This Duo's Riverside Wedding Was Interrupted by a Miniature Hurricane—but That Didn't Stop the Party
Emily had initially turned down her sorority sisters' invitation to a St. Patrick's Day party in 2014—but it was her birthday weekend after all, so she reluctantly reconsidered. About 30 minutes away, Matt was hesitant to join two of his friends in Pittsburgh for the very same party, but, in the end, decided to make his way there. Emily and Matt were two of the first people to arrive; Emily ended up telling him about her disappointment when a pizza delivery came without blue cheese dressing on the side. That first conversation led to hours and hours more—and the couple became official shortly thereafter.
Four years later, in March 2018, Matt decided to take Emily out on the town to some of their favorite places around Pittsburgh for her birthday. They hit a brewery and then got lunch, which is when Emily first got the sense that something was up (Matt didn't finish his go-to dish at his favorite restaurant). The couple went on a walk to a nearby park and when they passed the fountains and gardens, Matt asked a woman walking by to take a photo of them. He got down on one knee as she snapped the photo and asked Emily to marry him. After she said yes, Matt surprised her with a party at her childhood home to celebrate to milestone.
Emily is the owner and lead planner at Em and E Events, so she relied heavily on her own team to help her plan and execute their August 17, 2019, celebration. "I was loving being the bride and not so much the planner," she says. Emily gave Matt the lead in selecting their vendors, and was happy to work with some new experts that she hadn't teamed up with in the past. The couple invited their 120 guests to Riverfront Weddings in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, for a "summer soirée" themed celebration in a converted boat garage on the water—which, much to their surprise, came with some unexpected weather.
With so many guests attending from out of town, Emily and Matt knew they'd need to include lots of information on their invitations, so they went with a larger size. "I really wanted it to make a statement when people received it in the mail, but on top of that we were using a very fun and playful calligraphy font—so we wanted to make sure it was big enough for guests to read easily," Emily says. The details card included hand-painted icons guiding guests through the weekend's events. The finishing touch was a custom wax seal stamp, featuring their custom monogram.
Their watercolor monogram included a smokey blue crest, mauve script, sage greens, and shades of burnt orange, pale yellows, and blush. "I knew I wanted to have it everywhere and anywhere at the wedding," says the bride—and that it was. It was seen on the save-the-dates, the invitation suite, the welcome baskets, on the dance floor, on day-of lounge pillows, and even on the mini cakes.
A Warm Welcome
Emily and Matt put together welcome baskets for their guests; they contained Champagne, Pittsburgh Popcorn, and other local favorites.
The bride went wedding dress shopping seven times before she tried on an Eve of Milady gown with pearl and gem details from top to bottom. "I put this one on and it made me feel gorgeous!" the bride reflects. Emily wore an extra-long cathedral veil custom-made by Angelea Kurac. The veil, which Emily plans to make a family heirloom, includes hand-sewn pearls taken from the wedding gowns of her mother, mother-in-law, grandmother, and Nana, plus lace sourced from her grandmother's own dress.
Emily held a loose, organic bouquet that included dahlias, spray roses, garden roses, Juliet roses, and ranunculus. The arrangement was tied with a silk chiffon ribbon in mauve, blush, and a dusty lavender shade.
One Groom, Two Jackets
Matt wore a black tuxedo from The Black Tux for the ceremony and changed into a white dinner jacket come the reception.
Pop the Champagne
A black bow tie, watch, and fun shoes—embroidered with Champagne bottles—completed his big-day look.
'Maids in White
Emily's bridesmaids wore white crepe dresses from BHLDN that mimicked the silhouette of her gown.
All the King's Men
The groomsmen were replete and timeless in black tuxedos. "We loved The Black Tux because of their classic and more modern fits. The men looked great!" Emily says.
Ahead of her first look with Matt, Emily revealed her ensemble to her bridesmaids.
The bride and groom shared their own first look in a garden at Mellon Park in Pittsburgh. "I was overwhelmed with anticipation, but there was this comfort of knowing that when I saw Em, I would be so relieved," Matt says. Emily notes that she could tell Matt was nervous (he was shaking a bit!), and she felt giddy walking towards him. "He turned around and I could see tears in his eyes. It was the sweetest thing ever!" she says.
Emily and Matt made the choice to host their wedding at Riverfront Weddings so they could have access to both indoor and outdoor areas along the water. "We spend the summers boating on the rivers of Pittsburgh, so when we found a venue where we could get married not only near the water, but on the river on a large boat dock, we knew it was the spot for us," Emily says. They set up translucent Chiavari chairs and a modern greenery backdrop so that the scenery would take center stage.
