Being a wedding planner for almost a decade in the State College area, there is one element that tends to come up at a lot of weddings, and that is Penn State. Not surprising when most of the towns history is built around its university. A good chunk of the weddings I have coordinated over the years have ties to Penn State. Whether it be the couple attended (several falling in love as students on campus), they work there, or are just locals who support the blue and white. Due to their love of Penn State, many couples have decided to pay tribute to the university in their wedding. Some more subtly and some went all out. Here are some pictures from weddings through the years with various ideas if you are considering incorporating Penn State into your wedding day. Some of these were intentional Penn State, and some just happen to be a good idea that works.
Wedding planning really cannot begin fully until a venue is booked. If going for a Penn State feel, the best place to have your wedding is at one of the two hotels the university owns, The Penn Stater Hotel and Conference Center or The Nittany Lion Inn. (Please note at the time of this blog post, the Nittany Lion Inn is closed as its being repurposed due to COVID with no opening date mentioned). Both venues and their locations offer a Penn State feel. Plus if you book there you can use the Penn State trolley or blue bus.
While both have ceremony options, there are a couple other campus options for ceremony. The Pasquerilla Spiritual Center and Eisenhower Chapel are options for those who want a more traditional church ceremony or something indoors. My favorite though is the Arboretum at Penn State. The garden setting is beautiful, so not a lot of décor needed; and as an added bonus you get to use the gardens for pictures. Photo below from Ashley and Karl's Arboretum ceremony and picture from Jason Bafile.
Not sure of what wedding colors to use? You can't go wrong with blue and white. The Penn State blue is more a navy and those two colors go well with other colors if you want a more varied color palette. Any easy way to do this with the clothes is to have the men in blue suits or tuxes, and dress the women in blue dresses. Pair with a white flower bouquet or boutonniere and you are set. Below is another picture from Ashley and Karl's day . The women are in navy. Then men are in gray but they have the blue ties to coordinate.
Photo by Jason Bafile
Another idea for those in suits, is fun Penn State socks like Zach and his men did for his big day.
For those in a dress you can't go wrong with a pair of blue shoes, whether they are killer heels like Stevie's in this picture below or the converse sneakers Donelle put on for her reception (also below). Finally, a bride can always add a garter like I did in the third picture below on my wedding. It was my nod to Penn State as well as my something blue!
If all you want is a Penn State feel to your pictures then do what most of my couple's do. Rent some transportation and build in time to drive around campus getting images either before or after the ceremony.
First up below you have the Nittany lion Shrine, a classic spot. I picked this picture from Dorothy Louise Photography as I loved the angle and perspective from this image.
The stadium is also a popular location. Some stop for The University of Pennsylvania Sign but I also love the stadium in this image from Tera Nelson.
The Old Main building which is featured below in this picture from Kimberly Wright Photography. Though a popular spot, there are lots of interesting buildings on campus to chose from. Some may not be as recognizable as others but you still get a great picture. Biggest thing about pictures on campus, be open and talk to your photographer about options.
Now lets look at styling or decorating the wedding space. I am going to start with several pictures from Jonelle and Zach's wedding below. Of all the weddings I have done, they had the most Penn State themed one. In fact they nicknamed their wedding a tailgate to remember. The tables were blue tablecloths with a blue and white chevron runner. The chairs were white and the flowers were blue and white; including the bride's bouquet. Instead of table numbers each was a table name after a popular bars in downtown State College. They even went as far as to buy the plaques for each bar with its logo. One of my favorite ways to name ever done by a couple.
The seating cards for each guest was done as a Penn State football game ticket and they had Penn State themed decorations everywhere. Even though I've shared a few already, below are several pictures of their day also from Tera Nelson Photography worth checking out.
If you are looking for something a little simpler you can do a blue and white table runner on a farm house table. paired with your other colors. Then maybe even a blue and white sign or menu cards. The choice doesn't have to be so obvious if you prefer a different look. Examples of these below from Abby and Dan's wedding and pictures from Voltage Studios.
