Q+A: Popping the Questions

A wedding day Q&A guide to some of the area’s best resources.

Creating the perfect wedding takes a considerable amount of time and planning. The questions are many, and fortunately so are the answers. Our region is home to top-notch wedding experts who can help you answer just about every imaginable question–even whether or not to say “I do!”

For many couples, their wedding is the biggest and most important event they will ever plan – and the most expensive. Now more than ever it is important to plan carefully to ensure you are getting the most for your wedding dollar, and still receive quality service from reputable businesses and providers.

We know the foremost experts who can help you create the event of your dreams. Here is some information to help you get started:

Q: Can you suggest any special venues for the reception?

A: The Atrium (1031 New Castle Road, Prospect; 724/865-2830, theatriumonline.com) provides a distinct setting to meet any need from an intimate celebration or business meeting to large wedding reception or trade show.  Whether it is a small wedding in the greenhouse or a grand event with music and dancing in the banquet area, The Atrium will provide a beautiful ambiance, excellent event assistance and a lifetime of memories.  Available areas for special occasions are the bricked patio, gazebo, greenhouse, atrium and banquet area. Each space can be used alone or in conjunction with the other areas to accommodate event flow and capacity needs. Hosting only one event at a time, The Atrium can assure that guests have full attention of the staff.  For more information, call or visit the Web site to set up a tour.

The Chadwick’s (10545 Perry Hwy., Wexford; 724/935-5950, chadwickevents.com) classic ballroom setting sets the stage for the reception of your dreams. No matter if your reception will be small and intimate or large and grand, you will receive careful planning and execution by The Chadwick’s staff that will ensure the bride, groom, their families and guests receive the attention they deserve on such a special occasion. Your menu will be prepared by The Chadwick’s talented chef and will incorporate both wonderful flavor and style. Tastings can be scheduled in advance to ensure that you enjoy the entrees you wish to serve. Wedding packages are offered for reception sizes from 80 to 700 guests.

The Doubletree Hotel & Suites Pittsburgh City Center (One Bigelow Square, downtown; 412/281-5800, doubletree.hilton.com/Pittsburgh) is located in the heart of downtown Pittsburgh’s business center between the U.S. Steel Tower and Mellon Arena. The hotel is about to complete a $1.5 million enhancement of its grand ballroom, executive meeting room and pre-function space in March 2010, and a $1 million enhancement of the corridor area was completed in May 2009. Within easy walking distance to the Convention Center, corporate offices and headquarters, restaurants, the cultural district, sports venues and more, The Doubletree also is home to the four-star Bigelow Grille restaurant, one of the Top 25 restaurants in Pittsburgh as rated by Pittsburgh magazine. A professional sales and catering team is on staff to accommodate all of your needs. For you and your guests, there are 308 luxuriously renovated guestrooms, including 112 one-bedroom suites.

Opening March 29, 2010, the city’s newest hotel, Fairmont Pittsburgh (510 Market St., downtown; 412/391-1033, Fairmont.com/Pittsburgh), will provide the atmosphere and expertise to coordinate the wedding of your dreams.  A Fairmont Pittsburgh wedding features the services of an experienced catering sales manager to coordinate all the details of your wedding, a banquet maitre’d to flawlessly orchestrate your event and an award-winning culinary team to ensure that the cuisine is perfect. The catering sales manager can assist with recommendations for flowers, entertainment and photographers. The team at Fairmont Pittsburgh is poised to assist you with all the details to ensure that you have the wedding of your dreams.

Acclaimed local caterer The Fluted Mushroom operates and manages The Circuit Center and Ballroom (Five Hot Metal St., South Side; 412/432-1420, flutedmushroom.com). With a convenient location just a few minutes off the Parkway, the Center has ample free parking, a full stage area and outdoor courtyard. The Fluted Mushroom offers a wealth of creative menu selections prepared from scratch by a professional culinary team, meaning the Center is a perfect choice for couples who care about food.

