Maeve and Zach

Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania



Photography | Serena Genovese | @serena_genovese

Venue | Ace Hotel Pittsburgh | @acehotelpittsburgh

Design and Decor | MaeveMade

Dress Designer | BHLDN | @bhldn

Apparel | The Iron Horse Atelier @theironhorsepgh

Apparel | Vestis | @vestispgh

Men’s Attire | Vintage Suit Attire | @vintagesuithire

Hair | Betsy Schrecengost

Makeup | Jae Lee Paredes

Jewelry | Studebaker Metals | @studebakermetals

Ring Designer | Catbird | @catbirdnyc

Ring Designer | Erica Weiner | @ericaweiner

Shoes | Nisolo | @nisoloshoes

Invitations | Susan Brown | @paperlocker_design

Paper Dolls | Jordan Grace Owens | @jordangraceowens

Other | Studio Forget-Me-Not!

Lighting | EF Lighting | @eflighting

From the Photographer

Maeve and Zach are meant to be together.

This is their love story: In the summer of 2011, I was walking up Castlebar Road in the neighborhood of Ealing outside London when I noticed a girl walking across the street. She was beautiful. I actually stopped walking and just stared at her for a few moments. Since I was studying abroad at the time, I just assumed she was a local on her way home from work or school. Eventually she walked out of sight and I carried on thinking of what could of have been. Later that same week, I saw her again! She was walking on the opposite side of me headed towards the direction of my flat. Strange I thought because only students from my program lived there. Before I knew what was happening, we were through the front door and walking up the same staircase. I had to say something!


“Hi! I’m Zach — I think I’ve seen you around here occasionally.”

“Oh, hi — I’m Maeve,” she responded.


I honestly couldn’t tell you the rest of our conversation because I was so nervous and full of butterflies… I couldn’t stop thinking about her name. Maeve. What is that? Irish? English? So she’s definitely not American I thought. But I couldn’t tell if she had an accent? During that summer we found ourselves walking home on opposite sides of the road many times, but all I could muster was a quick “hello” as we passed each other. I didn’t have the courage to strike up a conversation and ask her to hang out. My program ended a couple months later and all I could think about was her. I missed my chance. Fast forward to my fall semester at Pitt 2011. I was walking outside Posvar Hall (you probably know it as Forbes Quad) when I saw her. It was Maeve… on the opposite side of the street from me, just walking and minding her own business. I ran across the street and said something like “Hey! Do you remember me? I’m Zach! We use to walk on opposite sides of the street in Ealing!” Yes, I actually did that. It sounds as awkward today as it was back then. Yet… Maeve smiled back at me… the girl of my dreams. The rest is history!

Tell us about your wedding! What was the inspiration behind your day? Did you have a specific theme, style or color palette?

We established our shared values of creativity, tradition, and family to plan a wedding that felt authentic to who we are as individuals and as a couple. Truthfully we already felt like we were married for a long time before — it was such a gradual, natural feeling. As a result, our wedding unfolded in three parts over a period of time rather than a single day. Pennsylvania marriage law provides the option of applying for a self-uniting marriage license, so we exchanged vows and united ourselves on November 3, 2017 in our home. Our mothers signed as our witnesses. This date is special to Maeve and her family since it is the wedding anniversary of her paternal grandparents, Margaret and Frank Sattler, who were married on November 3, 1945. The following day we had a beautiful Greek Orthodox wedding ceremony at Zach’s family’s church, Ypapanti in East Pittsburgh surrounded by our immediate family and Godparents. Zach’s paternal grandparents, James and Marianne Zafris, were married there and their legacy lives on to this day in the family and the church community. It was important for us to combine these two parts of our family histories into this special milestone in our lives.One year later, we had a wedding celebration on November 3, 2018 at the Ace Hotel in Pittsburgh. We poured our hearts and creativity into planning every detail of this day. During the process, we kept returning to the memory of reading a chapter in the final Harry Potter book that describes a wedding. All of the central characters take part in decorating and preparing for the day, and the guests gradually begin to arrive from far off places, convening at the wedding celebration. It was not “themed” per se, but we used this inspiration to guide many of our choices, especially since the majority of our decor was DIY with a lot of help from our family and friends. The result was a wedding day that felt warm, bright, calm, and magical.


