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Phipps Conservatory, Pittsburgh | Sarah + Ricardo

I had the great pleasure of meeting Ricardo 9 years ago. Funny enough, we met at the same time & place as my last bride, Sofie. We all went to the same language school in Nice, France, and the 3 of us became fast friends. Who would have known that 9 years later, they’d not only both be getting married within 3 weeks of each other? But, that I’d also be the one honored with photographing both of their special days? Just the coolest thing!

I am so incredibly happy for you two. It’s been such a joy witnessing you two finding and marrying the man and woman of your dreams! After all this time, I’m beyond honored to have been there for you two.

Now before I share more about Sarah & Ricardo’s Phipps Conservatory wedding… I wanted to first take you back to how their story began.

How They Met

From Sarah: “We initially met during our very first exam of the MPH program. I saw Ricardo enter the room and thought he was really cute. I hoped he would sit next to me and he did – probably because I was staring at him. We chatted briefly (Ricardo: “I kept thinking: don’t say anything stupid.”), I told him I was nervous about the test and he responded: “Don’t worry, the worst that will happen is you’ll fail the test and fail the course and you’ll have to drop out and you’ll have wasted $60,000.” (Ricardo: “Nailed it.”) Let me tell you, love at first sight.”

“I knew he/she was the one when…”

Ricardo: “It was Thanksgiving of 2017. We drove up to the Catskills. I was meeting Sarah’s extended family for the first time and spending the weekend at a cabin we all rented. One afternoon, as we were all talking in the living room, I was watching Sarah play with her younger nieces and nephews. Not a lot of people know this, but I am very awkward around children (especially babies), but somehow I ended up holding my 1-year-old nephew. He’s the second baby I have ever held in my life. Sarah just has a way of making things less scary. That is when I knew.

Sarah: “We were in a fight and I did something childish (as per usual) and instead of getting angry he smiled at me. His ability to be patient with me and show me kindness when I need it most continues to sweep me off my feet every day.”

The Proposal

Ricardo: “It was a simple but intimate proposal. After the ring was finished, I coordinated with my friends to make Sarah think we were all going to hang out at the Conservatory & Botanical Garden in Baltimore. I thought it was fitting to get engaged in a conservatory in the city where we met, seeing as we were going to get married in a conservatory. (It’s key to remember that we already got married at a courthouse, and we were already planning our wedding.) When we got there we started walking through the conservatory, Sarah focused on finding our friends. At one moment I told her to pose for some photos and it was then that I surprised her.” (Sarah: “He told me to close my eyes and when I opened them he had the ring!”) And the rest, as they say, is history! Now on to the wedding day!

The Wedding Day

You know those wedding days where everything is just… perfect? Everything is on time, everyone is in great spirits, both families & friend groups adore each other, the DJ has the floor rocking all night, there’s an abundance of laughter, just the right amount of happy tears, and the bride and groom’s love for each other is infectious? This was that wedding. I still get chills thinking about it.

Sarah & Ricardo looked incredible. Ricardo in his dark grey suit and blue bowtie. And Sarah in her gorgeous, backless dress and flower crown. But my favorite of their details were the suspenders and watch that Ricardo was wearing which belonged to his grandfathers. And Sarah’s beautiful gold medallion that belonged to her grandmother. These subtle tributes to their grandparents were so sweet.

When I asked Ricardo how he thought he might react to seeing Sarah that day, he told me point blank that he was going to cry. That without a doubt, he would be bawling. And low and behold, when the First Look came, Sarah tapped him on the shoulder and as he slowly turned around; that moment was everything. It was right then that you could feel the true depths of the love he had for Sarah.

Ceremony and Reception

When I asked them why they chose their wedding venue, Ricardo told me that Sarah went there on a field trip with her school when she was in the 5th grade and instantly fell in love with it. She told her friend that one day she would get married there. Fast forward all these years later and they made sure that Sarah’s dream of a Phipps Conservatory wedding came true!

Their ceremony was officiated in the beautiful gardens at Phipps Conservatory by their brothers and with the most spectacular view of Pittsburgh. Sarah’s brother officiated the first half of the ceremony and had everyone laughing from beginning to end – it was the most hilarious insight into Sarah & Ricardo’s story and just how perfect they were for each other. Ricardo’s brother concluded the ceremony with a heartfelt tribute to the two, which inspired even more tears. I couldn’t have imagined a more beautiful and entertaining ceremony for these two.

The evening was filled with more beautiful words from family and a dance party to end all dance parties! The DJ’s over at Loyalty Entertainment absolutely killed it and the dance floor didn’t slow down until the party was shut down. It was an absolute blast and the best ending to such a lovely day!

Congratulations again, Sarah & Ricardo! Thank you for trusting me with capturing your big day. It was truly special.

Phipps Conservatory Wedding Photos

Here are just a few of my personal favorites from their wedding day. I hope you enjoy!

That one groomsman who can never get his tie just right ;)
“That was just mean. That was so sweet.” – Sarah after reading Ricardo’s love note.
Talk about brotherly love, haha!
Their pet names for each other… so cute!
I hope to shoot another Phipps Conservatory wedding one day, because, I mean… just wow!

If you enjoyed this Phipps Conservatory wedding, you may also love this one or this one!

Vendors
Ceremony + Reception Venue // Phipps Conservatory
Venue Coordinator // Caroline Walker
Wedding Dress // Bridals by Elena
Bridesmaids Dresses // Show Me Your Mumu
Makeup + Hair // Wanderlust Beauty Studio
Florals // Posies By Patti
DJ // Loyalty Entertainment
Cake // Bella Christie and Lil’ Z’s Sweet Boutique
Second Photographer/Assistant // Brooke Moore

Logo of Stefani Ciotti Photography, a Southern California Wedding Photographer
  1. Susan Marx

    September 11th, 2019 at 10:01 am

    oh my goodness!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
    You are a talented artist
    All the love was captured so well

  2. Stefani Ciotti

    September 11th, 2019 at 10:06 pm

    Aw, thank you so much! I really appreciate that! It was an incredibly special day that deserved to be captured as beautifully as possible!

  3. Patti Kuhn

    September 12th, 2019 at 4:12 am

    You are fabulous! You captured all the beautiful moments and emotions of this couple and their family! 💕

  4. Kelli

    September 18th, 2019 at 4:56 am

    What a beautiful wedding! You captured it so well I felt like I was there!!!! Amazing!

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