Food and Drink
While I think it would be hard and a bit over the top to plan a dinner menu around blue and white, you can work those elements in with your desserts and your drinks. First consider a signature drink and make sure the color is blue. Maybe even come up with a fun name that plays somehow on Penn State. For dessert you could do a whole sweets table in blue and white desserts, or just do a Penn State wedding cake. The cake itself could be Penn State or you could do a custom cake topper. Examples below also from Jonelle and Zach's wedding.
Finally don't rule out ice cream! Whether its a side dish to other desserts or a star on its own; just make sure it comes from the creamery!
Most wedding couple express their gratitude to guests for coming with a favor to take home. The most popular favors tend to be something unique that they will actually use or something edible. Here are a few Penn State ideas. First, a favorite of local residents and students a like is the grilled stickies from Ye Old College Diner. Though the diner may have shut down, you can still get these delicious treats and they make excellent favors as Mary and Fletcher found out.
Photo from Dorothy Louise.
Custom sugar cookies are also a good option and I've seen them at a few weddings. Usually individually placed in a cellophane bag and one put at each guest spot. The icing is done in blue and white with the couples name and date, or perhaps a lion paw. Below they not only did the cookie but also did a CD with tailgate songs.
Candy or dessert tables where guest can make a goodie bag to take. Just make sure your offerings are blue and white in color. Though the candy table is loosing in popularity to cookie and dessert tables, I still think its worth considering.
Ryanne and Isaac gave their guests a choice of a paw print or Nittany Lion magnet as a souvenir. Normally I am for edible favors but I really liked this idea. It was something small guests could take home and easily stick on their fridge as a reminder about a wonderful weekend in Happy Valley.
Any time I talk to a Penn State couple, I swear they word fun comes up a lot when I ask them how they want guests to describe their wedding. You can incorporate some Penn State fun while keeping guests entertained and help get the crowd going. First talk to your DJ or band about playing some of the Penn State song's throughout the night. I've had more than a few couple's get announced at their wedding reception to Zombie Nation. Having a cowbell handy for the dancing isn't a bad ideas as well, especially if most of your guests are also Penn State fans.
I've even had two clients manage to score members of the blue band to play at their wedding. Before you get too excited, each only had like 3-4 members and had connections to someone in the band. One had some play at the ceremony and someone else had them play the entrance at the reception.
While you are being announced consider giving your guest pom poms to use. I'v also had this done a few times at weddings. You could get blue and white ones or just white ones if you want that white out feel. As you can see from the picture below, we hooked these on the back of the guests chairs for when they sat down. DJ had guests stand with them in hand when the bride and groom were announced into the reception.
Photo booths are still pretty popular to have to keep your guests entertained and the photo can double as a favor to take home. You can see about the text or decorations o the photo strips being blue and white. If an option, choose a blue backdrop. Don't forget the props as well. There are tons of fun Penn State themed things you could purchase for guests to use. You could also have custom flags made such as below that were done by our friends at WinkEvents on Etsy. Some of these other ideas below from a couple of weddings.
Finally one of the biggest questions I get, "How can I get the Nittany Lion to show up for my wedding?" The short answer, is its that's is hard and very unlikely. Last time I checked (and to be honest its been a couple of years), there was a form to fill out, a donation to make, rules to follow, and it is not a guarantee. I know some satellite branches prohibit wedding appearances or events with alcohol. Keep in mind the mascot (particularly the main one you see on TV) is usually a college student who has to manage school and the mascot responsibilities at the same time.
If you ever seen my social media though there was one wedding where the Nittany Lion made a brief appearance for some pictures. Before you start asking me to try for you this was a unique situation that I had nothing to do with. First it was a Nittany Lion from a satellite campus and not the one you see at football games. The person in the outfit was a guest and close friend of the couple. This particular Nittany Lion wore the outfit proudly when visiting children in hospitals. The bride would accompany the Nittany Lion to the hospitals to visit the children. Anyone that spends their time visiting kids in a hospital deserves a few photos in my opinion. Below is a photo from the wedding. The couple asked guest to bring a Penn State shirt if they had it to pose for the picture. They even asked me to join in the fun!
There you have some ideas if you are planning your own Penn State blue and white wedding. Be sure to share any pictures or ideas you have from your own experiences!