Our ceremony took place in the Ace Hotel Pittsburgh Ballroom at 11 o’clock in the morning. We walked into the room together to the song “So Here We Are” by Bloc Party and stood facing each other, centered on a tall window overlooking a Gothic Revival church across the street. Natural light was really important to us and there was plenty of sunlight streaming through the windows. The ceremony started out with some beautiful words about our first year of marriage shared by Fr. Michael, one of the priests who performed our Greek Orthodox ceremony the previous year. Then we performed a handfasting ceremony with the help of our friends, Aubrey and Kevin. Zach and I wrote the vows and wrapped three different colored ribbons around each other’s hands to represent each vow: Encouragement & Individuality, Love & Friendship, and Eternity. Some of our favorite music by The Cranberries and Coldplay played quietly in the background. At the conclusion of the handfasting, we addressed our guests before processing out to Fleetwood Mac’s song “Everywhere.” The reception began immediately after the ceremony and started with a blessing from Fr. Dean, who was also present for our ceremony the previous year. We then took a moment to read our own blessing to our guests. The food came directly from Whitfield, the restaurant at Ace Hotel Pittsburgh, and was absolutely incredible. Our menu included pastrami sandwiches with coleslaw and fries on top — a Pittsburgh staple — as well as fried chicken sandwiches, butter leaf salad, and baked mac & cheese served buffet style. Instead of cake, we had an ice cream sundae bar with fun toppings like apple crisp, brownies, chocolate, and rainbow sprinkles. Following lunch, Zach’s older brother, Brad, and Maeve’s older sister, Liz, each gave a beautiful and thoughtful speech. This was followed by our dance as a couple to the song “Sunday” by The Cranberries. Typically Maeve shies away from dancing, but we choreographed the dance moves ourselves! Next was the father-daughter dance to “You’ve Got a Friend” by James Taylor and the mother-son dance to “Many Ways to Say I Love You” from Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood. The music continued as our guests were invited to the dance floor!


Let’s talk wedding decor. How did you decorate your space for the ceremony and the reception?

Almost every part of our wedding decor was DIY! Maeve designed and coordinated everything herself with the gracious help of our family and friends. We kept the decor simple for the ceremony in the Ballroom in order to compliment the architectural details of the space. The room was flooded with natural light from the huge windows and was so beautiful on its own. Our ceremony centered on a window with a large 14-inch white paper star, made by Maeve, suspended overhead.


The Ace Hotel Pittsburgh is located in a century-old former YMCA, so our reception was held in the Gym — a three-story space with large windows and a track running almost the full perimeter overhead. We did not get access to the space until midnight the night before and completed all of the set up and decorating by 2:00am (with a wake up call in 3 hours!!). EF Lighting did an amazing job hanging four long strands of cafe lights that spanned from the track railings up to the ceiling. In addition to the lighting, we had strings of white bunting hung along the metal handrails of the track. The Ace Hotel staff arranged the tables and chairs and we set up the rest of the decor ourselves with help from our parents and a few friends. The tables were a mix of rectangular and round shapes, and each was covered with an ivory table cloth. At each setting was a paper placemat printed with an ornate hand-drawn plate and utensils, giving the appearance of a place setting. We included a small glass bowl full of colorful crayons at each table for guests of all ages to color or draw. At the center of each table was a lantern with a white paper star suspended inside similar to the ceremony star — all handmade by Maeve. Each table was numbered and named after a place from the Harry Potter books — the most explicitly “themed” part of our day, and one of our favorite details. Our sweetheart table was named Number Twelve, Grimmauld Place. The place cards were actually folded green paper cootie catchers that we printed with a welcome message and quotes about love from favorite books and movies. These took hours upon hours to cut, fold and pin to ribbons, and we have many people to thank for their help! During the wedding reception we had a continuous slideshow projected up high on a large screen. We showed photos from family weddings and other special events that took place over the past century or more. Collecting and scanning all of the photos during the preceding months was a huge task, but so much fun and well worth it! It felt like all of our loved ones were present and watching down over us from across the ages. We never could have anticipated the impact and presence this slideshow had in this space on such an occasion. Rather than cake, we had an ice cream bar. Instead of cake toppers, we had a frame displaying paper dolls depicting us from our wedding ceremony in 2017. These were handmade and exquisitely painted by artist Jordan Grace Owens.