Frick Art and Historical Center (7227 Reynolds St., Point Breeze; 412/371-0600, thefrickpittsburgh.org) provides a distinctive setting for weddings or any important event or celebration. Whether you host an intimate reception at The Frick Art Museum or a grand event with music and dancing on the great lawn, the Frick will provide beautiful ambiance, excellent event assistance, and a lifetime of memories. Available venues include the Greenhouse, Museum Shop, Car and Carriage Museum, and The Frick Art Museum. The Frick is an ideal setting for parties as small as 20 people and as large as 400. Contact Gini Calabrese, site scheduling and rental events manager, for more information or to schedule a preview tour of the site at 412/371-0600, ext. 658 or gcalabrese@thefrickpittsburgh.org.

A stunning bride, a dapper groom, joyous family and friends, elegant food and drink, and breathtaking scenery that is ever-changing as you celebrate–a perfect way to start a life together sets sail aboard a Gateway Clipper Fleet (350 W. Station Square Dr., South Side; 412/355-7980, gatewayclipper.com) wedding.  The day you have dreamed of all your life will be planned to perfection by the professional staff.  They will do everything to make your vision of this unforgettable day a reality. That is their wedding gift to you.

Let PNC Park (115 Federal St., North Shore; 412/323-5000, pirates.com) help you make your event a "grand slam."  PNC Park was not built just for baseball. Its wealth of entertainment opportunities makes it a perfect venue for numerous events, including weddings. The staff is happy to work with you on every aspect of your event, including catering services, furniture and equipment rental, audio-visual equipment, internet capabilities, parking services (including valet and pre-paid parking) and much more. For information on non-game day event opportunities, contact Ann Elder at 412/325-4746 or ann.elder@pirates.com.

Pittsburgh’s Grand Hall at The Priory (614 Pressley St., North Shore; 412/231-3908, pittsburghsgrandhall.com) is a historic landmark built in 1854. The Grand Hall’s architecture, its soaring ceiling, museum-quality stained glass and elaborate skylight immediately set it apart from other facilities. Hosting only one event at a time, The Grand Hall can assure guests they can count on the staff’s full attention. From hor d’oeuvres to gourmet meals rendered with white-glove decorum, the Grand Hall’s executive chefs will prepare the perfect menu.

Pittsburgh’s Grand Hall is conveniently located on the North Shore just blocks from downtown and PNC Park. To make your wedding one guests will never forget, invite them to Pittsburgh’s Grand Hall at The Priory–the place where people gather together to celebrate life.
The Omni William Penn (530 William Penn Place, downtown; 412/281-7100, omniwilliampenn.com) is Pittsburgh’s premier historic hotel. 
Built in 1916, this beautiful hotel boasts 596 luxurious guest rooms, 38 suites, and 52,000 square feet of flexible meeting space comprised of 36 individual meeting rooms accommodating groups of 10 to 1,000.   While historic in nature, the hotel provides all of the modern conveniences including high speed wireless internet, six food and beverage outlets, nail salon and spa, and a beauty shop. 

The elegant facilities at the Pittsburgh Zoo & PPG Aquarium (One Wild Place, Highland Park; 412/365-2536, pittsburghzoo.org) will provide an unforgettable backdrop for your special day. The stunning PPG Aquarium offers a tropical theme, complete with colorful, exotic fish creating scenery that will truly astound your guests. The Garden Tent is a lush oasis, and the perfect venue to dine and dance, whether beneath the canvas or beneath the stars. The event space at Water’s Edge brings your party nose-to-nose with diving polar bears and sand tiger sharks swimming overhead in the dazzling viewing tunnels. For your convenience, A Taste of the Wild, the Zoo’s exclusive catering service, will prepare sumptuous meals from nearly any cuisine. Start your new life together by treating your guests to a wedding reception in paradise, right here in Pittsburgh.

At Springwood Manor and Villa (1000 Indiana Rd., Penn Hills; 412/793-7453, springwood.org), the casual elegance and natural setting of this century-old stone manor is perfect for hosting business events, weddings and receptions, holiday parties, and other sponsored events and private celebrations. This premier meeting and reception site uniquely preserves the history and beauty of the resources used in its original construction. Sixty acres of wooded Pennsylvania hills and meadows make Springwood’s stone manor feel like a remote retreat, a hidden jewel in Penn Hills, but only minutes from the city of Pittsburgh. Springwood offers indoor comfort along with outdoor attractions, such as numerous outdoor ceremony sites, gardens, a three-tiered deck with stone patio, gazebos, and a pond with waterfalls. In addition, who can resist the allure of Springwood’s majestic glass atrium for dining in the evening or for winter wedding ceremonies? One of the most exciting additions to Springwood is the Villa, a three-bedroom, well-equipped, air-conditioned brick home on Springwood grounds. The Villa offers a private, yet convenient getaway, overnight accommodations for Springwood guests and conference participants, as well as an in-ground heated pool, a Jacuzzi bath and a conference room.

