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A guide to cool wedding venues in Pittsburgh

Where can you exchange vows in front of a stained glass window with pink and red streamers waving overhead, and a 13-foot-tall Blue Herron made of gas station signs greeting guests at the door?   
The Children’s Museum of Pittsburgh, of course.
Jillian and Andy Riley wanted a whimsical wedding and chose the Children’s Museum because it was “fun, colorful and playful,” says Jillian. “Our wedding was designed to draw out the kid in everyone.”
The couple amped up the children’s theme by transporting guests in a school bus, writing seating assignments on paper airplanes, and scattering jacks and crayons on the dinner tables.  One friend surprised them by reading Oh the Places You’ll Go by Dr. Seuss during the ceremony.
Just goes to show that anything is possible with a little creativity and theme work. Pittsburgh has loads of unique wedding venues for weddings of all kinds.  Just as Pittsburgh keeps reinventing itself, so do its wedding spots. In 2010, Pop City wrote a wildly popular article about cool places to get married, but with new venues having since opened, we decided to take another look.
Certainly The Pennsylvanian, Grand Concourse, Carnegie, and Phipps all provide elegant and dreamy Pittsburgh weddings, but we decided to fly under the radar screen to find cool sites that are off the beaten bridal path. Read on for our newest discoveries.
For brides that want to float away on the bubbles, Perlé is the ultimate destination. Opened in July, this chic champagne lounge in Market Square combines big city sophistication with European elegance. Even the wallpaper and lighting are reminiscent of champagne bubbles.  A balcony overlooks the charming and scenic square and inside, hip modular furniture gives couples a lot of flexibility. And talk about hip--Mark Wahlberg recently rented Perlé for a cast party.
For a totally different big city vibe, visit the August Wilson Center.  This striking modern structure in the heart of downtown is the epitome of urban chic. Its sleek design offers clean, open spaces, and soaring floor-to-ceiling windows provide breathtaking city views—especially at night. Events Manager Lisha Logan says her brides are often into architecture.  No wonder.  Pittsburgh AIA (American Institute of Architecture) calls the August Wilson Center the “new jewel in Pittsburgh’s crown.”
If Old World opulence is more your style, Mansions on Fifth Hotel provides a venue reminiscent of Pittsburgh’s Golden Age.  Built on Shadyside’s Millionaire’s Row by Willis McCormick (Henry Clay Fricke’s attorney), the carved Grand Staircase is ideal for wedding ceremonies.  Five first-floor fireplaces add ambiance when it’s chilly, and in warmer months the front terrace is perfect for cocktails. “The mansion is beautiful; it’s grand, but it’s also intimate,” says owner Mary Del Brady.  A cozy wine cellar and hand painted private chapel add to the exceptional features of this elegant estate.
Want green space in the heart of the city?  Shadyside’s Pittsburgh Center for the Arts creates romantic nuptials in Mellon Park’s hilltop Walled Garden, originally the grounds of the Mellon Estate.  Just steps away, receptions on the mansion’s tented patio continue the outdoor theme, while the center’s sleek, well-lit art galleries add a cool, modern space for guests to enjoy.
And talk about cool…does any other city boast a 22-room estate in the middle of a public park?  Yes, Pittsburgh, Hartwood Acres is much more than holiday lights.  Couples can have daytime weddings inside the stately paneled Great Hall or outdoors in their pick of beautiful pristine gardens. At the Senator John Heinz History Center in the Strip, you can throw a wedding for up to 350 in the unique and striking setting. Or try the Fort Pitt museum with its rooftop deck for a fabulous cocktail reception. They work with Point State Park for outdoor wedding.
Heinz Chapel your wedding destination?  Oakland’s newly renovated University Club is just a short walk away. The large rooftop terrace sports a magnificent view of the Cathedral of Learning, and brides can choose between two ballrooms. Glorious crystal chandeliers give the second-floor ballroom a distinctly Cinderella feel. Perfect for a fairy tale ending.
For another Cinderella experience, visit Springwood Conference Center in Verona. The beautiful Glass Atrium on this 60-acre estate looks truly magical.  With an on-site chef and a full palette of linens and place settings, one-stop-shopping makes this a favorite locale for out-of-town brides.
Like baseball and wine?  Check out Lawrenceville’s eclectic Engine House 25.  This refurbished 1896 firehouse is home to The Clemente Museum. Owner and photographer Duane Rieder opened the museum in 2006; these days, couples can exchange vows under the vine-covered arbor in the main room or upstairs in Rieder’s photography studio. Some play up the sports theme with baseball centerpieces and wedding cakes.  Toast the bride and groom in this inviting ochre-hued space. Rieder even uses his photographic skills to create custom wine labels for the happy couple.  Cheers!
History lovers should not miss Soldiers and Sailors Memorial Hall in Oakland.  The 102-year-old building contains a large amphitheater (Bruce Springsteen’s favorite), a military museum and a ballroom that seats 300.  The warm wood floor, hand-painted coffered ceiling and large balcony showcase the ballroom’s historic detail. For wedding photos, antique mercury lights illuminate the building like a jewel, says Marjorie Henderson, director of development.
An elegant country wedding more your style?  Destiny Hill Farm in Washington, PA fits the bill with style and grace.  Fields of fragrant lavender, neat horse paddocks and spectacular mountain vistas greet guests as soon as they turn in the winding drive. A vine-covered pergola flanked by rose bushes is a popular spot for ceremonies while the pristine stables and barn host cocktails, dinner and dancing.  With only one event per weekend (May through October), it’s the “No stress, no drama farm,” says Event Coordinator Mimi York.  Brides can choose their flowers from the farm’s acres of blooms, and its lavender-infused honey makes unique wedding favors.
For more casual receptions, Tonic Bar and Grill and Olive or Twist, both downtown, have large private rooms above their bustling restaurants. Tonic features local craft beers, signature pulled pork sandwiches and their famous cheese sauce, and Manager Mai Jeans says they are happy to work with budget-conscious couples. Receptions at Olive or Twist have a “loungy, new age” atmosphere according to Event Planner Brandon Thompson.  Dark colors, exposed brick and candlelight, make the ambiance intimate and warm.
Know other cool places? Feel free to comment below or email us here.
 Photographs copyright Brian Cohen
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