By Sierra Smith

Jaclyn Bronder + Brian Modena

The runner’s high from completing the DICK’S Sporting Goods Pittsburgh Marathon couldn’t top the excitement sparked by Brian Modena’s proposal to Jaclyn Bronder during a post-race celebration with family and friends. After she said “yes,” the San Diego couple determined they wanted to say “I do” in Pittsburgh, where they had lived for two years together. “We wanted our wedding weekend to be an experience for our guests,” the bride explains. This “experience” included a tailgate and a Pirates game in lieu of a rehearsal dinner, a ceremony atop Mt. Washington to showcase the breathtaking views of the Downtown skyline, and — the real show-stopper — a reception in the perennially lush Phipps Conservatory and Botanical Gardens. “We didn’t want to have a theme that would overpower the already beautiful surroundings,” Jaclyn says of Phipps. “We worked with Hens & Chicks to put together a floral look that would complement all of the wonderful tropical gardens.” Gorgeous centerpieces spilled over with red coxcomb, roses, and dahlias while vines draped overhead transported guests to a whimsical oasis. Being able to spend the romantic celebration with loved ones proved to be the highlight of the day for both Jaclyn and Brian. “We are so lucky to have the love and support of our parents,” says Jaclyn. “Seeing them happy and excited for us made the day that much better.”

 Photographs from Ryan Zarichnak Photography

“One of my favorite memories was our first look,” says Jaclyn. “It was so nice to have a few minutes to escape all of the hustle and bustle of the day and have a private moment.”

“One of my favorite memories was our first look,” says Jaclyn. “It was so nice to have a few minutes to escape all of the hustle and bustle of the day and have a private moment.”

Jaclyn donned an exquisite blush-hued Monique Lhuillier gown, accented with a rhinestone belt, while the bridesmaids glittered in coordinating gold dresses beside the (literal) blushing bride.

Jaclyn donned an exquisite blush-hued Monique Lhuillier gown, accented with a rhinestone belt, while the bridesmaids glittered in coordinating gold dresses beside the (literal) blushing bride.

“Our guests raved about the location afterwards, and if we could do it all over again, we’d still pick Phipps!”

“Our guests raved about the location afterwards, and if we could do it all over again, we’d still pick Phipps!”

 Every detail, including Jaclyn’s sparkling Kate Spade clutch, came together for a magical night.

Every detail, including Jaclyn’s sparkling Kate Spade clutch, came together for a magical night.

Athena Pappis + John Hastings

Two and a half years after their first date, a Gateway Clipper ride to Heinz Field for a Steelers game, John Hastings decided to bring his love story with Athena Pappis full circle. Once again aboard a Gateway Clipper, Athena had no idea he’d be popping the question – or that his sister would be there to photograph the whole thing. “I am so happy he decided to [have his sister there],” Athena says. “Those few moments are such a blur at times!” Their “Big Fat Greek Wedding” took place at the Holy Trinity Greek Orthodox Church in McCandless, with the reception held at the Fox Chapel Golf Club. The color palette perfectly matched the autumnal day: dark eggplant hues popping against gold accents from the bridesmaids’ dresses to the elegant centerpieces. The cake, created by Jessica Shoemaker, truly brought the elegant evening together by incorporating fresh flowers and delicate lace embellishments that matched the bride’s gown. On their big day, the couple only had eyes for each other. “Just moments after we were announced as husband and wife,” says Athena, “[we] exited the church and had a second just to ourselves to talk and see each other really for the first time. It was a great moment!”

Photographs from The Brand Studio

Wanting something a little less traditional, Athena chose a blush-tinted, trumpet-style gown. “It was very unique!”

Wanting something a little less traditional, Athena chose a blush-tinted, trumpet-style gown. “It was very unique!”

The Pappis-Hastings wedding featured a live Greek band, Karizma, and plenty of traditional Greek dancing.

The Pappis-Hastings wedding featured a live Greek band, Karizma, and plenty of traditional Greek dancing.

Jessica McNerny + KC Jack

The sentiment “Good things come in small packages,” rings true for Jessica McNerny. After dating for a year, KC Jack got on one knee on Christmas Day, completely surprising his bride, despite a big hint on the present’s tag. But it wasn’t until after the excitement of the moment that Jessica saw the label: “To my future wife.” The couple tied the knot on top of the mountain “airport” at Seven Springs Mountain Resort, treating guests to the gorgeous views of the valley and lake below. The day was clear and bright, the sky complementing the nautical navy-and-gold color scheme of the wedding. Blush accents provided a romantic softness, from the peonies, roses, and anemones in the bouquets to the underlay of the bride’s Christina Wu gown. Seven Springs supplied nearly everything, including the catered meal and custom flower-topped cake. And, in lieu of a signature drink, the guests downed a signature shot together, to honor the life of the bride’s late brother, who would have turned 21 the following day. “It was wonderful to have our family and close friends by our side in such a difficult and beautiful moment.”

Photographs from La Candella Wedding

The couple chose Seven Springs as their venue for two big reasons: “We liked everything they had to offer,” says Jessica, “and what bride doesn’t want to get married on top of a mountain?”

The couple chose Seven Springs as their venue for two big reasons: “We liked everything they had to offer,” says Jessica, “and what bride doesn’t want to get married on top of a mountain?”

Jessica’s stunning “something blue” was a glittering pair of Badgley Mischka heels in a head-turning shade of navy.

Jessica’s stunning “something blue” was a glittering pair of Badgley Mischka heels in a head-turning shade of navy.


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