Kristen and Rafael had their dream Pittsburgh inspired wedding planned – a black and gold color palette with red accents and everything taking place in the heart of the city. But of course, COVID had other plans for these two frontline, health care workers. They respected the government-mandated restrictions and changed their plans in the final month before their wedding date. With the help of Natasha from Hello Productions, the couple traded the cityscape for fall foliage as their backdrop and The Omni Bedford Springs became their new venue. But if you think they didn’t still infuse their love for our city throughout the details, you are so, so wrong. With their chosen color combination still at play, they honored Pittsburgh in the most elegant of ways. Vibrant florals from Mocha Rose, sleek black bridesmaid dresses, and an artistically modern cake design were some of the elements that really brought their palette to life in the best of ways. After saying “I do”, the pair celebrated with family and friends under a tent dazzling with twinkling lights courtesy of EF Lighting and dancing the night away with loved ones thanks to the upbeat music from No Bad Juju. Their day is the perfect reminder that whether it be for people, places, or things, love knows no boundaries. And thanks to Jorge Santiago Photography, we get to see how this wedding got its happy ending.
About the Couple
Raf and I are both physicians at Allegheny General Hospital. We met in 2015; he was the new plastic surgeon at the hospital and I was starting my neurosurgery residency. Our relationship started as a purely professional friendship; we both shared a mutual love of sarcasm and college football but as we grew closer, it eventually blossomed into more. Our official “first date” didn’t happen until three years after we met, but looking back, we both knew then that we had something special.
Raf bought an engagement ring two weeks into our relationship and proposed on New Years Eve in 2018. He had planned the night as an homage to our first date; we were escorted in an S-Class to Superior Motors (one of our favorite Pittsburgh restaurants, in addition to our first date spot) for dinner and ended the night downtown at the Fairmont for champagne and fireworks (or so I thought!). The incredible staff at the Fairmont had set up a suite with champagne, chocolate, and dozens of roses. In the center of scattered rose petals was a customized View-Master with photos of us throughout our relationship. As I clicked through the photos, Raf got down on one knee just as I got to the last frame, which read “KC, will you marry me?”. We had only been dating for nine months at that point, but Raf revealed he had already received my father’s permission, which was so special to me after my dad had suddenly passed away three months prior to our engagement.
About the Wedding
As we started the wedding planning process, I was sure of one thing only: I wanted Pittsburgh to be showcased through every possible detail. Pittsburgh is our home, the city we fell in love with, and the city we fell in love in. We loved the idea of a glamorous, black-tie affair and had originally planned to exchange vows at Heinz Chapel and end the night at an elaborate downtown reception at The Duquesne Club. Our color scheme was (you guessed it!) black and gold with deep red accents.
Our all-Pittsburgh wedding was set for October 17, 2020….then the world was turned upside down by COVID-19. Trying to navigate the wedding world during a global pandemic would have been challenging enough; imagine doing it as two healthcare workers. The pandemic was especially difficult for us, both professionally and personally. We were adamant about respecting the CDC guidelines, as well as the statewide restrictions. As our wedding day rapidly approached, we were forced to face a heart-wrenching decision. Despite months of planning and watching our dreams come to life, we knew our wedding could not safely happen as planned.
With a month to spare, Natasha of Hello Productions pulled off a miracle. We knew that our only safe option was to change our venue and accept the risk of an outdoor wedding in October. Suddenly, we were dealing with an entirely new list of tasks while simultaneously asking our guests to change travel plans.
Luckily, there is a happy ending to the story. Our wedding was absolutely perfect. Bedford Springs ended up being the most beautiful, colorful setting for our fall wedding and it could not have been a more perfect day. Every detail fell into place and it ended up being just as glamorous and Pittsburgh-themed as I had dreamed it would be. All of our amazing vendors were willing and able to transfer to the new location (even as last minute as it was!) and created a magical experience for everyone.
One that stands out to me was the very brief alone time Raf and I were able to create between our ceremony and reception. One of the best parts about having our wedding at Bedford Springs was the fact that our entire guest list was staying on-location since everything took place at the beautiful resort. Seeing as our bridal suite was an easy escape upstairs, we were able to sneak off to our room during the cocktail hour. The incredible wedding staff at Bedford Springs (special shout out to Gianna!) brought us a sampling of all of the amazing hors d’oeuvres we had selected, as well as some champagne to enjoy while we waited for our reception introduction. It was amazing to have some time to just take in the day, focus on each other, and reflect on how lucky we were to have a wedding amidst the craziness that was 2020.