Western Pa. college venues popular wedding settings
When Krista Boyer got engaged to Ryann Bradley, the couple immediately knew where they wanted the wedding: St. Joseph Chapel at Seton Hill University.
“We decided to get married at Seton Hill because the chapel is so beautiful, and ... it's so special because that's where we met, and we have a lot of memories,” says Boyer, 34. She and Bradley, 33, were married there Aug. 13, 2011, and live in New Stanton, Westmoreland County.
The couple, who earned master's degrees in business administration at Seton Hill, didn't look into any other options. As active alumni, marrying at their alma mater made sense and had the most sentimental value, she says.
College Ranker has named Seton Hill's St. Joseph Chapel in Greensburg as one of 50 most beautiful college campus wedding venues. The list, published this month on collegeranker.com, includes three Western Pennsylvania venues: St. Joseph, Heinz Chapel at the University of Pittsburgh in Oakland and the Archabbey at St. Vincent College in Latrobe. The list also includes the Arboretum at Penn State in State College, Centre County.
The Cadet Chapel at the U.S. Air Force Academy in Colorado was named the most beautiful college campus wedding venue by College Ranker, a rating service for all aspects of college life.
Jennifer Reeger, spokeswoman for Seton Hill, says the chapel, which hosts an average of 10 to 15 weddings a year, is the “heart of Seton Hill.” The chapel, dedicated in 1896, offers Catholic ceremonies to Seton Hill alumni. The school also uses the chapel for university Masses. It has special sentimental touches, like a halo over the statue of the Virgin Mary made of gold from jewelry donated by the Sisters of Charity.
“A lot of our alums really find it to be a beautiful space and a sacred space,” Reeger says. “It's just a space that they associate with their time at Seton Hill. ... They met here; they fell in love here; they got engaged here. Why not get married here?”
Heinz Chapel, a highly recognizable Oakland landmark, hosts about 200 weddings on a typical year, says Wendy Lau, assistant director of Heinz Chapel. However, this isn't a typical year — the chapel is closed for five months to install a climate-control mechanism. It is scheduled to reopen May 31, she says.
The nondenominational chapel, built in 1938, hosts any kind of wedding, regardless of religious affiliation, and officiants can be either clergy members or justices of the peace, Lau says. The Oakland chapel is open to couples where one person has an affiliation with Pitt, whether as current or former students, alumni, employees of Pitt or employees of UPMC or Heinz, she says. Pitt also uses the chapel for other events, like worship services for student groups.
Couples choose Heinz Chapel because “the building is really, really spectacular,” Lau says. “It could be a dream place to get married, because you feel like royalty there. It is such an embracing place because of what it stands for. ... Everyone is welcome.
“It's like being in a piece of art. The stained glass is some of the best you'll see in the world.”
Officials with the St. Joseph Archabbey and the Penn State Arboretum could not be reached for comment.
Kellie B. Gormly is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 412-320-7824.