Designed with the backdrop of the venue in mind, this wedding at Succop Nature Park brings the best of Mother Nature to life. When touring venues, Colleen and Benny viewed – and fell in love with – their first stop. From there, the natural beauty and antique vibes of the park inspired the rest of their wedding day. The couple wanted something laid back and whimsical with nods to family and friends. Thanks to a ceremony completely officiated and planned by relatives and an al fresco dinner and party, they got just that. After sweet I dos under a willow tree, guests joined the newlyweds in celebration under a pavilion lit with strung bistro lights, decorated in floral arrangements in muted tones from Julie James Design, and filled with other delicate details arranged by Pittsburgh wedding planner Your Big Day. All in all, this celebration was carefree but heartfelt, and it was all documented for your viewing pleasure by Oakwood Photo + Video.
About the Couple
Benny and I met through mutual friends from college. We both went to Allegheny College and despite knowing of each other, and the fact that I used to go to a lot of his house parties, we never spoke! Fast forward a few years and a mutual friend of ours was visiting Pittsburgh and staying with one of my future bridesmaids; that’s how we finally met!
When we were first dating, Benny planned thoughtful and romantic surprise dates every single week for almost two months. It’s easy to see why I fell for him. Our second date was at a Pirates game. It also happened to be a game where a lot of his family was tailgating. He was nervous to stop by and see them because it was so early on for us but I didn’t mind. After, I could tell he was nervous so I grabbed his hand as we walked toward the stadium.
The night he proposed, I got home from work on a Friday and he was making a nice dinner. After dinner, he said he had a surprise dessert date planned for us and we needed to go. Since surprises are his thing, I didn’t think much of it. We were living in the North Side so the drive down to the stadium was an easy one. He parked and we walked over to the parking lot where the tailgate was. In the middle of winter in an empty lot, he got down one knee and proposed to me at the spot we first held hands. It was the most romantic surprise he’s come up with yet.
About the Wedding
When planning the wedding, Benny and I each wrote what we considered to be the top three most important aspects. Although they varied slightly, our main focus was to have a laid back, casual atmosphere where people felt comfortable to let loose. I knew I wanted to incorporate a lot of greenery and natural elements and I wanted something different than a classic ballroom wedding. I stumbled on Succop Nature Park when searching for unique Pittsburgh venues. That was the first and only venue we saw. We fell in love with the house and the huge willow tree on the property. The staff was incredibly sweet and we instantly felt relaxed being there. Succop became our inspiration for the wedding.
I honestly give the credit of the style, colors, and uniqueness of the wedding to Julie James Design. Julie and I met for coffee and she asked what my theme was. When I gave her blank stare, she started asking me about how I want to feel that day. From just talking about the mood of the wedding, she was able to pull together exactly what I would have wanted to articulate. She is a genius. The florals of our wedding were breathtaking. Julie designed this incredible floral installation on the tree, which was the stage for our ceremony. Our seating chart was elevated by her design and my bouquet was so different and so me. Julie truly made the wedding what it was, and I recommend her to anyone planning their own wedding.
There were two moments of the day that really stand out for us. Our ceremony was officiated by my aunt and uncle and we had readings from my brother and Benny’s uncle. We gave no guidance and let them all chose what they wanted to read or say. We wanted our guests to feel emotionally part of our wedding day and we hope we accomplished that by including family. They wrote our ceremony from their hearts and with so much love. The combination of their words and our own written vows will be something that is forever special to us.
The second moment that was really incredible was sharing a dance with my parents. Benny and I got married on my parents 34th wedding anniversary! During the dancing, we took a moment to clear the floor and we had our DJ play my parents’ wedding song. We then joined in and danced too and it was just a truly happy and memorable moment.