A Pittsburgh Party
Tell us your love story/how did you meet?
Liz: It all started with Kennywood. Hilary and I started talking in April of 2012, trading emails on our childhoods, aspirations, and mutual love of Pittsburgh's oldest amusement park (thanks for the introduction, OK Cupid!). For three months, we talked every week via long, meandering messages. I learned about her love of Baltimore rock music, a fresh meatloaf, and her home city, D.C. We talked and we talked, and over the weeks and then months, I found myself looking forward to her messages every week, my heart skipping a beat when I saw her name pop up in my inbox. Those feelings translated to something more than words in July of that summer, when we met for the first time at the historic fish market in Southwest DC. She taught me how to eat crabs, I bought her ice cream, and we both left with full bellies and a promise to try this out. Ever since those first emails and nervous discussion on a sunny Sunday down by the river, we've kept the conversation going. It's been the greatest conversation of my life, and we'll get back to Kennywood one of these days.
What about the proposal?
Hilary: Liz and I both popped the question, in separate surprise moments. We had talked about getting married, and once we decided we were ready to get engaged, we bought rings together and held onto them separately.
I devised a sneaky plan with the help of her oldest friend, Charlie, and had him invite us to a sunset picnic on the waterfront. When Liz biked up to the park, I could barely hold it together, and before she could take her helmet off I was down on one knee. After asking her to marry me, she said yes – and then she asked where Charlie was! It took her a sec to catch onto the whole ruse.
A few days later, Liz took me to one of our favorite gardens in D.C. As we strolled to the edge of the lily ponds, she pulled the ring box out of her pocket and asked me to marry her. She also gave me a little journal she’d been keeping, about how excited she was to marry me. We celebrated together that evening with a bunch of friends at one of our local bars – the bartender was kind enough to cheer us on with free champagne!
Going into the wedding planning, what did you definitely know?
Liz: We decided to get married in my hometown of Pittsburgh right off the bat. We knew the price difference between Pittsburgh, where all of my family is, and Washington, D.C., where we had been living for the past several years would be pretty significant.
We also knew we wanted an outdoor venue. Hilary found Succop Nature Park online – it was the first and only venue we saw! As soon as we walked the grounds and stood inside the historic house, we knew we had found the space for us. Coming from a large family with lots of little kids, having a big space that could accommodate all types of people, big and small, was a priority. The kids had a blast running around the grounds, learning how to hula hoop and eat smores.
The adults had plenty of fun exploring the grounds, too. People remarked that they really enjoyed being able to wander around throughout the evening, taking a dance break or enjoying the sunset over the pond.
What surprised you during planning? What was easy, what was difficult?
Liz: We had a two year engagement. Shortly before we got engaged, Hilary decided to move to London for 9 months to get her master’s degree. We both decided it would be better not to plan a wedding an ocean apart, so decided to push our date to lessen any pressure during that time. Looking back, it was probably the best decision we made in our wedding planning process. We did the heavy lifting in the planning, with the tremendous love and support of our sets of parents throughout. But given that we had a big window of time to figure out all the details, we were able to mark things off of our list slowly but surely. We didn’t really feel stressed or rushed at any point during the planning – we’re so grateful for that!
Is there anything you wish you knew while you were planning your wedding that you know now?
Hilary: Not every little detail matters. We’re both really detail-oriented in our professional lives, and it’s easy to bring that mentality to an event like a wedding, with a ton of moving parts. But the thing with wedding planning is that there is always one more way to make it perfect and, by mid-May, I had hit the ‘fuck it’ stage of planning, where I stopped caring about every last thing and just started making decisions. Looking back, there were a couple of changes we could have made, but who cares? The day was absolutely wonderful, we were surrounded by so, so many of our loved ones, and we freaking got married!
Any advice for couples planning weddings now? Anything you would have done differently or anything you’d like to add?
Hilary: Divide and conquer! We each focused on tasks that we were drawn to. Liz managed the design elements, including our programs and invitations, while I coordinated playlists with our DJ and outfits with our bridal parties. And we figured out that delegating is an important way to stay sane. Liz’s dad graciously offered to manage a few logistical aspects of the wedding, including renting and scheduling buses for guests, and spared us many headaches.
One other thing that made our day wonderful was choosing vendors that we kind of wanted to spend all day with! The photographer, florist, and DJ that we worked with were all really kind people that exuded warm and calming energy. They’re around for a lot of the behind-the-scenes moments when chaos or anxiety can strike, so take your time to find people you want to work with.
What was your favorite part of your wedding day?
Liz: Having all of our loved ones in the same place, dancing like crazy, enjoying our traditional Pittsburgh cookie table and supporting us in our next chapter of life together.
Hilary: At sunset, I was dancing on the lawn with a group of friends, and I took a moment to look around. The dance floor in the pavilion was packed, lovebirds were sneaking private moments together across the pond, the kids in our lives were running around, and our extended families were scattered around tables catching up with each other. Our loved ones were everywhere having a blast – that’s a memory I will always cherish.