Tia Torres dreamed of marrying at the Basilica of the Sacred Heart. That's where fiancé Mark Pienkos first asked her out. But on Basilica Monday -- the first Monday in March, when the reservation lines opened -- scores of blushing brides would call Basilica's wedding coordinator at the University of Notre Dame. To book her nuptials, Torres would need to rely on a little help from her friends.
"I thought people were exaggerating, but oh no, they weren't," Torres (now Pienkos) says. "After four hours of calling, my cousin texted, 'I got it. May 14. 9 am.' It was crazy, getting up at 5 a.m. for my wedding."
Beginning on Monday, March 5, Basilica weddings can be booked for 2013 by calling Amy Huber, the Basilica's wedding coordinator, at 574.631.4288, from 8 a.m. EST to 4:30 p.m. EST.
"Be patient, and keep hitting redial until you get through," Huber says.
Basilica weddings are scheduled on Saturdays at 9 a.m., 11 a.m., 1 p.m. and 3 p.m., plus Fridays at 1 p.m. and 3 p.m. in the summer. June, July and August afternoons are in high demand.
To book their Basilica wedding, Notre Dame grads Tim and Erin Ponisciak generated a list of possible dates, and gave it to their friends.
"We probably had fifteen people calling for a Basilica date on our behalf — brothers, sisters, aunts, cousins, parents, bridesmaids," says Tim Ponisciak.
Saturday afternoons in the summer were full by the time Erin's aunt got through, so the couple celebrated their nuptials at 1 p.m. on Friday, June 26, 2009. Their wedding cake resembled Notre Dame's gold dome.
To marry at the Basilica, either the bride or groom must be Catholic, and be a current student, Notre Dame alum, or Sacred Heart parish member. There is a $750 church fee. The ceremony is capped at 90 minutes, including a full Catholic mass if desired. There are restrictions on flowers. Candles and pew decorations are not permitted. Showering the new Mr. and Mrs. with rice, birdseed or bubbles is not allowed.
Maria Candelaria, a 2005 Notre Dame graduate, wants to marry at the Basilica because "a lot of my faith formation came from there." Plus, she says, the South Bend destination appeals to friends who want to see the university and the Basilica's majestic ceiling murals, stunning stained glass windows and 1876 gold-colored Gothic altar.
When Candelaria booked her wedding date, she took a leap of faith. "He hadn't officially asked me to marry him yet," she says. Three weeks later, the sparkler was on her finger. They'll make it official on July 14, 2012.