Fourteen Questions To Ask At Your Wedding Chapel
Whether you are having your wedding ceremony at the church you grew up in, or renting out a facility you’ve never seen before, your wedding ceremony should be the fulfillment of your every dream. Ideally, you want a convenient setting, a beautiful facility, and a wedding coordinator who will work hard to make your ceremony site everything you want it to be. Here are some important questions to ask yourself and the chapel manager.
1.) Is it beautiful? When you walk in the door for the first time, what is the first thing you feel? Do you experience that special hush, perhaps a deeply religious feeling, or that sense of beauty and simplicity that will make your big day extra romantic? If you love nature, can you see the mountains or some other special view from the chapel grounds? A truly beautiful facility may even bring you to tears! If you’re having the wedding at your own church and the facility itself isn’t that pretty, would your minister be willing to officiate the wedding at a site of your choosing?
2.) Is it the right kind of facility? Your wedding ceremony should take place in a facility that highlights the magic and specialness of your day. Are you thinking of just having the wedding ceremony at your reception hall? If so, can they make that facility into the kind of place you always envisioned for the ceremony? Some reception facilities can set up great ceremony sites. Or is it a compromise for the sake of convenience and savings? If they specialize in receptions and simply set up a few dozen chairs in a corner for your ceremony, will that fulfill your wedding dream?
3.) Is it the right size? If you expect 75 guests, think twice about having your wedding in a church with a capacity of 1000+ people. But don’t choose a tiny chapel where most of your guests will be standing!
3.) Is it nearby and easy to find, but still in a special location? If your dream chapel is a three hour drive into the mountains on obscure dirt roads, think twice! You want your chapel to be no more than a 30 minute drive from the reception, and easy to find. But if possible, you want it to be in a special part of town: a historic section, perhaps, or near a park, mountains or other natural features that are extra-special in your region. A chapel that is within a few miles of a major highway will make it easier for everyone to get there. Always include a good map with your invitations.
4.) How is the lighting? Dark stained glass is beautiful, but be sure the guests can see you clearly as you walk down the aisle and stand at the altar. Ask if photographers may take flash photos during the ceremony; in a well-lit chapel, a few judicious flashes going off will not be too distracting.
5.) Are there any decorations? Most churches come “as is,” and you have to bring your own altar flowers and arrangements. Expect to spend $1000 or more with a florist for your fresh flowers. Some chapels provide flower arrangements; if they are beautiful and fit in with your color scheme, they will save you a lot of time and money. Check to see if there is an altar you can use for the unity candle and other decorations.
6.) Are candles allowed? Some churches can’t allow candles due to fire codes, and most have restrictions on the more dangerous ones (such as pew candles). Some provide candles; ask if they are free or if there is a surcharge for their use. (Left: Ralston’s Crossing)
7.) Are other decorations allowed? If you want to bring in your own decorations, what restrictions are there? How much time will you have to set them up and remove them? What are your guests allowed to throw after the ceremony? Do you need more time, and if so, can the extra time be bought? Can their decorations, such as ceremonial items the church normally leaves on the altar, be removed?
8.) Are the pews or chairs cushioned? Expect some guests to sit for the better part of an hour. Unpadded pews or uncomfortable chairs will seriously detract from your guests’ enjoyment of your ceremony.
9.) Is there indoor plumbing and air conditioning? Some historic or mountain chapels do not have indoor plumbing, and many beautiful old chapels do not have air conditioning. Be sure you ask. Try to have your wedding in the morning if they don’t have AC, and bring a couple of fans if they don’t have any on site. (Right: Chapel at Red Rocks)
10.) What are the dressing rooms like? Ideally the dressing rooms should be big enough for your needs, but not so big that two dozen girlfriends and aunts will be hanging around while you get ready! A big old school classroom will draw lots of unwelcome hangers-on. Dressing rooms can also be beautiful places for a few pre-wedding photos. Are there nice mirrors around, and pretty furniture, to make your preparation time pleasant and your pre-wedding photos extra-beautiful?
11.) Are the roads to the chapel paved, and is there paved parking? If your wedding day is a rainy one, or if it’s snowing, paved roads and parking will make a world of difference to your guests. Is the chapel near the center of town, where it is likely to get priority snowplowing from the city? Or is it down an obscure street 8,000′ high in the mountains, where the weather can be much worse than it is in town?
12.) How flexible are the site managers? Will you be allowed to decorate the way you want? Will you be allowed to bring in your own officiant? Can you play the music you want? Your own photographer? What is required of you and what is prohibited? Can they work with you to determine the amount of time you need? Can you get a full hour for your rehearsal, or just 30 minutes–or no time at all? (Left: Three Trees Chapel)
13.) How helpful are the site managers? Are you “on your own,” or do you get consultation and help along the way? Can they recommend wedding professionals? Do they help run your rehearsal? Can they help with your wedding planning? Can they offer “one stop shopping” for most of your wedding needs?
14.) Can they help you find a reception facility? Very few chapels have large, beautiful reception halls on site which also allow champagne and other drinks, but some are located near a number of good banquet rooms. Can they help you find a convenient facility near them, or can you find one?
If you ask these questions before deciding on a site for your wedding, you will have a beautiful ceremony with happy memories, some extra-special photos, and a roomful of happy guests.