Embraced by lush mountainsides, Stonewall Resort (940 Resort Dr., Roanoke, W.Va.; 888/278-8150, stonewallresort.com), located just 3 miles off Interstate 79 at exit 91, near Weston,  W.Va., offers a fairytale setting for weddings. Exchange vows lakeside, or inside against the backdrop of the lovely arched-beam and open-window lodge. Close to nature, far from ordinary, the Four Diamond staff will create an unforgettable wedding experience.

Discover the Succop Conservancy (185 W. Airport Road, Butler; 724/586-2591, bc3.edu), a 50 acre former family estate located just 25 miles north of Pittsburgh in southern Butler County.  As part of Butler County Community College, the Succop Conservancy mission is to promote environmental stewardship, preserve local history and heritage, and provide a distinctive community resource. Home to Heritage School at The Conservancy, the property includes walking trails, two ponds, an arboretum, the 1830 Marcraig House and a Pennsylvania Bank Barn.

The newly renovated University Club (123 University Place, Oakland; 412/648-8213, uc.pitt.edu) is located in the heart of Oakland in the historic building that has housed the private club since 1923. With features that include a beautiful spiral staircase, and crystal chandeliers in the ballroom, the University Club is a truly elegant choice for weddings. Soaring ceilings and rich, historic architecture are the hallmarks of the two available ballrooms. The building also features a beautiful rooftop terrace with expansive views. The University Club offers full-service wedding packages that include all food and beverage and complete coordination of the event.

Q: All the registry decisions have me baffled. Any suggestions?

A: Macy’s (nine area locations; 800/568- 8865, macysweddingchannel.com) offers its Wedding & Gift Registry service to all engaged couples looking to plan their perfect home, all while planning “the perfect day.” Macy’s Wedding & Gift Registry, the nation’s largest department store wedding and gift registry, has popular, exclusive and quality brands that are a great value and in an array of styles and tastes to satisfy our diverse couples’ lifestyles. Couples love how convenient Macy’s is for themselves and their guests with locations nationwide, plus the added 24-7 convenience of Macys.com. Macy’s also has programs that reward registrants for selecting Macy’s registry such as the Registry Star Rewards, Gift with Registry and Gift with Completion programs. Macy’s, along with a national team of registry consultants, appreciates couples choosing them as their registry partner and these programs are just their way of saying “thank you.”

Q: Where can I find great gifts for the happy couple?

A: Galleria of Mt. Lebanon (1500 Washington Rd., Mt. Lebanon; 412/561-4000, galleriapgh.com) is Pittsburgh’s premier upscale mall, offering a unique collection of retailers including national names, as well as locally-owned independent shops. Located just 10 minutes south of downtown Pittsburgh, the Galleria of Mt. Lebanon will give you a day of shopping you will not forget. There are shops unique to Pittsburgh such as Anthropologie, Pottery Barn Kids and Restoration Hardware, along with nationally-known names like Godiva, Crabtree & Evelyn and Williams-Sonoma. Visit the Galleria’s many fine and casual restaurants, or enjoy a movie at the mall’s cinema.

Maggie and Stella’s Cards & Gifts ( 209 Oakland Ave., Oakland; 412/648-1353, maggieandstellasgifts.com), established in the winter of 2005, is Oakland’s premiere card and gift shop and is located in the heart of Oakland. The store is just around the corner from Panera on Forbes Avenue and right across the street from Uncle Sam’s and Fuel and Fuddle on Oakland Avenue. The store carries an array of gifts ranging from the simple and moderately priced to elegant high-end merchandise.

Q: Good taste is important to us. Where can I find a quality caterer?

A: big Catering (412/361-3272, bigburrito.com) brings your wedding event to life with the award-winning cuisine of big Burrito Restaurant Group. Choose from the acclaimed menus of Eleven, Kaya, Soba, Casbah, Umi and Mad Mex, or create your own menu, and big Catering will take care of all the details.

Q: What about a great space for smaller parties and get-togethers?

