Wedding venues: Taking it out of the church

When I was 10 or so, I became an altar boy. There was something about the polished wood of the pews, the smell of incense, the kneeling...even though I got to know every nook and cranny of the church, it never stopped being mysterious for me, and I never stopped loving the feel of hallowed spaces. In fact, when it came time to propose to my girlfriend, I did it in the snow outside a cathedral in Poland while listening to a trumpeter sound out the hours. For me, churches are magical, wonderful places, and I make a point of visiting as many of them as possible.

That having been said, I am not a churchgoer, and neither is my wife. I was touched and honored when she offered to convert to my religion, but I also understood the look of relief in her eyes when I told her that it was unnecessary. While some of my favorite weddings have happened in churches, I wasn't really eager to get married in one. Given that my wife's flesh starts to smoke when it comes into contact with holy water, she also was interested in pursuing other options.

Of course, this put us in kind of a bind. Churches often host weddings, and generally have planners and guides on staff, which makes things a lot easier. Better yet, they are usually attached to social halls or gymnasiums, which provide convenient venues for receptions. In the absence of this easy solution, we decided to get creative.