So you booked your wedding at a venue you love. Congratulations!
…Who sold you on it?
The amazing people who give tours, share space hacks (there’s a secret bathroom on the lower level y’all!), and help couples visualize the most crucial element of their day—the location!—are called venue coordinators, and are rare gems in this world. Venue coordinators are the face of the space, and add a personal connection to what is basically an empty building. They’re also helping on your wedding day in some capacity, and I work hand in hand with them to make sure everything you want is being executed on time, and exactly how you pictured it.
I have a soft spot for venue coordinators—especially ones that work at nonprofits—because I started as one! They typically work weekdays 9-5, and are also on site after hours and on weekends. When I go to venue walk throughs with my clients, I’m always excited to meet the venue coordinator, and get even more pumped when we vibe. We make each other’s day run smoother, and become partners in crime as we prepare for your wedding.
If you have a bomb venue coordinator, thank your lucky stars! It is not an easy job. After 3 seasons in the wedding biz, I’ve crossed paths with some superstars. Keep scrolling to meet my favorite venue coordinators in the ‘Burgh!
Ashley Cyprowski - Pittsburgh Botanic Gardens
Ashley. Is. The. BEST! I have known her since 2014 when we used to work together at Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre…my how the times have changed! She is cool, calm, collected, and dare I say…the funniest wedding pro I know. From driving a van full of wine and directing a live auction at age 21(!!), to handing out umbrellas to ceremony guests as a rain shower approaches and breaking down receptions past midnight, she makes work feel like fun. We worked together again when I coordinated my first wedding at the Botanic Gardens last May, and I’ll be back later this month and again in October! Here’s the woman behind one of Pittsburgh’s most magical venues!
How long have you been at Pittsburgh Botanic Gardens? Two years!
What's your favorite photo opp on site? The Dogwood Meadow in the fall! The golden rod are in season at that time, and the field is completely yellow. It makes for some really gorgeous shots on the grassy path through the meadow. Not to mention it’s situated on a hill, so it’s perfect for sunset photos!
Any fun events you’re working on that you'd like to share? We are hosting our annual Venue Showcase on May 19th from 1-4 p.m.! It’s the perfect opportunity to meet and mingle with some of Pittsburgh’s best vendors! Tickets are $10 and can be purchased on our website! Event highlights:
Experience The Botanic Gardens set up as a mock ceremony and reception
Menu samples from our preferred caterers
Q&A with Ambassador Tent Rental (our exclusive provider for equipment rentals), who will be on-site to answer any questions
Shaunden Bardell + Sarah Troy, Allegheny County Venues
Shaunden and Sarah may be new to Hartwood Acres, but they are veterans of venue coordination. They’re the perfect balance of logistics and style, and will create an event flow that highlights all their space has to offer (literally SO MUCH) while putting what matters most front and center: Your love story! I met Shaunden and Sarah back in 2017, and the universe keeps bringing us together—that story is a separate blog post ; )
I’m *finally* getting to work with these two on June 7, and have 3 more couples tying the knot on the breathtaking mansion grounds in the next year! Cheers!
How long have you been the venue coordinators at Hartwood? Sarah and I got hired as a dream team with the County at the beginning of this year. Her and I have been running businesses and designing special events together for almost 10 years now!
What's your favorite photo opp/unique thing couples should know about your space? Hartwood Acres Mansion has a stunning formal garden that takes photography to a whole new level. With a dynamic color palette, a photographer can produce everything from a moody vibe to a dreamy secrete garden feel.
Any new events/items/upcoming things your venue is working on that you'd like to share? There are some big plans in the works! We cant say too much, but Sarah and I are working to launch a new venue rental on the compound of Hartwood! Follow @alleghenycountyvenues on Instagram to launch this space with us!
Ashley Duncan, The National Aviary
My first wedding at The National Aviary was last fall, and even though my lead planner Katie was Day of Pgh’s boots on the ground that day, Ashley left such an impression on me. She was friendly, responded to my plethora of e-mails, and always presented solutions instead of creating more roadblocks when the weather decided to be The Worst on my client’s day. When your venue offers guest encounters with flamingos, parrots, and SLOTHS(!), you have roll with the punches. Did I mention the holding area before the ceremony is AN IGLOO? Sign me up y’all!
