It might sound like a very untraditional place to have a wedding, but Pittsburgh zoo weddings can easily hang with the best reception venues. I was so impressed by the amusement spot’s ability to blend upscale romance with family-friendly experiences, all the while being a place that unapologetically loves and features its animals. Zoo weddings, I learned, offer animal encounters, which is a delightful and unique feature you won’t get at your traditional country club wedding. Alex and Patrick’s reception featured an adorable black and white long eared rabbit, and a tiny Tenrec, which I mistakenly thought was a hedgehog! Apparently Tenrecs are related to elephants, believe it or not! As you’ll see by their tiny eyes, they have very poor eyesight, but their whiskers are extremely sensitive, helping them to “see” their surroundings through other senses.
The Pittsburgh zoo has three great spaces and options for planning your wedding, and all three options come with a phenomenal wedding coordinator that takes care of literally all the details. For our particular experience, the zoo even offered to do all of the set up and clean up. Alex and Patrick were able to drop off decor on Friday to be set up entirely by the staff for Sunday!
If you want something of a more “traditional” wedding feel, the Garden Tent is the perfect option. Alex and Patrick transformed this area into something magical with minimal, but extremely thoughtful decor. It was so simple for guests to walk into the zoo through the main gates and take the first right up a private path, right to the tent. The lush tropical plants surrounding the tent provide privacy, and because there is no other attractions on this path, the only folks wandering around are your wedding guests! Other options include the PPG Aquarium, where tables are literally set up beside the lush tropical greenhouse plants and huge tanks of exotic fish! The third option is their Water’s Edge venue, where they boast that couples can “Begin the night on Pier Town, a coastal village complete with sea lions, polar bears, sea otters, and rescued northern elephant seals, and end with an underwater experience like no other at this exquisite Water’s Edge venue.” Read more about each of these options (with pricing!) here!
No doubt that the venue is cool, but what about the food? We weren’t expecting to be blown away by a meal prepared at a zoo, but we were proved wrong in the most delightful way. We enjoyed a wedding brunch with incredible mini quiches, fresh fruit, breakfast potatoes, and pulled chicken and pork carnitas for tacos with all the fancy toppings like cholula cream and cilantro lime slaw! Topped only by the cookie table - it is a Pittsburgh wedding, after all - that featured French macarons, creme horns, elephant ear cookies (naturally!), buckeyes, and many other favorites that guests enjoyed! I particularly enjoyed the drink selection that included water infused with strawberry, pineapple, and basil, and my favorite beer (and apparently Alex and Patrick’s too!), a pineapple shandy from a local Pittsburgh brewery, Rivertowne.
I was so blessed to be able to work with this amazing couple. I met them in 2018 when they were thinking about going the direction of a barn wedding - and I’m so glad they changed their mind! Alex is a flight attendant, so from the start, it was important to them to be able to incorporate their love of travel into the wedding theme and decor. They were engaged at a castle in Germany, had engagement photos in Rome, celebrated Patrick’s birthday in Tokyo, and traveled to many other amazing places thanks to Alex’s job! They incorporated their adventure spots with Patrick’s love of literature, pairing each city/country themed table with vintage looking books from author’s that lived there, or stories that took place there.
A week before the wedding, Patrick called me and clued me in on a secret elephant experience he was planning for his bride (and me by proxy! yay! hahaha) where we would be able to be up close and personal with the elephants, lending itself to some amazing photo opportunities that I definitely won’t forget! I hope you enjoy the highlights of this amazing wedding reception, I know I can confidently say it was one of the best moments of my career!