Pittsburgh Wedding Photographers » One of the "50 Top US Wedding Photographers" - weddzilla.com

National Aviary Wedding Photography:

From a wedding in West Virginia we go to a wedding of West Virginians here in Pittsburgh. I’ve been looking forward to sharing the photos from Erica and Stephen‘s wedding for quite a while now. It was a beautiful summer day and they’re such a sweet, expressive couple who are so obviously in love with one another.

bride and groom on the north side of pittsburgh as the sun sets behind them

Erica’s mother Gale looks on as Erica puts her makeup on at the Westin Convention Center hotel:

a bride is reflected in a mirror as her mother looks on

Stephen and the guys got ready a couple of floors down (Lisa’s photo):

a groom puts on his vest while getting ready for his weddingcloseup photo of a wedding gown being buttoned

Erica looked so lovely in her lace wedding gown:

a bride stands as her mother and her bridesmaids look ona bride embraces her mother after getting her wedding dress onportrait of a beautiful young brunette bride

The first look was set for the water feature underneath the David L. Lawrence Convention Center. It was a lovely, emotional moment:

a collage of photos of a first look between a bride and groom on their wedding day

There was time for a couple of quick portraits before we went down to the riverfront for some bridal party photos:

portrait of a bride and groom on the walkway beneath the David L. Lawrence Convention Centerportrait of a bride as her veil blows in the wind

The wedding and reception were at the National Aviary on the North Side. Erica and her dad Joe waited in the doorway of the gift shop for their turn to walk down the aisle:

a bride smiles at her dad before they walk down the aisle during her wedding

Lisa’s photo:

a groom smiles as he sees his bride walk towards him

The light was pretty amazing for Erica and Stephen’s ceremony:

bride and groom smile as they stand together as they say their vows

Stephen’s grandfather James had a few quiet words of wisdom for the couple before giving a reading from Mark Twain’s “A Marriage”

a tear falls from a bridebeautiful light on a bride and groom during their wedding ceremony

Reverend David Anderson performed the ceremony. Erica just couldn’t hold back the tears of joy! (Lisa’s photo):

a bride cries as she says her vows

The MetLife blimp made an appearance high above as the couple exchanged vows:

the goodyear blimp flies above a weddinga bride and groom share their first kiss as man and wife

The reception was held under a tent on the patio behind the Aviary. It was a perfect night for dancing:

a bride and groom dance during their reception beneath a tent

Erica and her dad:

a bride hugs her father as they dance

Stephen and his mom, Kim:

a groom

The dancing was pretty intense! (Lisa’s photo):

an older wedding guest plays air guitara wedding guest break dancesa young boy dances with his mother during a wedding reception on the north side of pittsburgha bride is illuminated on the dance floor during her wedding receptiona man and woman make funny faces at each other as they dance during a wedding receptiona bride and groom dance during their wedding reception

The last song of the evening was Queen’s “Bohemian Rhapsody” which was very energetically danced to 😀

a bride and groom bang their heads and play air guitar to a Queen song during their wedding reception

  • Sandra Thaxton - July 16, 2014 - 2:05 pm

    Beautiful, so sorry we missed it!!

West Virginia Wedding Photography at the Clay Center in Charleston:

bride and groom kiss on the steps of the west virginia capital building

While most of my work is in the Pittsburgh area, I always enjoy traveling to new destinations and photographing weddings at new locations. The challenge is that the wedding day is often the first time that I meet the bride and groom in person. Telephone calls and technology like Skype make it easier to communicate, but there’s nothing like a good, old face-to-face meeting to get to know someone.

So it was with Sara and Adam. Everyone was so excited for the day that it only took a couple of minutes and we were all getting along like old friends. The wedding ceremony was at B’nai Jacob Synagogue and the reception at the Clay Center.