What were the florals like in your wedding? Did you use flowers in any of your design elements like the bridal bouquets, centerpieces or ceremony backdrop? Did they play an important part in the overall style of your wedding?

Our flowers were a unique mix of dried, fresh, and silk, including safflowers, white and gold button flowers, lavender, larkspur, gomphrena, eucalyptus, lotus pods, anemones, magnolias, stock, lantern flowers, gypsophila, and berry branches. Maeve arranged the flowers in bottles and jars of various shapes and sizes, staying within a glass color palette of copper, amber, clear, dark green, and green milk glass. We scattered the leftover silver dollar and seeded eucalyptus across the center of each table.


Maeve carried the same bouquet for the ceremony both years. She made it using dried flowers tied together with hand-dyed chiffon ribbon. Among the flowers are three gold paper stars, handmade by Maeve. Maeve made Zach’s boutonniere using a red-orange silk poppy and dried flowers.


Did you personalize the day in any way (food trucks, guest entertainment etc.)? What were some of your favorite parts of your wedding?

Here are some of the ways we personalized our wedding day, which also happen to be some of our favorite parts!

– Morning/lunchtime wedding – Creating our own handfasting ceremony and writing the vows- Continuous slideshow of photos from family weddings and other special events- Analog photo booth- Harry Potter-themed table names/numbers- Paper placemats and a jar of crayons on every table for drawing and coloring — something that Maeve wishes she had at every event she attends!- A craft table for the kids — coordinated by artist Laura Stuart of Studio Forget-Me-Not!- Paper star ornaments made by Maeve (MaeveMade) used throughout our decor – Ice cream sundae bar- Cookie table filled with cookies made by our moms, aunts, cousins, godmothers, and friends. Maeve’s aunt and cousins got custom cookies made at a bakery in New Jersey in London-themed shapes such as Big Ben, telephone booths, and even the street sign where we first met. Also displayed on the cookie table was the cake topper from Maeve’s grandparents’ wedding in 1945. – The music! We created a playlist that included many of our favorite songs and asked our friend Simon to DJ for us. He added some of his own music to complement ours, and it turned into a perfect mix for our wedding day!

Let’s talk fashion. How did you both choose your wedding day look? Describe the looks in detail.

We had a unique and timeless style in mind as we embarked on what became a surprisingly challenging and somewhat frustrating quest for our wedding day outfits. We searched at local shops and boutiques as well as online for the suit and dress that fit our vision. After the better part of a year, we finally came across The Vintage Suit Hire Company based in Bedford, England and emailed back and forth with the owners, Jessica and Tom Answer, to order Zach’s grey herringbone worsted wool three-piece suit. It arrived a couple of months later and fit perfectly! The rest of Zach’s outfit included a club collar white dress shirt, navy tweed tie from Vestis, and Oxford shoes from Nisolo. Maeve made Zach’s boutonniere using a red-orange silk poppy and dried flowers.


The search for the perfect dress was even more of a challenge. Maeve tried on several beautiful gowns at local boutiques and shops, but they always felt like a dress that belonged to someone else. She searched several times online and in-store at BHLDN, and finally found the perfect dress in her size exactly one month before the wedding day! It was a floor-length champagne tulle dress that gradually flared below the knee, covered in silver and gold-hued sequins forming the shapes of florals and vines. Maeve used a copper-colored velvet ribbon from Honey Silks Co. as a sash at the waist with a neat bow tied at the back. The excess ribbon trailed behind to the ground. At the wedding, one of Maeve’s friends commented that she looked like she had just emerged from a Gustav Klimt painting. Her shoes were green peep-toe heels with a strap around the ankle — a comfortable pair that she has worn for years to many other weddings and special events. Another very special part of Maeve’s outfit was a brown mink stole that originally belonged to Zach’s late grandmother, Marianne. We worked with the incredible seamstress Amanda Vereb, owner of The Iron Horse Atelier, for dress alterations and suit tailoring. Amanda understood our vision immediately and took the time to tweak even the smallest details. Her enthusiasm was such a boost of confidence as we finalized our outfits! Maeve’s hair was styled by Betsy Schrecengost and pulled back into an elegant, vintage-inspired updo with small bunches of baby’s breath flowers. Her makeup was done by Selina Pernatozzi and inspired by an old Hollywood vintage look. Maeve’s engagement ring is an Art Deco-influenced design by Erica Weiner. Her wedding band is from Catbird in Brooklyn, NY and Zach’s wedding band is from Studebaker Metals in Braddock, PA.


