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Margaret and Andrew’s Hotel Monaco Wedding:
Bride and groom seated at a table in front of two green cabinets

If you believe the narrative about the Post-Gazette and the Tribune-Review being mortal enemies you would be forgiven for thinking that Margaret and Andrew might have ended up as star-crossed lovers.

Not so. The fact of the matter is that the folks on the ground – reporters and photographers – actually respect each other and there are many friendships to go along with the rivalry. These two have moved on from all of that, though. Both are now enjoying successful careers in the media in Washington, DC. But Pittsburgh is where it all began, so this is where they returned to be married.

I worked with Margaret at the Trib and was so happy when she called me to ask if I was available to photograph their wedding at the Hotel Monaco. It’s a hip, unique, and beautiful new venue in downtown Pittsburgh. When they booked me it hadn’t yet opened, so I was thrilled to photograph one of the first weddings at the hotel.

Hotel Monaco sign, vintage watch, and flowers at a wedding

Above: Margaret’s bouquet and a vintage wristwatch passed down through the generations and engraved with the date in which the men in his family were married.

Below: Margaret’s dress complemented her tall and elegant figure perfectly:

A bride turns to see the back of her dress as she looks in the mirror.closeup photo of a groom looking at a Starbuck

Margeret’s bridesmaid Sadie takes a photo with her iPhone:

A woman uses her iPhone to take a photo of her friend who is dressing for her wedding

Margaret and her mom share a moment:

a bride and her mother hold hands as they look at each other prior to the daughter

Andrew and his mom embrace:

a mother hugs her son before his wedding

Andrew and his side of the bridal party play a board game while they wait for the call to head downstairs:

a groom and his bridal party play a board game before the wedding.a groom adjusts his jacket and boutonierre

Tim, the officiant for the day, showed up with a few glasses of whiskey to propose a toast:

groom and groomsmen raise their whiskey glasses in a toast

Margaret waits for the ceremony to begin:

a bride is reflected in a mirror as she stands before a windowpeople turn to watch a bride and her father walk down the aisle

The ceremony took place in the hallway between the two ballrooms at the Hotel Monaco. The wedding ceremony took place in the morning and was followed by a brunch reception. That meant that there was plenty of beautiful light for the ceremony:

wedding in the grand hallway at the Hotel Monaco in Pittsburgh

Tim is another Trib alumni. He got his internet ordination so that he could officiate Margaret and Andrew’s wedding. When you ask a reporter to officiate your wedding, you’re going to get a story. He told the guests how Margaret and Andrew’s romance came to be.

The officiant cracks a joke during a wedding ceremonya little boy looks away from the action during a wedding ceremonybride and groom walk down the aisle after their wedding ceremony

A moment alone just after the ceremony:

bride and groom hug just after their wedding ceremony

It was a little windy on the roof of the hotel. I caught the veil before it got too far:)

bride

Some portraits. First Mellon Square Park. It’s been rehabilitated after falling into disrepair over the years:

bride and groom look at each other in Mellon Square Park

Back to the Hotel Monaco:

Bride and groom stand on a checkerboard floor in the Hotel Monaco

Cutting the cake.

Bride and groom feed each other cake during their wedding reception

I’m looking forward to my next Hotel Monaco Wedding coming up later this year.

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  • Carole Fibick - February 10, 2016 - 5:48 pm

    Joe, I’m so proud of the unique job you have done photographing weddings in different situations. The narration makes the pictures all the more meaningful and interesting. Thanks for sharing these beautiful moments.

Amanda and Greg’s St. Mary of the Mount and Duquesne University Power Center Wedding:

bride and groom beneath an umbrella walk down the steps in front of the Mellon Institute in Pittsburgh

As you can see in the photo above, Amanda and Greg’s wedding day was a “blessed” with rain. But hey, it’s good luck, right?

Good luck or not, nothing was going to spoil the joy for the day that these two waited so long to share with one another. Really, they’re the best of friends. I’ve known Amanda for quite some time and she always has a smile on her face. But I’ve never seen her as happy as she is when Greg is around.

