Chelsea and Adam's Crystal Room Wedding in Butler, PA

What did I love the most from Chelsea and Adam’s wedding? It wasn’t Chelsea’s gorgeous bouquet, her Sottero and Midgley gown, or classy chiavari chairs. It wasn’t the super trendy moongate arch, delicious cake, or the huge chandeliers at The Crystal Room.

It wasn’t any of the things.

My favorite part was watching Chelsea get choked up while looking at her guests.

You never remember to LOOK BEHIND YOU and see a huge, beautiful room packed full of all your favorite people and soak everything in but during Chelsea did it THREE TIMES! After their first kiss, after being announced into her reception, and then lastly towards the end of the reception. And her moment was captured every time.

I couldn’t have caught all these beautiful moments without my second photographer Pamela Anticole. Several of the photos below are her’s, and be sure to check out how my photos of Chelsea and Pamela’s photos of Adam compliment each other.

Vendor love:
Venue: The Crystal Room at the Butler Days Inn
Main Photographer: Erica Dietz Photography
Second Photographer: Pamela Anticole
Gown designer: Sottero and Midgley
Bridal shop: Sorelle Bridal Salon
Tux designer: Joseph Abboud
Tux shop: Men’s Warehouse
Hair: Bethany Sinclair
Makeup: Sabrina Selcer
Florist: Carolyn Schweiger
Bakery: Bella Christie
Moongate arch: Vintage Alley Rentals
Chiavari chairs and draping: Elegant Events by Andrea
DJ/Photobooth: Loyalty Entertainment

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Megan and Justin's Loving Portraits

If you know me, then you probably know Megan. She's my best friend. My ride or die. The peanut butter to my jelly. Anytime she comes to visit, we make time to shoot a portrait session because... heck I don't even remember why but it's tradition now.

And if you know Megan, then you definitely know Justin. He's her husband. Her rock. Her everything.

And if it was 51 years ago, these photos wouldn't exist. Their interracial marriage would have been illegal.

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In 1958, a black 17-year-old woman named Mildred Jeter married the love of her life, a white 23-year-old construction worker named Richard Loving. Today marks the 51-year anniversary of the 1967 United States Supreme Court decision Loving v. Virginia which struck down all anti-miscegenation laws remaining in sixteen U.S. states. Interracial marriage was finally made legal across the United States. Let that sink in... 1967. 1967.

Even though there has been legislation passed, there is still work to do to ensure that the tireless efforts of the Lovings is not merely relegated to a day, but more of an attitude of acceptance. Especially in today's climate, immigrants such as Liberian-born Justin have to fight for not only acceptance, but also the right to live here.

Thanks to Mildred and Richard, I was able to make these incredible portraits of my beautiful friends. And thanks to Mildred and Richard, Megan and Justin will be able to celebrate their 7 year anniversary. 

 

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Keira and Steve's North Shore and Strip District Engagement Session in Pittsburgh, PA

True story!

Last night I was scrolling through Keira and Steve's summery Pittsburgh engagement session that we shot back in July and I was smiling as I was reliving all the best moments that I had forgotten about: Keira's perfect white sundress, Steve's charming smile, and then suddenly I saw a COMPLETELY RANDOM photo of an almost naked middle-aged man getting a suntan in his lawnchair while smoking a stogie right in the middle of Keira and Steve's engagement session. I laughed and laughed. I had totally forgotten about this guy but after seeing the photo, I remembered the way he shamelessly presented himself right in the middle of the park was enough to break the ice during my engagement session with Keira and Steve and how we laughed and laughed about it. And then I thought, 'Yes, this is definitely something that I would shoot.'

One of the things that I preach when meeting with my brides and grooms is that as a wedding photojournalist, I will document your wedding day. I promise to photograph the good, the bad, and the ugly! Because the good and the bad are all things that tell the story of your day.

