By Rachel Jones
Photographs from Steve Dietz and Nathan Black

After winning each other’s hearts, the recently engaged Rachell Fleeger and Ryan Laidlaw won All Occasions’ $5,000 Wedding Rental Package Contest! Hesitant to enter at first, Rachell thought it was worth a shot and rallied Ryan to get behind it, too. “The contest was an absolute whirlwind,” Rachell says. “I set up a Facebook page for it and emailed every person that I knew. Every week, it would get more exciting.” Capturing the most votes, the winning couple focused most of their $5,000 prize on renting décor from All Occasions. Fitting their rustic theme, they chose: a handmade farm table to serve as the head table, four chateau chairs for the head table, all of the guests’ chairs, crystal chandeliers to set the mood, and a massive tent to shelter the reception. “Once it was set up, it was beautiful,” Rachell says. “I really appreciated the whole experience. Getting $5,000 to help with your wedding is huge!”

Rachell Fleeger and Ryan Laidlaw, Pittsburgh weddings, WHIRL Wedding Guide 2015

Rachell’s favorite moment was when the doors of Clinton Presbyterian Church opened, and she saw Ryan tear up. And the moment that gave everyone goosebumps was the best man’s toast. As he talked about Ryan’s mother, who passed away a few years ago, it began to rain for the first time all day. Then, when he stopped, it was sunny again.

Rachell Fleeger and Ryan Laidlaw, Pittsburgh weddings, WHIRL Wedding Guide 2015

The couple chose to keep everything simple and natural, using burlap details, a hay bale couch, and mason jar candle holders set the scene. Blue and white hydrangeas from Pepper’s Florist reflected the nearby river.

Rachell Fleeger and Ryan Laidlaw, Pittsburgh weddings, WHIRL Wedding Guide 2015

Rachell and Ryan dated for four years before he proposed at their annual holiday party. “Ryan always gives little gifts to everyone, and mine was last,” Rachell explains. “And, it was a ring!”

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