When it comes to wedding ceremonies that seamlessly blend elegance, tradition, and a touch of timeless romance, Heinz Memorial Chapel stands out as an iconic venue. Nestled on the campus of the University of Pittsburgh, Heinz Chapel is a breathtaking masterpiece that has become a cherished setting for couples embarking on their journey of lifelong commitment. In fact – my husband and I were married here!! I’m obviously a bit partial to Heinz Memorial Chapel weddings. In this blog post, I’ll explore why Heinz Chapel is a popular choice for weddings ,what makes it a truly special place to say “I do.”, some of the ‘rules’, and some of my favorite photo locations inside and outside.

Reserving Your Wedding Date

Gone are the days when PITT grads had to sit by the phone a year in advance to reserve their wedding date and time at Heinz Chapel. You can now book your wedding up to 2 years in advance, and you do not have to be a PITT grad or relation to alumni to have your wedding at Heinz Memorial Chapel. That means the competition can be tough to get a desired date and time, so make sure you reserve your time slot ASAP if you want to get married here!

Early Time Ceremonies at Heinz Chapel

Have a desired date, but the early time is the only one available? I have seen this managed a few different ways:

  1. Have a brunch reception! One of my favorite Heinz Memorial Chapel weddings was a 12:30pm ceremony followed by a brunch reception at Soldiers and Sailors. All of the delicious brunchy foods were served, and after the reception wrapped up the couple planned a fun night out with their friends!
  2. Include a small guest count for the ceremony. You could make your ceremony a more private event with just close friends and family, have a break in the day, and then host a big party in the evening with everyone there. As your wedding photographer, I could even pull and edit some ceremony photos to show at the reception – that would be fun!
  3. Expect a break for your guests and plan a little something for them. You could give them a scavenger hunt around Pittsburgh, or give them all tickets for entry to Phipps Conservatory for the afternoon!

Late Time Ceremonies at Heinz Chapel

How about the opposite, where you get a later time slot of something like 6:30pm – how would you handle that? This time can be a little easier to manage, actually. Plan to see each other for a first look – you want to spend a lot of your wedding day together and not separated! We will do all of your photos in advance and spend quality time with your wedding party, friends, and loved family members. After the ceremony, you can get a few more photos inside of Heinz Chapel and then off to the party!

Heinz Memorial Chapel Weddings – bring your officiant!

Heinz Memorial Chapel weddings are nondenominational, making it an ideal choice for couples of various faiths. You can bring your officiant to the chapel for your wedding ceremony – I’ve photographed lots of weddings here and they do a wonderful job of incorporating whatever religious traditions you’d love. They do have a Blessed Mother statue that you can use, a unity candle is permitted as well. I have not experienced a full mass with communion, however, as that is usually omitted for time purposes. Whether you have a specific religious affiliation or simply appreciate the beauty of a sacred space, Heinz Chapel offers an inclusive environment for your special day.

Wedding Photos inside of Heinz Memorial Chapel

The venue is not an easy venue to photograph. It takes a lot of experience and professional quality work to create great images in this space. Photographing everything without a flash (especially the processional!) – no. Do not hire someone who shoots this all ‘available light’. Your images will be beyond grainy. Photographing the ceremony with all ‘available light’? Do-able, but not ideal. The overhead lights in Heinz Chapel create a lot of shadows on your face and can give you an ‘orange’ glow. I set up very discrete lights in the chapel and use them to make your skin look beautiful during your wedding ceremony. No iPhone can do this! If your wedding is at Heinz Chapel – please hire an advanced professional photographer. <3

heinz chapel first kiss photo • Heinz Memorial Chapel Weddings

Heinz Chapel’s Location

In addition to its aesthetic and symbolic significance, Heinz Chapel also offers practical advantages. Located in the heart of Pittsburgh, the chapel is easily accessible for both local and out-of-town guests. The University of Pittsburgh’s experienced staff can assist with the logistics of your ceremony, ensuring that everything runs smoothly on your big day. Your guests can stay at the nearby hotels, including the Oaklander, Wydham, or Ace Hotel.

Photo Spots For Heinz Memorial Chapel weddings – inside

For family photos: These are often done at the altar area. And here’s the BIG THING to think about: the wood behind your photos can appear very orange in family photos. This is where a SEASONED PROFESSIONAL is incredibly important! I adjust my lights to combat that orangey-glow, and edit appropriately. Take this as strong advice from someone who has photographed numerous weddings at Heinz Chapel and learned the process over time!

After family photos: I love to photograph my couples on the altar looking back into the chapel, with the stained glass windows, in the stone archway at the front of the Chapel, and of course at those iconic Red Doors!

Photo Locations For Heinz Memorial Chapel Weddings – Nearby

So many options!! I love photographing weddings at Heinz Chapel, because either before of after the big event we have lots of locations nearby for photos. The iconic walkways set along the Cathedral Lawn are beautiful! The area around the Cathedral of Learning (Cathy!!) gets amazing light and really pretty trees in the summer and fall seasons. There are also large blooming hydrangea bushes surrounding the Cathedral that are beautiful in June. The ginko trees lining the sidewalk on S. Bellefield Ave are wonderfully yellow in November! For PITT grads, the Cathedral, University of Pittsburgh sign, William Penn Union, PITT Panther, and Schenley Plaza are all within walking distance. Icing on the cake? The Mellon Institute Columns across the street make a great rain plan!

heinz chapel wedding photo november • Heinz Memorial Chapel Weddings

With its soaring architecture and a setting that seamlessly merges tradition with modernity, Heinz Chapel is the perfect stage for the first chapter of your happily ever after. Of course I love my Heinz Chapel weddings – every time I return I’m reminded of my own vows! 🙂

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Leeann Marie Wedding Photographer
Pittsburgh Wedding Photographer, Leeann Marie Golish, has been photographing classic and contemporary weddings for over 16 years.
pittsburgh wedding photographer leeann marie in the fairmont hotel


Not only is your wedding a celebration of you two coming together, but it’s a memory of all of the good humans in your world.

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