With stars in their eyes, newly engaged couples often plunge into the excitement of planning their perfect wedding day.
Sticker shock can soon set in, as the costs of catering, photography, gowns, flowers and more send budgets plummeting into the red.
Some couples prefer, or soon agree on, smaller weddings, while still hoping for an elegant, personalized affair.
Sold on simplicity
Amanda Engles, 25, worked in the hospitality industry while planning her wedding, and knew how much work was involved.
While considering a smaller wedding, possibly renting a park shelter, she found Pop Up Pittsburgh Wedding Co. online.
Business owner Tricia Derry helps couples to enjoy their special day with a small group of loved ones at a fairly small price.
“I look at it as coming in and making magic happen without the stress. It’s basically a stylized shoot,” Derry says.
Finding everything from photography to officiant included in an approximate $4,000 price tag, Engles and her husband, Kenneth Engles, 27, were sold.
The Dormont couple exchanged vows on Feb. 24, 2018, at Bar Marco in Pittsburgh, one of several sites where Derry stages weddings.
About 20 family members and her best friend attended.
“I think it was more we wanted to have money for a down payment for a house instead of (spending it on) a wedding,” Engles says.
“I had a co-worker at the time tell me she got married five years earlier and was still paying (the wedding) off. That was not something we were looking to do,” she says.
The couple chose cupcakes and flower colors and the One Direction song “You & I” for their first dance.
“I don’t think I missed out (on anything.) We did our cutting of the cake and champagne toast, flowers, photography. I felt lucky because we didn’t pick everything, but everything we got was perfect. And there was so much less stress,” Engles says.
Exchanging economic vows
Derry also owns Vintage Alley Rentals, and says her styling business typically stages about 150 weddings a year.
“These are big weddings all over Pittsburgh and in different states. Often these are barn weddings or industrial spaces that kind of need warmth to what they are doing,” she says.
“I’ve been in the wedding business for many years. I felt like (pop up) was something Pittsburgh was really lacking. … There is nothing wrong with a beautiful courthouse wedding, but there was nothing in between,” Derry says.
Clients include graduate students, people who see the bottom line of a large wedding and don’t have the budget, and those marrying for the second time.
She stages four pop-up wedding events per year, one per season.
The cost is about $3,700, with a “luxury” pop-up held once a year at a cost of about $5,000.
According to theknot.com, the average American wedding can veer about $30,000 north of those figures.
Derry’s price includes decor, flowers, cupcakes and sparkling beverages for guests, a wedding officiant, invitations, up to 35 guests, and photography.
Each venue/date can accommodate up to three couples.
“No two brides ever cross one another,” Derry says.
Personalizing an event
Following each 90-minute wedding, Derry and her team have about an hour to prepare for the next set of nuptials.
Couples can personalize their ceremonies, to a degree.
Nicole Bagnato, 37, and Joseph Bagnato, 38, of Bethel Park, married at Rivers of Steel Pump House on July 9, 2016.
“We were kind of looking for affordability,” she says.
Planning her second wedding, Bagnato hoped to avoid some of that earlier expense.
“You basically just show up. … I really liked how (Derry) had the package, everything together,” she says.
“I have a daughter. My husband gave her a little ring and said little vows to her. … (Derry) was pretty flexible, we could do our own thing,” she adds.
“It was really nice. … I think it’s kind of cool,” Bagnato says.
Out of state, out of mind
Doreen and Patrick Coyne, both 54, are both originally from Munhall, and reconnected in 2012 where they both now live in Severna Park, Md.
Patrick Coyne was divorced, with children and grandchildren. His first marriage was a civil affair before joining the military, his wife said.
Because it was her first wedding, and her husband is one of 10 children, they knew they wanted family to attend their nuptials.
They wanted to marry near their hometown, and also selected the
July 9, 2016, Rivers of Steel Pump House pop up.
“We were able to write our own vows, and we told the photographer what photos we wanted to capture. My husband writes songs and plays music as a hobby/passion. He’d written a song I absolutely loved,” Coyne says.
He recorded it and she walked down the aisle to that song.
“I just didn’t feel the need to have a big production. I just wanted to celebrate the love my husband and I had found and share it with the people who meant the most to us,” she says.
This year’s final pop-up wedding date is Dec. 14 at the Edgewood Club.
Recycle and reuse
Budget-conscious couples who want to be more hands-on in their wedding planning might consider a trip to Station House 7 in Delmont.
Located in a historic brick building at 7 Greensburg St., the shop offers a vast array of gently used wedding decor items to rent or buy.
Owner Jodi Colella of Monroeville ran Accents Unlimited, a multi-service wedding business, from 2006 to 2012. She founded her Wedding Flea Market resale events in 2014.
Held several times a year, the flea markets provided newlyweds a venue for selling wedding items that would otherwise be discarded or forgotten in storage. As the flea markets got bigger and bigger, with up to 50 sellers and 400 buyers, Colella decided to find a permanent space to sell year-round.
The former bank/firehouse/law office in downtown Delmont was available for lease and its open, airy interior and abundant windows made a perfect showcase for the merchandise.
Station House 7 opened Sept. 3, chock full of everything a couple could need for wedding and reception decor, from rustic to elegant, vintage to contemporary. Tableware and coverings, cake stands, chalkboards, signs and seating charts, candle holders, props, backdrops, arches, some items of furniture and more line the walls and fill tables and shelves.
There also are small, eclectic collections of items like vintage cameras, typewriters and globes. Colella will buy outright or sell merchandise on consignment. She also stocks some items made by local artisans.
Leap of faith
“It was a huge leap of faith to open, but I feel it’s something that’s definitely needed,” Colella says —and not just for weddings. Much of the merchandise is also suitable for other special events or for home decorating.
Colella is assisted in the business by her longtime friend and creative manager, Brian Schmader of Delmont. Schmader has a service-oriented resume, including restaurant work, private party planning and being a personal gardener and assistant.
“We‘re both natural-born entrepreneurs and creatives. We work together very nicely,” Colella says. “I say our relationship is like Joanna Gaines (of HGTV’s “Fixer Upper”) and Harp Design.”
“We’re definitely not Chip and Joanna,” Schmader adds.
Colella and Schmader also are available to consult with customers on ways to create their dream weddings.
“The average bride is a DIY bride now,” Schmader says.
“If they come in with an idea, we can bring that vision to life,” Colella says. “It’s one of a kind — and then they can sell it back!”
The building’s second floor has space for small events seating up to 35. Colella and Schmader recently offered a workshop to create dream catcher-style circles, using hula hoops and various-sized embroidery hoops laced with vintage doilies and decorated with silk flowers.
Details: 724-461-7243 or station