I recently received an email from a newly engaged friend and bride-to-be who asked if I could provide some advice for finding a church in Central Texas to host her wedding. While I’m not the expert on finding a church, I’ve been a part of dozens of weddings and events in and around Austin, so I thought I’d give her question some thought.
Essentially, there are two primary questions that you’ll need to find the answers to before moving on to the next step: planning. Assuming you’ve already chosen a particular church because of its significance, location or beauty, here’s what you should be asking your church representatives…
As it turns out, each church is different in how they deal with weddings and events. And there are a number of things to consider about a church prior to booking your wedding there. The first thing you should ask is if the church is available for the day that you are planning your wedding. This seems like the obvious thing to ask, and it is; and if inquiring about availability is the first thing that you ask you might save yourself some frustration and headache. After all, there’s no need to start making decoration plans and attending church-specific relationship classes if your day cannot be booked.
Assuming your day is available and the church is not somewhere you regularly attend, then the second question to ask is whether there are special requirements for non-members of the church to marry at the church you’ve chosen. Obviously different faiths have different requirements and restrictions on who can marry in their place of worship and how ceremonies can be conducted and by whom. Some churches are strict and some are not so just ask and you will know.
Here are some other considerations and questions that you’ll want to find answers to, based on you and your fiancé’s preferences, wedding size, etc.:
- Is there a rental fee/cost associated with using the church you have chosen?
- Will the church facilities accommodate a ceremony and reception? If so, for how many attendees?
- Does the church require that you use their Officiant/priest/minister, or can you use an outside Officiant?
- Do you need insurance for your event?
- Do you need a written contract to use the church?
- Does the church allow/limit decoration?
- Is there a time limit for how long you are allowed to use the church? If so, is there an event following your ceremony/reception?
- Do your wedding participants (bridesmaids/groomsmen) fulfill church-related obligations?
Helpful Hints: In many cases churches have a designated wedding coordinator who helps in planning and organizing weddings. The coordinator can be very helpful in providing you information about what the church needs and what is expected of you. Many times the coordinator is also on hand the day of your ceremony to help make sure things go as planned. Don’t be afraid to ask your coordinator for advice or help when it is needed. They’ve probably witnessed lots of weddings in the same venue and know what you need.