Mary and Jeff met aboard the MV Explorer during a Semester at Sea while Mary was attending the University of Pittsburgh, and Jeff was studying at Babson in Boston. The ship carried over 500 college students and Mary and Jeff happened to cross paths at the very end of the journey in the middle of the Mediterranean Sea. They really hit it off! They didn’t foresee a relationship at first – being at different schools and cities, but love found a way! After enduring a long-distance relationship during college, Jeff moved to Pittsburgh to be with Mary when he graduated. They lived in Atlanta before moving to Boston, where they currently reside. Jeff decided to propose to Mary in a well planned surprise that involved flying to Pittsburgh without Mary knowing and surprising her father at his work to ask for her hand (to which he replied, “it’s about time!”), and then surprising Mary at her parent’s home with a strange Uber driver who drove her to the picturesque outlook on Mount Washington, where Jeff was waiting. Mary said yes, of course and Jeff had her family and friends all united at a local beer garden to celebrate! I think Jeff did it right and it’s apparent that after 8 years these two are still smitten with each other and are the perfect match.
- on a personal note – I just started thinking about it and I can’t believe that I can say that I’ve known Mary (the beautiful bride) for over 15 years! For several years (around the turn of the century), we danced together in Pittsburgh’s eastern European folk ensemble, Slavjane. She’s one of the kindest, prettiest, smartest, and happiest people I know. Her family is tight knit and one that so many others look up to. It was an absolute honor to be a part of this amazing celebration with her and her family & friends. She is just such a beautiful woman – inside and out. Way to go, Jeff!!!
Now for those wedding details!! Mary and Jeff were married at Saint John Chrysostom Byzantine Catholic Church in the Greenfield neighborhood of Pittsburgh on a very hot and wet July afternoon. During the morning, the weather had everyone worried! It was raining hard – really hard – like flash flood hard. I brought my 3 umbrellas and just hoped for a moment of dry skies to get us into the church and maybe a few photos outside after the ceremony without getting soaked. The weather man predicted a 75% chance of rain all day. Nothing surprising in Pittsburgh, right? Jeff and Mary were very proactive and called one of their favorite places – Phipps Conservatory and Botanical Gardens – to see if we could shoot our portraits inside there. It is absolutely breathtaking in there. When I arrived at Mary’s parents’ house and she told me we were going to go there I was subconsciously thanking the weatherman for the terrible forecast. I was SO EXICTED to shoot inside Phipps. I photographed a wedding at the outdoor garden there, but never inside.
Mary was an absolute vision in her McKinley Gown- A BHLDN exclusive By Eddy K. Her bridal portraits in her family’s formal sitting room are some of my favorites, ever. Jeff wore The Roma- Tuxedo by Menguin and was looking dapper. They had their ‘first look’ on the porch at Mary’s parents’ house because the ground was soaked. It was one of the sweetest ‘first looks’ that I’ve ever photographed. Their faces showed pure happiness as they saw one another. Mary is very expressive and her face was so amazing (and astonished) when she saw the Tacori ring that Jeff surprised her with only a few moments after they saw each other. Extra bonus points, Jeff!
** FUNNY STORY ** We left Mary’s parents’ house to head to the church for the ceremony (about 30 minutes away), and we followed the limousine. Cruising down Ohio River Boulevard, I started to notice the speed of the limo was declining. I looked over at my (fabulous) second shooter, Liz, and asked her why the heck the limo was going 30 mph. I decided to pass the limo because we knew where we were going, and I looked in the rear view and that limo was now at a standstill as I was accelerating. We pulled over immediately into an emergency pull-off (this is a major road with high speed traffic). We call Jeff’s phone and he tells us that the limo was broke down and they had no idea what they were going to do. (Seriously limo companies?! You have one job. Get the bride and groom from point A to point B. That’s it!! How hard is it!!?? This was not my first experience with a bad limo.) Elizabeth (my 2nd shooter) and I sat there pondering what we could do to help. She called the po po to alert them about the broke down limo in the middle of the road, and I sat there thinking ‘can we fit Mary and Jeff in here?’ I had been living in my car for over a week (being 550 miles from home while working), so I had some luggage, some huge folding patio chairs from a shopping trip, some toys that I found for my kids at a garage sale, and much more in the backseat and trunk. Jeff calls us back after a few minutes and says that they hitchhiked and are going to find us so that we can drive them! We were literally a quarter mile down the road, so as we are on the phone a nice black Cadillac SUV pulls over, and out come the beautiful bride and groom – hitchhiking their way to us. LOL. The nice people in the SUV drive off, and we start making room for Mary and Jeff in my Altima. Lucky for us, everything fit in my trunk and soon we were cruising down the highway laughing hysterically about the events that just occurred. Jeff and Mary were so great about it and made what could have been a disastrous memory into a great one! The bridal party (still in the broken down limo without air conditioning) got rides from Uber drivers and wedding guests that were driving the same route who noticed the limo in trouble. Everyone made it to the church in time!
The reception was at the luxurious Pittsburgh Airport Marriott Hotel. The ballroom was full of so much love, laughter, great food (I had the best filet ever), heartfelt toasts, and incredible DANCING! The Continental Dukes played live music (think accordion, upright bass, violin) for everyone’s enjoyment during cocktail hour and dinner service. They continued into the evening by playing some Eastern European folk dances, and also the music for the traditional bridal dance (with beautiful vocals by Darlene Feijka). The party was insane. If you’ve never seen a performance by the Duquesne University Tamburitzans, you might be surprised with some of the dance moves you’ll see below. If you have seen the group perform, you might recognize a few of their past star members. After the Continental Dukes finished up, DJ Rick from DJ Mad Maxx took over and had the entire dance floor full and ready to dance all night.
Other fabulous vendors include:
Cake: Burnt Almond Torte – Prantl’s Bakery
Florist: Parkway Florist
Hair: VSI Salons (Sewickley)
Makeup: Shannon Davis- Shade Makeup Artistry
And a huge thanks to Elizabeth Gregg (Sewickley Photography) for helping me out all day and taking some amazing images to add to their gallery.
Of course you can find me on Facebook – Melanie Grady Nashville Wedding Photographer (available for weddings worldwide!)