Flashback Friday: Pittsburgh Wedding Venues

8 Jul

It’s very fitting that I’m doing a wedding post today because today marks the *Half-Year-Anniversary* of my big day 🙂

Happy 6 months Steve!

Today I figured I’d write about choosing the venue for the reception – which apparently is one of the most daunting tasks when it comes to wedding planning. I am so glad we had a year & a half to plan our wedding because it took us a WHILE to find the perfect venue. For one, we were both still in school… a solid 2 hours away from where we were getting married, so we had to pack a lot of venue visits into weekend trips home. Secondly, we didn’t have a clear budget to work off of, which makes it really difficult when pricing things out. Anyways – we must have looked at about 2304895 venues before finally making a decision.

I’ll go through some of the places we considered, since going through all of them would take forever. And I’ll offer some of my own thoughts looking back.

1. Pittsburgh Zoo & Aquarium

Pros: This was the most unique venue I could think of. I love animals, I love aquariums, I loved the idea that guests could walk around and take pictures and see the entire aquarium as part of my reception. It would give the kids at my reception something to do other than dance. I LOVED this option.

Cons: Being that it’s an aquarium, it kind of smelled like fish. It was also on the smaller side. The pricing was also confusing mainly because alcohol wasn’t included – so we’d have to buy our own – and I have not the slightest idea how much alcohol to buy for 150 people.

2. LeMont, Mt. Washington

Pros: See above picture. I’m obsessed with Pittsburgh.

Cons: As you can imagine, this place was fairly pricey. And by fairly, I mean it was expensive.

3. DiSalvo’s Station, Latrobe

Pros: This is an old train station converted into a restaurant, so it has so much history & charm. The tunnel entrance was gorgeous, the inside was adorable, there was a downstairs cigar lounge, and it was reasonably priced. This was actually our #1 choice until…

Cons: We went to pretty much seal the deal & go over details with the venue’s wedding coordinator… and the man was the most un-professional, annoying, condescending idiot I have ever spoken to. I couldn’t imagine working with him at all. Honestly, if they would have had a better coordinator, I would have had my reception here.

4. Pittsburgh’s Grand Hall at the Priory

Pros: See above picture. This was the most amazing / stunning / beautiful place i have ever seen. It’s an old Cathedral converted into a banquet hall. Imagine the beauty of old Catholic Cathedrals & then imagine them offering a winter wedding deal where they decorate everything in blues & white & have an actual snow machine sprinkling snow from above. This was my ultimate dream venue.

Cons: It was super, super expensive. It was downtown Pittsburgh, it was gorgeous, and I’m pretty sure they had no issues getting people to book this site, so they weren’t really negotiable on price. I could have booked it anyways, but then I would have had to make a lot of sacrifices elsewhere…

5. Syria Shriners Hall

 Pros: This was my mom’s favorite venue. It was quite the grand hall with the high ceilings and the world’s largest chandelier. The staff was very friendly and accommodating and the price was very reasonable.

Cons: While my mom loved the look, I thought it looked straight out of Aladdin. It was just a little too middle-eastern for me. I wanted something more contemporary.

6. Lakeview, Greensburg

Pros: This place was very affordable, and close to home.

Cons: The “lakeview” they speak of is a view of a very green-ish lake, so that wasn’t impressive. And for some reason, they put up a miniature statue of liberty next to the lake as a 9-11 Memorial… and who the hell wants a life-size fake statue of liberty in their wedding pictures? We also heard some negative reviews.

7. Stratigo’s Banquet Center

*My Reception*

Before I get into the pro’s & con’s… I’d like to say that I REFUSED to look at Stratigo’s as a venue for the longest time. Like it wasn’t even an option (I’ll explain below). Once again, I was so wrong.

Pros: The food was excellent. The staff was professional, friendly, helpful, accommodating, personable, & friendly. The venue was beautiful. They offered a 30% discount for my “winter” wedding. It was close to home / to the church. All of the DJ’s / photographers / bakeries were very familiar with the venue and the set-up. There were flat-screen TV’s in the bathroom. Their menu options were extensive. They provided the alcohol.

