Sacred Heart Catholic Church

A Guide to Getting Married at Sacred Heart Catholic Church

Located in the heart of downtown Tampa, Sacred Heart Catholic Church is one of the city's most iconic wedding ceremony venues. Originating in 1905, the church features Romanesque architecture with its granite and white marble exterior and 70 stained glass windows.

“I love Sacred Heart because of the architecture and its grandness. It has a European feel, unlike most of the more modern-day churches. It is very ornate inside, so there is really no need to spend money on flowers for the ceremony. Just left the church be your backdrop.” -Karen Cerboni, owner of EventFull Weddings

“I love that this beautiful cathedral is bathed in soft, natural light. I’ve captured weddings at many different churches throughout my career, but this one makes my job an absolute breeze! Capturing portraits at the ceremony can be difficult due to poor lighting, but not at Sacred Heart! They are perfectly lit every time! So, plan to capture your family photos here before you head to the reception. They’ll come out lovely!” -Mary Neiman, owner of Mary Anna Photography

“We love Sacred Heart because it provides one of the most stunning backdrops for couples who decide to have a Catholic ceremony! We also love shooting in the surrounding areas, which is a perfect mix of beautiful stonework and city vibes. We love each look equally!” -Shannon Dewitt, owner of Dewitt for Love Photography

When Can I Book My Wedding Ceremony?

Getting married at Sacred Heart Catholic Church requires a minimum of six months of pre-planning, with an average lead time of 12-18 months. Couples who live outside of the parish area must be registered, active, participating, and contributing at Sacred Heart for at least one year before requesting a wedding date, while couples who are not registered parishioners in the church must receive a written commitment from their home parish to set a date.

Once eligible, couples must meet with the priest and answer a FOCCUS survey. Several follow-up meetings, a Pre-Cana class, and one-on-one meetings are required and must be completed 30-45 days before the wedding date.

“Couples should book their date with Sacred Heart as soon as possible. A year or more is not unusual, and the Diocese of St. Pete requires that preparation begin no less than six months. Couples who are members of the church get first priority with dates and times, so if you are not actually a parishioner, you may need to be a little more flexible with your date. If you are not a parishioner, you will need to also coordinate with your church’s priest so that he can perform the ceremony at the church.” -Karen Cerboni, owner of EventFull Weddings

How Much Does it Cost to Get Married at Sacred Heart?

The ceremony fee is $1,500 and includes a one-hour rehearsal the previous evening and a venue coordinator for the rehearsal and day of ceremony. Music services by the church's organist and a cantor are available for additional fees.

“The rental rate can be more than you may have anticipated to spend for a church wedding, but it’s worth it as you don’t need any additional decor.” -Karen Cerboni, owner of EventFull Weddings

Bride Walking into Sacred Heart Catholic Church Wedding Portrait | Cathedral Length Ball Gown and Veil | Tampa Bay Wedding Photographer Dewitt for Love Photography

Dewitt for Love Photography

What Times Can I Get Married?

“There are limitations on times that you can hold your ceremony, so you should consider how those times work with your reception. Depending on the time you choose, you could have a gap between your ceremony and reception, or your reception may need to begin later or earlier than you wanted.” -Karen Cerboni, owner of EventFull Weddings

“Sacred Heart, like many Catholic churches, has set times that they allow couples to book their ceremony and it also depends on if you are a parishioner or not. The times they allow weddings are 11:00 a.m., 2:00 p.m. or 7:00 p.m. The natural light is really beautiful, so if it's the later ceremony, depending on the time of year, you may not have that natural light coming through when the sunset is earlier in the day in October-March. Also, you need to think about the time gap that you may have in starting cocktail hour. As photographers, we generally book a continuous day so while we will have plenty of time for photos, which is amazing, it does potentially extend the timeframe needed for your photographers and videographers.” -Carrie Wildes, owner of Carrie Wildes Photography

“It is important to remember that whether you do or don’t have a planner, to check with the venue coordinator about timing the day of. I have had couples who want to take photos before their ceremony or have a large floral installment, and there is a wedding before in the morning that has until a certain time for their photos. I have had couples decide last-minute to go over earlier to the Church and there are couples there who decided to stay late for photos. No bride wants to see another bride on their wedding day! Always remember to check with the church and their coordinator to finalize all times in advance, as well as the week of the wedding in case there have been any last-minute changes!” -Lauren Gertz, owner of MDP Events

What Should Couples Know about Photography/Videography at Sacred Heart?

“Our favorite thing about Sacred Heart Church is the architecture. It’s amazing! The big doors outside, the high ceilings, and the exterior make shooting there really fun. Being located in the heart of Tampa allows for beautiful drone shots of the church and also fun spots to walk too.” -Will DeCosta, owner of Iyrus Weddings

“Be aware of the solemnity and sacred setting this cathedral offers. Make sure your vendors are prepared to treat your wedding with the respect it deserves as a religious ceremony. Sacred Heart does have a form for photographers to sign stating that they will respect the religious space and photography guidelines the church has set in place. Also, your photographer will not be able to use flash during the ceremony, so make sure that they are skilled in capturing indoor images with just ambient light.” -Mary Neiman, owner of Mary Anna Photography