What did I say about smiling? Her talking mirror agrees: She looks great:)

bride laughs as she looks at herself in a child

The girls gathered upstairs at the rectory at St. Mary of the Mount when it came time to get the dress on. It was an elegant and lovely dress that suited Amanda perfectly:

Bride and her bridesmaids look at the wedding dress hung up in a doorwaybride makes a funny face as she gets into her dress with the help of her bridesmaids

The light shines on Amanda’s face as she puts on her earrings:

bride looks beautiful as she puts on earrings

Amanda takes a deep breath while waiting outside of St. Mary of the Mount with her sister Emily. Amanda is the Director of Music Ministry at St. Mary of the Mount. That’s how we met. She’s a wonderful organist and singer. I can only imagine, but after providing music for hundreds of weddings she had to be thinking at this moment about how it was her turn to walk down the aisle.

bride waits alone outside of the church prior to her wedding

Amanda shares a hug and some tears with her dad Joe:

bride cries as she is embraced by her father before her wedding

…and some laughs on the altar with Greg:

bride smiles with excitement as she exchanges rings with her groom

The groomsmen join hands in prayer:

groomsmen hold hands as they pray during a wedding mass

The bridesmaids raise their hands in a blessing of the couple (Lisa’s photo):

bridesmaids hold their hands up in a blessing during a wedding mass

Husband and wife!

bride and groom face each other and smile after they shared their first kiss as husband and wife

We stopped for photos at the Mellon Institute. The guys had a good time while holding the bouquets for the ladies:

groomsmen goof around with bridesmaids bouquets as they wait to have photos taken

There wasn’t a single dull moment with this group:

bride and bridesmaids strike funny poses as they have their photos taken

Bride and groom hold hands and smile while walking through the columns at the Mellon Institute

The soft light and warm tones of the stone columns made for the perfect conditions for an elegant portrait of Amanda:

profile portrait of a bride standing in front of a stone pillar

Over to the Duquesne University Power Center where the couple shoved cake into each other’s faces. She started it!

bride and groom shove wedding cake into each other

After they got cleaned up, Amanda and Greg shared a first dance in front of the huge windows at The Power Center:

bride and groom share their first dance during their wedding reception at the Power Center

Amanda and her dad Joe danced together:

Bride and her father embrace as they share a dance

Followed by Greg and his mom Deborah (Lisa’s photo):

Groom

Everybody – young and old – hit the dancefloor (Lisa’s photo):

old lady throws her hands up into the air while dancingFather and daughter dance with their hands outstretched

(Next three photos by Lisa):

bride holds her hands on the groomwomen laugh as they dance together

The Karaoke video was a big hit 😀

a crowd of crazy-faced revelers gather around a microphone as they sing karaokebride laughs as she dances with her bridesmaids during a wedding reception

Greg’s buddies delivered him into Amanda’s arms:

groom is carried on the shoulders of his friends as they carry him towards his bride during their wedding reception

At the end of the evening, a quiet moment on the dance floor:

bride and groom share a romantic embrace as they dance together at the end of their wedding reception

For the past several years I’ve looked forward to early November and a few days of inspiration and learning from some of the best photographers in the business at the Fearless Conference in Scottsdale, AZ. Of course it’s also great to be able to hang out in the beautiful weather with many of my best friends. This year I got to meet up with G’Kyshia and Jeremy, whose wedding I’m excited to be photographing in Pittsburgh next spring. They live in Phoenix so I suggested they meet me for an engagement session at the Valley Ho, the fantastic mid-century modern hotel where the conference has been held for the past few years.

