By Lauren Schmeer
Photographs from Ovation Images
High school sweethearts Rachel Kelly and Christopher Klezia met during their sophomore and junior years at Canon-McMillan High School. After a shared class one day, their teacher (who’s also a family friend) pulled Chris aside and dropped a hint about what a great catch Rachel would be. After that little bit of encouragement, Chris worked up the nerve to ask Rachel out, and the two dated for the next six years, even as they attended different colleges. Then, four days before Rachel’s birthday, Chris threw her a surprise party with both sides of the family attending. As Rachel went to open Chris’s present to her, Chris went down on one knee — ready to propose once she looked up.
Rachel was most pleased by how the decorations came together for their reception at the Hilton Garden Inn — Southpointe. The couple incorporated a peacock color scheme of purple, turquoise, and silver, with flowers and crystals “everywhere,” says Rachel. She thanks her mom for all of her efforts, saying, “She was pretty much our wedding planner.” Guests enjoyed favors of Country Confection’s cake pops and homemade wine from the groom’s father.
Photographs from Annie O’Neill
Though Christine Farrell and Mark Zacharia’s families have known each other for quite some time, that wasn’t exactly how the couple met. Christine’s dear friend and Mark’s sister actually set them up on a semi-blind date. After a month of waiting for Christine to visit from New York City, the two went to dinner in Downtown Pittsburgh for their first date. Seven months later, Mark planned a special getaway to St. Lucia that included a romantic dinner on the beach. Mark asked Christine to marry him at sunset, and Christine says it was “unexpected” and “perfect.” Valley Brook Country Club hosted the traditional ceremony and reception. Some of Christine’s favorite memories from the day include the heartfelt speeches presented by the best man and matron of honor, along with a very messy — but fun! — cutting of the mango, vanilla, and buttercream cake from. The couple shared their first dance to Etta James’s song, “At Last,” and Christine says, “It was perfect for us because for so long we both wanted to be married, but were looking for the right person. It felt like a song made for us.”
Photographs from Allison Viron Photography
Stacey Peace and Michael Rizzo have a love story that spans almost a decade, from the time the couple met on their high school swim team to the years when Stacey was enrolled at the University of Pittsburgh while Michael was studying at Duquesne. A year after graduating, the couple was home for Thanksgiving when Michael got down on one knee, surrounded by family in Stacey’s grandmother’s kitchen. The couple chose New Year’s Eve for the date of the big day. Stacey laughs that it was “mainly so we would never forget the date, but also to always give us a reason to celebrate the New Year.” To showcase the theme at the Holiday Inn Pittsburgh International Airport Hotel, they chose blue, silver, and black decorations, gifted 2012-shaped silver glasses and party horns as favors, and completed a countdown to midnight with a balloon drop. Stacey especially loved being called into the reception as Mr. and Mrs. Rizzo for the first time.