Weddings are about more than flowers and cake. They are about strengthening and solidifying the bonds between two people for a lifetime of love and mutual respect. For many couples, the celebration centers on a religious connection as well. Some religious ceremonies require the use of a religious venue in order for the marriage to be recognized, but there are other, more secular reasons to use a religious venue, too.
One of the most compelling reasons to use a religious wedding venue (outside of the most compelling reason, which is that your marriage won't be recognized by your religion if you don't) is sheer convenience. Religious venues, like banquet halls and hotel venues, are one-stop solutions. Weddings are performed onsite regularly, so nothing about your ceremony will come as a last-minute, logistical surprise. This is often not the case with alternative venues like art galleries or museums. When you use a location that is used to hosting and performing weddings, however, you can relax with confidence and know that your wedding will be handled with experience and grace.
Be aware that not all religious venues are set up to host large weddings. If you plan to use a smaller building, the number of guests you invite will be limited. Couples who attend religious services at a small house of worship can often make arrangements with larger buildings that belong to the same religious denomination in order to have more space for their nuptials. Discuss your situation with churches, synagogues, or other houses of worship similar to your own in nearby cities if there are not local options available.
Using a religious venue allows you to enjoy simplicity on your wedding day. If the venue has a congregating area that can accommodate you and your guests, you don't have to worry about renting an additional venue for your wedding reception. Instead of shuttling your guests across town to a reception at a restaurant or club venue, simply walk over to the reception area after your ceremony takes place. By using only one location, you save the time and hassle of transportation and you lessen the chances of logistical complications (such as traffic jams) on your big day.
Religious venues are good news for the budget-conscious. While some venues do require membership dues in order to rent event space, if you plan on attending religious services at the house of worship anyway, it is a sound investment. On the whole, single-venue weddings are much less expensive than weddings that have to rent space at multiple locations. If you use catering and event rental companies that the venue works with often, you'll open yourself to further discounts.
The advantages of using religious venues add up, but the desirability of these locations can lead to one major disadvantage: you won't be the only couple lining up for your desired wedding date. Make sure that you can reserve the entire day for your nuptials and yours alone, or you'll risk catching glimpses of another bride in the background of your wedding photos.
As with any wedding venue, you need to do your homework. Be sure you understand exactly what is and is not allowed. Just because you share religious beliefs with the venue management does not mean you'll agree on what sizes of tents are appropriate for erecting on the lawn, or what type of adhesive you can use for affixing decorations to the walls. Many buildings have restrictions on open flame, confetti, amplified music, and hours of operation. The more thoroughly you understand the rules and restrictions of the space, the more you reduce the chance of misunderstandings and disappointments.
Be sure to set aside a portion of your budget for decorations. If you're embracing a certain wedding theme, it's up to you to make the space match your wedding inspiration album. Not many houses of worship already have seashell-themed table settings, for example, to match your "tropical paradise" reception invitations. With a little imagination, however, you can transform the space for the day.
Getting married in a religious space is a reminder to you and your guests alike to keep the emphasis on what really matters during your big day. Even if the flower girl spills juice on her dress or the icing flowers melt on the cake, you can look around and remind yourself that you're marrying the love of your life–and nothing can take away from that blessing.