So when we are shooting your engagement session and we see a man wearing nothing but shorts and sunglasses, smoking a stogie, and sitting in a lawn chair to catch some sun on the North Shore, we will have a great laugh, and then I am going to shoot a picture of it and include it in your gallery. That's what happens when you book Erica Dietz Photography. You get candid photos of you and your loved one as you celebrate a huge milestone celebration in your life, and sometimes you get a picture of an almost naked guy tanning in a lawn chair while smoking a stogie AND LIVING HIS BEST LIFE like Keira and Steve did. Why?? Because I shoot everything--the good, the bad, and the ugly. And yes, I included the photo in the session below.

Keira and Steve, you are both my favorite type of people and I cannot wait to photograph your wedding on Saturday. And always remember to live your best life--no matter what!

Andje's Senior Portrait Session in Pittsburgh, PA

Life is short. Make it weird.

And quirky. And fun. And have random dance parties in the grungey alleyways in Pittsburgh's Strip District. And let me photograph it! Because Andje's high school senior portrait session was the weirdest, quirkiest, most fun I've ever had while photographing high school senior portraits. When I photograph senior portraits, I usually have to work to get to know my young clients. Sometimes I say or do stupid things to gain their trust and feel comfortable around me. 

But with Andje... OH HOW THE TABLES WERE TURNED!

I was struggling to keep up with her robust personality. This meant that I was no longer in control of the photoshoot in the most beautiful way possible. This time, I was the one who was pushed out of her comfort zone. Our shoot consisted of Andje being 100% unapologetically herself and me just trying to keep up and laughing the entire time. This was also the first (and likely last) time that I had to ask someone to "dial it back" hahaha. 

It was "The Andje Show" and I had a front row seat.

I always say that I try to capture someone's personality in photos, and I can CONFIDENTLY say that I captured Andje in these photos.

Andje, you are wicked smart, sophisticated, and you're crazy beautiful. Thanks for being you. 

Kaitlyn and Travis's Heinz Chapel Oakland Wedding in Pittsburgh PA

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Go call your mom. Tell her you love her.
Or maybe call your dad. Or grandma. Or brother or best friend or your college roommate.
Right now. I'll wait....

...

If this wedding has taught me anything, it is that we don't have as much time with our loved ones as we think we do so cherish the time that you have them. And also I still really love rose gold accents but that's not as important.

When I met with Kaitlyn, she mentioned that she moved her wedding ahead 6 months due to her mother's pancreatic cancer diagnosis. At that moment, I knew that this would be a special wedding, and that I was the perfect fit for what she needed. What did she need? She needed someone who could deliver all the normal wedding photos, as well as someone who could document her mother's presence without being intrusive. Fortunately, I have plenty of experience with this type of delicate photography from all of my years as working for the newspapers when I was a full-time photojournalist. I had to tell the whole story of the day, even the tough parts. No one had a better understanding of this than my second shooter Brian Henry of Evermark Studios. Brian also used to be a full-time photojournalist and is still heavily influenced by photojournalism in his own wedding photography work.

The toughest part of the day was the moment the DJ started to play Celine Dion's "Because You Loved Me" and watching Kaitlyn share a dance with her mother. Now, I don't consider myself to be an emotionally expressive person, but I struggled to maintain my composure. But I knew that I had to put my emotions to the side so that I could properly photograph and honor that moment for Kaitlyn and her sister Jillian. For Travis, for everyone there and for everyone who couldn't be there. I've been shooting weddings for 10 years and I'll never forget this. I cried the next day when I was downloading my images. Then I called my mom.

I asked Kaitlyn if I had her blessing to blog her images, and she graciously obliged. Normally, I don't even ask my brides, I just go right ahead and blast whatever I want but this wedding was different. Even with her permission, I still wasn't sure if I should share something so personal. Kaitlyn's expressions throughout the day were so raw and real and I didn't want to exploit that. But then I thought that even if a few people who saw these images took the time to reach out to their loved ones and tell them that they loved them, and hugged them a little tighter, then it would be worth it. I asked Kaitlyn if there was anything that she wanted to share about her mother and she said this, "She was a fighter. She never believed she was going to succumb to cancer. So, she rose above it." Anyone wanting to donate to pancreatic cancer research in her memory can do so by going to pancan.org.

On to the fun stuff...

