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

Mansions on Fifth Wedding:

Erin and Barrett brought a dose of New York style and a whole lot of fun to their wedding at the Mansions on Fifth in Shadyside. They’re a fabulously energetic and enthusiastic couple. I knew that going in to the wedding day, but I found out that their friends and family share the same joy of living that they do. It was an evening of wine, song, and dancing.

I could go on, but lets get to the photos.

Erin’s dad restored this magnificent Packard 120 coupe, completing it just in time for Erin and Barrett’s wedding. Erin didn’t want to do formal photos in a church, so she rented the Frick Car and Carriage Museum in Point Breeze. This turned out to be a great plan because her wedding day was one of the rainiest days that I can remember working on:

bride and groom stand before a classic car outside of the frick car museum

Erin checks her makeup in a mirror while getting ready at the Mansions on Fifth:

bride looks at her makeup in a mirror while being reflected in another mirror

Having tall bridesmaids is a good thing when your dress is hung in a high place to keep it off of the ground:

bridesmaids take a wedding dress off of a hanger while the bride looks on

Erin and her mom hug after getting the dress on:

a bride hugs her mother after putting her wedding gown ona beautiful young bride spins around after putting on her wedding gown

Barrett gets some help with his bow tie (Lisa’s photo):

a groom gets help putting on his bow tie

Sure, rainy days aren’t ideal for a wedding. But the soft light really brought out the beautiful color of the paint on the Packard. This looks like it could have been taken in the early 1940’s!

a 1941 Packard 120 is parked in front of the Mansions on Fifth in Pittsburgh before a weddinga bride carries her wedding gown so that it doesn

The bridal party traveled to St. Maria Goretti Parish in a trolley bus while Erin and her dad rode over in the Packard:

a bridesmaid looks back at the bride from a trolley and sends her a signal that she loves hera bride

Erin stayed out of sight by waiting in the stairway to the choir loft. I saw that the light coming in the window was perfect for a portrait:

a bride stands for a portrait in front of a window in a church

a bride applies lipstick

Once the guests were seated it was time for the processional. Erin and her friends have a lot of experience in theatre and dance, so this was choreographed and timed to the music. You’ll see another example of choreography later in the post (foreshadowing!):

a bride embraces one of her bridesmaids before walking down the aislea bride and her father walk down the aisle during her weddingbride and groom exchange smiles and rings

Erin and Barrett share a moment together before heading off to the Frick. I got to ride in the back seat! It was a little bit of an adventure riding in a vehicle with early 20th century technology – no turn signals and dodgy brakes – but Barrett used to drive race cars, so we were in good hands:

a bride caresses her husband as they ride in a Packard 120 after their wedding



OK, remember when I said that Erin and her friends were dancers? Well, they came up with a burlesque-style dance before the garter. It was a complete surprise for the groom 😀

Lisa’s photo:

a bride and her bridesmaids do a choreographed burlesque dance

One from me:

a bride approaches her groom while doing a burlesque dance

The John Parker Band provided the evening’s entertainment. The dance floor was packed all night long! (next 2 photos by Lisa):

a woman in a tight fitting pink dress dances during a wedding receptiona couple embraces as they dance during a wedding reception

Barrett is a wine expert who represents distributors in the New York area. When I scouted out locations for portraits in the Mansion, I came across the wine cellar. So it made total sense to take the couple down there for a portrait session at the end of the evening:

a bride and groom pose for a portrait in a wine cellar during a wedding reception

Rachel Wagner of Pittsburgh Wedding Cinema captured the day on video. It’s always a pleasure to work with Rachel, who is a documentarian, recording what goes on without interrupting or otherwise being obtrusive. Here’s a link to their video.

Omni William Penn Wedding Photography:

Arielle and Jeremy are two Pittsburgh kids who both moved to New York City. It was there that they met and fell in love. I had a great time getting to know them and their favorite places in NYC when I photographed their engagement portraits there last summer. You can read a little more about that story by clicking here.

I’d never seen the Omni William Penn decorated quite like it was for their wedding. They held the ceremony in the fantastic art deco Urban Room and their reception in the grand ballroom. It was a day filled with laughter from the joy of family and friends being together and tears for those who have departed. It was all beautiful.

young married couple stands in mellon park along grant street in downtown pittsburgh

Arielle has her makeup done:

a bride looks at herself in the mirror after having her hair done

Jeremy gets some help putting on his bow tie (Lisa’s photo):

a groom has help putting his bow tie ona bride smiles while getting her wedding gown ona bride dances after getting her wedding gown on as bridesmaids look on

Lisa’s photo:

profile portrait of a groom

It was top-secret operation to keep Arielle unseen as she made her way to the first look:

a bride pretends to be a secret agent while sneaking past her guestsa bride arrives at the first look with her groombride and groom embrace after seeing each other in their wedding clothes

A toast before the formal photos:

a bride smiles as she has a toast with her bridesmaids

Ring bearers and flower girls Anya, Sydney, Naomi, and Michael looked fantastic. Some were happier than others to be all dressed up 🙂

flower girls and ring bearers looking cute in their outfits

Jeremy’s parents Debra and Charles escorted him to the ceremony. His mom gave him a big hug before joining the rest of the guests. (Lisa’s photo):

a groom hugs his mother after walking to the chuppah at the start of a wedding ceremony

Arielle was escorted by her uncle James. He did the honors in memory of Arielle’s dad Steven who sadly passed away a few months before the wedding:

a bride walks down the aisle with her uncle

The Urban Room was a dramatic location for the ceremony, with guests seated all around the chuppah in the center:

the urban room at the william penn hotel is a dramatic location for a wedding ceremonya bride smiles and laughs while saying her vowsbride and groom hold hands as they say their wedding vowsa bride laughs during her wedding ceremonya bride cries during her wedding ceremonya bride blows a kiss to her groom during their wedding ceremonya groom whispers to his bride during their wedding ceremony

Arielle’s mother Florence has a few words for Jeremy as she hands him a candle:

a groom is illuminated by a candle held by the mother of the bridebride and groom light their unity candle

Jeremy faked everybody out before breaking the glass!

a groom smiles before breaking the glass during a jewish wedding ceremony

The wedding party danced their way out of the room:

bride and groom and the rest of their wedding party dance and wear sunglasses as they exit the ceremony

Arielle and Jeremy made a grand entrance into their reception:

bride and groom make a grand entrance to the main ballroom at the william penn hotel

The reception featured a moving video message from Arielle’s father Steven. There wasn’t a dry eye in the house:

a groom kisses his bride on the shoulder as she cries as a video from her late father plays

Ujala, the maid of honor, followed up with a great toast:

matron of honor speaks and couple listensbride and groom get a big hug from matron of honor

Cake cutting:

bride laughs as she and the groom cut their cake

First dance:

bride and groom share their first dance together

The hora:

bride and groom are lifted on chairs as the hora is danced

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

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

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.


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