The Flower Men
As the ceremony began, Matt and the groomsmen walked down the aisle to an acoustic version of John Adams' "Sugar." Then, the couple's "flower men" scattered petals down the aisle as "Can't Help Falling in Love" by Kina Grannis played.
Emily, accompanied by her father, made her way down the aisle to Frank Sinatra's "Moon River."
A Sweet Service
They were married in a traditional ceremony—officiated by the former mayor of Millvale, Pennsylvania, where the couple lived at the time of their wedding—overlooking the river. One of Matt's favorite parts of the day was being pronounced husband and wife at the end of the service. "All the nerves completely disappeared and we could finally party as newlyweds," Matt says. On a celebratory note, they exited the dock to "Crazy Little Thing Called Love."
Raising the Bar
The cocktail hour and reception took place inside an old converted boat garage with thirty-foot ceilings; it was a blank slate for Emily and Matt to transform. For the cocktail hour, they created a cozy environment by setting up bistro lighting, chandeliers, lounge areas, and several greenery elements for texture. An open bar offered up a bevy of drinks, which were listed—in the font splashed across the invitation suite—front and center.
Emily and Matt served some of their favorite foods during the interlude, including pork steamed buns and lobster mac and cheese.
The duo had big dreams for their reception décor. "We wanted it to be crisp and clean—and to flow seamlessly as you looked out of the building and into the trees outside," Emily explains.
Save the Day
Just after the reception began, a microburst, or mini hurricane, swept through the space. "Centerpieces were flying as guests were screaming and running—ceremony chairs were already blown away and floating down the river," reflects Lauren, the couple's photographer. It's difficult to believe, but the room had entirely fallen apart—but the couple's vendor team was there to put everything back together again. "We kept the bride inside the bathroom so she couldn't see the mess. Guests were directed to stay in the bar area for a second cocktail hour," Lauren shares. The couple took some of that time for an extra photo session—and when they returned thirty minutes later, the party was getting started (again)!
The Head Table
The space was filled with fresh greenery and florals. In fact, they had five different centerpiece styles, including oversized urns, green canopies that hovered over long tables, low compotes, and bud vases with candles. A long head table was set for 22 of their closest friends, and topped with a floral lace and sequin overlay.
At each setting, clear glass salad plates sat atop gold chargers, along with gold flatware and gold-rimmed glasses.
On the Dance Dloor
Emily and Matt shared their first dance to "Sweet Pea" by Amos Lee. "We have always loved this song," the bride says. "It's a cute classic!" The couple's custom monogram was displayed along the dance floor—which got plenty of use, thanks to DJ Digital Dave. "I reached out to him before we had a date and told him he was already hired!" Emily says. "He is my favorite DJ in Pittsburgh, so I knew we needed him!"
A Second Dress
A few weeks before the wedding, Emily decided she wanted a second gown to dance in—and went with a two-piece ensemble with off-the-shoulder cap sleeves by Jaclyn Jordan. Her friend owns the bridal shop, so she graciously altered the dress on a short timeline. "It was perfect for spinning and dancing the night away!" Emily says of the final creation, which she changed into after the first dance.
Tasty Bakery created a blush pink wedding cake with gold foil detailing; the three-tier confection was topped with fresh blooms and tied with a bow from the same silk chiffon ribbon used in the couple's stationery.
As a wedding planner who felt the pressure of pulling off her best event yet, Emily has this recommendation to brides and grooms currently planning their nuptials: "Focus on the two of you and what you both really want. After it's all said and done, looking back at your wedding. it's not going to matter what other people wanted out of your day—it is only going to matter what the two of you wanted and whether or not you did that!"
Photography, Lauren Renée Photography
Videography, Post Script
Venue, River Front Weddings
Wedding Planning and Event Design, Em and E Events
Flowers, Green Sinner
Paper Products Oh Joyful Day
Bride's Gowns, Eve of Milady (ceremony), Jaclyn Jordan (reception)
Bride's Veil, Angalea Kuruc of Blanc de Blanc Bridal Salon
Bride's Shoes, Badgley Mischka
Hair, Simply Captivating Hair
Makeup, Emily Artistry
Bridesmaids' Dresses, BHLDN
Menswear, The Black Tux
Music, DJ Digital Dave
Catering, JPC Event Group
Cake, Tasty Bakery
Transportation, Elite Transportation
Lighting, EF Lighting
Rentals, JPC Event Group; Eventioneers
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