As we mentioned elsewhere on this website, the Washington National Cathedral is a dream venue for DC wedding photographers. To begin with, it is one of the most famous landmarks in the Nation’s Capital. The cathedral is an absolutely integral part of Washington, DC, and is famous around the world. Millions of visitors to Washington make a stop there each year. Fiancés who tie the knot or have their couples portraits taken there will have matrimonial pictures with a Washingtonian feel.
The church is also a beautiful structure that adds lovely backdrops to photos of brides and grooms. That is equally true whether those images are taken inside the cathedral or in the gorgeous outdoor spaces around it. There is almost nowhere on the National Cathedral’s grounds that a Washington, DC, wedding photographer cannot use for couples portraits!
Part of what makes the cathedral such an iconic part of the Nation’s Capital is its outward appearance. It is the fourth-tallest structure in Washington, making it one of the few buildings to rise above the skyline. Sitting atop Mount St. Alban gives it additional elevation and makes it easily visible for miles around. As a result, nearly every DC metro area resident can recognize the church’s two distinctive Neo-Gothic towers. The rest of the National Cathedral’s architecture is no less stunning. It is not surprising that it features on both the National Register of Historic Places and the 2007 List of America’s Favorite Architecture. Naturally, that exterior design attracts many a bride and groom looking to include its ornate designs in their marriage celebrations!
The cathedral’s history is also part of its allure for DC-area fiancés. It is fascinating and inextricably intertwined with that of the city the National Cathedral calls home. Shortly after America gained independence, Pierre L’Enfant, the designer of Washington, reserved land for “a great church for national purposes.” Fortunately or unfortunately, the National Portrait Gallery ended up occupying that spot. Though a different site was eventually identified, construction proved to be a lengthy process, to say the least. It was not until 1907, during the presidency of Theodore Roosevelt, that the first stone was laid. The process was not completed until the middle of George H.W. Bush’s term in 1990. Even with this delay, however, the Washington National Cathedral still met the needs of the Washington, DC, community. Bethlehem Chapel was opened in the church basement and began offering daily services in 1912. Incidentally, it was in this beautiful and intimate space that the newlyweds in this photograph exchanged their wedding vows.
The Washington National Cathedral’s openness is also a draw for Washington-area spouses-to-be. It is officially part of the Episcopal Church. More specifically, the cathedral is the seat of both the Presiding Bishop of the Episcopal Church in the United States and the Bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Washington. However, it welcomes people of any faith and exists to serve all Washingtonians and all Americans. As evidence of this commitment to serve all and deny none, Congress has made the cathedral the “National House of Prayer.” The church has been available to the local and national community during all manner of crises. For example, the National Cathedral held monthly services during World War II “on behalf of a united people.” Similarly, it hosted a Washington-area Jewish synagogue and an Eastern Orthodox community when each needed a temporary home. The church’s support to Washington has also sometimes extended far beyond religious assistance. An example was when its basement was intentionally flooded to create emergency drinking water in 1962. This was done in the event that the Cuban Missile Crisis led to nuclear war.
This welcoming spirit makes the National Cathedral a particularly attractive wedding venue for fiancés like the ones in this photo. The bride and groom came to the altar from two different cultural and religious backgrounds. They quite understandably wanted a non-denominational ceremony that would fit their mixed-faith household. The Washington National Cathedral turned out to be the perfect place for them. And also the perfect spot for gorgeous couples photos like this one!