Let me back up a little. When Mark and I were first discussing marriage, I advocated a small, civil ceremony at the courthouse. Neither of us attend church regularly and most of my religious beliefs departed from Christianity long ago. However, though Mark is not present for service every Sunday, his desire to have a formal ceremony at his family's church was very strong. The idea of having pre-martial counseling sessions with a pastor before the ceremony made me a bit uncomfortable, but I could tell how important the tradition was to Mark. I agreed to meet with the pastor and give it a shot.
As you can tell, I did not burst into flames upon entering the church. Our pastor put me at ease, being sure to focus on our commitment as a couple, our backgrounds and our plans for the future - not our faiths. He gently incorporated prayer into our sessions and never once made us feel distressed or unworthy. He took the time to get to know us both as individuals and as a couple and to structure the ceremony in a way that felt personal and engaging.
I think the greatest piece of advice I can give to a engaged couple is to participate in some pre-martial counseling sessions before committing. Whether there is a religious undertone or not, and even if you think you have covered every topic there is to cover, it is so helpful to have a third party who doesn't know you well ask questions. Though Mark and I had discussed finances, family size and beyond, the questions that our pastor posed brought us even closer. It was a wonderfully affirming experience.
After having such an intimate ceremony with ten guests, I don't know why anyone would choose otherwise. Getting married in a church with our closest family members made the ceremony really feel like a union and not a performance. Despite how much you plan, the day never unfolds by the book. But the surprises and imperfections are where the memories come from.
So my answer to Mark's question is, no. I have no regrets about getting married in a church. I am glad that Mark's family history now continues on in that church. From his grandfather digging out the basement of the building by hand to Mark attending Sunday school there as a young child, to our beautiful wedding: it is a family history that is now my history as well.