Venue reveal: our ceremony site!

20 September 2011

Ladies, thank you so much for the kind words on Friday’s post! We had the BEST time in Connecticut this past weekend. Our appointments on Friday were great (though exhausting, when taken together), and our engagement party was so, so, so wonderful. So much thought and care went into it, and I can’t wait to share with you all! We are feeling very loved.

But, before I get into all that, I know I promised information about our venues! Today I want to share our ceremony spot, and then tomorrow, I’ll conclude our location saga by telling you all about our reception venue.

From the beginning, it was very important to John and I to be married in a church. We believe our marriage is a covenant before our family and friends, but also before God. Though it is 100% possible to feel the Holy Spirit anywhere you can say vows, it was the right decision for us to be married in a church.

Okay, a church, yes, but which one? The church we now consider our home church is in North Carolina, where we live, so that was out. We both have childhood churches in Connecticut, but we wanted somewhere that felt right to both of us, not necessarily for one more than the other. A neutral location, if you will. Plus, my childhood church doesn’t have a center aisle, which is a major design flaw, if you ask me :)

After ruling out the childhood churches, we were left with one obvious choice: the Memorial Chapel at the US Coast Guard Academy in New London. Reasons we quickly fell in love with the idea of holding our ceremony there:

1. The Chapel welcomes visiting clergy, meaning there were very few obstacles to the pastor from our church in North Carolina performing the service (something that was also very important to us).
2. Center aisle!
3. Central location to many of the reception locations we were considering, and only about 15 minutes away from the location we finally landed on.
4. Momma is happy. She always dreamed of at least one daughter getting married there.
5. My Dad is retired Coast Guard and taught at the Academy for 25+ years, so I have very happy memories associated with the base.
6. The Chapel is GORGEOUS on the inside, and it just so happens to match perfectly with our chosen color scheme. Also, the film photographer documenting our wedding is going to be very happy, because the natural light inside is gorgeous, thanks to large banks of windows along both side walls!

Shall we take a little tour?

Here’s the outside, lovely steeple included. There’s no parking up on top of the hill where the Chapel is located, so guests will park below and walk up, but there is a circular driveway where my Dad and I can pull in and stage our grand entrance.

This is the narthex just inside the first set of double doors. I love that the doors to the sanctuary can be closed, my Dad and I can scoot in from outside, we can shut the front doors, and then open the sanctuary doors when it’s time for our entrance.

Peeking into the sanctuary…

Ahhh!! Pretty blue walls! Side note: Dang, that aisle is slippery.

Beautiful light! I also love that the sanctuary is not tiny, but also not so big that it will feel empty once our guests sit down.

And now we’ve arrived at the front, where we’ll say our vows. A lovely spot, I think.

And that concludes our tour! A few notes for those who might be interested in getting married at the CGA Chapel:

1. You may only reserve the Chapel if you fit into a few categories, including if one or both parties are a Coast Guard Academy graduate, active duty or retired Coast Guard personnel or their dependents (must have valid ID card), or active or retired Coast Guard Academy civilian faculty and staff members.
2. Wedding dates cannot be reserved more than a year in advance. Though I submitted paperwork and talked to the Chapel more than a year before our date, I still had to call at the 365-day mark to make our official reservation.
3. The Academy Chapel is a religious facility, so no civil ceremonies are allowed. Your preferred clergy member must be approved by the Command Chaplain, but can be a Chaplain, Priest, Minister, Rabbi, or other religious official.

More information is available on the CGA website for those who are eligible and interested!

What do you think? We are very, very excited!!

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September 20, 2011 8:45 pm

Perfect choice! It looks absolutely beautiful.

September 20, 2011 9:10 pm

Emily, as someone who lives in CT, I've been enjoying hearing about your venue search and waiting to find out what you would pick. What a pretty and charming church!! I love that light blue with white trim, the slight arch of the ceiling, and the gold detail (it's gold right?) of the front. If I weren't getting married in Minnesota next summer I would have probably used your initial list as a great venue guide!

September 20, 2011 9:26 pm

Emily! This is beyond prettty :) I'm so excited for you!!! LOVE it!

September 21, 2011 2:29 am

Thank you, ladies! I'm so glad you like it and are enjoying the posts!

September 21, 2011 12:16 pm

Love the blue walls, I'm sure it will be amazing!

November 17, 2011 8:53 pm

Emily, I'm also planning my wedding and found your blog one day on a random search (lighting maybe?). Anyways, I follow you now and just came across this post! My fiance is Active Duty Coast Guard and went to the Academy. Our wedding is going to be in Charleston, SC (where I'm from) but I love it that you chose the Academy! It is beautiful. Keep your wonderful posts coming. I started my Spotify playlist today… :) Thanks!

November 19, 2011 2:50 am

So fun, Jessie! Charleston is such a beautiful place — I'm sure your wedding will be lovely!

[…] As you may recall, John and I are getting married at the Memorial Chapel at the U.S. Coast Guard Academy. It looks like this: […]

May 10, 2012 1:13 pm


I have been following your recent posts over at SW, and decided to go back and read all of your original posts as well, which is how I found this one!!

My jaw literally dropped when I saw that you will be using the Memorial Chapel at the CGA- I am currently a cadet at the Academy, and attend services at this very Chapel. I am so happy that you will be getting married in our sweet little Chapel! I cannot wait to see the pictures :)

Best of luck, and thank you for sharing your posts with all of us!