date a few days after we returned home from Florida.
Juicy details on the proposal, please! Where, when, how?
We did long distance for a few years after college. I moved to Washington D.C. and Zach lived in Pittsburgh. I was home in Pittsburgh for Easter weekend in 2013. Zach had asked me a few weeks before if I wanted to go on a double date with his sister and her boyfriend, Dan, in the Southside. They had planned to meet at Zach’s apartment in the Southside before dinner. I arrived at Zach’s apartment and completely froze as soon as I walked in the door and saw what was waiting for me inside – a romantic setup, complete with flowers and candles throughout the apartment. Zach was patiently waiting for me at the table in the kitchen. After a few minutes of silence with me still standing in the doorway (for what felt like an eternity to Zach), he told I that I could come in if I wanted. I slowly walked into the kitchen and nervously asked Zach if we were still going to dinner with his sister. Zach replied that we could still go, but he was already preparing dinner for just the two of us. Finally, I made it into the kitchen where Zach was waiting with an Easter basket, full of chocolates and goodies, but most importantly, a ring box in the middle. Zach got down on one knee and asked me to marry him. I was no longer silent and immediately answered “Yes!”
Describe the wedding. The look, theme, style, colors, etc.
The look of our wedding was very fall and very “Pitt.” I guess the main theme of our wedding was “brunch” since it’s not your standard wedding these days. Since Zach and I met at the University of Pittsburgh, we thought a Pitt-themed wedding was very fitting for us. We had our ceremony at Heinz Chapel, which is reserved for alumni of Pitt and employees of Heinz. Our reception venue was in the heart of Oakland and was within walking distance from the chapel. We took pictures all around the campus, and finished our evening with a bar crawl at a few of our favorite spots from college.
We didn’t really have a specific color theme, other than “fall colors”, which is pretty vague. Some people seemed confused when they asked what my wedding colors were and my response was simply “fall colors.” Zach really wanted to wear a blue suit and, quite frankly, I have trouble making any type of decision. When we were ordering bridesmaid dresses, I wasn’t ready to pick a color that would set the tone of the entire wedding, so I went with a neutral color instead – gray. Our florist was amazing and I had no clear vision for the flower arrangements (since I know nothing about flowers), other than I wanted pretty fall colors. Since Zach was upset I didn’t invite him to the initial meeting with the florist, he provided input before I went and told me that he liked yellow calla lilies, which became the basis for our floral design. Our florist did an absolutely incredible job of taking my mish-mash thought of fall colors and yellow calla lilies and miraculously turned them into gorgeous arrangements that completely exceeded my expectations!
Back to the main “brunch” theme – our caterers really did an outstanding job. They were just as excited about our brunch wedding as we were! We had a waffle bar complete with toppings, an omelette station, a meat carving station, and lots of other brunch foods on the buffet line – including eggs, bacon, pasta, vegetables and potatoes. Instead of having baskets of dinner rolls, we had donuts, bagels, and muffins on all of the tables. My favorite part was the brunch themed drinks at the bar – Irish coffees, bloody marys, mimosas, a fall sangria, and a breakfast stout!
We wanted to add a lot of personal touches, and since I can sometimes be a little bit crazy, I had to do/make everything myself. Once I had an idea, there was no stopping me until it was complete. Prior to the wedding, my dad did a photo shoot with us at 30 different places around campus that we used for our table numbers. On one side was our picture at the place and on the other side was a description of why it was important to us. I thought this would give the guests, especially those from out of town, some insight into our college days. We honored lost family members by having a table with candles in vases that had their pictures on them so we had a part of them with us on our wedding day. We showcased wedding photos of our parents and grandparents, which I always enjoy seeing at weddings. One of the highlights of our reception was the 12 minute video slideshow that my father made to show during his speech. It was only slightly embarrassing for me, but so sweet and we absolutely loved it!
What inspired your vision?
I’ve always dreamed of a fall wedding, and since attending Pitt, dreamed of getting married at Heinz Chapel. If you’re familiar with Pittsburgh wedding venues, then you know that a fall wedding at Heinz Chapel is pretty popular and hard to reserve – there are five wedding time slots at Heinz Chapel every Saturday, and in the fall, they are almost all booked. You have to book exactly one year in advance by the month. After looking at some very cool venues all over the city, we decided it made the most sense to have an Oakland inspired wedding in honor of where we met and spent so much of our time during our years at Pitt. We booked Soldiers & Sailors as our reception venue, and as October 1 was approaching (which is the first day that you can book a wedding for the following October), I started to get a little nervous that we weren’t going to be one of the five lucky couples to get a slot on October 18, or if we were, that we would be stuck with the early/awkward time slots of 10:30 a.m. or 12:30 p.m. And then it hit me – what if we decided to take the first time slot (because nobody actually wants the first time slot) and have a brunch wedding instead of a traditional dinner reception?! We’re in our late 20’s, so weddings and wedding-related events pretty much consume our lives right now, and I thought it would be fun to try something a little different. First, we love brunch food (who doesn’t?) and second, once the reception is over, you still have the whole night ahead of you to continue partying with all of your friends and family (which is exactly what we did as our bridal party organized a bar crawl through Oakland to all of our favorite college spots)! The only drawback was that I kind of forced all 10 of my bridesmaids to be up at the crack of dawn (or slightly before dawn) to start primping for the big day. 🙂
Bride to Bride
What advice would you give to other Burgh Brides planning their big day?
I was constantly stressed out about every detail of the wedding, as I imagine many brides are. My dad reminded me throughout the wedding planning process to have fun! It’s a whole lot of planning for just one day and that day sure does come and go pretty quickly. Always remember to enjoy the time you get to spend with your fiance, family, and friends while planning for the big day and to make sure you have fun while doing it!
Any must haves, must dos, or can’t live withouts? Anything you would do differently?
Add personal touches to make your wedding unique. It doesn’t have to be anything extreme or over the top, but I think some sort of personal touch is a great way for your guests to remember and enjoy your wedding.
Do research on your wedding vendors and take recommendations from friends and family, if available. Many of our vendors came as recommendations from others that had previously used that vendor, so we knew ahead of time that we’d be dealing with someone who was reliable. All of our vendors were great – so pleasant and easy to work with and they not only made our wedding day go smoothly, but they definitely helped to ease the overall planning experience as well!
Bride’s Dress: Sorelle Bridal Salon | Bride’s Jewelry: Nordstrom and a gift from the maid of honor | Bride’s Shoes: Benjamin Adams | Bridesmaids’ Dresses: BCBG | Cake: Prantl’s Bakery | Caterer: All the Best Catering | Ceremony Location: Heinz Chapel | Decor: Decorations and table numbers were made by the bride and bridesmaids | DJ: DJ Crush | Favors: Jones Soda | Flowers: Donna Delestienne | Hair: Jennifer Wechter (bride & mother of the bride) & Brooke Rockwell Hair Design (bridesmaids & mother of the groom) | Lighting: Gray Phoenix | Makeup: Simply Beautiful | Menswear: Tommy Hilfiger at Macy’s | Photographer: Leeann Marie, Wedding Photographers | Reception Venue: Soldiers & Sailors | Stationery: Wedding Paper Divas; programs, signs, and seating assignments were made by the bride | Transportation: Molly’s Trolleys