One Couple's Enchanted Garden Wedding in Pittsburgh, PA

Real Weddings
Bride and Groom in Pittsburgh, PA

Photo: Shawn Connell of Christian Oth Studio

You never know when being friends with an ex can come in handy. Take Sarah Van Kirk, for example. In 2009, it was none other than her ex-boyfriend who introduced her to Shawn M. Fay Jr., the man who would one day become her husband. "We both grew up outside of Pittsburgh," says Sarah, "but it took until this chance encounter in our 20's for us to meet." The couple made up for lost time, dating for less than a year before Shawn popped the question on a boat in the Bahamas at sunset.

The couple kept their wedding close to home, marrying in a local church and celebrating their reception at Sarah's family's home. "We'd dreamed of celebrating under the stars, but ended up renting a tent in case of rain," says Sarah. But that didn't stop them from bringing their fairy tale wedding indoors, transforming the tent into a jaw-dropping enchanted garden. Read on to see how!

Christian Louboutin Peep Toe Pumps Bride in an Oscar de la Renta Wedding Gown

Photo: Shawn Connell of Christian Oth Studio

Classic peep-toe Christian Louboutin pumps peeked out beneath Sarah's Oscar de la Renta gown, which she cinched with a crystal-and-pearl belt. "I loved the drama of the full, ruffled skirt," she says. Instead of paying top dollar for jewels, Sarah rented a diamond bracelet for the event from Adorn.com.

Bride in an Oscar de la Renta Wedding Dress and Veil Pink Peony Wedding Bouquet

Photo: Shawn Connell of Christian Oth Studio

A simple veil accented her low chignon. She carried a lush bouquet of pink peonies. Blooms of different sizes gave the monotone bouquet added texture.

Flower Girl Basket with Pink Petals

Photo: Shawn Connell of Christian Oth Studio

The couple's flower girls carried white baskets adorned with pink ribbons full of pink rose petals.

Bride with Flower Girls in White Dresses

Photo: Shawn Connell of Christian Oth Studio

"We had seven flower girls, all in white dresses and rose crowns," says Sarah. "They performed marvelously!"

Groom and Ring Bearers in Skull Bow Ties

Photo: Shawn Connell of Christian Oth Studio

The two ring bearers wore shorts and skull bow ties, while Shawn wore a custom tuxedo.

White Flowers at a Church Wedding in Pittsburgh

Photo: Shawn Connell of Christian Oth Studio

The Sewickley Presbyterian Church was decked out in all-white arrangements of hydrangeas, roses, and Calla lilies. Vases of varying heights displayed flowers at the altar.

Wedding Ceremony at the Sewickley Presbyterian Church

Photo: Shawn Connell of Christian Oth Studio

Shawn and Sarah's evening ceremony included traditional vows and scriptures that they selected with the help of family and friends.

Bride and Groom in Pittsburgh, PA Bride in an Oscar de la Renta Wedding Dress in Pittsburgh

Photo: Shawn Connell of Christian Oth Studio

"Shawn was adamant that we not see each other before the ceremony," says Sarah of her groom's superstition. "It made seeing him as I walked down the aisle all the more special." The duo took time during the cocktail hour to take portraits near her family's property.

Wedding Reception Tent with a Floral Chandelier

Photo: Shawn Connell of Christian Oth Studio

Florist Jerry Sibal transformed the tent by creating an oversized chandelier of branches, flowers, and moss. "I wanted Jerry's amazing designs to be the focus," Sarah says.

Place Cards on Slate Wedding Reception Tables in Pittsburgh Pink Orchid and Rose Wedding Centerpieces

Photo: Shawn Connell of Christian Oth Studio

Place cards were displayed on slabs of slate. A mix of square and rectangular tables featured three different centerpiece designs, some with tall branches covered in orchids, and others with low, lush arrangements in hot pink and green.

Bride and her Father at a Wedding in Pittsburgh

Photo: Shawn Connell of Christian Oth Studio

Before cutting the cake, Sarah took a spin around the dance floor with her father — then snuck away to change into a short Monique Lhuillier dress before getting back on the dance floor.

White Wedding Cake with Sugar Orchids

Photo: Shawn Connell of Christian Oth Studio

The couple's wedding cake featured chocolate cake with chocolate buttercream, as well as vanilla bean cake with homemade raspberry jam and raspberry buttercream. A dramatic cascade of sugar orchids topped it off.

Bride in Monique Lhuillier and Groom at a Tented Wedding Reception

Photo: Shawn Connell of Christian Oth Studio

Once the cake was cut, the dance floor filled up for the rest of the night. When the band left, music switched over to an iPod for the after-party. And for those who still hadn't celebrated enough? "We invited everyone back to the hotel to a party suite!" Sarah reveals. Her best advice is to delegate, whether it's to your planner or to a designated family member or friend. "I decided that, once the Thursday before the wedding arrived, I was done making decisions! It was time to get in celebration mode."

Ceremony Venue: Sewickley Presbyterian Church || Reception Venue: Bride's family's home || Wedding Planner: Bonnie Walker Events || Bride's Wedding Dress: Ceremony - Oscar de la Renta, Reception - Monique Lhuillier || Shoes: Christian Louboutin || Jewelry: ADORN || Bridesmaids' Dresses: Jenny Yoo || Flower Girls' Dresses: Pegeen || Groom's Tuxedo: Sartoria Partenopea Napoli || Florist: Jerry Sibal || Invitations & Paper Goods: Alpine Creative Group, More Than Words Fine Papers || Music: Studio-E Band || Catering: The Duquesne Club || Cake: Vanilla Pastry Studio || Rentals: All Occasions Party Rental, Great Drape || Tent: All Occasions Party Rental || Videography: Nate Sherer Video || Photography: Shawn Connell of Christian Oth Studio

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