Monday, May 20, 2013

Why a Church?

I know I promised you this story before the proposal story, but I couldn’t help myself – we went to Maine last weekend and I was just feeling inspired! But now, without further ado, here is the story of how we picked our ceremony venue.

I never, ever thought I would get married in a church. Although I’d been raised semi-religious, and I’d finished confirmation in my Lutheran church back home, I wasn’t practicing anymore, and I didn’t really feel connected with any specific religion. When I thought of my wedding, a church never even crossed my mind. There were all these gorgeous secular venues, after all!

Tower Hill - one of our favorite venues and definite outdoor-wedding inspiration

But something happened that changed my mind. It’s a bit of a long (and personal) story, but a little over 6 months before we were engaged, Brendan got sick. Very, very sick. We spent a few months in the hospital, and at some points I honestly wasn’t certain that he was going to make it. He’s totally fine now – nothing to worry about! – but that experience definitely changed both of our lives. I’m not going to go on too much about it because there have been too many good posts about the subject, but of course, we learned not to take each other for granted and to enjoy every day together. We also, if only a little bit, moved closer to religion. We started going to a Catholic church near our home, and we felt welcome there. Although we don’t go every week, we definitely have a “home” at St. Richards.

Fast forward to wedding planning. As I said before, one of the first things we talked about was where we would get married. A church wedding had still not really occurred to me at that point, and I was thinking of getting married under a beautiful oak tree somewhere.

Really, really wish our ceremony pictures would look like this!

With that in mind, I was surprised to find out that of all the things we talked about, there was one thing Brendan felt strongly about. Raised Catholic all his life, he felt strongly that if we were going to make things official, we had to make the marriage a sacrament. And to do that, the ceremony would have to be in a church.

At first, I wasn’t too sure about this plan. Although we’d been attending St Richards for a while, I was still Lutheran, and I just didn’t know how to feel about having a more “typical” church wedding rather than an earthy, secular ceremony. But ultimately, knowing that it’s very important to Brendan, it was definitely a compromise I was willing to make. I wanted him to feel good about making our wedding plans, and although he isn’t too religious either, it was something he felt we needed to do.

It won't be decorated like this (this was Easter), but isn't it cute?

Since we made that first decision to get married in the church, a few things have changed. We have attended our Pre-Cana counseling and “Engaged Encounter” weekend, and have met with our priest about what is and is not allowed (our priest is pretty relaxed, so we are lucky to have a lot of choices!). And late last year, I made the decision to become a Catholic, and attended our church’s “Intro to Catholicism” course. Thankfully, our church’s course is much more brief than the RCIA classes that are typically offered, and I am happy to say I am now a Catholic! Of course, I still have the same reservations about organized religion that I’ve always had, and I definitely disagree with the Church on a few big issues. But overall, this was a decision that was personal for me, and one that felt right.

So that, my friends, is how this non-religious Midwestern girl is getting married in a Catholic church in an Irish town. It may not be the oak tree of my pre-planning dreams, but I think it will be just right for us and our wedding.

Did you change your mind when it came to planning a ceremony venue? Did you convert before the wedding?

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