How did you meet? Tell us about the proposal.

We grew up less than 10 miles away from each other in Pittsburgh, but we did not meet until we were studying abroad in London, England in 2011. We used to walk on opposite sides of the road from the tube station to our dormitory in Ealing, and at first Zach assumed I was a local. We talked very briefly in passing, but did not connect again until we were back in Pittsburgh later that year. We found ourselves in a very familiar situation walking on opposite sides of the street, but this time it was on campus at the University of Pittsburgh. Zach ran across to strike up a conversation and we made plans to get coffee. The rest is history!


 We always knew we wanted to revisit London and experience the city together like we should have when we first met. We were together for three years when we finally booked our tickets. It was a Saturday in July of 2016 and we spent the day exploring the city and showing each other our favorite places. We spent hours exploring book shops and even returned to Ealing to walk around the neighborhood where we originally crossed paths. At the end of the day, we returned to our flat where we were staying and made dinner to eat on the rooftop terrace. It was set a bit higher than any of the surrounding houses and the atmosphere was incredibly peaceful as the sun set. Zach took out the ring and proposed, and of course I said yes! It was one of the happiest days of our lives. A few days later we made our way to Edinburgh, Scotland where wemet up with Serena Genovese for engagement photos. Fortunately Serena agreed to travel all the way to Pittsburgh a couple of years later to photograph our wedding celebration! She is the best and we would not have trusted anyone else!


What was the most anticipated or special moment of your wedding day?

Walking into the ballroom for the ceremony and seeing all of our friends and family. It felt surreal and utterly magical! We had guests who traveled from near and far — Pennsylvania, Ohio, New York, Maryland, Massachusetts, Delaware, New Jersey, Tennessee, Illinois, Indiana, Texas, Florida, Montana, and Serena our photographer flew over from Italy! It was truly the warmest feeling in the world to be surrounded by everyone we love in one space. We made the decision not to have any age restrictions on our guest list, so we actually had a lot of children at the wedding, too! Knowing so many kids would be there made the planning and the day itself that much more fun! There was also a very short, but special moment of our wedding day that we did not anticipate. After processing out of the Ballroom ceremony, we did not have a plan of where to go. We were off to the side in a hallway next to the doors with our friends Aubrey and Kevin. It would have been the perfect moment to greet our guests and form a receiving line, but instead we just decided to hide there and watch our guests as they walked from the room to the staircase leading to the reception. A few people caught sight of us as they walked by, but for the most part we were just observing people and their reactions and expressions. It felt very secretive and fun, and it stands out as a very distinct memory from a day that was, at times, a complete blur!


Do you have any wedding planning or marriage advice that you’d like to share with other couples planning their day?

Our society can sometimes make us think we need to do things a specific way. However, you should do everything the way that feels most true to you as a couple! Establish your shared values and a creative vision before you make any other decisions. Write it down and let it guide you. For us, this meant mixing traditions with modern values and having a small marriage ceremony before planning our larger wedding celebration a year later. It did not matter if anyone else was confused by our decision because it ultimately felt true to us!


Also, do yourself a favor and work with your venue well in advance to agree on a date and time you can access your space to start setting up and decorating — then confirm this in writing! We had a morning/early afternoon wedding which is culturally a-typical for American weddings. All of the preparation work had to occur the night before since the normal wedding formula time table was shifted. Music is a big part of your wedding day. Find a DJ you like and trust! Think of a time when you watched a movie with a great storyline and acting, but the soundtrack was somewhat off or aggressively loud compared to the dialogue. Music can make or break the style and experience of your wedding day the same as food and decor. In terms of marriage advice, be each other’s best friend and you will be golden!