Jess and Joe’s PPG Aquarium wedding was a fantastic celebration in a very different type of venue.

The Venue

When you think of the Pittsburgh Zoo and PPG Aquarium usually the first thing that comes to mind is a place to take kids for a day trip. But it’s also a lovely, private place for an event like a wedding. Plus, you get to go around and see the animals without all of the crowds!


The Big Day

A couple stands at the right side of the frame behind a planter filled with red flowers at the entrance to the Pittsburgh Zoo and PPG Aquarium.

Jess and Joe got ready at the Courtyard Marriott in Shadyside:

A blonde woman wearing a tank top reaches up to grab the veil of her wedding dress that is hanging on a hotel baggage cart.

A blonde bride wearing an off the shoulder white dress puts an earring into her right ear. She's got long lashes and bright red lipstick.

Joe and the guys were just a couple of floors away from Jess and the ladies so it was easy to pop down to get some photos. Joe keeps his beard trimmed precisely with a straight razor:

A man wearing a v-neck t-shirt looks in a mirror as he trims his beard with a straight razor.A groom with a shaved head adjusts his tie in a mirror as a friend fixes his collar for him.

Some details including Jess’ clutch purse and pearl necklace and earrings, her shoes, and dress. I loved the silver and white color palette:

Silver and white details include a bride's clutch purse, pearl jewelry, open-toed strap high heel shoes, and her wedding dress.

Jess’ mom Kathy helps her with the clasp on her necklace. The pearls were an elegant choice that complemented her dress perfectly:

A blonde bride looks back at her mother as her mother clasps a pearl necklace around her neck.

Those blue eyes!

A blonde bride with bright blue eyes, red lips and a pearl necklace poses for a portrait.

Jess’ dog Walter stopped by for a visit. It was important to her to have a photo with her buddy and I was happy to do it. Look at that face!

A blonde bride wearing a white dress kneels to kiss her pet pug on the nose.

Jess shares a laugh with her friend Lacy:

A bride smiles as a bridesmaid adjusts her veil. A woman in a flower print dress leans back and laughs as she clasps her hands in front of her.

The ladies gathered for a prayer before leaving for the church. It was such a beautiful, heartfelt moment and I’m glad that nobody noticed that I climbed on top of a table to get the angle I needed 🙂

A bride holds hands with a circle of women as they bow their heads in prayer.

The flower girls needed a little encouragement to head down the aisle for the ceremony at The Union Project:

Three little girls in white dresses and a boy in a suit are encouraged to walk down the aisle at a wedding.

I love to shoot Union Project weddings. The light in the room is beautiful and the atmosphere is perfect for a non-denominational wedding:

A bride and groom stand at the front of a yellow room with a curtain in the center near the altar as they exchange vows at the Union Project in Highland Park.

Jess and Joe were so happy as they exchanged vows in front of their family and friends:

A bearded officiant raises his hand in a blessing between a bride and groom who smile and hold hands during a wedding at the Union Project in Highland Park.


A kiss at the end of the ceremony…

A bride and groom kiss while holding hands in front of white curtains during their wedding at The Union Project in Highland Park.

…followed by the breaking of the glass. Mazel Tov!

Two photos of a bride and groom holding hands while the groom stomps on a glass in the Jewish tradition at the end of their wedding ceremony at the Union Project in East Liberty. The walls are yellow and there is a white curtain behind them.

The joyful couple walks out of the hall after their ceremony:

A bride and groom hold their hands up in celebration as they walk down a ramp near some stained glass windows in the big yellow room at the Union Project in Highland Park.

We stopped at the park in front of the King Mansion on the way to their PPG Aquarium wedding for portraits. The open wooded area was filled with dappled sunlight. It was lovely, as was Jess:

A bride smiles at the camera as she holds her long veil in a sun dappled meadow.

The bridesmaids wore navy blue dresses and coral-colored heels:

A bride stands with her bridesmaids in a wooded lot as they smile at the camera. The bridesmaids wear navy blue dresses and red shoes.


Two photos of a bride and groom who embrace each other. In the first photo the couple looks at each other in the second photo the groom leans into the bride as she turns her head and laughs.

The Zoo and Reception

Before we moved on to the PPG Aquarium wedding, the couple and I were able to tour the Pittsburgh Zoo for photos. The leopard was very interested in Jess and Joe. I’m glad there was thick glass between them:

A bride and groom stand in the foreground and look at a leopard who stands behind a tree and looks back at them.

As the sun set we made our way to the PPG Aquarium:

A bride and groom hold hands and walk while illuminated by the setting sun.

But that golden light was too pretty to miss. So one last portrait:

A groom stands behind his bride and kisses her shoulder in the setting sun. She looks to the side and smiles.

The couple is announced into their PPG Aquarium wedding:

A bride and groom hold their hands in the air as they stand on a ramp at the PPG Aquarium when they are announced to their wedding reception.

Guests watch the first dance from the floor and the balcony above:

A bride and groom dance in the foreground at their wedding at PPG Aquarium. Their guests watch from the floor and from the curved balcony above.A blonde bride smiles as she has her hands around the neck of her groom.

A beautiful homemade wedding cake by Joe’s grandmother Jennifer. Jess made sure that Joe got some:

A wedding cake with tiny pink and white flowers on top. Another photo shows the bride reaching out to shove a piece of that cake into the mouth of her groom. There is a man laughing behind them as he films with a pink iPhone.

Jess and Joe laugh as the matron of honor, Jess’ sister Stephanie gives a toast:

A bride looks at her groom and laughs as her maid of honor gives a speech at their PPG Aquarium Wedding. The groom wears a gray suit with a pink tie. The maid of honor wears a navy blue dress. The bride wears a strapless white gown. There are plates of bread on the blue tablecloth in front of them.

Next up was the best man, Steve:

A groom smiles as his best man stands behind him and gives a toast at his PPG Aquarium Wedding.

Dory from Finding Nemo was a guest 😂

Two different photos of fish swimming during a PPG Aquarium wedding.

The dancing began with Jess held up in the air during the Hora:

A bride holds her hands in the air and yells as she is held high above the dance floor by two men.

The ladies hit the dance floor:

A bride dances with friends at her PPG Aquarium wedding. Two women wear flower print dresses and another a navy blue dress.A group of 4 people who hold hands in a circle as they dance. There is a black man, an elderly woman, and two tall white women in the group.Three women dance with their hands on their knees during a PPG Aquarium wedding reception.

I knew that I needed to make a portrait that said “PPG Aquarium Wedding” so I scoped out this vantage point near the huge aquarium in the middle of the building. With the colorful coral and water behind them, I felt that a silhouette would be the most dramatic way to go:

A shark swims above a silhouetted bride and groom during their PPG Aquarium wedding.