Nontraditional Venues One Way to Make Weddings Stand Out
Jan 27, 2020 02:05PM
By Hilary Daninhirsch
Most brides and grooms want their wedding day to reflect their own unique personalities and tastes. For many couples, holding their wedding in a nontraditional venue is one way to both express themselves and give their guests a memorable experience.
Engine House 25 in Lawrenceville, a restored firehouse dating back to 1896, hosts rehearsal dinners and weddings in its three-story building. Event coordinator Kathleen Euler explained that the first floor of the building is the Roberto Clemente Museum, while the second floor contains more of the collection and a photography studio. The bottom floor is a wine cellar where they make their own wines.
“When people book weddings, they have access to all of these components,” she said, adding that the Engine House 25 wine package allows wedding guests to experience something that is local to Pittsburgh. Euler said that the space can accommodate 80 guests fully seated or 125 for a cocktail-style reception.
“What sets it apart is that it’s an interactive space; guests aren’t just waiting for the bride and groom—they have something interesting and unique to engage with in the venue,” she said.
Outdoor lovers often flock to Old Economy Village in Ambridge, a restored 19th century German village that now functions as a museum, for its picturesque garden space. Sandy Carroll, the facility rental and motorcoach tour associate, said that the property contains 17 buildings on six acres, along with an acre-and-a-half of formal gardens. “Most people hold their ceremony in the garden, though we have people who prefer to be married inside, which has enabled us to extend our wedding season,” said Carroll.
Reception options include the 200-year old Granary, which holds 120 people, or the Feast Hall, which holds 300 people, though it does not allow for dancing as it’s an older, second-floor space.
“There are people who come because of the history; they love the old buildings and the atmosphere,” said Carroll. “The setting is really lovely, and the gardens are gorgeous. There’s a different array of flowers every two weeks as the season changes. In the center of the garden, our pavilion provides a beautiful backdrop for a wedding ceremony.”
Those passionate about the environment might choose the newly constructed Riverfront Room on the Allegheny, a sustainably designed wedding venue operated by Tree Pittsburgh, a nonprofit whose mission is to protect and grow the urban forest. Located on the river in upper Lawrenceville, the venue also serves as Tree Pittsburgh’s education center.
“If someone is interested in hosting a green or sustainable wedding, we are a great choice,” said Maggie Aupperlee, manager of communications and marketing. “The Riverfront Room‘s outdoor courtyard is treelined, but you can still see the Allegheny River. And everything is 100 percent solar-powered.”
In fact, Aupperlee and her husband, both of whom love the outdoors, were one of the first couples to get married at the space. “It was cool for my husband and I to tell the renaissance story of Pittsburgh and have it embodied in our wedding venue,” said Aupperlee of the former steel mill site that has since been converted into a sustainable building.
Another option along the Allegheny is Riverfront Weddings managed by JPC Event Group, which offers a variety of ceremony options in Aspinwall Riverfront Park. “This includes everything from the fishing pier built directly on the river with the bridge in the background to beautifully landscaped park grounds to rolling hills and spanning trees—there’s really something for everyone,” said Caitlyn Wimer, vice president of JPC Event Group.
“Cocktail hour is held on a covered patio with direct views of the river while the reception pavilion has water views and the natural beauty of the park surrounding it,” she added. “The white walls give a blank canvas that allows clients to create any vision they would like.”
The site’s covered pavilion gives the wedding party access to the outdoors without the fear of rain while the indoor spaces provide an escape from the cold if necessary. Wimer added that couples love the proximity to the old train bridges that make a fun and unique background for personal photos.
The Children’s Museum offers multiple event spaces, all of which look and feel different. In the main building, couples often use the art studio for ceremonies or cocktail hours; an art installation of orange and pink ribbons are suspended from the rotunda ceiling, adding to the festive feel. They also can transform the Big Red Room (which does daytime duty as the café) into a magical wedding venue for 230 guests.
“It turns out to be a fantastic space for a wedding, especially with the globes that hang from the ceiling,” said Jenna Shuknecht, associate director of visitor services.
Recently, the Children’s Museum opened the Museum Lab next door, which is another option for weddings. The building is a former Carnegie Library and is both beautiful and historic; it can seat 200 people for a ceremony and 120 for dinner.
Pirates’ fans have several venue options at PNC Park, with the added bonus of a beautiful skyline and proximity to downtown Pittsburgh.
“The Hyundai Club, located directly behind home plate, boasts elegant woodwork and a classy aura throughout,” said Events Manager Hali Dougherty-Brill of the space that includes a cocktail lounge area with a full-sized bar. “With its spacious dining area, which includes a combination of round and square low-top tables, the Hyundai Club allows for a variety of setup options.” The club can accommodate up to 225 guests for a sit-down, stationed function and 250 guests for a sit-down, plated function.
Dougherty-Brill said that the Jim Beam Left Field Lounge, which can accommodate up to 250 guests for a sit-down function and up to 350 guests for a reception-style event, has an outdoor patio and terrace with views of the field and the skyline. It offers several setup options, from formal round seating to a classroom-style layout.
Added Dougherty-Brill, “I think it’s becoming more common that people want to do something different than weddings that they have previously attended.”