A: Consider Six Penn Kitchen (146 Sixth St., downtown; 412/566-7366, sixpennkitchen.com) to host your private event. Whether it’s a rehearsal dinner, shower or celebratory gathering of friends and family, the team of culinary experts can tailor an event to meet your needs. Six Penn is a casual and elegant all-American bistro that features fresh, carefully crafted cuisine. The menu highlights seasonal ingredients and takes an updated approach to regional classics. From stocks and sauces in the kitchen, to the vermouth marinated olives and house-made maraschino cherries at the bar, everything is expertly prepared and crafted in-house. Six Penn’s menu changes due to season, freshness and availability, so please keep this in mind when booking a party in advance.

The Altar Bar (1620 Penn Ave, strip District; 412/263-2877, altarbar.com) offers a unique venue for weddings and other celebrations. The Altar Bar is three floors of beautiful architecture. The bottom level has a private VIP Lounge and bar. The main level features a full-size stage, runway and large iridescent bar. Walk up the lit stairway to the top level with VIP access to the private party room overseeing the entire club, VIP bar, and DJ booth. All VIP areas are available for rental or rent the entire club. Catering is provided by the l’eglise Chef Taylor’s Fine Catering, The Fluted Mushroom and S & P Catering Company. For more information or to set up a meeting for an event, call or visit the Web site.

Q: My sweetheart has a sweet tooth. Any ideas?

A: Signature Desserts (3360 Library Road, Castle Shannon; 412/882-9960, signaturedesserts.com) suggests treating your guests to an elegant pastry table along with a smaller wedding cake. “A pastry table, when done right, is very impressive and gives guests a much greater selection than just a cake alone,” says owner Linda Mueser. Tuxedo-dipped strawberries also make for great wedding favors. Taste treats include chocolate paté, peach-praline tart, fresh-fruit flan, chocolate truffle torte, wild-raspberry torte and cappuccino cheesecake with biscotti crust. Mueser also offers expert wedding-cake design.

Q: Where can our family and guests find fashion-forward styles for the big day?

A: Located in Pittsburgh’s premiere shopping district, Dales Maxima (5867 Forbes. Ave., Squirrel Hill; 412/421-6400, dalesmaxima.com) offers a unique selection of special occasion dressing. The broad assortment includes long and short gowns, dressy separates, and the opportunity to special order to your specific needs. In addition, Dales Maxima offers casual to career separates and many coordinated pieces. The costume jewelry assortment includes many one-of-a-kind items. Alterations are available on-site. Open six days a week, Dales provides late night shopping on Tuesdays and Thursdays.

Q: All the planning details have me feeling a bit overwhelmed. Who can help?

A: Divine Celebrations-Event Planners (412/436-0337, divinecelebrations-events.com) cordially invites you to be a guest at your own event. No matter your budget, they work with you to make the most of your event from small parties to large galas. With expert attention to detail and creativity, your event will be awe-inspiring. Divine Celebrations combine your personality, style and dreams into an amazing event that will leave your guests talking for years. They offer customized services to fit your specific event needs. “The Knot” for brides chose Divine Celebrations to plan their Knot Pittsburgh party. They are certified Sandals-destination wedding and honeymoon specialists, member of the Association of Bridal Consultants, co-director of ABC of Western Pa., and members of ISES Pittsburgh. Call today to set up your free one-hour consultation.

Q: The right entertainment would be music to our ears. Any suggestions?

A: DJ Joe Reinhart of Smokin’ Entertainment (412/414-7810, smokinentertainment.com) has more than a decade of experience in making weddings come alive. Born and raised in Pittsburgh, Joe prides himself on being able to please every guest of every age with a range of music from the latest hits to traditional favorites, including those for every ethnic heritage. Because of Reinhart’s experience, brides and grooms often enlist his help in planning other aspects of the wedding, including choosing caterers, florists, photographers and videographers.

Big Day Entertainment, Video and Photography (Big Day One-Stop Wedding & Event Center, 2549 Penn Ave., Strip District; 412/566-2900, bigdayentertainmnet.com) has been in business since 1995 and has grown into the largest video service in the tri-state area and is one of the largest entertainment and photography services. Big Day currently represents more than 80 of the area’s finest videographers, photographers and entertainers and does hundreds of weddings and other special events each year. As an entertainer himself, owner Sal Richetti knew that it would be convenient and beneficial to local brides to have one place where they could confidently shop for three of the most important services of the wedding. Combine that with the convenience of the expanded list of wedding professionals in the wedding center and you really owe it to yourself to check out Big Day Wedding Center.

