Many people, whether they attend church regularly or not, want to get married in a church. If you do attend a church, that's probably where you'll want to get married. If you don't, you may still have a church in mind for your wedding. Perhaps it's your childhood church, your parents' church, or a pretty chapel where you once attended a friend's wedding. In any of these cases, you have to talk to the church's staff and reserve the church to guarantee the building on your special day.
Before You Call
Set a date and a backup date. Don't call the church with only a general idea when you want to be married. Pick the date and the time of day you want your wedding to be held. Pick a second date, as well, so that if the church is already reserved you can get the church on another date of your choice.
Discuss who you want your officiant to be. If you have a relative who's a minister, you'll have to get permission from the church's pastor to have that person do the ceremony. If you want the church's minister to do your wedding for you, you will probably have to arrange to meet with him or her.
Discuss with your fiance whether it's important to you to have traditional wedding vows or to write your own. Some churches will allow you to write your own vows and some won't, so you and your fiance should decide beforehand how you will handle either outcome.
Making the Call
Call the church when you have 15 minutes or so to talk to the pastor or whomever the church has designated to handle wedding arrangements. In small churches, it will be the pastor, but large churches often have a staff member who takes care of wedding planning
Make sure that both the date and the time are available. Many churches, especially old or pretty ones, schedule multiple weddings in one day, so you have to be sure your time slot is free.
If you want the pastor to perform the ceremony, ask for a face-to-face meeting, or be prepared to schedule one with both you and your fiance if the pastor brings it up. There may be a premarital counseling requirement (most churches have them) or other prerequisites.
Ask what expenses, charges or fees there are for the use of the church. Some churches provide their buildings free to members, but some require a fee for the extra use of utilities and cleaning staff.
After the Call
Respect the fact that you are taking your vows in a house of worship. Follow the church's guidelines when it comes to music, flowers and photography, and ask your helpers to do the same.
Include church staff in the invitations, especially to the reception. Even if you're only using their building, they do a lot behind the scenes to make your day special.
Expect to have a religious ceremony in a church. Most couples are aware of this requirement, but a few are surprised that the officiant plans to say prayers or read scripture. Nonreligious ceremonies can be special and beautiful in nonreligious locations.
If another couple is getting married on the same day, contact them and see if they want to share expenses for decorations such as altar flowers and pew ribbons.
If you're not sure about the suitability of a church building, ask the staff for a tour before you reserve a date.
In a church wedding, the clergy are in charge. They are responsible for what happens in the building, and they have done this dozens of time. Follow their lead; don't expect them to follow yours. They will do their best to give you what you want.