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11 Mar '15

The Pros and Cons of a Church Wedding

For some couples, getting married in a church is a no-brainer. If faith is an extremely important part of your heritage or your current life, you may not have considered getting married anywhere else. But for others, those of casual faith, little faith, or no faith at all, the issue of wedding venue can be a thorny one. If the bride’s mother has her heart set on a cathedral and the groom’s father wants a quick-and-easy courthouse wedding, what’s a modern couple to do? The simple answer is, “whatever the couple thinks is best.” But it’s worth considering the pros and cons of a church wedding before you make that decision. For this article, we’re setting aside the issue of faith to look just at the practical considerations of a church as a wedding location.

Pro: It’s a package deal

A church already has a lot of what you’re looking for in a wedding venue: a piano and organ, a P.A. system, parking, rooms for the wedding party to prepare. Most churches have musicians and officiants they regularly work with, so you’ll spend less time chasing down those details. You can keep decorations to a minimum, because the architecture of the church is your main decoration.

Con: Less control

When my sister had her church wedding, the church provided an organist to play the building’s huge pipe organ. The only problem: the organist refused to play Mendelssohn’s wedding march because it was a “secular piece of music.” If what’s been pre-arranged doesn’t match what you want, prepare for some battles of will. That rigidity extends to decoration as well–the church is unlikely to let you go wild with decorations. Don’t count on tacking streamers to the ceiling or bringing in that driftwood wedding arch.

Pro: Plenty of seating for the ceremony

There’s no need to rent a hundred folding chairs for the ceremony and spend an hour beforehand setting them up. Even if it’s a more modern church without big wooden pews, they’re used to providing seating for hundreds of people. You won’t have to worry about aisle width or accessibility, either.

Con: You’ll probably want a separate reception location

Let’s face it: while church sanctuaries are beautiful, church fellowship halls tend to be less so. They tend to be small spaces with concrete floors, suspended acoustic tile ceilings, and banks of ugly fluorescent lighting. Unless your church is truly exceptional, you might end up with a reception that has all the warmth and charm of an AA meeting. Decorations can only do so much to pretty up a space. There’s also the real possibility of limitations on what kind of refreshments you can serve–many church halls won’t allow alcohol.

Pro: Lower venue cost

Unless it’s that downtown cathedral that books out years in advance, churches generally charge a lower venue fee than their secular counterparts. A mid-size church may ask for a “donation” of $300-400 for the use of the space, versus thousands for a dedicated venue.

Con: Lower level of service

A dedicated venue can often provide a wedding planner, help with catering, and offer connections to preferred vendors. The extra help comes at a premium, but it can be just what the stressed wedding couple needs.

Getting married in a church definitely has some advantages for a couple whose faith plays a role in their lives. Make sure to keep those lines of communication open with your significant other while you’re planning to see if the pros outweigh the cons for your perfect wedding.


Originally posted at setyourweddingapart.com/the-pros-and-cons-of-a-church-wedding