Q: Which florist can help our wedding really bloom?

A: Flowers in the Attic (7505 Saltsburg Road, Penn Hills; 412/798-2200, flowersintheattic.com) is set apart in the floral industry by providing brides in the Pittsburgh and surrounding areas with truly personalized service. From the initial consultation to the walk down the aisle into the reception, they walk with you.  Your wedding is a true reflection of you and your spouse-to-be; your styles, your tastes, your families, your religious and cultural traditions, and, most importantly, your love for each other.  At Flowers in the Attic they think outside the vase . . . and more.  Brides and their loved ones choose the café for bridal showers, rehearsal dinners and bridal thank you gatherings.  The three-story Colonial Victorian café, gift and floral shop provide the perfect setting for any occasion. Contact Flowers in the Attic for more information and a consultation to make your day nothing less than perfect.

Q:  Where can I find some beautiful bling?

A: Couples have trusted the experts at Henne Jewelers (5501 Walnut St., Shadyside; 412/682-0226, hennejewelers.com) to help them find the right diamond for over 120 years.  Now, it’s easier than ever. Check out just some of the amazing selection at the website (you can even download a favorite or two to your smart phone to share) then, visit and meet the friendly, knowledgeable staff. Plus, right now, with the purchase of every engagement ring, Henne will give you a special gift worth thousands of dollars off on bridal services to help you make your wedding as perfect as your ring. Get serious with a beautiful diamond ring from Henne Jewelers.

James Douglas Jewelers (1768E Golden Mile Hwy., Monroeville and 4873 William Penn Hwy., Murrysville; 877/238-5634, jdjewel.com) has built a reputation on quality, handcrafted jewelry and stellar customer service, offering a wide selection of diamonds and precious gemstones set in beautiful gold or platinum. Antique and estate pieces are the hallmark of the store, with a one-of-a-kind piece for every occasion. They carry the latest styles and traditional designs to make that special someone sparkle. Browse the selection and have your questions answered by the knowledgeable staff. James Douglas Jewelers opened in 1997 under the ownership of James Douglas Fearer, having been Valmax for many years. The store is newly renovated and nearly double its previous size.

Q: How can we arrive in style on our wedding day?

A: All Occasion Limousine (724/625-2211 or 412/369-7676; alloccasionlimos.com) serves clients in Pittsburgh and surrounding counties. As one of the Pittsburgh area’s finest limousine companies, their mission is to provide dependable, private, upscale limousine transportation to all customers, for any type of occasion or event.  They offer luxurious accommodations and personalized service, all in a unique environment complete with amenities. The beautiful fleet includes Lincoln stretches, SUV limousines, and party bus limousine styles. For the best in luxury chauffeured transportation, allow All Occasion Limousine to be the “special touch for your special event.”

Q: Which photographers can help us preserve our wedding day memories?

A: PicSure Photography by Rick Szymanski (412/607-1449, picsure.net) can capture all the special moments of your special day. Rick’s style is a little bit of everything. As a wedding photographer, it has to be. From the elegant formal portraits to those tender candid moments, he captures it all with a creative eye. His friendly attitude keeps the mood relaxed, allowing him to capture the love and romance of the day–all those beautiful moments that will last a lifetime.

Don and Pam Tomino operate Memories Studio of Professional Photography (412/464-1107; memoriesphoto.com) Don is a Certified Master Craftsman, the highest level attainable in professional photography and has served as a photographic instructor traveling the country teaching advanced photography techniques to professional photographers. Don’s work has been published in an illustrative book of top photographers in the world and has six times received the Fuji Masterpiece Award and twice the Kodak Award for outstanding achievements in the field of Professional Photography. Don has photographed many celebrities including Ted Danson, Teresa Heinz Kerry, Franco Harris, Johnny Majors and Tony Dorsett. Don is the only photographer in Pennsylvania history to score a perfect "100" in the state’s Wedding Album Competitions. Don’s wedding albums have been selected five times as the Best in Pennsylvania, his wedding folios have been selected the best four times and his wedding albums have been selected the best in the tri-state area a records six times, placing him among the tri-state’s all-time highest awarded wedding photographer.

