Regardless of your religious denomination, a church ceremony is an ideal option for couples who intend to incorporate their faith in their marriage and the rest of their life. Whether you envision yourself proceeding down the aisle of an intimate synagogue or colossal cathedral, there are a number of things to keep in mind before scheduling your ceremony at a religious sanctuary.
While there are many benefits that accompany a church ceremony, including following tradition, partaking in religious customs, and receiving precious sacraments, there are also a few drawbacks depending on your expectations for your wedding ceremony. Consider the following pros and cons of a church wedding ceremony to decide if you should book a church or temple for the big day.
Photo by Eric Kelley; From Real Wedding: Chapel Ceremony + Tented Reception in the South Carolina Lowcountry
Forget having to choose a spot for the altar and planning where guests will sit. The interior of a church is designed to host formal services, so the framework of your ceremony is already prepared for you.
Churches typically have plenty of pews to accommodate large capacities for weddings of any size. Not only does this save you money since you won't have to rent chairs, but it also ensures that all your guests will have a seat to witness your vows.
Whether it’s a choir or a band, most churches provide music for the ceremony, so you won't have to source outside entertainment. You can always make an appointment with the band or choir beforehand, or you may ask the church director if it’s permissible to hire outside entertainment if you so choose.
Churches are almost always indoors and typically supply proper heating and air conditioning for services. Rain or shine, you won't have to worry about your ceremony being interrupted by the forecast and having to put a backup plan into place.
For some couples, receiving sacraments and following religious customs is a great honor and something that you may have looked forward to since childhood. Having a church ceremony is also a perfect time to incorporate familial traditions or religious tokens that past generations used at their wedding days.
If you are looking to host the ceremony and reception at the same venue, then a church is likely not your best option. Some churches do include a hall within the same vicinity and may require separate booking and planning, but most couples opt to have their ceremony in a church and then transport guests to a secondary venue for the reception.
Unlike other venues, you cannot customize the space to your liking or rearrange furniture, statues, or other sacred items. However, most churches do allow flowers and aisle runners. Consult with the director for specifics of what’s allowed in your favored church or temple to make sure the rules align with your vision.
Each church has its own rules, which include the permission or prohibition of flash photography. Discuss this matter with both the director and your photographer to make sure everyone understands these guidelines, so there aren't any surprises on the day of the ceremony.
If you are not a member of the church congregation you are pursuing, you might be placed on a waiting list. Some churches do not allow non-parishioners to even book a ceremony or may require an additional donation. Once again, check with the director to discover your options.
While there are certainly ways around this, some churches and temples have strict guidelines on what is appropriate to wear. If you've always dreamed of wearing a sexy, form-fitting gown with no sleeves and a plunging neckline, you may need to cover up with a long-sleeve or high-neck bolero or wedding shawl. Of course, you can remove it for the reception to create a "second look," but it's something to consider! If there are rules for guest attire, be sure to include this on your wedding website so everyone is aware.