Pittsburgh’s exceptional terrain with mountains, overlooks, and rivers, as well as its historical buildings, provides plenty of great spots for Pittsburgh signature wedding photos. Following are some of the places that put a Pittsburgh stamp on wedding photos. Some venues are located on private property and may require permission prior to taking pictures there, but who can resist a bride and groom?
In the last few years, the rest of the world, due to articles in national newspapers, has learned that many Pittsburgh weddings have cookie tables. But we’ve been doing cookie tables before they were “discovered.” No one is certain where this tradition came from; some credit the Italians and others the Eastern Europeans who settled in Western Pennsylvania. Whoever started it, the cookie table is a much-loved addition to any nuptial and its popularity doesn’t seem to be fading even as the older generations pass on.
Several years ago, my daughter got married, and I casually mentioned to friends from high school while we were at dinner one day that I didn’t think we’d needed cookies because the caterer was providing a cake. My friends’ mouths dropped open in shock. “You HAVE to have a cookie table,” one cried. “I’ll bake,” exclaimed another. “So will I,” said my friend who had been baking scrumptious lady locks since we were teens. How do you resist such enthusiasm and the promise of that much sugar and butter? Consequently, the person who wasn’t going to bake ended up making 27 different varieties and more than 1,500 actual cookies. All of them, except for a few dozen sugar cookies, were eaten or taken home to be enjoyed later. So yes, even if you are having a cake, if you want a purely Pittsburgh wedding, a cookie table is a must.
With all that sugar coursing through the blood streams of your wedding guests, it’s no wonder that it is customary to dance at Pittsburghers weddings. Guests need to burn off some of those calories, and there’s no more festive way to do that than to dance. Here are three wedding dances you may opt to include in a Pittsburgh wedding.
Somewhere in the late 1970s or early 1980s, the “Chicken Dance” debuted at Pittsburgh weddings and has since become a staple. If you’ve never seen the “Chicken Dance,” it’s part polka, part “Hokey Pokey” and part Funky Chicken. Its popularity is probably due to the fact that it requires no rhythm or fancy foot skills on the part of the participants. Anyone from young to old can stand in a circle, flap your wings, and clap your hands.
The Eastern Europeans brought the polka to Pittsburgh. Well, it simply isn’t a true Pittsburgh wedding without a polka or two. It hasn’t been proven, but I believe you get bonus points from Cupid if they play the “Steelers Polka”. The polka requires might require some skill. You should partner up with an accomplished polka dancer. They will sweep you into their arms, and they’ll have you swinging and twirling around the floor. Don’t be surprised if you hear what may sound like war whoops coming from the dance floor. It is quite customary for polka enthusiasts to yelp while dancing.
This is another dance attributed to the Eastern Europeans. What it entails is putting money into a bag, often a frilly or satin one, in exchange for a dance with the bride and an accompanying shot of whiskey. Some people adore this custom while others despise it. If you serve enough shots, no will care either way.
Weddings have gotten much more elaborate and lavish since the days of our immigrant ancestors. Some may turn their nose up at such unsophisticated traditions. Nevertheless, you may want to include a photo or two taken in a purely Pittsburgh location and include at least one beloved Pittsburgh wedding tradition.