“The lighting at Sacred Heart Catholic Church is a bit unique. Its stunning architecture often creates beautiful plays of light and shadow, but it can also present challenges. The interior lighting tends to be on the subdued side, adding a touch of intimacy to the atmosphere. This is where having an experienced photographer/videographer pays off, someone who knows how to leverage the available light without compromising the solemnity of the ceremony. Discussing this with your chosen photographer/videographer becomes crucial; they'll likely share their techniques, equipment choices, and perhaps even show you examples from similar venues they've worked in!” -Arron McNeile, owner of McNeile Photography

“Couples should know that flash won't be allowed and neither a photographer/videographer are allowed on the stage. Therefore, if there are shots needed, it's best to speak to the priest to let him know for the bulk of the time to have the couples face each other if possible. Since the ceremonies are pretty long, there needs to be an area where the couple can be at least visible to their guests and to the videographer/photographer.” -Bonnet Charles, owner of Priceless Studio Design

“Photos you may have seen before may no longer be allowed as the church adjusts its policies over the years. For example, photography from the second level is no longer permitted, meaning that shots you might have come across on social media are no longer possible. The church also has strict rules for photo and video on where they are allowed to stand or move to during the ceremony. It is important to speak with your photographer and videographer on any angles/expectations you may have to make sure it's possible within the rules of the church.” -Shannon Dewitt, owner of Dewitt for Love Photography

“It is ideal to have two photographers/videographers in Sacred Heart because there is minimal movement around the church when photographing a wedding. Generally, you can be on the sides and in the aisle but behind the last row of guests. They also do not allow anyone to go on the balcony anymore, so we aren't able to get that really cool perspective from up there. We always talk directly to the priest that is officiating that day because different priests have different rules that they want to be followed, and it's always so important to be respectful of that.” -Carrie Wildes, owner of Carrie Wildes Photography

“Sacred Heart truly stands as a breathtaking historic cathedral in downtown Tampa; it offers many breathtaking backdrops within its main sanctuary. Even the main entrance itself offers a picturesque setting for photos. However, these locations remain within full view of your guests, leaving few options for private portrait sessions on-site before the ceremony. If you want to have portraits taken before the ceremony, I recommend planning them at your getting-ready location. Additionally, please note that there is a limited window of time available for portraits at the church following the ceremony. Although there is limited time for photos after the ceremony, I’ve never had trouble capturing family photos and some portraits of the bride and groom. If you want a photo with your officiant, let them know ahead of time so that they don’t change out of their robes immediately after the ceremony.” -Mary Neiman, owner of Mary Anna Photography

Sacred Heart Catholic Church Mary Anna Photography

Mary Anna Photography

“My favorite thing about this venue is absolutely its beauty. There is so much not only within the Church but also outside in terms of photo op spots. There is plenty of space also within the church for ‘hiding' prior to the ceremony for the couple and their wedding party as well as anyone involved in the ceremony. If some of the party is not walking down the aisle, there is a space close to the altar as well as a holding room next to the restrooms with access to the front and back of the aisle. The church is very strict on how far photo and video can go down the aisle and close to the altar, so make sure to talk through this with your team as well as the church.” -Lauren Gertz, MDP Events

“A bridal waiting room is located adjacent to the main sanctuary, providing the bride with a private space to await her grand entrance. The groom's waiting area is also situated nearby, just off the main altar area, so he enters the ceremony from the front side. After the ceremony concludes, the entire bridal party retreats to the bridal suite, allowing the guests to begin their exit. There is a discreet side entrance from the bridal suite to the front of the sanctuary. This feature enables you to start your family photos while the last few guests make their way out.” -Mary Neiman, owner of Mary Anna Photography

“Catholic churches like Sacred Heart have quite a few and varying logistics to consider when planning out your wedding day. For example, they may require the parties to be there by a certain time. There may also be mass shortly after your ceremony ends. We always let couples know to expect no more than 20-30 minutes before church staff requires it to be quiet; thus, planning your family photos should be done thoughtfully! In our experience, no more than about 12 different family groupings can be completed in this time. Any additional groupings may need to be moved outdoors or to your reception venue. Make sure you have a location back-up plan if you are considering doing any pre or post-wedding photos next door at Le Méridien. You or your planner will want to check ahead of time that there are no ceremonies happening during your time and to confirm any additional fees or permits to have access to the iconic steps! -Shannon Dewitt, owner of Dewitt for Love Photography

“Photographers and videographers are required to provide proof of insurance and sign a vendor agreement form provided by the church. The church will allow your wedding party on-site one hour prior to the ceremony and 30 minutes after the ceremony during which time photos and video can be taken. This is important to note so you can plan your photography timeline and locations accordingly.” -Karen Cerboni, owner of EventFull Weddings

Where Do Guests Park?

“Logistics are also big with this venue! Being directly downtown, it is important to note there is very limited parking. There is lots of street parking, however it depends on the day and time if it will be available. We always recommend transportation for all guests and make sure the video and photo team know this as well so they can leave enough time to drive and find parking before they need to be at the Church.” -Lauren Gertz, owner of MDP Events

“It is important to be aware of any events that may be happening downtown that could cause traffic delays and difficulty finding parking. There is metered parking on the street, a paid parking lot across the street, and the Madison Building parking garage. It is a good idea to post parking information and traffic concerns on your wedding website.” -Karen Cerboni, owner of EventFull Weddings

“One of the things we run into with church weddings is traveling logistics and timing. A lot of times, the timeline is very tight; please make sure you allow for travel and setting up. Parking is also a little tough around the church, so always get a plan together with your vendor team, so you have an idea of timing and logistics.” -Will DeCosta, owner of Iyrus Weddings

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