Photography by Don Wright Photography

Photography by Don Wright Photography

Before making Michelle Woodburn’s acquaintance, Mark Smith had to gain approval with her family. At Duke’s Upper Deck Café, he spotted her from across the room. “This stunning blonde was sitting there, and I was dying to meet her,” Mark says.

However, when he tried to send a drink to the woman he’d been admiring, he was temporarily thwarted — it just so happened the bartender was Michelle’s sister, Christine. After receiving the third degree, the soon-to-be pair was introduced, hitting it off immediately.

Many months of dating later, they settled in to spend a quiet evening at home. It was then Michelle received a proposal from Mark — he proposed the idea that they marry on New Year’s Eve. The two shopped around for a ring, and soon after, she received a second, more ceremonial proposal when Mark dropped to both knees in their kitchen and asked for her hand in marriage.

The two Munhall natives made it official on December 31 at St. Stanislaus Church in the Strip District. Michelle sparkled in a Cinderella-inspired Alfred Angelo gown. During the ring exchange, Mark unthinkingly offered his right hand. Though Michelle found the ring to be too small, she made due by sliding it on to his pinky-finger without a second thought.

At Riverwatch at the Boardwalk, the reception was awash in black and gold with the groomsmen sporting Pittsburgh Steelers jerseys over their tuxedos and the bridesmaids waving Terrible Towels. The couple stole the show with their first dance to “The Way You Look Tonight.”

In a charitable twist on the traditional “money dance,” guests were asked to make contributions to two charities of the couple’s choosing — Animal Friends, which hosts an annual New Year’s Eve Rescue, and Light of Life Mission.

At just 20 minutes before the ball dropped, guests gathered on the deck of the reception hall overlooking the Allegheny River, and got ready to toast with chilled mini-bottles of Champagne.

Following a stay in the Bahamas, Mr. and Mrs. Smith settled down at their White Oak home, along with their three dogs, Sylvie, Mani, and Bruizer.

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