How to Add a Breath of Fresh Air to Your Wedding
Natural lighting, fresh decor, and a romantic breeze can create an outdoor ceremony full of magical moments.
After the highs of your engagement wear off, it is time to sit down and plan the first detail of your wedding — the venue. For some, the first question that arises is whether you will say “I do” indoors or out.
Why Have an Outdoor Ceremony
An outdoor ceremony presents both benefits and obstacles. For many couples, Pittsburgh’s unpredictable weather can be reason enough to narrow their venue search to indoor locations, but that also means they may be missing out on lots of Instagram-worthy moments.
Cheyenne Olexa and her husband, Patrick Conners, tied the knot at Greenhouse Winery in Irwin on May 18. Cheyenne stresses the importance of natural lighting at an outdoor ceremony to capture the moments of the day.
“You go through all this planning and you don’t want anything to be overlooked because it is dark. You want to be in the spotlight with your dress and makeup. It gives you a different aesthetic versus being in a dark church or event venue,” says Cheyenne.
Kimberly Allera, a wedding planner for Olive & Rose Events, says not having to worry about the decor — the greenery and flowers already on site are reason enough to be married at an outdoor venue — is one benefit. The natural growth in the warm months and the foliage in the fall can create the perfect setting for the walk down the aisle.
Christa Catalano and her husband, Chris Cerrutti, exchanged their vows on June 15 at Bella Sera, a wedding and event venue in Canonsburg. The venue included a large pond, waterfall and endless greenery, giving Christa the opportunity to add a pop of color with flower arrangements at the end of each aisle and a flower arch to stand under to complete the venue decor.
“I knew I wanted a summer wedding because I love the summer and the sunshine, so I knew the outdoor wedding was for me,” says Christa. “I think the scenery is so beautiful and you can do a lot with it… I always pictured getting married under a beautiful flower arch, too. I think having an outdoor wedding is so beautiful and romantic.”
Mecca Gamble, a wedding and events photographer, and Quincy McConnell, a DJ, decided to get married on the Mount Washington Overlook on Aug. 17.
“As a photographer, I automatically remembered how much I loved shooting outdoor weddings because it allowed me to capture the colors… My friend [Iris Mannings] shot our wedding and portraits and I knew the vibes she would want to capture, and with the city backdrop it would make for the perfect picture,” says Mecca.
Picking the Location
The weather in Pittsburgh does not always behave as it should. November and December can bring freezing temperatures and snow one day and sunny and 60 degrees the next, while April and May can bring weeks of sun or nonstop rain. That being said, Christa stresses making sure your venue has a backup option you like.
Cheyenne and Patrick looked at four venues before they landed on Greenhouse Winery.
“It was a lot of looking to see what would fit my style and have an indoor space in case it rained,” says Cheyenne. “We also had to look at the set up of the venue, too. Some venues didn’t include chairs and you would have to bring your own.”
Does the space have all of the pieces that make a ceremony venue complete, and if not, how much will it cost to add them?
“Consider costs because there might be things like renting tents, heaters and fans that wouldn’t be something you spend money on for an indoor ceremony or reception,” says Allera. “Is there any kind of coverage, even like a pavilion? Can you rent tents and bring those in, and what [do] those costs look like because it definitely is not cheap.”
Visiting and touring the venue in the season you plan to get married can help the couple get a clear idea of what the venue will look like on the big day.
“I had been to this winery a hundred times, but the way it looks in December is much different than it does in May, which is all due to landscaping and flowers,” says Cheyenne.
Once the deposit is made, the date is set and the guest list is finalized, the next step is to begin planning the details that one might not have to take into consideration for an indoor venue.
“For sure a microphone, because outside is where the sound is not contained and the officiant might not project very well,” says Allera. “Ceremonies that happen next to a busy road or area can have extra noise.”
The seasonal must-haves vary on when the couple ties the knot. For summer months, it is important to have ice water not only for the couple and their bridal party but also for the guests, as well as fans around the seating areas.
“My dress was beaded from head to toe so it weighed a lot and it was very hot,” says Cheyenne. “So definitely have water if you are getting married in the spring.”
For the fall months — late September through November — replacing fans with space heaters can keep guests warm during the ceremony.
“I had a couple last October get married outside, and they had cute little flannel blankets as their favor to use to keep warm in the cold — little things to keep guests comfortable and relaxed,” says Allera.
5 Outdoor Locations We Love
Pittsburgh Botanic Garden
799 Pinkerton Run Rd, Oakdale
Armstrong Farms (pictured above)
155 Westminster Rd, Saxonburg
200 Hartwood Acres Park, Hampton Township
700 Arch St., North Side
286 River Ave., Aspinwall