I’m back at The Aviary on Labor Day Weekend 2019, and can’t wait to rock it out with Ashley, woohoo!
How long have you been a venue coordinator for the Aviary? I have been at the Aviary for a little over a year now!
2. What's your favorite photo opp/unique thing couples should know about your space? We have lush tropical habitats to explore which is the perfect way to treat your guests to a unique and memorable evening. My favorite habitat is our Tropical Rainforest which is a gorgeous backdrop for photos! We also offer avian encounters throughout the reception. Guests can be welcomed by a colorful macaw, mingle with our lovable penguins and be wowed by a bird of prey!
3. Any new events/items/upcoming things your venue is working on that you'd like to share? Our biggest fundraiser of the year, Night In The Tropics is coming up on July 13th! We transform the entire Aviary into a tropical escape, this year’s destination is Rio! The night includes delicious light bites from more than 30 of Pittsburgh's favorite restaurants, fun specialty cocktails, live music and entertainment- all included with your ticket! All proceeds from Night in the Tropics support the National Aviary's education, avian medicine, and conservation programs both locally and internationally so it is truly a wonderful night!
Angela Tomlin, Soldiers & Sailors Museum
I haven’t been back at Soldiers + Sailors since March 2018, but I wish every wedding I coordinated was here! It’s not every day you can say a wedding was literally perfect, but that’s what happened when I teamed up with Angela and her staff at the Museum. The second we met at the walk through I knew my couple was in great hands, and I would get to make some serious wedding magic happen in this building. SOMEONE HIRE ME TO COORDINATE HERE AGAIN! Meet Angela, y’all!
How long have you been at Soldiers and Sailors? 2 1/2 wonderful years!
What’s something cool/unique about your venue? One of my favorite things is that we let you take pictures anywhere in the museum that is available to the public. You aren't just limited to the ballroom.! I always advise my couples to take pictures in our grand auditorium and nighttime pictures out front of the museum.
Any fun events you’re working on that you'd like to share? Our annual Memorial Day Celebration is coming up! Every year Soldiers & Sailors opens doors our doors to the public and offers family-friendly activities like crafts, face painting, balloon art and a bouncy house. Contests, raffles, music and food! Check out the details here!
P.S. Every October, we replicate the cage scene from The Silence of The Lambs movie that was filmed here! We reconstruct the cage along with reenactors for a special 21+ night happy hour that includes appetizers, libations and more!
Nikki Straub, Carnegie Museum of Art
Okay, I’ll admit it. The Carnegie Museum of Art is my favorite wedding venue in Pittsburgh. The first wedding I ever coordinated was held here, and it will always have a special place in my heart. But! It’s not all stunning architecture and marble columns that make it so attractive. It’s the people! Meet Nikki! She has been running the show for a long time, and just recenty passed the torch after moving into a new role, yay! I can’t wait to be back here soon!
How long have you been a venue coordinator for the Carnegie Museum? I’ve worked at the Carnegie Museums of Pittsburgh for 5.5 years.
What's your favorite photo opp/unique thing couples should know about your space? We actually have two water features, and lots of green space outside the building, so you could get fantastic shots inside or out!
Any new events/items/upcoming things your venue is working on that you'd like to share? Our Celebrate Pride After Dark is quickly approaching on Friday, June 21! Enjoy the museum after hours and celebrate diversity for LGBT Pride Month! Come dressed in your most fabulous outfit, sip on special cocktails, and vote on a drag name for Dippy. More activities will be announced soon!
A great venue coordinator will help create a great wedding day. I respect the hell out of these women, and without them, I wouldn’t be able to advocate for my clients, because I’d be too busy doing the 1 million things they take care of for you, many of it unnoticed!
A lot of couples think their venue coordinator and their wedding coordinator clash, or you don’t need both, but it’s actually the opposite. We are a team, and your wedding day is our goal. We got you!
Am I missing a rockstar venue coordinator? Drop me their names!