Adam’s sisters Lindsay and Bari kept the mood light as the girls got ready:

bridesmaids sing and dance while the bridal party has their hair and makeup done

Sara enjoyed the act:

bride smiles as a makeup artist applies mascara to her

Adam and his friends relaxed before getting ready for the wedding (Lisa’s photo):

groom and his best man play cards and drink beer before the wedding

Sara faced east as she said her prayers. It was a beautiful, quiet moment of faith prior before the busyness of the rest of the wedding day:

a bride reads from a prayer book before her wedding

Sara and her bridesmaids Joey and Nicole sing on the way to the synagogue:

bride and her bridesmaids sing and hold hands in a van on the way to her wedding ceremony

Adam’s guys made sure he was looking good (Lisa’s photo):

groomsmen help a groom get his jacket on

Sara’s maid of honor Jessie is overcome with emotion as she sees Sara in her wedding gown:

a bridesmaid tears up when seeing her friend in her bridal gown

Sara and her mom Janet share a moment prior to the wedding:

mother of the bride caresses her daughter prior to the wedding

Adam and the men danced together (Lisa’s photos):

groom and a rabbi dance before the weddingjewish men dance with the groom prior to the wedding ceremonya groom makes his way to the badeken to see his bride

Sara beams as she sees Adam enter the room for the Badeken:

a bride smiles and laughs as she sees her groom as he enters the room for the badekenbride and groom share a few words of love during the badekena groom pulls the veil over his bride

It was a small room, filled to capacity with people. Lisa found this angle of Sara after Adam placed the veil over her face:

closeup photo of a bride with her veil

More dancing!:

The groom dances with other men during the bade ken prior to signing the Ketuba

Nicole and Bari really love their brother. It was beautiful to see them together:

a groom

Adam and his mom:

groom and his mother share a moment of love before his wedding ceremony

Sara walks down the aisle with her parents Janet and Michael:

a bride is walked down the aisle at a synagogue by her mother and father during her wedding ceremony

Sara circled Adam seven times before they walked to the chuppah. Watching Adam, it was obvious that this was a sacred moment for him (Lisa’s photo):

groom looks up to God as his bride circles him seven timesbride and groom under the chuppah for their wedding ceremonythe groom places a ring on the right forefinger of his bride

The love that Sara and Adam showed when they walked out after the ceremony was so wonderful to see. This is one of my favorite photos of the day:

bride and groom exit the wedding ceremony deeply in love

There was no time in the schedule for portraits besides the formals at the synagogue. So it required a bit of planning to have one of the shuttles stop at the West Virginia State Capital for a brief photo session. I’m glad we did because we were able to get some really lovely photos in just that short bit of time:

bride and groom in front of the West Virginia State Capital

Details from the wedding day. B.Belle Events did an amazing job with the decor:

detail photos from a wedding at the Clay Center in Charleston WV

First dance:

Bride and groom during their first dancebride and groom dance close to one another during their wedding reception

I love the Hora:

bride dances in a circle with other women during the hora

(Lisa’s photo):

groom dances with men during the hora

The couple is raised on chairs:

bride and groom on chairs during the horagroom

Janet’s reaction is priceless!

bridebride dancing with her friends during her wedding reception

Adam’s family had a great time! (Lisa’s photo):


bride embraces her parents during her wedding receptionbride and groom dance during their wedding receptionbride and groom dancing during their wedding reception

Sara and Adam share a quiet moment at the end of the night as they watch their guests enjoy themselves:

bride and groom during a quiet moment watching their guests dance at their wedding reception

  • Kate McElwee - June 18, 2014 - 6:43 pm

    Oh gosh, Joe! What a wonderful wedding! So many fantastic moments, and I can see from the photos how much I would love this couple. Awesome job!

  • Rebecca Kiger - June 18, 2014 - 7:10 pm

    So nice! Great work, Joe. They must be so happy.

  • Beverly Burdette DeMaeyer - June 18, 2014 - 8:19 pm

    Goodness these are simply beautiful! I feel like I just attended your wedding and it was sacred, precious, AND a true blast!! Perfect!!

  • Kelly Rashka - June 18, 2014 - 8:22 pm

    Beautiful wedding story. I love how everyone touched foreheads. That’s such a beautiful sight. Way to go Joe and Lisa!

  • Katrina Hannemann - June 18, 2014 - 8:26 pm

    Joe, these are stunning!

What a surprise this morning when my friend Kate McElwee messaged me to say that I’d been named one of the Top 50 US Wedding Photographers by the wedding planning website Weddzilla!

Best wedding photographers in the USA

I’m friends with many of the photographers on this list, including my dear friends Kate and Steve Koo, and I’m so honored to be named along with them. Whatever accolades that my photos might bring are a reflection of the wonderful people who I am privileged to work with.

