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How to Have a Stress-Free Wedding in Pittsburgh

Pop-up weddings are giving Pittsburgh couples a way to avoid the hassles of planning the big day.

Kenneth Engles  &  Amanda Zankel
[ Feb. 24, 2018 ]

Amanda Zankel and Kenneth Engles shared an intimate day at Bar Marco in the Strip District for their pop-up wedding. | 
Photos by Sandrachile

Imagine having the aesthetic of a styled wedding with none of the stress. The date is already chosen, along with the location and the decorations. You get to pick flavors for the cupcake desserts, invite 20 or so guests and personalize your vows — if you want to. Then, all you have to do is show up. And all of this happens at a fraction of the cost of a traditional wedding.

When Trish Derry began The Pop Up Pittsburgh Wedding Co. in 2014, that was exactly the scenario she had in mind. After working as a planner and stylist in the wedding industry for years, Derry has seen couples elope with nothing but a ceremony in the courthouse or plan elaborate weddings with extensive guest lists. She knew there had to be a marriage of the two extremes. And that’s exactly where her business comes into play.

“The concept of it originally was that it was supposed to be a very spontaneous thing,” Derry says. “So, if you were a couple that was going to go to the justice of the peace or the courthouse, then you had a nice alternative where we kind of throw a styled wedding where your closest family and friends can attend and still be part of it.” 


Derry chooses a date and location for each season, giving couples four days throughout the year to schedule their own pop-up wedding. Each location and date features a coordinating theme so couples can decide what best matches their personality and wedding dreams. Then the couple just has to reserve one of the available time slots, and Derry and her team begin turning a dream into reality.

The weddings last 90 minutes, giving each couple time for a ceremony and a celebration afterward. Instead of thinking through every detail, brides and grooms can rely on Derry and her team of florists, photographers and bakers. All of the décor and furniture comes from Derry’s primary business, Vintage Alley Rentals, with florists from Wexford-based Sapphire and Lace Design creating arrangements. An officiant from the Pittsburgh Wedding Chapel presides over the ceremony, which is followed by desserts from Mixed with Love Cake & Cookie Co. The whole day is photographed by one of Derry’s choice photographers: Lavender Leigh Photography, Jenni Grace Photography, Sandrachile, Nicole Cassano Photography, Apples and Cinema, or Tami Weingartner. 

“I came up with a team of vendors that I hand-chose, and we work together very well,” Derry says. “I’ve worked in the industry for years, so I’m very accustomed to doing weddings. For me to throw three weddings in a day and be able to turn over the space as if no wedding happened prior to the first one is a pretty easy task for me.”

Patrick Coyne  &  Doreen Vavrek
[ July 9, 2016 ]

Patrick Coyne and Doreen Vavrek were thrilled to have their pop-up wedding at The Pump House with a number of personalized touches. | Photos by Lavender Leigh Photography

While the company may be putting on more than one wedding in a short amount of time, the couples getting married are able to add personal touches. 
“Occasionally there will be something that’s important to the family as far as tradition, and I do allow people to bring that if it’s part of the ceremony or if they need to have photos out of family members, but pretty much everything else is left in my hands,” Derry says.

According to one of her clients, Doreen Vavrek, Derry did her best to make sure the day felt like something Vavrek would have planned for herself. 

“My husband’s a musician, so he recorded a song and I was able to send it to [Derry] and walk down the aisle to it,” Vavrek says. “She made the day feel tailored to me.”

Vavrek married Patrick Coyne on July 9, 2016, at Rivers of Steel: The Pump House in Munhall. She thought it was a great option because she and Patrick had looked into the venue when they got engaged, but she was hesitant about the cost. She also was worried about being too distracted by the planning to be able to enjoy her day. 

“I wanted to be very present in that moment and remember everything about it,” she says.


When it came time for Amanda Zankel to get married, she and her fiancé, Kenneth Engles, tried to plan a traditional wedding on their own. Zankel works in hospitality and is accustomed to planning weddings and events for others. But this time, something was different.

“I wasn’t a big fan of planning my own for some reason because I felt like because I do it for work it wasn’t as fun to do at home,” she says. 

She and Kenneth started searching for alternatives and came across the pop up company. Once they talked to Derry and decided to go for it, choosing to get married on Feb. 24, 2018 at Bar Marco in the Strip District, their whole outlook changed.

“Other than getting excited for the wedding, we didn’t think about it at all,” Zankel says. “We had very minimal decisions to make on our own. It took away a million percent of the stress.” 


Taking care of the details is something all of the vendors aim for, regardless of the service they are providing. For sisters Julie Start and Bethany Kleppick, co-owners of Sapphire and Lace Design, this means creating floral arrangements that each couple will love.

“It’s fun to be able to be creative and try to appeal to multiple people,” Kleppick says. “Usually we’re designing for just one couple that we work with for even a year at a time, and we get to know them really well. This is so different because we don’t meet with these couples and two or three will be using the same pieces.”

They have learned to experiment with their designs and get creative with the budget they have. They’ve foraged for florals and greens from their own yards or the side of the road to create a lush look, designing them on Derry’s antique pieces. “We’ve definitely stretched ourselves creatively through it,” Start says.
Each wedding costs the clients around $3,700, Derry says. According to The Wedding Report, a research company that tracks wedding trends and spending, couples in the Pittsburgh metropolitan area in 2017 spent an average of $28,000 on their wedding.


Derry has made sure that each pop-up wedding features what couples expect from a traditional wedding — and she doesn’t skimp on desserts. Every ceremony has a gourmet popcorn bar, mocktails, a Champagne toast for the bride and groom, and, of course, a wedding cake. This allows for a traditional cake-cutting moment for the newlyweds, but guests get to enjoy cupcakes, too. Janelle Hayes, owner and cake artist at Mixed with Love Cake & Cookie Co., approaches every wedding with the same mindset and intentions.

“It’s a wedding just like any other wedding. Every cake is special, and I try to treat it as such,” she says.

Lori Duggan, owner of the Pittsburgh Wedding Chapel, has officiated several of the pop-up weddings. 

“I love everything about what the pop-up wedding can offer to brides and grooms,” she says. “It is such a beautiful way to celebrate their marriage. They have everything they need and all of the important aspects of a wedding happen within those 90 minutes, and they really get to celebrate the love that they have.” 

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