By Colleen Ferguson
Courtney Bannon + Brian Connor

Courtney Bannon is a stickler for schedules and planning. So, if her boyfriend Brian Connor was going to keep the proposal a surprise, he had to be clever. “I’m a planner,” she says. “He knew if he tried to plan a trip or special dinner or something, I would suspect immediately.” Instead, Brian used the perfect opportunity, Courtney’s birthday dinner at Green Gables Restaurant in Jennerstown, to get down on one knee in front of a dramatically lit tree outside! Courtney took inspiration from this scene to their wedding, using soft lighting to exemplify the feel of a New York lounge. “We wanted it to look very modern,” Courtney explains, dressing J. Verno Studios in a mix of charcoal gray and ivory with touches of light pink and floating candles. Even the vanilla bean buttercream cake from Pastries A-La-Carte in Pleasant Hills featured a dark gray gradient from top to bottom to match the steel metropolis décor. The perfectly planned day did have some minor hiccups. Following the ceremony at the St. Louise de Marillac Parish in Upper St. Clair, the outdoor photoshoot was rained out! “And we didn’t have a plan B!” says Courtney, keeping calm through the storm. “We took photos in the lobby of the Wyndham Grand Pittsburgh Downtown Hotel, and made the best of it. It stopped raining during our reception, so we hurried out and got a few shots.”

Photographs from Matt Gaydos.

Courtney Bannon and Brian Connor, WHIRL Weddings February 2015, Pittsburgh weddings

Courtney Bannon and Brian Connor, WHIRL Weddings February 2015, Pittsburgh weddings

Courtney’s gown, an Allure design from MB Bride, added a touch of drama to the calm and cool lounge-style reception. The flowing train was complemented by a beaded bodice for a splash of shimmer. “I wanted it to look very dramatic,” Courtney explains. “You’re only a bride once!”

Courtney Bannon and Brian Connor, WHIRL Weddings February 2015, Pittsburgh weddings

Floral arrangements, comprised of ivory and soft pink roses and hydrangeas, added height to softly lit tables. Others featured short vases of calla lilies in water with floating candles.

Courtney Bannon and Brian Connor, WHIRL Weddings February 2015, Pittsburgh weddings

Instead of sharing a quiet moment alone, Courtney and Brian did their first glance as family looked on from a balcony above. “The anticipation and walking up the steps in my dress and having family look on — it felt like I was in a movie!” Courtney shares.

Stephanie Brentzel + Michael Evan

As Stephanie Brentzel and Michael Evan enjoyed dinner with family at The Nest Seafood & Steak Restaurant in Jeannette, Stephanie knew something was up. “My mom kept asking how to take a video on her phone,” she remembers. “I thought, ‘why do you need to know that right now?’” So when Michael popped the question in front of everyone, Stephanie was quick to say yes and begin celebrating! The couple’s 16-month engagement allowed Stephanie to add sparkle to every detail of her winter wonderland wedding, with glitter-trimmed invitations and the bridesmaids’ gold, sequin Adrianna Pappell gowns. “I wanted crystals and sparkle everywhere,” Stephanie says. The Athletic Association also shimmered for Stephanie and Michael’s 215 guests, with the white and gold linens, even down to the white coconut dusting on signature doughnut desserts from Bella Christie and Lil Z’s Sweet Boutique. The best moment, says Stephanie, was peeking into her reception hall prior to the party to witness her wintery vision come together. “I did a lot of the planning myself, and it was great to see that labor of love pay off,” she says. Stephanie and Michael escaped the cold after the reception, jetting off to Arizona for their honeymoon.

Photograph from Photographic Excellence by Bea.

Stephanie Brentzel and Michael Evan, WHIRL Weddings February 2015, Pittsburgh weddings

Stephanie found her Essense of Australia gown from The Exquisite Bride in Murrysville online while searching for winter wedding ideas. “I wanted something with sleeves, which are really hard to find!” she says. It also featured lace and beading for a sophisticated sparkle to match her winter wedding’s theme.

Cindy Smiddle + Jerred Novotny

After seven years of dating — and moving five different times! — Cindy Smiddle and Jerred Novotny knew returning to their hometown of Pittsburgh would be the best place to settle down together. The couple celebrated their long-term love with 155 friends and family at the Pittsburgh Marriott North, which was decorated in elegant pieces of red, white, and black. Cindy flawlessly contrasted the black-clad bridesmaids and groomsmen in a strapless, shimmering Sophia Tolli design from The Exquisite Bride. “I only tried on about six dresses, and I fell in love with it the minute I put it on,” she says. An elegant mixture of high and low white hydrangea centerpieces from Reed and Petals, tuxedo-inspired white and black linens, and homemade “Eat-n-Park-style” cookies decorated with C&J instead of the signature smile completed the romantic reception. The lovebirds enjoyed a first dance to “At Last” by Etta James, “which was kind of a joke because we were together for so long,” Cindy says with a laugh. After the beautiful day, the couple honeymooned in picturesque Amelia Island, Fla.

Photograph from Photography by Lyndsey.

Cindy Smiddle and Jerred Novotny, WHIRL Weddings February 2015, Pittsburgh weddings

Cindy says the nuptials went off without a hitch, all thanks to Kate Knecht and the other wedding coordinators at Pittsburgh Marriott North. “It was important to us to get married and have the reception at the same place,” she says. “It was the smoothest wedding ever.”

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