Let's all give a SLOW CLAP STANDING OVATION for Kaitlyn in that dress! Wowza you rocked that gown. Your hair looked flawless and your makeup was on point. Travis, you are a lucky, lucky guy. One of my other favorite moments was watching a few hotel guests walk past the entrance to the reception and almost going in! So of course I shot their picture. And then I caught an actual wedding crasher dancing along! So of course I shot her picture! She's blogged below...

Kaitlyn and Travis, thank you for hiring me to document your wedding. It was an honor.

Vendor love~
Photographer: Erica Dietz Photography
Second Photographer: Brian Henry Evermark Studios
Hair: Samantha Topping
Makeup: Domenica Tendick
Wedding Gown Designer: Allure Bridals
DJ: Ryan Leech 2ndIINone
Florals: Friend of the bride's mother
Desserts: Signature Desserts
Ceremony: Heinz Memorial Chapel
Reception: Erin Sharpe Wyndham University Center

Becca and Ben's Wintery Country Club Wedding in Indiana, PA

I love when wedding clients intentionally hire me for my documentary-style photography vision. Becca and Ben were no different! 

When I arrived to photograph Becca and her ladies as they prepped and dressed for the wedding, Becca apologized for the hyper-colorful murals in the Sunday School room. Then she quickly followed up with, "But I bet you like this don't you!" Yes! I was all about it. This is how the room looked, this was real life. Some photographers would have cringed, but not me. I prefer to be different. I loved the way the animals smiled down on everyone as they finished their hair and makeup. But my goodness, look at that sanctuary! So moody, so good. One of my favorite photos was taken after everyone had left except for me and my second shooter Lou because we were packing up our gear. I saw a church worker extinguishing the aisle candles one by one. It struck me as amusing to see someone in regular clothes doing this task, surrounded by the ornate church and the remaining wedding bows, I just had to shoot a photo of it. Real life. As my favorite photojournalists like to say, "Show up early and stay late." I stayed late, and made that image.

And you can't have a wedding in Indiana, PA without hitting Vinegar Hill, aka "The Jimmy Stewart Steps". Oh and don't forget about Philly Street in downtown Indiana! It was so beautifully lit up. Of course, I am biased because that's where I grew up. As always, the Indiana Country Club was decorated so perfectly! And did you see that donut cake?? I photographed their rings on a donut because DONUTS!

Becca, you looked beautiful! That dress was made just for you. Thank you for inviting me to be a part of your day.

Vendor love:
Photographer - Erica Dietz Photography
Second Photographer - Lou Ruediger Photography
Reception Venue - Indiana Country Club
Gown Designer - Stella York
Bridal Shop - White Lace Bridal
Florist - Flower Gallery
Cake Baker - Margie McCullough
Donuts - Giant Eagle
Videographer - Erik Puskar
Make up - Bella Spa
Hair - Leann Knapik of The Hair Studio
Suits - The 700 Shop



 

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Kendy and Joe's St. Vincent Basilica and Chestnut Ridge Inn Blairsville, PA Wedding

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I know I say this all the time...
...but this was one of my favorite weddings from 2017. 

You might remember Kendy and Joe from one of my favorite engagement sessions (view those images here) at Mellon Park and a parking garage rooftop in downtown Pittsburgh, PA. Kendy and I hit it off immediately as we quoted movies, professed our love for dogs, and our self-deprecating humor. So it was no surprise that her wedding rolled the same way.

Kendy is the second (or third? I lost track) bride that I photographed within the same circle of friends. I LOVE when that happens! I am so grateful for referrals and it's so gratifying to see my former and future brides at weddings. It's like hitting the wedding photographer jackpot because good people attract more good people. And these are some really good people.

Kendy, if we went to a Halloween party dressed as Batman and Robin, I’d go as Robin. That’s how much you mean to me.

Special shoutout to my second shooter/work bestie Pamela Marie who photographed this wedding while 8 months pregnant. For the record: I gave her the option to decline working this wedding (I'm not that mean) but she wanted to work it. She even climbed a tree AND the back of a golf cart. Bravo Pamela! Her images are scattered in the post below. 