Photographer Annie O’Neill (412/657-9303, annieoneillweddings.com) focuses on the expressive image–capturing a poignant expression is simply her passion. Her 17 years as a photojournalist has trained O’Neill to watch for and react quickly to fleeting images that stir powerful emotions, without being intrusive. During the last several years, she has photographed more than 250 weddings ranging from an intimate affair of 12 guests to a lavish sit-down palace reception for 2,000. She was one of three photographers who documented the Crown Prince of Quatar’s wedding in 2005. Each couple is different, and she strives to capture the individuality of each union, instead of concentrating on predictable posed wedding pictures. Beyond the wonderful weddings, O’Neill has documented landmark celebrity celebrations. She was one of three photographers invited to shoot the weeks events when Oprah Winfrey brought her crew to Hawaii in 2006 and worked with two other photographers to document Jennifer Aniston’s 40th birthday.

Q: My partner and I are thinking of tying the knot but could use some advice. Where can we turn for help?

A: There is help for people who are married, thinking of tying the knot, or untying it. TWOgether Pittsburgh (888/WED-4EVR, twogetherpittsburgh.org)  is a coalition of non-profit organizations whose goal is to strengthen marriages in the greater Pittsburgh region. This initiative is led by local partners who believe in the social, psychological, physical and spiritual benefits of a healthy marriage. TWOgether Pittsburgh provides materials and classes that present the basic relationship skills needed to achieve a healthy marriage. Marriage and relationship education classes are implemented with the goal of creating healthier, more viable marriages.

Q: I really want to look and feel my best on my wedding day. Who can help?

A: For the past 30 years, The Circulatory Centers (800/526-3082; veinhealth.com) have cultivated an excellent reputation as a quality provider of medical treatment for varicose and spider veins. It is highly regarded as one of the finest groups of treatment facilities in the country for vein therapy. Diagnosis and treatment of vascular ailments are done through a network of Intersocietal Commission for the Accreditation of Vascular Laboratories (ICAVL)-accredited clinics in northern Ohio and western Pennsylvania. The Circulatory Centers specialize in the two most effective treatments for vein ailments, Sclerotherapy and Endo-Venous Laser Ablation (EVLA), considered the “gold standard” of treatment for veins by the American College of Phlebology. The Circulatory Centers offer a thorough, free vein consultation for new patients. Treatments are done on an outpatient basis in their office surgical centers and often are covered under most health insurance plans. The Circulatory Centers recently opened a downtown PPG Place location to conveniently treat patients around their work schedule. With the ease of their procedures, exams and treatments can easily be done early morning or even on your lunch break. The pain-free, healthy, great-looking legs you’ve always wanted are just a phone call away. Call or visit the Web site to schedule a free vein consultation. Gift certificates also are available.

Dunlap Dental (976 Perry Highway, Ross Township; 412/366-6399, dunlapdental.com), located in the Perrysville neighborhood of Ross Township, strives to meet all of your family’s dental needs. Doctors John Dunlap and Mara Biancucci-Dunlap both graduated from the University of Pittsburgh School of Dental Medicine. Their practice offers a comprehensive range of services including Zoom whitening, cosmetic dentistry, crowns and veneers, implant crowns, endodontic therapy, and complete and partial dentures, all in a new, state-of-the-art facility with convenient parking.

Pittsburgh Center for Complementary Health and Healing (1124 South Braddock Ave., suite B, Regent Square; 412/242-4220, pghhealthandhealing.com), a peaceful massage and wellness spa, was voted “Best Spa” by the readers of Pittsburgh magazine. The center offers quality, customizable services such as: aromatherapy massage, ayervedic hot stone massage, Reiki, cellular expansion & healing, counseling, meditation, reflexology, naturopathic medicine, Maya abdominal massage, oncology massage, fertility massage and more.  Their unique services and dedication to supporting their clients truly nurtures your body, calms your mind and inspires your spirit from the moment you walk in the door. The center’s customized approach assists and empowers clients to be more conscious, vibrant and healthy. To promote true health and well-being, they encourage clients to listen to all aspects of themselves; physical, emotional, mental and spiritual.


Categories: Weddings