Amanda Risha + Richard Walton
by Rachel Jones | Photographs from Travis Neely Photography
Richard Walton planned to go on a cruise with his former Dartmouth football teammates, including Patrick Risha. But when two of their friends canceled, Patrick’s sister, Amanda, and her friend took the open spots on board. Amanda and Richard had an instant connection and continued seeing each other well after the boat had docked. Years later, Amanda and Richard moved to New York City, where they worked just a few blocks from each other. On the first warm day in May, they took a scenic walk home through Central Park. They stopped in front of the Bethesda Fountain, and Richard dropped to one knee. Amanda and Richard said their vows at Heinz Memorial Chapel. “One of my favorite memories was walking down the aisle with my dad,” Amanda says. “He passed away shortly after my wedding, so I always think back to that moment.” The bride also incorporated her godfather, Mark Latorre, into the ceremony — he met her at the end of the aisle, and both men gave her away to Richard. The reception, held in the foyer of the Carnegie Music Hall, was followed by an afterparty, complete with 100 Primanti Bros. sandwiches and “O” fries with cheese from The Original Hot Dog Shop.
Gina Mignogna + Scott Vensel
Photographs from Kelly Lockerman Photography
When friends hosted a Hurricane Katrina benefit at Brillobox in 2005, Gina Mignogna and Scott Vensel both attended to support the cause. Gina and Scott may have arrived as strangers, but they left with a budding romance. After five years of dating, Scott surprised Gina by tying a sapphire and diamond engagement ring to the collar of her Chihuahua, Miles, on St. Patrick’s Day. “Scott said, ‘The best way to surprise an Italian girl? Pop the question on St. Patrick’s Day,’” Gina says. “I’m not Irish, so I wasn’t expecting anything big that day!” The couple then celebrated their engagement with loved ones who were already coming over for a St. Patrick’s Day party. Gina and Scott, who wrote their own ceremony with a mix of favorite poems and songs, wed at the Mansions on Fifth. “One of my favorite memories was our sparkler ceremony,” Gina says. “After the ceremony, everyone went outside and danced with the sparklers. It was such a beautiful way to have a ‘spark’ at the end of this beautiful day.”
Ashley Overand + James Alexander
Photographs from Moods Image
She was from Keystone Oaks. He was from Chartiers Valley. Ashley Overand and James Alexander started out as star-crossed lovers at rival high schools, but the soon-to-be sweethearts started dating during their senior years and were engaged nine years later. While on vacation in Clearwater, Fla., they took a walk down the beach. “He got down on one knee to dig in the sand like he found a really cool shell,” Ashley says. “Then, he showed me it was actually a ring.” The couple wed at Heinz Memorial Chapel, and Thomas R. Lloyd, the mayor of Dormont and Ashley’s grandfather, officiated the ceremony. “It was really sweet and personal,” Ashley says. “When he started the ceremony, he got all choked up.” It wasn’t until Ashley and James lit the unity candle that the bride shed some tears of her own. “We had a soloist singing ‘Oh, Holy Night,’” Ashley explains. “Her voice was amazing and it was Christmas — that was just a really special moment for me.” The couple’s 217 guests were then invited to the Pittsburgh International Airport’s Holiday Inn for a winter wonderland themed reception.