Surrounded by friends and family in the midst of the elaborate formal gardens of the Oglebay estate, Sarita Oglebay Burton celebrated her second marriage in 1922. The only daughter of Earl Oglebay, Sarita had the first wedding in the gardens while it was still privately owned by the family and known as Waddington Farm.
Sarita’s first marriage was as romantic a love story as imaginable. Courtney Burton courted her with every method available to him; letters between the two left no doubt they were wildly in love. Unfortunately, in 1919, just seven years after their wedding, Burton died in the influenza epidemic, leaving Sarita and their son devastated at the loss.
In 1922, she married a family friend, Albert Russel. Her continued involvement with Oglebay Park, including $75,000 to maintain the park during its first year of operation under the direction of the City of Wheeling, has been memorialized in the naming of Camp Russel as well as Sarita’s Coffee Shop inside Wilson Lodge.
TRADITIONAL WEDDINGS LIKE SARITA’S
For years, Wheeling area brides have coveted a wedding in the formal gardens of Oglebay, just like Sarita’s. The flowers in full bloom with a riot of color and the views of the hills from the porch of the mansion create memorable photos of a couple’s special day. Decades after that first Oglebay family wedding, these special events are still commonplace at Oglebay.
Oglebay has eight official venues to choose from for wedding ceremonies. The formal gardens are very popular, but the new location at the West Spa patio is in demand as well. St. Clairsville native April Henry chose the formal gardens for her outdoor wedding. “It was intimate, yet still provided that outdoor setting I wanted. There was beautiful scenery, including all the flowers, the mansion and the rolling hills,” April reminisces.
In July of 2010, Matt and Mia Porter wed at Oglebay at Mansion Woods. This location to the side of the Mansion Museum has a more private feel while still accommodating 50 to 250 guests. The Porters’ nuptials was the first ceremony held at that location, and in 2019, it is being added to the roster of officially advertised venues. The bride will experience a very dramatic entrance as she walks from the mansion to the gates at Mansion Woods near the famous “Bambi” statue. The first wedding in this location is slated for June 2019, with many more planned.
Mia consciously chose Oglebay as her wedding location because of the memories she has from growing up in Wheeling. “All my childhood memories were from Oglebay — skiing and sledding in the winters and swimming, the playground, the zoo and day camps all spring, summer and fall. It was exactly where I wanted our wedding to be,” Mia remembers. Her husband is a California native, but now he has the opportunity to build memories with their three children that include Oglebay as well as their special connection to the park because of their wedding there.
In the effort to continue the “tradition of grand affairs” on the property, according to Scott Schenerline, assistant director of food and beverage, Oglebay now employs two wedding specialists. They will help couples plan every detail of their event in a place with a celebrated history. While some couples travel from out of town to Oglebay for their nuptials, others, like Mia, choose this location because they desire a wedding in a treasured space they have been visiting since they were children.
Ashely Dunlap planned weddings at Disney but has returned home to Wheeling as a wedding coordinator at Oglebay. Casey Drake joined the team eight months ago and has greatly expanded the individualized attention couples receive while planning their Oglebay wedding.
FULL-SERVICE WEDDING PLANNING
Oglebay Park is currently in the process of completing a wedding consultation room, which will be a private planning space for couples and their consultant to discuss and see all the options available for their wedding. This concierge service will provide support from the beginning planning stages to the moment the bride walks down the aisle. A professional coordinator can help a family maintain a budget, create a timeline and is always up to date on current wedding trends. April Henry remembers the variety of wedding packages Oglebay offered and the ease with which she planned her nuptials there.
Oglebay can provide a spectacular setting for a wedding of any budget and party size. Small rooms such as the Fort Henry Room and the Banquet View Rooms inside Wilson Lodge are elegant and still provide for stunning views of the park. Camp Russel is available for those who would like to bring their own food or an outside caterer. Glessner Auditorium is perennially popular, often needing to be booked years in advance. April and Mike Henry chose the Pine Room for their reception, partially because they could bring in so many of their own services. “We hired an outside caterer, bartender, cake decorator and linen company,” which Oglebay is always happy to accommodate.
The Pine Room is being refurbished this year to include a new outdoor patio as well as a Wedding Grotto near the tennis courts. The Porters chose the Pine Room for their wedding reception. Having their ceremony near the mansion and then pictures taken nearby, the Pine Room was just a short drive away for their guests. They never had to leave the park for their perfect day.
The West Spa is available for relaxation before or after the big day and also has a patio as a possible wedding location. The park has two trolleys in their distinctive green that are fun options for transportation to and from the park. With 2,000 acres, nearly any location can be transformed into a gorgeous and memorable wedding spot.
PLAN AN OGLEBAY WEDDING
Couples who have already booked weddings at Oglebay, as well as those who are interested in doing so, are invited to attend the second annual Oglebay Wedding Showcase from 1-3 p.m. on Sunday, Feb. 24, at Wilson Lodge. At this free event, visitors will have the chance to see and experience what a wedding at Oglebay can be like.
Couples will see six different tablescapes, including linen and chair options. Lounge and chair designs by Eventioneers of Pittsburgh will be on display as well as ceiling treatments by Scott Klinkoski. Preferred photographer James Carl Photography and DJ Brian Oliver will discuss the photos that will last a lifetime and the tone to set with music. Every detail can be attended to at the event including flowers, food, desserts, cake, cocktails and photo booths.
Oglebay has a brand-new wedding menu with unique options that will make the food just as memorable as the décor. Executive chef Thomas Raymond, formerly from Nemacolin Resort, has developed a menu with flair that guests rave about. He can accommodate a traditional dinner, a trendy afternoon brunch or even a late-night snack as guests are preparing to leave. Oglebay also now offers custom mimosa, martini, margarita or bloody mary bars with eclectic add-ins.
2019 WEDDING TRENDS
Wedding specialist Ashley Dunlap is well versed in the current wedding trends and will be adding her special touch to the Showcase event. In recent years, weddings have been rustic. Many have a barn-like feel with burlap fabrics and large flowers. Oglebay is the perfect setting for this trendy style. It has a “rustic, historic feel with lots of modern spin,” Ashley reports — just what brides are looking for in 2019.
This year, more than ever before, there is a metallic look being mixed in with the rustic vintage feel. Rose gold, gold and silver accents are everywhere. And mixing metals is desirable. From flatware to custom chairs, Oglebay can offer all the latest trends as well as traditional décor. All of these choices will be available to view at the Showcase on Feb. 24.
OGLEBAY WEDDINGS: THEN AND NOW
Oglebay is fully committed to providing excellent service to its wedding customers. The motivation for the additional staff and private consultation room is to give couples easy access to all of their options to make informed decisions. Right at their fingertips are options for any taste and budget. The same beautiful scenery people of Wheeling have enjoyed for sled riding, watching fireworks and that first magical walk of the spring also makes a gorgeous wedding location.
Oglebay has 83 weddings booked already for 2019. However, many of the less traditional locations and days are still available. The wedding staff can discuss options such as Friday evening or Sunday afternoon weddings. With nearly endless locations on the property for both a wedding ceremony and reception, as well as a spa, golf courses and hotel, Oglebay has everything needed to create a perfect wedding day.
Oglebay has been a destination for weddings for those in surrounding cities for years. Their dedicated staff wants to make sure those who enjoy the park regularly experience Oglebay nuptials as well.
• Stacey Sacco is a Wheeling native currently living in Martins Ferry with her husband and four children. She graduated with a bachelor’s degree in social work and previously worked for several social service agencies. She is currently the production editor for InWheeling Magazine and a blogger at OV Parent.