Help us find the right wedding venue in Pittsburgh, PA
July 21, 2006 11:57 AM   Subscribe

We're gettin' hitched in Pittsburgh! I need help finding a reception/ceremony venue that 1) will hold at least 150 people, 2) will let me bring in my own catering, 3) will have a bar or a way to bring in a few kegs, and 4) be in a tent or indoors.

My fiance and I are trying to compile a budget so we can pick a wedding date based on our projected savings. We wanted to get married in one of the museums or Phipps Conservatory, but it looks like we will have to choose from a limited, expensive set of caterers. We want to have a friend cater as well as include a few fast-food comfort foods from our childhoods.

In addition, I have a giant, hard-drinkin' Catholic family so the guest list is long and not serving alcohol is not an option. At weddings where there is no alcohol my relatives will bring their own kegs and things get out of hand.

We're looking for something special, if possible. We've been to plenty of outdoor weddings, weddings in the park, weddings at Hartwood acres and Old Economy. We're estimating $3000 on the venue, but the figure is not set in stone.

I would love to have our wedding in the old Heppenstall steel mill and set up giant games of checkers, go, scrabble and chess for the guests in the extra space. However, I'm not sure if it will be legal to have alcohol there or even how to contact someone to find out. Does anyone have a clue about PA liquor laws?
posted by Alison to Shopping (11 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
The Duquesne Club?
posted by caddis at 12:20 PM on July 21, 2006

Some of the coolest functions I went to in Pittsburgh were at the Warhol museum and the new History Center in the Strip (well, it was new then). I know you said that the museums are a little pricey, so that would probably rule out the former (but it could be less than the Carnegie and Phipps) but the latter might be able to be had for a price.
posted by allen.spaulding at 12:37 PM on July 21, 2006


I got married in Pittsburgh last year (her family lives there; we were both from Los Angeles). Coming from LA everything seemed really cheap. And there are some great venues.

We held our reception at the Carnegie Museum and could not have been happier. This said, you must use their caterer, so if that's a deal breaker then forget it. But I will say this: it was an amazing venue and the staff couldn't have been friendlier/more helpful. And after breaking down the costs, it wasn't much more expensive than having a generic banquet reception at a downtown Ramada. Carnegie required you purchase their food, but if you DIY your flowers, photographer, place settings, escort cards, etc. the place can be within budget.

If you want outside, and want an interesting venue, look into PNC Park. If the Pirates are out of town they allow private parties in the stadium. Again, you're stuck with their food, but the view is unbeatable, and the people will always remember going to your wedding (no matter how much they drink!)
posted by herc at 12:49 PM on July 21, 2006

The northern tip of Herr's Island where there is a little amphitheater etc. is a great place for an event -- right on the river, very green and somewhat secluded. I don't know who grants permission , but I did have a party there once and since it wasn't a big deal thing, had no problem with the cops or anybody else for that matter (and yes we did drink). I would imagine you'd have to figure out the permission thing and the electricity thing -- but I do seem to remember an event with tents and electricity etc there once.

Also, I had friends who were married at the very tip of the island (the actual wedding ceremony part was very small) island and then had their reception at the Three Rivers Rowing Club -- TRRA is not fancy at all, but you have complete freedom because you have to decorate the place yourself and bring your own caterer. That might be more informal than you want -- come to think of it, it might be too small for your needs -- but it's pretty cheap (I think)

Also Millvale has pavillion down by the river that is set up for 150 -- and they are putting in a kitchen -- but that's probably to informal.

There have got to be some other cool places . . . I love the Heppenstall idea. I wonder if there are any spaces in some of the big old Carnegie Libraries like Homestead?

I'll keep thinking.

Good Luck and congratulations!
posted by nnk at 4:49 PM on July 21, 2006

Don't know about Pittsburgh, but the most useful site I found for general wedding stuff was the "kvetch" message boards at Indiebride. They have archives of Q and A on many topics, would be worth checking to see if there are suggestions there.
posted by LobsterMitten at 5:13 PM on July 21, 2006

I looked into this place for a bit when we were considering getting married in this area. It seems inexpensive, holds your 150 people, lets you bring in outside caterers, and looks kinda nice! Another plus is that you could probably stay there on your wedding night for free. Inns often include things like that. There's a lot of special places to get married in pittsburgh (Phipps, soldiers & sailors, grand concourse, Pittsburgh zoo) but most of them don't allow your own catering company to come in. Still, if you fall in love with one, it may be worth it to you. The Pittsburgh Center of the Arts looks like it may work for you as well. It's a really really neat old place and the grounds are great. It's just on fifth and Shady. Says they hold up to 200 and allow outside caterers. See their website here. Hope those two ideas might help.
posted by theantikitty at 2:55 PM on July 22, 2006

You might also check out The Priory, on the Northside. It's been a long time since I've been there, but way back then they had some excellent facilities.
posted by booth at 8:26 PM on July 23, 2006

Response by poster: Thanks! I'm going through the list and making phone calls. I have the Pittsburgh Aviary, the Center for the Arts, The Carnegie Science Center and the History Center on my short list. We may have to do a cash bar, so I hope my relatives will forgive me.
posted by Alison at 7:24 AM on July 24, 2006

We went through a similar thing with liquor during our wedding planning. You might think about opting for a limited bar, with the option of cash for hard liquor. Our venue allowed us to serve beer, wine, and soda only, which significanly cuts down on the price tag. Your cousin can't have 10 shots of really expensive liquor that way, and beer is usually less expensive by comparison. We had 2 kinds of domestic beer, a house white, red, and zinfandel, and a champagne toast. There was no snarking about it whatsoever. We did a cocktail hour, beer and wine service with dinner, and then had the bar open for a couple hours during dancing, et al. You might also decide to limit the time the bar is open altogether. With soda included, our bar tab worked out to about $11 per person when all was said and done. We had a consumption based rate.
posted by theantikitty at 8:40 AM on July 24, 2006

We got married at the Carnegie Science Center. The submarine makes for some funny wedding pictures. The $3000 sounds about right for the food and venue. We had a ton of food left over, we did "stations" rather than the buffet, including the Pittsburgh station with pierogies and chopped ham sandwiches. They were incredibly nice, the guests had something to do while we messed around with pictures, and the Omnimax lobby cleaned up really well when it rained and we had to move off the terrace. I remember being really suprised the bar tab was so cheap although we just did a beer and wine thing. That's an especially great place if you're going to have kids at the wedding.
posted by DarthDuckie at 7:22 AM on July 25, 2006

Response by poster: I am sooo jealous. I would love to get married in the Pittsburgh Science Center. However, they are quoting me $4500 just for the use of the facility, and with food and alcohol it looks to be way over budget. If you got all of that for $3000 please let me know how.

Right now we are considering a ceremony in the Pittsbugh Center for the Arts and a reception in the Phipps Garden Center. Both buildings are next door to one another and located within a public park. We may be able to have our giant boardgames outdoors in the grass.
posted by Alison at 10:43 AM on July 25, 2006

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