Over the years, hundreds of couples have found their dream wedding and reception venues in Loyola’s campuses, but they have to meet certain requirements in order to marry on campus.
Loyola isn’t currently hosting wedding receptions due to COVID-19, according to Loyola spokesperson Matt McDermott. Before the pandemic, couples were able to celebrate their wedding receptions on campus only during the summer season.
Only straight couples are eligible to host Roman Catholic wedding ceremonies at Loyola, according to Betancourt. In addition, either the bride or the groom must be Catholic and a member of the Loyola community among other eligibility requirements specified in the wedding information packet.
However, no such requirements are listed for wedding receptions on the university’s website.
The rate to rent a facility varies depending on the venue.
Around 550 couples have said “I do” at Loyola’s Madonna Della Strada Chapel and several have celebrated their wedding reception at Loyola’s Lake Shore, Water Tower and Cuneo Mansion and Gardens venues since the chapel commenced wedding ceremonies in 2008, according to the assistant director of campus ministry and the chapel’s music director Steven Betancourt.
The fee for holding a wedding ceremony at the chapel is $2,000 dollars, according to the wedding information packet. Services covered in the fee include security guard, sacristan, basic music, chapel usage, a chapel coordinator, a golf cart and driver and document administration.
An alumni of Loyola’s undergraduate and graduate school, Alina Gonzalez walked down the aisle at Madonna Della Strada Chapel memorial day weekend 2016. She and her now-husband Andrew Steavenson were surrounded by more than 50 friends and family, some of whom traveled from the U.K., as they said their traditional Catholic vows.
The couple and their guests later walked along the shoreline to the Crown Center for their reception as a live band played old-fashioned latin ballads.
Their cake, attire of the wedding party, roses and gladiolus stocks were either blue or yellow to complement their theme, inspired by the colors adorned on the Lady of Charity, patron saint of Cuba.
Gonzalez said having her wedding ceremony at Madonna Della Strada chapel was special since it was a place she often visited to relieve her stress while she studied at the university. Celebrating her wedding reception at Crown Center also felt ironic to her since at one point she felt her “life was ending” because of a difficult biology class in the same building.
The couple, whose love story began after they helped forge the rings at the opening ceremony of the London 2012 Summer Olympics, said a moment they treasure from their wedding day is when their guests and the priest spontaneously formed a conga line when they were invited to the dance floor after the duo’s choreographed dance.
She said Loyola’s Lake Shore campus, which is along the shore of Lake Michigan, was the ideal place to host the wedding ceremony and reception because she had always dreamt of a wedding by a lake.
“We always know where to go back to,” Gonzalez said. “It’s always there for us. We can always walk up to the campus, look at the water, and we can always walk into Madonna and have a nostalgic feeling. We can take our kids and be like ‘this is where mommy and daddy got married.’’’
It was “love at first sight” for Diana and Ryan Walsh when they met at a Lincoln Park bar one evening in 2010. Four years later in August, the couple tied the knot in a traditional Catholic ceremony in Loyola’s chapel. They hosted a cocktail hour in Mundelein Center and a reception at Cudahy Library after their ceremony.
Reminiscing over her wedding day, she said they were glad they got the chance to welcome guests as they entered the reception and greet them at their tables since it was important to the couple that they spent time with their guests.
Diana recalled a memorable moment when she and Ryan left the reception venue for some private time together conversing and dancing outside the chapel while they were photographed and filmed.
Diana, who received her MBA degree from Loyola’s Quinlan School of Business, fell in love with the chapel as soon as she stepped inside during her first visit to the university and said she couldn’t have “imagined having a wedding anywhere else.”
She said both Loyola’s location and available parking space in the garage was convenient for their guests, most of whom were commuting from the northwest suburbs and downtown to attend the wedding events. The ease of their guests and the “gorgeous” chapel was what sealed the venue for their wedding, she said.
The Walsh’s weren’t the only ones mesmerized by the chapel’s beauty.
Brianna Campos was also “blown away” by how stunning the chapel is which was why there was no need for her and her husband Michael Campos to invest a lot in decoration. Campos, who graduated from Loyola’s nursing program in 2013, said getting married in the chapel four years later in 2017 was special since it was where her hands were blessed when she entered nursing clinicals as a student at the university.
Another couple, Declan and Kelly Murray, said they couldn’t think of a more beautiful place to have hosted their wedding ceremony in August 2018 and acknowledged that even the area surrounding the chapel is “picturesque” year-round.
Since there were two other ceremonies at the chapel the same day, the Murray’s also said they were impressed with how seamless the transition between the weddings was.
Before Annette Morrow walked down the long aisle of the chapel wearing a dress with a long train, she peeked to glance at the aisle as guests waited for her entry. She was able to hear some gasps from some guests who caught sight of her because of how great the acoustics of the chapel is.
Annette wed her husband Marcus Morrow October 2018; the couple were married by Father Jerry Overbeck. While Annette is Catholic, Marcus isn’t; however despite the fact he isn’t affiliated with the Catholic Church, he said he still felt welcomed because Father Jerry Overbeck incorporated both of their beliefs in a personal statement that also included the history of their relationship as law students at Loyola.
Some couples who got married during the pandemic experienced a lot of uncertainty over their wedding date.
After postponing their September 2020 wedding ceremony, Katie and Blake Boucher were able to get married at the chapel June 2021. She said a few months prior to the ceremony in June, she thought they would be forced to postpone it again, but were able to stick with the date since COVID-19 numbers began to decline.
All of their 80 guests were required to wear masks in the chapel, excluding family members and the wedding party, Katie said.
Loyola students, staff and faculty receive a 10 % reception venue discount.