Thursday, September 2, 2010

Our Lady of Victory Basilica FAQs

I've received a few emails about weddings at OLV in Lackawanna from both brides that want to get married there and current brides planning their wedding there. I wanted to share some guidance for frequently asked questions.

1. How much does it cost to have a wedding at OLV?

Like most churches, OLV asks for a contribution. Of course, if there are any financial hardships it's best to speak with a priest. The requested contribution is $450 and includes everything (organist, sacristan/altar servers, priest). In my opinion, this keeps it simple, no need to fret over how much of a contribution you give to the priest, organist, etc.

2. How can I have my wedding at OLV?

First and foremost, you need to be a member of the parish (this is typical of most Catholic churches in Western New York). This, in my opinion, ensures that the party getting married is getting married in the Church for proper reasons. To ensure that you are a practicing member, OLV requires that you are a member for at least 9 months prior to setting a wedding date.

3. What days of the week/what times can weddings take place?

Saturdays are without a doubt the most requested day. For Saturday weddings, there are two time spots: 11.30am and 1.30pm. They also have weddings on Friday afternoons and evenings. You can inquire about other days of the week as well, however you cannot have a wedding on a Sunday, per the Diocese of Buffalo's regulations.

4. Is there a bridal preparation or waiting room?

No. You will need to be dressed prior to arriving at the church. You can wait in the basement, where there are some benches, if you're looking for a spot to sit or are worried about anyone seeing you prior to the ceremony.

5. What are the photography/videography restrictions?

Each priest at OLV has their own guidelines whether or not flash photography is allowed. The priests at OLV during my preparation had no problems with flash. Photographers and filmmakers are encouraged to be as discrete as possible, but they are allowed to walk around for coverage. They can also go up into the organ and choir loft for photos/film. In my opinion, they were overall lax in this category compared to other churches I've heard about.

Other Guidance:
* The floor of the Basilica is quite dirty. The heavier the dress, the more dirt seems to adhere to it according to a few OLV Brides I've spoken with. You cannot use an aisle runner in the church.

* There is a Pepsi machine downstairs. This is helpful in case you need or want a drink after the ceremony to take with you for your formal portraits.

* Getting a phone call in return from a priest or secretary can be difficult. Stay on top of them. The secretaries don't seem to know anything and always defer to the priest -- even down to the question "who needs to be in attendance at the rehearsal?" We had to call our local parish in Washington, DC to inquire about the norms of rehearsal because we never received a phone call back after numerous attempts.

* If there is another wedding taking place the same day you can work with the other couple to share in the cost of flowers, etc.

Grotto Shrine of Our Lady of Lourdes
(personal photo)

* If you choose to give flowers to the Virgin Mary during the ceremony, you will be giving them to her in the Lourdes Grotto (where Father Baker is located) and not the Mary behind the altar (and out-of-view from the church). It's important to notify your film crew and photographers because it's behind where the filmmakers/photogs generally cover -- they set up their tripods facing the altar -- and they may not be prepared for this if you don't notify them.


  1. My name is Jessika and my fiances' name is Christopher. We've been together for 4 years, but we grew up together since Jr.High so it seems like a lot longer. Well we're finally ready to take the next step and we've always just assumed we would take our vows in his families church, the Our Lady of Victory Basilica. We also dreamed that we would say our "I do's" in this magnificent holy shrine, but now I found out that our dream might not be possible after looking at this blog. I saw that there is a guideline , or so I'll call it, stating that you have to have been a parishioner for 9 months before having a wedding at OLV. Well since my fiance and I both live in VA, you could see why this worries me. Although my fiance has attended mass many many times there it has never been for 9 consecutive months. His immediate family is from Buffalo and his grandparents and other relatives are loyal parishioners and have been for many many years, but I do not know if this will have any impact on whether or not we are granted the honor to hold our nuptials at OLV the families' church. If anyone knows anything about this or had a similar experience or just read something somewhere please comment or E-mail me at Anything will help, we've been calling the church and either leaving messages or being told to call back that a priest will have to answer our questions. Thank you to all of you who spent the time to read all of this and I hope that some of you have any bit of useful info we can read.
    Jessika and Chris

    1. Hi Jessika and Chris,

      When you call to inquire about having your wedding at OLV they will inquire about the parents. If Chris's parents are active members of the church you should be ok to still be considered active members and with getting married there.

  2. Hi Jessika and Chris,
    I emailed you so that you can call me directly, but I wanted to publicize your comment for other potential brides and grooms, and their families.

    As a general rule, a member of a parish (and this goes for any parish, not just OLV) is someone who registered, someone who has filled out the census form and you are in the system/on the roles as being a member. So for OLV, a bride and/or groom would need to be a registered member for 9 months prior to setting up a wedding date.

    Some churches/parishes will "welcome you home" if you have moved from your childhood hometown/parish (say from Buffalo to DC) and show that you're a registered member of a parish in your new city; this is usually accomplished by a letter from your new parish priest.

    As you've stated it @Praying for a wedding in OLV Basilica, the 9 month guideline is just that, a guideline, and they may have special accommodations for people in your situation. I invite you to reply to my email or call me so I can offer my advice for your specific situation.

  3. For more information from the Basilica's website (

    Sacrament of Marriage
    To be married in the Basilica, you must be an active parishioner for at least 9 months prior to setting a date. Engaged couples should contact one of the parish priests before making other wedding arrangements. Courses are required to attend a Pre-Cana Conference, or equivalent pre-marital preparation program. A parish Pre-Cana program is available.

    1. My fiancé and I wanted to get married at the Basilica as well. we do have 2 kids together, will we be able to get married here?

    2. Dear Anonymous,
      Congratulations! And congratulations on wanting to have a Catholic wedding.

      If you are a member of the parish, all you have to do is call and speak with a priest for your preparation (see above for more information).

      If you are not a member I'd suggest taking a look at for a map/list of Buffalo parishes. Most parishes require that you are a member for 4-6 months prior to setting a wedding date, but it's best to speak with a parish directly.

      If you haven't baptized your children, that will be something you can discuss with the priest too!