Cons: It wasn’t close to hotels (for the guest’s sake). And… I had my high school prom there. Dun Dun Dun. This was the reason I refused to look at this place. Prom. With my ex. Not exactly what I pictured for my wedding. (Although it looked so totally different for my wedding, that it didn’t even cross my mind when it came down to it)

Overall Thoughts

  • Location. Just like in real estate, the closer you are to a major city, the more expensive it will be. I would have LOVED to be downtown, but in the end, it wasn’t worth sacrificing on the small things to be in the city.
  • Staff. I didn’t consider how important the staff would be when it came to the venue – but trust me, you want people at your venue to accommodate your every wish – no matter how big or small. It can make a huge difference.
  • Cost. Your venue will most likely the majority of your budget. But you want to make sure you leave enough room for all the little details that creep up at the end. I could have picked my dream location in the city – but I probably would have had to make a playlist on my iPod instead of getting a DJ.
  • Food. People are traveling & likely paying a lot of money to come to your wedding. The least you can do is pick a place that offers GREAT food.
  • Alcohol. It was nice not to have to worry about providing my own alcohol because with my luck, we would have ran out half-way through and been screwed since PA liquor stores close at 9. The open bar was key. Plus we paid by the head, not the bottle, so there were no surprises at the end of the night.

Hopefully this was helpful! Especially to any Pittsburgh brides 🙂

And just to keep up with my work-outs….

Friday’s Workout: Swim

  • Warm-up: 200 SKIPS [200 each of Swim, Kick, IM, Pull, Swim]
  • 4 x 200 Pull on 3:00 [1st 200 – Sprint last 50. 2nd 200 – Sprint 3rd 50. 3rd 200 – Sprint 2nd 50. 4th 200 – Sprint 1st 50]
  • 100 [50 easy, 25 scull, 25 swim]
  • 200 Fast
  • 5 x [100 Pull on 1:30, 50 Sprint on 1:00 – trying to touch between 35 & 40 sec]
  • 150 Cool-down
  • Total: 3050 yards

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14 Responses to “Flashback Friday: Pittsburgh Wedding Venues”

  1. Beth Wiehagen July 8, 2011 at 1:12 pm #

    First, I just want to mention that I enjoy reading your blog; they’re always entertaining!

    Second, I loved this post. I agree that picking the venue is the #1 hardest part of planning the wedding; after that, everything else seems to fall into place.

    I think Stratigo’s is an awesome place, but I had the same reaction you did since our prom was there and completely refused to look at it. Maybe I should have given it a chance, although things ended up turning out really well with the location we picked (Chestnut Ridge).

    Also, I absolutely love DiSalvo’s. We had our rehearsal dinner there, and everything was completely beautiful. It looked gorgeous, the food was awesome, the staff was super attentive, and the price was really affordable. That said, I know what you mean about the guy who runs the events. Since it was just the rehearsal dinner, it was manageable (that and the fact that I mostly made the husband deal with all the rehearsal stuff since I was preoccupied with the wedding stuff). He was great at the event, but Scott called the guy a “question-talker.” As in, he would say “You’re gonna wanna ask me this…, and my answer would be….” Scott didn’t mind too much since it meant he didn’t actually have to do any talking.

    I agree with your assessment of most of the downtown places. They are awesome but usually quite pricey. We ended up at Chestnut Ridge because they gave us a good deal, had an awesome old-fashioned bar, a huge ballroom, a beautiful room for the ceremony, great views of the golf course and a hotel onsite (the hotel was a big one for us). Thinking about this stuff all over again kind of makes me glad it’s over…. Anyway, great post!

    • Jessica Rose July 8, 2011 at 1:26 pm #

      Thanks Beth!
      I laughed so hard reading about DiSalvo’s. The man really did speak in questions. It drove me absolutely insane. “If you’re asking bla bla bla, my answer would be bla bla bla.” – How about you let me ask the questions pal. He also started sweating profusely and had hair growing on his nose. I was just so disgusted by him. They seriously need to consider hiring someone else for that job. Ugh. I thought about just having the rehearsal there, but most of our guests were staying in Monroeville, so we chose Nardi’s in Monroeville instead.
      And your pictures looked beautiful so you obviously made a great choice yourself! And you’re right about the hotel – that was my only complaint. Stratigo’s actually sent us a survey afterwards and where it asked for suggestions, I said to build a hotel across the street. And the whole prom thing really hung me up too. It was the dead last place we looked after about 40 other venues, but you have to admit – our food at prom was good! So that’s a bonus. ha It was also just so different set up for a wedding vs. our prom, so it didn’t bring back too many memories.
      Hooray for it all being over 🙂

  2. Tara July 8, 2011 at 1:43 pm #

    Good thing I didn’t go to prom with a boyfriend! Though I don’t plan on getting married near my home.. if I did I don’t think I would want to have it where we had prom anyway. It’s too bad the coordinator at DiSalvo’s station was so terrible — that place looks like it would be an amazing place to hold a reception.