Here’s a screenshot of the award! So they misspelled Pittsburgh, but you still get the idea 😀

Photo of the award naming Joe Appel Photography one of the top 50 wedding photographers in the country

In other news, a few weeks back just after Federal Judge overturned Pennsylvania’s ban on gay marriage I was contacted by David Highfield of KDKA news for a story that he was doing on the impact that the decision would have on the wedding industry. I met him for an on-camera interview at my office in Highland Park and then spent the next few hours fretting over whether or not I sounded like a complete fool. Thankfully, I didn’t 🙂

Here’s a link to the video of the news report.


  • Trish Hooper - June 12, 2014 - 1:19 am

    If you are looking for a wedding photographer, hire Joe! Awesome photographer, better person.

  • Jenny Romer Scherrbaum - June 12, 2014 - 1:33 pm

    Yes….Joe is great!!

newlywed couple walks hand in hand across the roberto clemente bridge in pittsburghI’ve had this post from Courtney and Rick’s Renaissance Hotel Wedding in Pittsburgh on the schedule for a couple of weeks now. It’s been a busy start to the wedding season and frankly the task of updating my website has fallen by the wayside.

Coincidentally, I talked with Rick on the phone yesterday and I was glad to hear that both he and Courtney are very happy and enjoying full lives and busy careers. It’s always a pleasure to find out what’s going on with couples in the months and years after their weddings. I’m privileged to be with them on Day 1 of their marriage. Life goes on and changes happen, which is why I believe that having a set of photos that document what the day was like and show how you felt on Day 1 is so important.

Courtney and her girls share a toast:

bride and her bridesmaids share a toast in their room at the renaissance hotel

Courtney’s mom Sheila helps her get her dress on as the bridesmaids look on:

dramatic side light as a bride

Since the wedding ceremony was to be downstairs and the guests were already downstairs, Courtney and Rick had their first look in the suite. It was a beautiful and private moment, just like it ought to be:

(Lisa’s photos below):

a groom smiles as his bride walks up behind him before the first looka bride smiles as her groom sees her in her wedding dress for the first time

There was great light coming in the windows, so why not do a few portraits in the suite? Courtney’s bouquet was by the always-elegant Allison McGeary:

gorgeous portraits of a bride and groom on their wedding day

The ceremony was on the grand staircase in the lobby of the Renaissance:

a bride

The combination of white marble and red carpeting is beautiful and timeless:

bride and groom have their wedding ceremony on the grand staircase at the pittsburgh renaissance

a bride laughs while saying her wedding vows

First kiss (photo by Lisa):

bride and groom have their first kiss

Beautiful bride in a beautiful gown:

a bride stands facing away from the camera revealing the scoop back of her wedding gown

The couple is introduced into the reception:

bride and groom wave as they are introduced during their wedding reception

Courtney laughs as DJ Kelli Burns talks about members of the bridal party (Lisa’s photo below):

bride laughs with her bridesmaids during a wedding reception

The ring bearer, Zayden, smells the flowers of his mom Tessie’s bouquet while Courtney and Rick have their first dance:

a little boy sniffs the flowers on a bridesmaid

I love this photo by Lisa of Courtney and Rick as they feed each other cake:

closeup shot of a bride and groom feeding each other wedding cake

The couple listens to toasts while sitting at the sweetheart table:

bride and groom laugh during toasts from the best man and maid of honor

Sheila surprised Courtney by having her favorite teacher from high school perform a song during the reception. While still a teenager, Courtney said that when she got married she wanted him to perform at her wedding:

bride and groom dance to a song from a guitar player

Parent’s dances:

bride dances with her mothergroom and his mom walk to the dance floor

These guys were so sweet!:

two men hold hands while dancing with their datesbride and her friends sing a song on the dance floor during a wedding reception

Nothing like a little AC/DC to bring out the air guitar players in the crowd:

a man plays air guitar during a wedding receptiona lady yells as she dances with the groom during his wedding reception

Sheila bangs on a pot to signal time t0 change partners during the money dance:

mother of the bride bangs a pot with a wooden spoon during the money dance at a wedding receptionbride and groom wear sunglasses as they dance.

So there you have it, some of my favorite photos from the day. One of my main goals this season is to keep the site updated. I’ve got a lot of really great weddings in the pipeline and I’m excited to share the photos with you. So check back soon.

  • Kaethe Richter - June 4, 2014 - 2:51 pm

    beautiful light, joe!!

