Sphinx and I are Catholic, and we were always sure of having a Catholic wedding. I completed my confirmation back in high school, and he did RCIA classes and became confirmed after we had been dating for several years.
So as soon as we got back from our engagement vacation (OK…actually ON our vacation), I started looking up churches. With such an old, Southern city, we have no lack of beautiful catholic churches, and I already had some in mind. The problem was TOO many options, so I’ll run through some of the ones we looked at here. (Warning: lots of pictures and church info coming up!)
I grew up attending St. Charles Borromeo church, and this is where FI did his RCIA prep. However, this was never really in the running for our wedding church. The first reason was location. Our hometown is about half an hour outside of downtown New Orleans, and I really wanted to try to do something in the city. The drive between church and reception would have been too far. Also, the priest that confirmed FI and me has since moved on to another church, so we aren’t as tied to the priests there.
I love how the church looks in person, but I don’t like how it comes off in pictures. / Source: Michael Caswell Photography
Also we don’t live out there anymore, so it just didn’t make sense to use this church. It is my home parish, though, so I am proud of it! “The Little Red Church,” was one of the first churches on the Mississippi River.
Photo via Panoramio
Photo via Wikipedia
So St. Charles is adorable, but not right for our wedding—moving on!
While still in Florida after our vacation, I shared pictures of my dream church crush with FI, St. Mary’s Assumption.
The altar is full of carved figures of saints and angels. There’s just SO much detail, it’s breathtaking. / St Alphonsus Parish
I had seen this church several years back during an Easter weekend event. One of the Catholic high schools held a “stations of the cross” walking event through several historic churches in the area, and I fell in love with this church and had it it in the back of my mind as my wedding church. I was willing to overlook that the lights around the altar kind of remind me of something from Romeo + Juliet, which kind of freaks me out. I think we can all agree neon crosses = tacky. I understand how fully ridiculous this sounds.
Not down with this for ceremony decor, but Leo can come. Sans gun. / Source: IMDB
The location was pretty good, and the price was reasonable. We didn’t know any priests there, but we figured we could find one. It was in the running, but there weren’t a ton of reasons for it besides the fact that I had always liked it. Still, I set off Googling for pictures and videos from weddings there.
The next church was another gorgeous option. St. Joseph’s Cathedral was where my parents were married 30 years ago, and I thought that was a lovely sentiment.
St. Joseph’s Cathedral. OMG HUGE. / Source: St. Joseph Church
Like I said, gorgeous and breathtaking. It’s located just outside the downtown area, with parking available, and the prices were OK (kind of high, but it included a few things). It also boasts the “longest aisle in New Orleans.” Yay/yikes?
Yes, the longest aisle. And do you know what’s all along the aisle? Pews, of course. Seating. For people. From the outside the church is MASSIVE. Which makes it very beautiful, but I was also worried about 200 people looking sparse in the giant space. Also, I wasn’t as impressed with the wedding pictures I’d found for the church. It looked like photographers were more limited in the shots they could get here. And again, no known priest here, but we could use theirs. It was on my list, but for some reason I just couldn’t fall in love with the church, even with the connection to my parents.
Next up is another jaw-droppingly gorgeous church that I have always loved. We peeked in at the end of a wedding (as guests were leaving and they were just taking pictures!) when we were downtown one weekend, and it did not disappoint. The Immaculate Conception Church, AKA the Jesuit Church on Baronne, is highly popular for weddings because it is within walking distance to a number of hotels and reception venues downtown. And ummm…look at it!
I love how light and bright it is, and that the décor is so very different than anything you normally see. / Source: Jesuit Church
A view of the back, just for good measure / Source: Jesuit Church
So we see why it is so popular, and it was pretty close to some venues we were considering. Finding available dates in the popular spring months was a little tough, though. And they will do three weddings a day sometimes at 2:00 PM, 6:00 PM, and 8:00 PM! And those 8:00 PMs get filled up quickly! And the price was pretty steep, although it did include the organist and cantor. If our reception had been across the street or around the corner, this would have been high on the list and we would have worked around the dates, because I do love the church.
And finally, I want to touch on St. Louis Cathedral. THE cathedral. In Jackson Square, right in the French Quarter, a symbol of the city. The oldest cathedral in North America. However, this was never in the running for us either.
The Cathedral Basilica of Saint Louis via Wikipedia
The interior looks so much better in person. However that checkered floor…not my favorite. / Source: City Profile
The cathedral is an icon, and it is amazing. It is where FI was confirmed two years ago. So it is special and VERY New Orleans. But I don’t even know how long the wait list is. The prices are pretty high, and there are a lot of restrictions there. And I actually think that so many other of the churches around are just as grand (see above!). There isn’t nearby parking, but it would be a good option if your reception was within walking distance. And finally, it is a public church and a tourist destination. Apparently, they can’t stop people from popping into the back of your ceremony. A casual observer, OK. A noisy group? That’s kind of risky…
So in short, the cathedral is impressive but not special enough to me. I know some people have their hearts set on it, and their families all were married there, or it’s perfectly situated for their reception. I’m totally cool with letting the brides who want it most book it up!
This is where Dr. Facilier finds Prince Naveen in Disney’s The Princess and the Frog. I like that they included that, because the area is full of fortune tellers, but it’s not as cutesy in real life. / Source: Disney Wikia
Also, the area around Jackson Square is always full of tables of tarot card readers, fortune tellers, and benches of…well, bums. Not the ideal way to roll up to my reception venue. But, being in a city, you have to realize these things do exist.
In the end, none of these was the church we chose. But looking through all of these churches got me to determine what my priorities were for the church that would marry us. A beautiful (but maybe not too big) interior, not too many photo restrictions, accessibility to parking or the reception venue, a reasonable price, an emotional connection of some sort. Was I asking for too much? Turns out I wasn’t, and I’ll share that next time!
Did you look through a lot of venues in order to find the right one?