The QB meets his match: Ben Roethlisberger, Ashley Harlan now husband and wife



Ben Roethlisberger is no longer the single best quarterback in Pittsburgh.

On a hot but clear Saturday afternoon, Mr. Roethlisberger, 29, and New Castle native Ashley Harlan, 26, exchanged wedding vows before an Ohio Township church full of family and friends -- as well as Steelers officials, coaches and players.

After the ceremony at Christ Church at Grove Farm, the bride and groom were whisked by limousine to the David L. Lawrence Convention Center, Downtown, for a reception in The Spirit of America Ballroom.

More than 600 guests gathered for cocktails and hors d'oeuvres in the convention center's Concourse B, overlooking the Allegheny River, then went into the ballroom for dinner and dancing. And, of course, to toast the newlyweds.

The gala event, which began with the bridal party's arrival just before 6 p.m., was anything but black and gold. Think cream drapes with gray and pink accents.

The day began at the church on Duff Road, with police patrols and members of the media circulating around the property. There were no reports of curiosity-seekers, and most neighbors expressed indifference, mixed with some mild annoyance at the traffic restrictions.

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William and Margaret Zierenberg, who live at the corner of Duff and Linda Vista, were the exception, sitting in lawn chairs in front of their home near a black-and-gold sign reading "Best Wishes Ben & Ashley." Guests going to and from the church honked and waved as they passed.

People began arriving for the 3 p.m. ceremony around 2:30 p.m. Most came in expensive cars: black SUVs, Mercedes and limos. Some came in coach buses with dark-tinted windows. A few cars had markings from Miami University of Ohio, the college Mr. Roethlisberger attended.

Once at the entrance, guests -- ranging from Dan Rooney, the nation's ambassador to Ireland and the Steelers chairman emeritus, to Pittsburgh Mayor Luke Ravenstahl -- flashed pinkish-peach invitations and received parking passes.

Security for the wedding and the reception was tight.

The people working at the convention center were doing so under the direction that they are setting up a movie production that involved a wedding rehearsal.

Saturday, as the vendors arrived, many workers were not permitted to have cell phones in the ballroom.

Wedding planner Sheila Weiner of The Event Group, on Washington Boulevard in the East End, orchestrated the behind-the-scenes work, making sure that all the pieces came together as seamlessly as possible.

The bride and groom, along with their 21-person bridal party, arrived at the convention center's West Lobby shortly before 6 p.m., using a bus and a line of men to shield the couple from the news photographers and cameramen that were kept at the edge of the property along Fort Duquesne Boulevard.

The couple and bridal party proceeded to the third-floor ballroom, a massive room usually divided into three smaller rooms.

The ballroom featured a silver, ivory and blush pink color scheme, according to a press release Ms. Weiner sent out late Saturday night.

Still other details emerged from those who were part of the occasion: Pink and white roses filled the ballroom. Guests were seated 10 to a table, and each table had a crystal centerpiece vase, more than 2 feet tall.

Ms. Weiner said the table centerpieces -- created from locally grown phalaenopsis orchids, roses, hydrangea and peonies in shades of ivory, white and blush pinks -- were designed from Hepatica Florist on South Braddock Avenue.

Guests' plates were inscribed with the names of the bride and groom and the date. Beneath each plate there were tea towels embroidered with the letter R. Another personal touch was sofa pillows embroidered with the letters A and B with a big R.

Guests dined on filet and halibut prepared by Common Plea Restaurant and Catering on Ross Street, Downtown, Ms. Weiner said.

The couple's six-tiered wedding cake and specialty desserts were from Vanilla Pastry Studio, a boutique bakery on Penn Circle South. Each tier was wrapped in pearl fondant and completed with a sugar monogram and a full band of fresh roses, Ms. Weiner said. Female guests were served "vanilla bean buttercream cake with fresh berries while the men enjoyed cookies and cream cake served with a chocolate-dipped strawberry," according to Ms. Weiner. The men's servings came from a three-tier groom's cake -- a "camouflage topsy turvy cake, complete with the inscription 'The Hunt is Over,' " Ms. Weiner said.

The Prop Shop on Washington Boulevard handled the lights and tables, and Three Rivers Entertainment on Swallow Hill Road and Wayne Foster Entertainment, based in California, provided the music. Goldstein Photography in Squirrel Hill recorded the event.

Tri State Valet on Greentree Road and Regency Transportation on Beaver Avenue provided limousines for many guests and the wedding party.

In lieu of gifts, the bride and groom asked guests to make a donation to the Ben Roethlisberger Foundation, benefitting children's charities, Ms. Weiner said.

She said the Roethlisbergers were not immediately taking a honeymoon.

Steelers - people - bridalpg

Dan Majors: dmajors@post-gazette.com; Ryan Brown: rbrown@post-gazette.com First Published July 24, 2011 4:00 AM


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