Choosing a wedding date might have been the most difficult part of getting married for these two sports lovers. They had to make sure it was a weekend when there were no national or college sports games that they had tickets to. It also had to be a weekend where it would be easy for family to travel in from out of town.
After searching the calendar for a few days, they settled on the weekend before Christmas! I’ll admit – I was a bit surprised. I fully expected them to book Heinz Field as their venue, and invite the football players from Pitt and Penn State. (Not really, but they DO love their teams that much. LOL)
Christmas is the most wonderful time of the year, and it turned out to be the perfect time for Lauren and Ben to get married.
Here is the story of their wedding day:
“I’m dreaming of a white Christmas” was definitely playing through my mind as I hoped and hoped that the forecast would be wrong. There was predicted to be no snow, just our regular cold Pittsburgh weather.
I arrived at the Antonelli Event Center early in the morning, and the ladies from Elegant Event Solutions had the entire reception set up and ready to go! It was so beautiful! All the details were perfect for photographing Lauren’s bridal accessories. The bridesmaids were busy getting their hair and makeup done in the upper level of the building, with the team from Jacqueline Demario Beauty. I had time to photograph Lauren’s details before they started on her makeup.
Everything was so personal. Her necklace had a diamond from her mom’s engagement ring. Her engagement and wedding bands were made from the gold from her mother’s rings. She hand made her brooch bouquet. It was filled with family heirlooms.
Lauren’s shoes though really took the cake. She had a friend paint a pair of Toms with her and Ben’s rivaling school names. Lauren and Ben like to joke that when their teams play each other, they break up until the game is over. But for their wedding day, there was no rivalry, only love.
After Lauren’s makeup was finished, I took a few minutes to capture her beautiful dress from Marwin Bridal! Lauren’s matron of honor was her best friend Jamie. Jamie is actually the owner of Marwin! She is so sweet and was super helpful with moving the dress around! She’s a pro after all.
After all the ladies were finished with their hair and makeup, we headed over to the church for them to get in their dresses. They each wore jewel tones which looked perfect with all the Christmas decorations!
Jamie helped Lauren get into her dress, and then she put on her earrings and slipped into her shoes.
Meanwhile, in the upstairs of the church, the guys were getting ready! Diana Gramlich had come along to be my second photographer for the day and was busy capturing some priceless moments. All the guys had socks with mustaches on them! She was able to take the guys outside to get some portraits before the ceremony, which I absolutely loved! My favorite that she took was the “fake selfie.”
The church was starting to fill up with hundreds of guests. I snuck away to pin the guys before the ceremony. Their boutonnières were not flowers, so I had to use my magic to get them to stay.
This wedding was so special to me for many reasons. Not only are Ben and Lauren friends, but they also got married in the same church (and season) that Jonathan and I were married in. Ben had also asked Jonathan to be his best man, which was an honor for him.
The ceremony began, and Ben’s parents walked down the aisle. His mom was carrying a lantern in memory of Lauren’s mom who had passed away a few years ago. It was a wonderful way to remember her during part of their ceremony.
Then the moment everyone was waiting for arrived. The doors opened and there was Lauren and her dad. Ben completely lost it when he saw her. She was so beautiful! The day they had waited for was finally here.
They said their vows, exchanged their rings, (One of them on the wrong hand! Can’t blame them for being nervous.) then assembled a unity cross.
They were husband and wife! Everyone cheered, and Mariah Carey’s “All I Want For Christmas Is You” began playing as they walked out of the sanctuary.
We did some family photos in the church and quickly headed down the road into downtown Irwin! The ceremony was later in the afternoon, and we had planned for it to be almost sunset at that point. Unfortunately, there was no sun but we had a few minutes of light over at the town Christmas tree before I pulled out my external lighting.
Hey look! Me!
Irwin light up night was a month before Ben and Lauren’s wedding, so the town was fully decorated and ready for some gorgeous photos.
Then it was time to party! We headed back to Antonelli’s where some hors d’oeuvres were waiting for the bridal party! I set up my lights and photographed some more of their details that I had missed that morning including their delicious cake, cookies, and pies from Signature Desserts. I would’ve eaten one of everything if I could have. Everything looked so delicious!
Then DJ Erin Tobias kicked off the evening with introductions. Ben and Lauren went straight into their first dance, and then cut their cake.
The best man, Jonathan, and matron of honor, Jamie, gave toasts. I just love how Ben and Lauren made the same hand motions during their speeches!
Then it was time for Lauren to dance with her dad, and Ben with his mom.
Look how adorable the flower girl was! She love that dress so much!
The dance floor was hopping the whole night!
I even got to sneak in a dance with my husband! After all, we were at a wedding together! Diana captured this moment for us.
And what’s a party without dance floor angels?
The evening ended with the bridal party lined up outside Antonelli’s with glow sticks! It was the perfect end to such an amazing day!
Of course, I couldn’t leave without getting my signature ring shots!
Thank you so much to all the amazing vendors who help put this Christmas wedding together!
Reception Venue: Antonelli Event Center, Irwin PA
Ceremony Venue: Norwin Church of the Nazarene
Hair and Makeup Artists: Jacqueline Demario Hair & Makeup
Planning and Coordinators: Elegant Event Solutions
Photographer: Lasting Memories by Ellen
Photographer Assistant: Diana Gramlich
Bridal Gown: Marwin Bridal
Groom Attire: Berks Menswear
Officiant: Nate Patnode
Ceremony Musicians: Piano – Kim Shawl, Vocals – Betsy Marinucci, Sharon Hamilton
DJ : Erin Tobias
Cake and Desserts : Signature Desserts
Cookie Table : Family Members of bride and groom
Decorative Signs : Mae Street Designs
Seating Chart: The Print Shoppe