One would think choosing a church for one's ceremony would be simple, but I found it to be a bit more complicated than expected. It was very important to me to have our wedding in my hometown, Orlando, FL. Picking our reception location was easy; my godparents live on a beautiful property in the Gotha area of Orlando. They have seven and a half acres on a lake, and I knew it would make for an ideal tented, rustic/chic reception location.
I grew up Methodist, and still belong to a Methodist church in Orlando, but Charles was brought up Catholic, and we both decided that we wanted our ceremony to be Catholic. I had to basically start from scratch when it came to selecting our Catholic ceremony location.
I started by looking up all the Catholic churches that were near my godparents' house. The closest church to their home was a very large and well known Catholic church in the Orlando area. My mother and I attended the Christmas Eve mass to examine the size, look and feel of the church. It was very voluminous and grand, and all of the people who were there seemed to truly love their church. I thought “This could very well be the church!” After Christmas settled down, I emailed the church to gather all the information for having a ceremony there, and what the pricing situation was. I’d always assumed that a church rental for a ceremony wouldn't be more than a couple hundred dollars; this church started at $1,200.00 for non-members. There was also a complication in booking the church. For a Catholic ceremony, you have to take pre-marital classes that last 6-8 months, and this church wasn’t going to allow me to reserve my date until after my classes were complete. I didn’t want to take the gamble of someone else stealing my date, so I decided that church just would not do.
After researching a few more Catholic church options, I stumbled upon a charming little Catholic church that I often passed when I lived in Orlando. The church is also close my reception location, but I overlooked it at first because it was a Maronite Catholic Church, as opposed to a Roman Catholic Church. I did my homework and found that there are many types of Catholic Churches, and that they’re all recognized by the Pope as equal. My fiancé, mother and I attended a mass one Sunday and absolutely fell in love with the people, charm, and most importantly the priest. Everyone in the congregation made us feel at home. We all knew right away that we’d found our church.
Finding the all-important perfect church location for your ceremony can be overwhelming, but just remember to do your research early, attend a service before-hand, and get on the church calendar/marriage class roster as soon as your decision is made. Once these steps are underway, you can feel excited that you are well on your way toward your perfect church wedding!