Finding a venue for our wedding ceremony has been one of the more interesting experiences during this wedding planning adventure.
Where do I even begin with this one??
Well, after becoming engaged, I think Jam and I discussed who we’d want to marry us. We felt strongly about having a minister perform the ceremony, and since I had a good relationship with the minister at our home church, we decided to ask him.
We waited until Easter 2009 to approach him about this, a full year after our engagement. Jam and I accosted him together after church: “We were hoping you’d marry us?!!” The response was this “uhhh. ummm…well…I’m leaving this particular church and I don’t know if that’d be weird if I came back….” “Don’t worry!” I said brightly, stupidly “We’re getting married in Connecticut! It won’t even be here.” Uncomfortable silence. The minister said “well. We’ll see.” It felt like a “no.” It definitely felt like a “no.” When our minister preached his last sermon and talked about moving on and embracing whomever would follow in his footsteps, he basically said not to ask him to come back and perform any religious ceremony, weddings included. OK.
This was actually a blessing in disguise. While some other church members took this very badly, I had a different perspective. I loved my minister, but he was very very intense. The associate pastor, however, was a little more happy-go-lucky – no less serious, mind you, but maybe a better fit. Plus she’s a “she” – and naturally I really like that. I asked her if she’d be willing to perform the ceremony. Since being assoc. pastor is only one of her jobs (she is also a very important person at a big Boston hospital!) she is doing us a huuuge favor by spending her Columbus Day weekend in Connecticut (thus the reason why I am now a co-advisor for Junior High Fellowship, lol).
With the minister set, we had to find a ceremony venue. I had something in mind, the beautiful, non-denominational wedding chapel at Wesleyan University. Behold:
booked. Totally booked for 10/09/2010 unless we wanted to have our reception at 9 AM. Oh hells no.
Of course we had no plan b – things like this usually work out for me, and I took that for granted in my pre-wedding planning life, so I had no backup plan. Jam and I threw around the idea of getting married at the reception venue, outside, but I argued against it – what if it was cold? rainy? muddy? Sure, we could move the ceremony inside, but it would take away from the reception, in my opinion, to have the guests already in place at the Barns, only to exit after the ceremony and come in the same damn door again for the reception. Jam put a challenge out there: find a church that is close by or give in to an outdoor ceremony.
I googled and googled and found two great non denominational chapels. Both were about 45 minutes away from the reception, not exactly ideal. I decided to give something else a try – would a local Congregational church allow, as a professional courtesy, my home minister to perform our wedding ceremony on her own? It was worth a try, right?
Twelve emails were sent out. Oh the replies. I am still laughing. One minister said “Of course you can get married here…but you will need to paint the church, which by the way, only really holds 70 people.” Yikes! I tried to turn him down nicely, then had to increase my firmness in other emails that followed from him, such as “we could fit more!” and “a coat of paint is really the only thing we’d need done!” As much as I would’ve loved to help, it was too much! Then there was the rambling email about openness and affirmations, blah blah blah. I wondered throughout the whole email to what the minister was referring. The closing line was something like ‘so you see all the reasons why you can’t get married here. Unless of course, your fiance is a man.”
WHAT? Where in my email did he deduce I was gay? That was definitely the oddest response. Of course, by not being open and affirming, the church was automatically off the list. I won’t go into a long, emotional and political rant, I won’t talk about how just a generation or two ago Jam and I might’ve faced the exact same dilemma so many same-sex couples face when they want to get married in a church, no I’ll skip all that, but suffice it to say, if you are not an open and affirming church, you simply are not for us. Done.
Finally we had a normal answer, a “sure, that’s no problem as long as you are willing to pay, have a sexton attend in case clean-up is needed, and give our organist first refusal if you want an organist at your ceremony” answer. Thank you, God!
The First Church, in addition to being very welcoming, accommodating and beautiful, is perfectly situated. It’s just a few blocks from the hotel and about a five minute drive to the Barns. We paid the church a visit back in January. I felt bad because a few of the members thought we might be looking to join their church – luckily being Congregationalist prepared me for this, as our church is in the same position, so I think we were able to let them down easy, though I felt kinda bad about it after one member spent so much time telling us about the African Drumming Team and all the biracial couples that attended the church. Yikes.
The sanctuary stays closed in the winter months, but we were able to poke around and take a few pictures. It is very very different than my home church, and to me, it was opulent! The stained glass, dark wood, and cranberry carpeting will make me feel like royalty when I walk down the aisle, as opposed to the puritanical simpleness of my home church (which I do love very much!). My pictures are a bit dark as the lights were off, but here it is:
The church is also far larger than my home church, good for us if all of our invitees decide to attend!
We have some very specific rules to adhere to at this church. Aisle runners are an absolute “no” because of the heating grates in the floor – apparently this has been an issue in the past, as people have had their heels become stuck in the runner-covered grate. We also can’t attach anything to the pews in any way that would cause damage, i.e. glue, tape, tacks. I think this makes tissue pomanders an ideal solution, as the color will brighten the church but not clash with it, and we can simply hang them on the pews during the rehearsal. Yay!
The church does come with some challenges, as any church would have. There is the double aisle thing to work out of course. Also, my minister was hoping to marry us with her back to the church, so people could see us better during vows and such. I love this idea! I think Jam is the harder sell, but it will truly have to wait for a final decision until our wedding weekend when we’re at the rehearsal. Until then, it will have to stay up in the air. I think it will all work out quite nicely though, and with all the sweet details in the sanctuary, everything is bound to look lovely. I am just grateful that I decided on navy for the bridesmaids – imagine if I had chosen some color that would’ve clashed horribly with the decor? Eeek!
Anyways, that’s our church story – I never would’ve guessed it would turn our so well in the end, but I am quite happy that everything seemed to just fall into place.