While vacationing in Playa Del Carmen, Mexico, Rachel and Steve enjoyed a romantic dinner on the beach. Their glasses of Champagne had just been delivered to the table when Steve asked, “What should we toast to?” Rachel retorted, “Us, of course!” With that, he confidently replied, “I have something better” and got down on one knee to propose.

For Rachel, organization and the opinion of her twin sister were key factors in helping the bride through vigorous wedding planning. “A year seems like a long time to plan something, but it flew by, and if I didn’t stay on top of everything during the whole process we would have been in trouble,” the bride asserts.

Since Rachel is an alumna of the University of Pittsburgh, booking the on-campus Heinz Memorial Chapel had always been a top choice. “Only employees and alumni can use the [nondenominational sanctuary],” she explains of the neo-Gothic building. “It’s such a beautiful venue, and I thought our guests would love it.” A unique space – the Carnegie Music Hall Foyer – at the Carnegie Museum served as the ideal location for the reception. “We had our second date at the museum, so we both fell in love with the area when we saw it.” Its rich history, dramatic 50-foot ceiling of gilded baroque décor, and marble pillars hailing from five countries were of great appeal, in addition to the convenience factor (across the street from the chapel). “Each venue really fit both of our styles, so it just seemed perfect for us,” the bride gushes.

The ceremony was minimally decorated and traditional in structure, including time-honored bible readings and classic vows. Steve sported a smart black tuxedo with a bow tie and Rachel wore a demure strapless lace gown with a timeless blusher veil. “We felt it was unique to go back to old traditions because these days [celebrations] have become so nontraditional,” explains the bride. Pops of bright color were present in the grape-colored dresses the bridal party donned, their lavender bouquets, and the purple plaid socks the groomsmen had fun showing off. 

One of the couple’s favorites memories was their first dance. The cocktail hour was held on the balcony of the music hall, so everyone upstairs had a nice view of the reception below. “Everyone was looking down on us while dancing, and it was a pretty incredible moment,” shares the bride, who also confides the pair took dance lessons in preparation. 

Violet uplighting intensified the beauty of the reception area. Round tables covered in cream satin linens and surrounded by gold chiavari chairs offered vanilla floral centerpieces in vintage vases and plenty of candles set in various antique-inspired holders. “We wanted very dim lighting,” Rachel confirms of the romantic look. 

Since the bride and groom have an affinity for classic oldies, they had formulated a list of songs for the band. “It reflected our music tastes very well,” says Steve. The couple and loved ones enjoyed the tunes until after midnight, refueling their energy by snacking on homemade cookies and Ferrero Rocher chocolates. 

When asked if there was anything they would do differently, Rachel says “no,” but admits that their photo session was a little rushed due to the timeline. “However, our photographer did such a wonderful job that in the end, it didn’t matter.” The bride also adds, smiling, “We were given advice to consider a First Look, but we were really against it. Back to those traditions!”