  • Sherry Grondin Pickerell - June 4, 2014 - 2:55 pm

    These are absolutely gorgeous Joe!

Sacred Heart Church Wedding. Phipps Conservatory Reception.

Bride and Groom stand in front of colorful paintings at the Special Events Hall in Phipps Conservatory in Pittsburgh

Kristin and Tom’s wedding was an elegant reflection of their refined sense of style, taste in art and love of family. This was evident in their choice of venues: Everybody got ready for the day at the fantastic Mansions on Fifth in Shadyside.

Kristin and her mom Pat share a moment as Kristin puts her dress on. Pat made the dress for her own wedding and was thrilled to see Kristin wear it for her wedding:

A bride and her mom smile at each other as she puts her veil on at the Mansions on Fifth in Shadyside

Meanwhile down the hall, Tom is reflected in a mirror as he buttons up his vest (Lisa’s photo):

A groom is reflected in the mirror as he puts on his vest while getting ready for his wedding at the Mansions on Fifth in Shadyside

What a terrific headpiece to go along with the dress:

A bride is reflected in a mirror as she poses for a portrait at the Mansions on Fifth in Shadyside

Tom hands over the custom-designed wedding bands to his best man Paul (Lisa’s photo):

The best man checks to make sure that he

Kristin’s long veil trails behind as her dad Randy walks her down the aisle at Sacred Heart Church:

A bride and her father walk down the long aisle at Sacred Heart Roman Catholic Church in Shadyside neighborhood of Pittsburgh

Father John Riccardo, the priest from Tom’s family’s parish in Detroit made the trip to Pittsburgh to celebrate the wedding ceremony:

Bride and groom stand at the altar at Sacred Heart Church as they say their vows during their wedding

A romantic gesture as Kristin and Tom walk down the aisle after the ceremony:

A groom kisses the hand of his bride as they recess down the aisle at Sacred Heart Church in Shadyside, Pittsburgh

Tom’s sister Jennifer congratulates the couple just after the ceremony:

A groom

We didn’t have to go too far for portraits afterwards since the east end of Pittsburgh offers a number of beautiful spots. We took this one in the open shade of the Sycamore trees in front of the Carnegie Library in Oakland:

A bride looks at the camera as her groom rests his forehead on her during an outdoor portrait near the Carnegie Library in Oakland Pittsburgh

Some details include the wedding bands, Kristin’s Jimmy Choo’s, a fantastic cake, and the Special Events Hall at Phipps Conservatory. Hanging in the hall are two panels that Kristin and Tom each painted – they’re both talented artists. The design was carried over to the boxes of treats that the couple’s guests received:

Wedding details include custom-designed wedding bands, Jimmy Choo shoes, black-eyed susan flowers, and wedding party favors

First dance. (Lisa’s photo):

a bride and groom share their first dance as the bride hugs the groom

One from my angle:

guests gather around a bride and groom as they share their first dance together at Phipps Conservatory Special Events Hall

Another one by Lisa:

bride and groom laugh as they dance together at Phipps Conservatory Special Events Hall in Pittsburgh

Randy cracked his daughters up during his toast:

Bride and her sister laugh with their father during a wedding reception at the Special Events hall at Phipps Conservatory in Pittsburgh

I love this photo of Pat as the sun was setting outside the wall of windows in the Special Events Hall:

Mother of the bride is lit dramatically from the setting sun at Phipps Conservatory special events hall

Father/daughter dance:

bride and her father dance together during her wedding reception at Phipps Conservatory Special Events hall in Pittsburgh

Tom and his mom:

groom is hugged by his mother as they dance together during a wedding reception at Phipps Conservatory in Pittsburgh

Flower girl Elaina ruled the dance floor!

little girl in a cute white dress dances during a wedding reception at Phipps Conservatory

Next two photos by Lisa:

A woman grabs the cheeks of her dance partner during their reception at Phipps Conservatorybride and groom raise their hands in the air while they dance during their wedding reception at the special events hall at phipps conservatory in pittsburgh

While the dancing went on inside, some fine cigars were passed around outside. The light caught the smoke just right in this one:

smoke from a cigar is backlit as it rises in the air during a wedding reception in pittsburgh on a summer evening


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  • daniellabean photography - May 23, 2014 - 8:59 pm

    You certainly captured some great moments – LOVE the last shot!