Around the Three Rivers: Wedding Bells Ring for Big Ben & Ashley, But Did Sewickley Hear Them?

Here's a look at other Patch headlines this week from around our region's three rivers.

Editor's Note: This story originally appeared Friday on Sewickley Patch.

Larissa Holley didn’t exactly choke on her ice-cold  drink, but she was surprised Thursday to learn that on Saturday one of Pittsburgh’s most eligible bachelors plans to tie the knot right up the road from her house.

Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger, 29, is set to walk down the aisle and marry his 26-year-old sweetheart, Ashley Harlan,  at Christ Church at Grove Farm in nearby Ohio Township, a rural community off Interstate 79 that borders Sewickley Hills.

The spacious, nondenominational church on Duff Road is minutes away from Sewickley Valley communities, and many Valley residents attend its formal and casual services and events.

The upcoming nuptials have drawn plenty of attention and speculation about details throughout the vast Steelers Nation. But in and around Sewickley, even diehard Steelers fans aren't getting too worked up.

Spotting a celebrity face around here is easier on some days than finding an open parking spot on Beaver Street, and folks have shown some interest but aren’t exactly clamoring for details of Roethlisberger's wedding day.

Holley, for one, admitted she had no idea the ceremony was set for Saturday, but she wished the couple well.

"We should be happy he’s getting married,” said Holley, a self-described Steelers fan.  

Holley isn't the only local who doesn't know much about No. 7's big day.

Neither did friends Isaac Goebert of Edgeworth and Max Sklarsky of Sewickley Hills, who shrugged when the topic came up while they sat together in Starbucks.

“I don’t really have a strong opinion at all. I don’t care,” Sklarsky said.

In Sewickley, hockey fans may outnumber football fanatics, and most agreed a Roethlisberger wedding in these parts isn't quite the local draw as, say, a Sidney Crosby wedding.

Holley said the marriage of the Pittsburgh Penguins center would create a much bigger gossip storm in this town.

"Sidney Crosby still lives around here, and he could get married," Holley gushed. 

Still, now that Roethlisberger's private affair is drawing closer, some locals are curious about the details -- the venue for the reception, the flowers, the dress, the rings, and of course, the church.

 “Is he getting married in a church?” Holley asks. 


The Rev. Bruce Cote, senior associate pastor at Christ Church, said Roethlisberger, a Findlay, OH, native, and Harlan, a New Castle native, attend services regularly there. The sanctuary is certainly big enough to accommodate the wedding, which reportedly may include 500 guests.

“On Sundays we have about 1,400 members,” Cote said, and that doesn’t count the 250 or so kids who also attend.

Cote isn’t officiating at the wedding, and he said he has remained in the dark on some of the details. But he said the church has received a number of calls since news recently broke about its choice as the venue for the ceremony.

From the cake to the hair and makeup, flowers or photos, none of the local businesses approached by Sewickley Patch would admit to being involved in the wedding.

“I’d be a nervous wreck,” laughed Tina Echement, owner of , where wedding cakes are just one of many specialties.

If Echement were baking and assembling the wedding cake, she said, “I probably wouldn’t be able to say.” 

Blooms in links and lavenders are popular this season, but it's impossible to predict what the bride and groom ultimately will choose, said Karrie Hlista, owner of Hlista Wedding Designs, a floral couture shop.

"For all we know, Big Ben might be going with all white, like phalaenopsis orchids," she said.

Over at Busy Bee Photography, photographer Bruce Erik Steffine, who works out of the main-street studio, said he wasn’t hired to capture Big Ben’s day. He has photographed other celebrity weddings, including that of top female golfer Cristie Kerr.

“There are often quite strict requirements placed on vendors, including the photographer," he said. 

“Oftentimes when somebody photographs a celebrity wedding, they have done one before. They want someone who is pretty mature and is going to handle an event like that well.”


Businesses on Mt. Nebo Road, near the church, said they aren’t worried about issues that could arise on Saturday.

 Restaurant isn’t planning to change its hours or offer a special on Saturday in honor of the day.

“Nobody’s really talking about it too much, to be honest,” said Mike Shram, a waiter at the restaurant.

Raymond Craig, owner of Mt. Nebo Service station, said he didn’t know about the wedding until he came to work Monday.

“To me, Ben’s just a quarterback who I root for every Sunday to play football. He puts his pants on the same way we do,” Craig said.  

Craig isn’t planning to close down, either. Who knows? Some of the guests might need to stop for pop, cigarettes or gasoline, he said.

“I don’t see it affecting my business. It could increase it,” he said.

Craig has owned the business for 30 years. The last time an event of this magnitude happened nearby was about two years ago, he said, when former President George W. Bush came to Sewickley Heights for a fundraiser dinner. Attendees parked at the church and a shuttle bused everyone down to the dinner, he said.

Ohio Township Police Chief Norbert Miklos said six officers from the department are working Saturday to make sure traffic flows, residents can get in and out -- and businesses aren’t affected much. Police will also provide security in case someone is making plans for a Wedding Crashers sequel.

Across from the Mt. Nebo service station is a field that leads to Duff Road near the church entranceway. Employees joked that if someone were serious about crashing, they could cut across the field to get to the church.

But Miklos said that person would likely be met by a black car. Part of his department’s job is to make sure stragglers can’t gain access to the wedding.

“We’ll have officers on the ground around the perimeters,” he said.

Goebert, of Edgeworth, said he thinks people who pay too much attention to celebrities have no lives of their own. The ceremony won't affect his life, and he won’t be part of any Big Ben wedding watch come Saturday.

“I’d much rather watch something like Big Trouble in Little China, ” he said. 


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