    • Jessica Rose July 8, 2011 at 1:47 pm #

      ha I should really clarify somewhere in that post that I don’t dislike my ex… it’s just kinda weird!! And yeah – the DiSalvo’s man was crazzzzzy. And apparently other people had the same experience with him. You’d think they’d get the hint and hire someone new. Oh well – everything happens for a reason!

  3. In Sweetness and In Health July 8, 2011 at 1:43 pm #

    This is very informative! Love it :). Hope you have an awesome weekend!

    • Jessica Rose July 8, 2011 at 1:44 pm #

      Thanks! I hope you have a lovely weekend yourself 🙂

  4. Jess (In My Healthy Opinion) July 8, 2011 at 4:30 pm #

    Haha, I totally actually did the iPod thing (it was actually music played by the wedding coordinator – he controlled it all for us)… not really because of money though. I honestly just didn’t have like a “dancey” wedding, so it honestly worked out great. I never thought I’d do that, but did. I had the same feelings about Stratigos, but your wedding looked great! We had ours at the Willow Room and couldn’t have been happpier. I feel like it was such a diamond in the rough kind of place that looked really classy but wasn’t overly expensive at all. I know what you mean about the Priory, Pennsylvanian, etc. SO expensive, and I can’t imagine trying to get everyone around Pgh like that.. just not my style. Ours was much more quiet and not totally a typical wedding.

    I love how yours looked! Thanks for sharing this! 🙂

    • Jessica Rose July 8, 2011 at 11:55 pm #

      Everyone definitely has their own ideas on how they want their wedding to be! I’m obsessed with dancing – so I knew I needed a DJ. And call me selfish, but since a lot of my guests were coming from out of town, I kind of wanted them to explore Pittsburgh since I’m so proud of my city haha But your wedding did look super classy, so props to you for getting a good deal. I’m really enjoying sharing all my wedding details – especially with some perspective now – so I’m glad you like it!

      • Jess (In My Healthy Opinion) July 9, 2011 at 10:22 am #

        I absolutely love dancing too, I just knew with a small wedding, that wouldn’t be my focus. I always say I want to GO to a wedding like that, but didn’t want MINE to be like that, if it makes any sense, ha. Everyone is different in that regard! I totally feel ya on exploring the city; it just wasn’t my situation, so I didn’t want people to have to rush around downtown during rush hour (my wedding was on a Friday night) and deal with all that (plus, you know, the prices were ridiculous, lol). But thank you for the compliments! Wedding planning was fun, and the day was amazing, but I am pretty much glad it’s over! lol 🙂

    • Jessica Rose July 8, 2011 at 11:55 pm #

      Everyone definitely has their own ideas on how they want their wedding to be! I’m obsessed with dancing – so I knew I needed a DJ. And call me selfish, but since a lot of my guests were coming from out of town, I kind of wanted them to explore Pittsburgh since I’m so proud of my city haha But your wedding did look super classy, so props to you for getting a good deal. I’m really enjoying sharing all my wedding details – especially with some perspective now – so I’m glad you like it!

  5. Keri July 8, 2011 at 5:15 pm #

    Thanks for sharing…I am in the process of planning my wedding now!

    • Jessica Rose July 8, 2011 at 11:44 pm #

      I really love Friday posts & getting to share my wedding experience 🙂 Enjoy every bit of your planning!

  6. Mary Comerford July 10, 2011 at 4:04 pm #

    Love ready your blog Jess. Your flashback Fridays have been fantastic for me! I felt the exact same thing about the guy at DiSalvo’s, not to mention that they end up secluding people to the back room. It was a beautiful place thought!

    • Jessica Rose July 11, 2011 at 8:48 am #

      Thanks Mary! I think someone needs to write an anonymous letter to DiSalvo’s telling them to find a new wedding coordinator – everyone is so turned off by that guy. ha Hope you’re enjoying all of the planning / details / craziness of your own wedding!

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