An intimate gay wedding at Pittsburgh's National Aviary Zoo

Emile & Stephen’s Unique Wedding at Pittsburgh’s National Aviary



Tell us a little about yourselves.

We’re both radiologists living in Pittsburgh. We’re both originally from the East Coast and ended up meeting each other while we were attending undergrad. We don’t have much free time, but when we do, we love spending time together, trying out new places to eat in Pittsburgh, and spending time with our dog, Luna. We’ve been through a lot together and did long distance for four years while attending medical school. Luckily, we matched into the same residency, got married, and officially became doctors. There’s nobody else I would want to do this with.


What led you to the venue?

We were both attending school in Pittsburgh and had actually just bought a house in the area. Before we settled on the National Aviary, we were going back and forth with whether or not we wanted to fly out West for the wedding. We both love the West Coast but ultimately decided it would be less stressful to plan a wedding where we were already living and where our family could meet us at since most of them live on the East Coast.
We had been to the National Aviary before but didn’t think it was possible to get married there. The National Aviary caught our eye after searching on Google for wedding venues. We knew it was the one for us.


What was the inspiration behind the vibe of your wedding?

We wanted our wedding to feel warm and welcoming. We kept it small and had less than 50 guests. While we’re both outgoing people, a big wedding never felt like it was right for us. We wanted it to feel special, surrounded by our closest friends and family members, but we also wanted it to be fun and unique, which is why we chose the National Aviary.

Talk to us about the big day! We want all the details.

Our day was incredible. The night before our wedding, we invited all our friends and family members to a dinner at the Omni William Hotel. Parents gave speeches, and we all reminisced on the beginning of our relationship and where we’re at now.

On the actual day, we woke up so excited. We were greeted with champagne from the front desk and met up with Brianna. We enjoyed the morning and took it slow, hanging out with our dog, Luna during the morning.

We then took a private trolley ride around Pittsburgh to show our friends and family members the city we live in. We all drank, laughed, and had an incredible time.

Once we got to the aviary, we got set up and began the ceremony in the most incredible room. While exchanging vows, you could hear the waterfalls going and the birds chirping. It was incredible, but boy, was it humid!

We then ate some finger foods, enjoyed the birds, played some games, and had an incredible dinner, ending the night with macaroons and sparklers. It was truly an unforgettable day. I wouldn’t change any of it for the world.


What are your favorite moments?

Can we say all of it? We really enjoyed getting to see the animals up close. Who can say they were able to stand right next to a penguin on their wedding day?

We also loved doing pictures with just the two of us later in the evening. It was a nice breather and allowed us to take a second to ourselves to reflect on our special day.


Do you have a standout vendor?

Our photographer, Brianna, not only gave us incredible photos, but she truly went above and beyond for us. She contacted so many vendors, created timelines, and truly made sure our day was relaxing and fun.


What does marriage mean to you?

For us, marriage means partnership. I know it sounds cheesy, but because we were long-distance for four years, we truly learned what it means to be a team. Marriage means working together, loving unconditionally, and laughing, even through the tough times.


Advice for other couples planning a wedding?

Keep it simple. Keep it fun. We were really stressed out when we first started planning. We weren’t sure what we wanted to do and complicated things really quickly by trying to plan something that wasn’t us to begin with.

We didn’t go “all-out.” We kept it simple and fun so that it would be both a stress-free and memorable day.


Anything you are glad you did? Or wish you didn’t do?

I’m super happy we took our family on a mini tour of Pittsburgh before heading to the venue. It was a fun way to loosen up, get excited about the ceremony, and of course, show our friends and family the city we live in and why we love it so much.

Photography by Brianna Parks Photography

Catering Atrias
Transport Molly’s Trolleys
Venue National Aviary