As of 2010, couples in the U.S. spend an average of $27,879 to tie the knot. This average varies according to geographical region, with metropolitan-area weddings costing the most. And in that regard, Pittsburgh, Pa., is no different from other cities. Luckily, budget-conscious couples in the Pittsburgh area can save money simply by getting married outside the city. South of Pittsburgh, there are many budget-friendly wedding venues. It is possible to have the wedding you want, without the debt you fear.
Located in Mt. Pleasant, Pa., Bell’s Banquets is 31 miles south of Pittsburgh. According to its website, this "unforgettable alternative to the traditional banquet facilities" accommodates up to 200 guests, has two semi-private lofts, 11 crystal chandeliers and a stage for a live band. Being a full-service facility, they are equipped to handle many of your wedding needs. They offer a range of wedding packages, all of which include use of the facility, table linens, service, bartenders, food, four-hour open bar, tax and gratuity.
As of 2010, its Crystal Wedding Package is the most economical, including an hour of hors d'oeuvres and a choice of two entrees and two sides for $45 per person. Have your wedding on a Friday or Sunday, and you’ll receive a 10% discount per person. With the Crystal Wedding Package, a Sunday wedding with 30 guests would total $1,214. Outside caterers are not permitted.
Bell's Banquets 1740 Route 982 Mt. Pleasant, PA 15666 724-547-9700 bellsbanquets.com
The Rostraver Ice Gardens
Just 22 miles south of Pittsburgh, the Rostraver Ice Gardens might best be known for hosting local hockey games, but it is also a full-service wedding and event facility. With two large banquet rooms, it can provide home-cooked food for parties of two to 700.
At $16 per person, its lighter side buffet includes an appetizer, main dish, meat dish, sandwich, salad, potato dish and coffee and iced tea. But a $1,000 rental fee is required. Although its dinner buffet is $25 per person, it includes all of the above plus a second meat dish, a vegetable and a dessert and does not require an additional rental fee. With the first option, a wedding party of 30 would cost $1,480. With the dinner buffet, a wedding party of 30 would total $750.
If you want your guests to imbibe more than coffee and iced tea, the Rostraver Ice Gardens’ most economical beverage packages are either a cash bar or a limited open bar. The cash bar requires a set-up and bartender fee of $110, but be aware that a cash bar means your guests pay for their own drinks. The two-hour limited open bar includes beer, wine and soda for $9 per person plus a bartender fee of $70, totaling $340 for a wedding party of 30. All the prices listed above are current for 2010 and do not include tax and gratuity.
The Rostraver Gardens Gallitin Rd. & Route 51 Belle Vernon, PA 15012 724-379-7100 therostravericegarden.com
Greendance - The Winery at Sand Hill Farms
Pennsylvania is home to over 100 wineries, and many can host both indoor and outdoor weddings. For couples looking for something a little less traditional than a banquet hall, wineries not only provide an idyllic setting, they also add a recreational element. Guests can enjoy a tour of the winery or even take home a bottle of their new favorite wine.
Greendance Winery is located on Sand Hill Berries, a family owned and operated farm 38 miles southeast of Pittsburgh. Spanning 108 acres on the Laurel Highlands, Sand Hill Farm specializes in small gourmet fruits. The winery opened in 2007 and makes a wide range of wines, from Cabernet Sauvignon and other dry reds to fruit and dessert wines. Weddings are held outdoors in a natural amphitheater, and the lush surroundings eliminate any need for extra flowers or decoration. There is a stage for live music, an area for dancing and tenting options. As of 2010, its website states, "Prices range, depending on your wedding size and what you need, from $300 to $2,500."
Greendance - The Winery at Sand Hill Farms 306 Deerfield Rd. Mt. Pleasant, PA 15666 724-547-6500 724-547-4760 412-558-3428 greendancewinery.com
Christian W. Klay Winery
Nestled on 215 acres in the Laurel Highlands, 50 miles south of Pittsburgh, the Christian W. Klay Winery offers custom designed event packages for both indoor and outdoor weddings. Their winery is a restored antique barn with expansive views of the Laurel Highlands. The winery's upper level provides a rustic atmosphere and ample room for both a ceremony and reception. Their custom catering packages are tailored precisely to your needs. Along with their wine, your guests can enjoy a box lunch, hors d'oeuvres, a catered picnic or a full course dinner.
Christian W. Klay Winery 412 Fayette Springs Rd. Chalk Hill, PA 15421 724-439-3424 cwklaywinery.com
Ohiopyle State Park
Another choice for the budget-conscious couple, the picnic groves and amphitheaters found in many Southwestern Pennsylvania State Parks can provide the picturesque setting your special day deserves. A state park is the great outdoor's all in one wedding stop, with a perfect place for every wedding event. Have your ceremony in front of a waterfall, take pictures on a rustic foot bridge and then enjoy a barbecue in a tree-lined picnic grove. And all for just a small permit fee. Ceremonies are typically permitted in state parks but do require advance approval from the park office, and be aware, there are rules and regulations you and your guests must follow. For instance, absolutely no alcohol is permitted on premises.
At the southern edge of the Laurel Ridge, 65 miles southeast of Pittsburgh, lies the Ohiopyle State Park. Visitors come for its awe-inspiring collection of waterfalls. The most popular spot for couples to marry is in front of the Ohiopyle Falls, a powerful 20-foot waterfall that works as a stunning background for wedding ceremonies. And the observation deck in the Falls Day Use Area provides an easy and safe way to incorporate the Ohiopyle Falls into your photographs.
For the reception, consider the Tharp Knob Picnic Area. It borders the Tharp Knob Overlook, which is known for its panoramic view of the Youghiogheny River Gorge. It has two picnic pavilions available to rent, for a fee of $87, that can be reserved up to 11 months in advance.
Ohiopyle State Park 7 Sheridan St. Ohiopyle, PA 15470 724-329-8591 dcnr.state.pa.us