The sun sets early this time of year, so we started out on the roof of the hotel to catch the last few rays of sunlight:
a couple is reflected in a pane of glass as they stand on the roof of a hotel at sunset during their engagement session at the valley ho

G’Kyshia looking fabulous in the late afternoon sunlight:

A young woman in a white dress casts a shadow on the wall she leans against during her engagement session at the valley ho

It gets dark fast in the desert, so we walked towards Old Town Scottsdale in search of some light from the many galleries and restaurants when I saw a restaurant with an outdoor dining area decorated with twinkle lights. The management were kind enough to let us in to take some photos:

a couple stands close together in an embrace with twinkling lights in the foreground

The Old Town Tortilla Factory is a fun place to eat if you’re ever in Scottsdale, AZ. The night before the shoot I had dinner there and kind of filed it away in my mind as a possible location for photos. I think it worked out pretty well.

palm trees and twinkle lights surround a backlit couple

couple embraces in a dark courtyard lit only by twinkle lights in Scottsdale, AZ

Before we called it a night, Jeremy had one last request. He’d brought along a couple of Steelers jerseys and wanted a photograph while they wore their team colors. It goes to show that the Steelers Nation is everywhere:)

flames lick the air as a couple in Pittsburgh Steelers jerseys smile during their engagement session at the valley hoSpecial thanks to the Hotel Valley Ho for opening up the roof for us, and to my friends Mauricio Arias and Mark Janzen for their lighting assistance. I was kind of in awe of the generosity of two of the best wedding photographers around for taking the time to help me with lighting.

  • Megan Sofilka - December 17, 2015 - 6:29 pm

    Great photos! You are so good!

Megan and Ryan’s Carnegie Museum Wedding:

A young married couple faces each other as they stand next to Christmas trees in the Carnegie Museum hall of architecture

Coming up to the holidays it seems especially appropriate to be featuring Megan and Ryan’s beautiful wedding from last December. Megan planned a whole lot of surprises for Ryan and their guests including a visit from Santa Claus:)She’s such a thoughtful and kind person.

Pittsburgh weather being what it is in December, the day started out with rain and wind. Megan took it all in stride as she made her way to Heinz Chapel:

a woman laughs as her umbrella is turned inside out during a windy rain storm

Meanwhile, the guys were warm and dry (Lisa’s photo):

Carnegie Museum Wedding 03

The junior bridesmaids wait as Megan puts her dress on:

Carnegie Museum Wedding 04Carnegie Museum Wedding 05

Among the many special touches were the holiday-themed box that the ring bearer carried:

Carnegie Museum Wedding 06

Megan paused for a portrait on the stairs as she came up from the getting-ready room in the basement:

Carnegie Museum Wedding 08

Megan and her dad walk down the aisle. Heinz is such a beautiful church:

Carnegie Museum Wedding 09

As part of their ceremony Megan and Ryan sealed a bottle of wine in a box that was made from barnwood from Ryan’s grandfather’s farm in Montana. They’ll enjoy the wine on their first anniversary:

Carnegie Museum Wedding 10Carnegie Museum Wedding 12

In another surprise for their guests, Megan arranged for carolers in costume to lead their guests from Heinz Chapel over to the nearby Carnegie Museum:

carolers lead wedding guests from Heinz Chapel to the Carnegie Museum

The Carnegie Music Hall Foyer is an elegant space. It looked especially lovely with the green marble and their red and white flowers:

Carnegie Museum Wedding 14

Rings:

Carnegie Museum Wedding 15

A portrait on the grand staircase in the Carnegie Museum of Pittsburgh:

Carnegie Museum Wedding 16

Megan surprised Ryan by having the announcer for the Minnesota Vikings (Ryan’s favorite team) record their introduction (Lisa’s photo):

Carnegie Museum Wedding 17

He was floored:

smiling groom hugs his bride

They had their first dance as their guests watched from the balcony above:

Carnegie Museum Wedding 18

The kids had a great time (Lisa’s photo):

Carnegie Museum Wedding 21

Thriller!

Carnegie Museum Wedding 22

Next up was a dance-off between Ryan and the ring bearer. That kid can dance!

