Ben Talks About His Wedding, Fiancee

Spent part of this afternoon interviewing Ben Roethlisberger at his home near North Park in Allegheny County. It’s his first interview of any kind since the Super Bowl.

We talked about many subjects but, of course, what made almost as much news as the Super Bowl was his engagement to Ashley Harlan of New Castle. They were engaged over Christmas but have neither spoken about it nor confirmed it – until now.

“I was surprised at how much media attention it was getting – it’s just an engagement,’’ Roethlisberger said. “I never expected it to be on the front pages of all the papers and websites. There was speculation what our invitations would look like and who is coming! It almost seemed surreal, it was like a movie or something, it was weird.”

Some of those stories that appeared detailed what was reported as a wedding registry at various department stories. It actually was a registry for Ashley’s shower and because of the publicity, she has been receiving gifts from unknown people who have gone to the registry and bought gifts for a shower they will not attend and a woman they do not know.

“We’ve gotten a lot of gifts from people we don’t know,’’ Roethlisberger told me.

The wedding will be July 23 and it will be huge, more than 500 people, at a location in the Pittsburgh area. All of Roethlisberger’s teammates have been invited, as have coaches and people from the front office, one reason it is so large.

They tried to reserve the Consol Energy Center for the reception but there is a WWE wrestling show going on. They’re still looking for a spot.

Instead of wedding gifts, they’re asking their guests to make a donation to the quarterback’s foundation and he will then turn it over to Ronald McDonald House and Children’s Hospital in Pittsburgh.

“I don’t know if it’s ever been done before but it’s something I wanted to do and she’s on board. We’re just hoping that people who come to the wedding give a dollar or a thousand dollars or whatever it is, and at the end we’ll put it all together and write a big check to Ronald McDonald house and Children’s Hospital and put everyone’s name who donated.”

The wedding will occur about one week before training camp opens, if the current labor strife does not delay the start of football this summer.

“I think a small part of her is hoping we hold out for a week so we can honeymoon,’’ Roethlisberger said. “I told her I was laughing with Coach Tomlin, he said ‘You guys might have to have the honeymoon suite at Saint Vincent.’”

Coincidentally, Roethlisberger met Ms. Harlan at training camp in 2005, quite innocently bumping into her and her brother at Saint Vincent. They began dating and while that did not continue, they remained friends and kept in contact since. They resumed dating last summer.

I’ll have much more on this and some other things – even related to football – from Roethlisberger’s first interview since the Steelers lost the Super Bowl starting tomorrow in the Post-Gazette.