Every year on the third Friday in September, artists, activists and anyone else with an idea has the opportunity transform parking spaces into public parks. The event, known as PARK(ing) Day, originated in San Francisco in 2005 and has since spread to cities world-wide, including Pittsburgh. The idea is to draw attention to the need for urban open spaces, and the lines between the sidewalk and street are blurred, as participants use plants, grass, sand, astro turf, lawn chairs and anything else they can think of to transform these concrete plots.
Quelcy Kogel, a local food blogger and event planner, has participated in PARK(ing) Day before – she was part of a group who set up vintage campers in front of Lili Café in Polish Hill, offering live music, bocce, croquet and pies. This year, she wanted to incorporate her freelance event planning skills by providing couples with a space to renew their wedding vows (or even say them for the first time). “I'm a hopeless romantic at heart, and I think about weddings a lot,” she explains via email. “ I'm not sure when the ideas merged in my head, but it's been lurking for a while, and I decided this was the year to make it happen.”
Kogel will set up in front of Bayardstown Social Club in the Strip District, and weddings and re-weddings will take place from 6 p.m until midnight. A $20 fee covers a ceremony in the decorated space, a desert to share with your sweetheart, entrance to Bayardstown, and a photo by a professional photographer, which will be posted on Facebook. Couples can also opt for floral packages (for an additional fee), including bouquets, boutonnieres and flower crowns.
The ceremonies will be officiated by Yelp Pittsburgh Community Manager Rachel Carson, who was ordained online for the occasion. I approached her because she is so enthusiastic, outgoing and a true fan of the city,” Kogel explains. “It was a tough role to fill because the event is playful, but the love stories are sincere and personal. I needed someone to be fun yet respectful.”
Couples can sign up at Kogel’s website . Proceeds benefit Hazelwood Urban Farms, which aims to turn Hazelwood’s vacant lots into farmland.
“Vow renewals might have a cheesy or apologetic connotation (i.e.: renewing vows after making a mistake in the relationship),” Kogel admits. “However, this vow renewal ceremony is all about celebrating ongoing love and commitments. It's a rare opportunity for couples to proclaim their love publicly, which is why I love weddings in the first place.”