Carnegie Museum Wedding 23

ROC, the Pittsburgh Panther, showed up to lead a conga line. Then Santa made an appearance and handed gifts out to the kids:

Carnegie Museum Wedding 22a

The couple has a quiet moment on the balcony as their guests party below:

Carnegie Museum Wedding 24

  • Citlalli Rico - November 25, 2015 - 4:48 am

    Wonderful images Joe!

  • Joe - November 25, 2015 - 10:33 pm

    Thank you Citla!

  • Megan Sofilka - November 30, 2015 - 3:09 am

    Aw thank you for such a beautiful post! I can’t believe that in one week, a year will have already passed!

  • Joe - December 8, 2015 - 2:09 pm

    Happy Anniversary!

Mandy and Matt’s Pittsburgh Golf Club Wedding:

A young married couple face each other as the sun sets behind them on a late fall afternoon.

Mandy and Matt were married the Tuesday before Thanksgiving. It was a lovely, intimate ceremony and reception that was chock full of emotion. Their story is so beautiful: They had only met a few months prior to their wedding, but they knew immediately that they were meant to be together. When you know, you know. You know?

Mandy got ready at a hotel at the Waterfront:

A bride holds her dress as takes it off of the hanger.

While Matt and Mandy’s son J.D. got ready at Matt’s parent’s house in Squirrel Hill (next two photos by Lisa):

Groom wearing a hockey jersey hugs his wife-to-begroom and his wife-to-beA bride puts her earrings on as she looks out the hotel window.a bride puts on her makeup as two women stand in the shadows outside of the bathroomDetail photos of a bride

It was a beautiful late fall day so we were able to go outside and do a couple of portraits beneath the giant Gantry Crane that is left over from US Steel’s Homestead Works:

Portrait of a bride underneath a giant gantry crane at a former steel mill.

For such an intimate ceremony, they picked a huge church! East Liberty Presbyterian Church is a Pittsburgh landmark:

Exterior and interior detail shot of East Liberty Presbyterian Church in Pittsburgh.

Matt looked handsome in the sunlight coming through the window in the room where he waited for the ceremony:

A groom stands in the sunlight shining through a window in the rectory of East Liberty Presbyterian Church.the ring bearer looks down the aisle before the beginning of a wedding ceremony.

Mandy and her dad walk down the aisle:

Bride and her father walk down the aisle of East Liberty Presbyterian Church during the wedding ceremony.

The altar is pretty huge at East Liberty Presbyterian Church, big enough for everyone to be seated there instead of in the pews. It was nice to have everyone up close:

The altar of East Liberty Presbyterian Church is big enough to hold the wedding party and all of their guests.

J.D. looks on as his mom and Matt exchange rings:

Bride puts a wedding ring on her husband during their wedding ceremony.Bride and groom walk down the aisle together at the end of their wedding ceremony.Bride and groom share a passionate kiss at the back of the church.

We went up to The Meadow area off of Overlook Drive in Schenley Park to catch the last few rays of sunshine:

Portrait of a bride and groom in Schenley Park.A groom stands behind his bride with the skyline of the city of Pittsburgh behind them.

Then it was a short trip over to the Pittsburgh Golf Club:

Bride and groom stand in front of the Pittsburgh Golf Club in Squirrel Hill.

The cocktail hour had a bunch of games and activities for the kids:

Kids play a game during a wedding reception.A boy puts a heart-shaped piece of wood in a frame that serves as a guest book.

Dinner was in the Grill Room. It was a simple and elegant family-style dinner:

Detail and overall photos of the downstairs dining room at the Pittsburgh Golf Club decorated for a fall wedding.Details of the dining table with favors and activities for kids and plates and silverware for adults.

The couple’s dads gave toasts:

Speeches by the father of the groom and the father of the bride.

As did other family members:

Bride and groom sit close as a guest offers a toast.

It was very heartfelt:

A guest is embraced as he sheds a tear during the toasts at a wedding reception.

And funny:

More toasts and laughter during a wedding reception at the Pittsburgh Golf Club.Bride and groom share a kiss during their wedding reception.

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