Vendor love:
Photographer - Erica Dietz Photography
Second Photographer - Pamela of Pamela Anticole
Ceremony - St. Vincent Basilica
Reception - Chestnut Ridge Inn
Photo booth - Stephanie Crooks of Pittsburgh Prestige Photo Booth
Hair - Amanda Bossi, Live Salon
Make up - Danielle Mock, Mock Makeup
Videographer - Captured Memories by Allison
Wedding dress designer - Hayley Paige
Wedding dress store - Bridal Beginning
Bridesmaid dresses - Christina Wu
Bridesmaid dress store - The Exquisite Bride
Florals - Flower Boutique

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Lindsey and Austin's Industrial Chic Washington DC Engagement Session

I've known Lindsey for my entire life, and I know she has an impeccable sense of style. So when she asked if I would make the trip down to Washington, DC to photograph her wedding and engagement session, my heart practically skipped a beat. I KNEW it would be a treat. She described her vision for the shoot as wanting something industrial and I said "Yes, please!" 

Her fiance` Austin was granted access inside the Washington Coliseum, formerly Uline Arena, which was the site of the first concert that The Beatles played in the United States. The building was being renovated into an REI, and it was during mid-construction that we met to shoot their industrial DC engagement session. It was incredible. Their second location was at the most charming shopping district in historic Georgetown. I absolutely loved the cobblestones and ivy wall, and the industrial walkway that framed them perfectly. Both locations complimented their personalities.

I must say, Lindsey, that my expectations for this shoot were high, and you and Austin far exceeded those expectations. This makes me sooo excited to photograph your wedding in downtown Washington DC this summer! I love destination weddings that let me travel outside of Pittsburgh.

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Whitney and Chad's Armstrong Farms Wedding in Saxonburg, PA

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Whitney and Chad are one of those couples that fall into each other so easily, so beautifully. And I can't blame them! Chad is such a great guy, and Whitney has the type of personality that makes you feel soooo happy just being around her. It became clear to me that EVERYONE feels that way around her when I saw how much her father struggled when he gave her away at the start of the ceremony. I could see how crushed he felt as he walked away from her--be sure to check those photos below!

Seeing them together just feels so right. Just look at that gorgeous night shot of the two of them together! There were quite a few other people standing around watching me work the shot, but you can't even tell because they're so focused on each other. What an incredible wedding they had at the Armstrong Farms Fieldstone barn located in Saxonburg, PA! It's one of my favorite wedding venues and I feel so fortunate to live only a few miles away. The wedding coordinator makes a brief appearance in one of the photos below as she escorted us in the gator to the top of the hill on the property. Special shout out to my second shooter Jason Swanson for staying a step ahead of me all day and holding my gear as we raced up the hill! A few of his photos are included below--including the sweet moment of Whitney and her father sharing a quiet moment before walking down the aisle.

Vendor love: 
Photographer: Erica Dietz Photography
Second photographer: Jason Swanson Swan Photographic
Venue: Armstrong Farms Fieldstone
DJ: Red Hot Chameleon
Catering: Stevens Kitchen
Cake: Patti Cakes

Autumn and Jeremy's Greensburg, PA Wedding

It was the first day of fall when Jeremy and Autumn got married. The ladies prepped at Autumn and Jeremy's home in Greensburg, had a beautiful and memorable ceremony at the Westmoreland Museum of American Art, and finished their day with a reception at Bell's Banquets.

Jeremy and Autumn ended up being one of the more emotional weddings that I photographed this year. And as you know by know, readers, I love when people cry at weddings. One of the highlights of their wedding day was when Autumn's twin sister and maid of honor, Carly, began her speech, but became too emotional and couldn't hold her tears back so she abruptly ended it by sitting down. Another highlight was the speech given by Jeremy's best man, Aaron, who gave the most fantastic quote "Yesterday was the first day of fall, but for Jeremy, today is the first day of Autumn." Well said, Aaron.

There are lots of familiar faces below for all you Homer-Center alum! I'll be forever grateful for my Homer City weddings--much love to you all.

Autumn, my goodness you look absolutely beautiful. Congratulations to you and Jeremy! 

PS: there's 2 bonus selfie photos in here too!

Vendor love-
Transportation: Magnum Bus Transport
Ceremony: Westmoreland Museum of American Art
Reception: Bell's Banquets
Florist: Flo's Floral
Cake: Jaclyn Laroue
DJ: Westmoreland Sound
Gown designer: Jewel
Tux: Men's Wearhouse

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Nechama and Scott's Oakland Pittsburgh Engagement Session

They say your vibe attracts your tribe. 

This couldn't have been more true for Nechama, Scott, and I. I met Nechama and Scott back in the summertime while I was

who just happened to be at Churn at the same time, who also just happened to be engaged too, and also just happened to be looking for a photographer for their wedding too. Just as I was about to order a Nutella and Oreo arctic swirl, they asked me if I could sit down and chat with them too. I said "Heck yes" and took a seat. They said, "It's in Florida." I said, "HECK YES!"

As we got to know each other, the more it became clear to me that Nechama and Scott are the true blue, best type of people. We have a lot of similar interests--including the ability to recite the first 12 digits of pi (even though Scott knows the first 50 or so, which you can see a proof in one of the photos below) and the same offbeat sense of humor. My favorite part of the meeting was learning that Scott was a professional juggler. Yeah right. I said, "Oh yeah? Prove it. Juggle something right now!" And he promptly retrieved his backpack and pulled out 3 bright orange juggling balls and started juggling right there in the middle of the cafe. And I promptly picked my jaw up from the floor. Well played, sir.

It was important to Nechama and Scott to be photographed amongst plants (of course, because the best type of people love plants!), and also to somehow incorporate their love of books and knowledge. So, we made plans to meet in the Oakland neighborhood of Pittsburgh where we shot at Panther Hollow near Schenley Park, Phipps Conservancy, and then finished the shoot at the Cathedral of Learning. 

Nechama and Scott, I am so, so grateful that our paths crossed. I cannot wait to photograph your wedding next week, and I cannot wait to connect again when we return.

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Cecelia and Gabe's Sarasota Yacht Club Wedding

Happy 4 year anniversary to Cecelia and Gabe!

All of my past brides will recognize this wedding as this is the wedding that I use as my "what to expect from your wedding images" wedding that I showcase when I meet with prospective clients. I also have a few images on my website! But I never actually got around to blogging this gem. Since today they are celebrating 4 years of marriage, I thought this would be a great time to feature it in my blog. It's also time to retire this as my showcase wedding as it is now... 4 years old. 

Why do I love this wedding so much? It's a Florida wedding (yes I shoot destination weddings! Ask me about my travel rates! Get me out of Pittsburgh!) but mostly because there are so many emotionally-rich moments that are just classic. Everyone should know me well enough by now to know that I love when people cry (happy tears) at weddings. I love it. I get so excited when I see people dab their eyes and struggle and ultimately fail to hold back their emotions. Whether it's the bride, groom, parent, neighbor whomever! What a beautiful way to express how much you love someone. Both Cecelia and Gabe's mothers gave me so many great tear-filled and emotional moments. This wedding also had a lot of genuine hilarious moments, too! Don't be fooled by the classic gowns and tuxedos! This couple and their bridal party knows how to have a fun time. Make sure to check out the trolley scenes and the reception! It's been 4 years and I still haven't seen such a rockin party.

I'm drawn to photographing emotion because it's a way to connect with each other and share the human experience. And also because it's a challenge! I have to be observant all the time and super stealth because as soon as I bring the camera up to my eye, people become embarrassed for being vulnerable and I get the stink eye. So the trick is to keep my head on a swivel and know when it's the perfect time to shoot the picture. 

Cecelia and Gabe, thank you for trusting me with photographing this milestone in your lives. Happy anniversary!

Vendor love:
Photographer: Erica Dietz Photography
Florist: Flowers by Fudgie
Pastries: Angelo's Italian Market & Restaurant
DJ: Fitz at Jay Goodley Entertainment
Ceremony: St. Michael the Archangel on Siesta Key
Reception: Sarasota Yacht Club