Last weekend, my cousin got married! And between the ceremony and the reception, I got to experience some Atlanta landmarks I might not otherwise have ever seen.
Basilica of the Sacred Heart of Jesus
I’ve never been to a Catholic mass or a Catholic wedding before, so this was an all new experience for me. Their ceremony was held at the Basilica of the Sacred Heart of Jesus. What I thought was interesting was how quick the exchange of vows was, and the couple was suddenly married, and then the majority of the ceremony was holding mass. It left me plenty of time to enjoy listening to the choir and admiring the architecture.
Formerly the Sacred Heart Church, the church was designated as a basilica in 2010, making it the first Roman Catholic basilica in the state of Georgia. The church was designed by Atlanta architect W.T. Downing in 1897, and it was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1976 in recognition of its artistically significant architecture. The red brick Romanesque facade and two octagonal towers are a memorable piece of downtown Atlanta.
The interior is all sweeping arches that draw the eye toward the elaborate sanctuary where you’ll find a life-sized crucifix and a painting of Christ and angels surrounded by clouds. The church’s 28 stained glass windows, installed in 1902, portray episodes in the life of Christ.
The Biltmore Ballrooms
The reception was held at the Biltmore Ballrooms inside the Biltmore Hotel, which has been named one of the top wedding venues in the US by many wedding publications. The hotel has two ballrooms, the Georgian and Imperial. We were in the Imperial Ballroom, which is smaller and Colonial Revival in design. The Georgian Ballroom across the hall has gilded gold leaf embellishments and antique pillars. Both ballrooms maintain their original handcrafted plaster relief ceiling and restored crystal chandeliers.
When the hotel was built in 1924, it was the center of the Atlanta social scene. The 11 story hotel was financed by William Candler, son of Asa Candler, the founder of the Coca-Cola Company. Franklin D. Roosevelt, Dwight D. Eisenhower, Bette Davis, and Charles Lindbergh all visited the hotel in its heyday. The hotel is distinguishable in the midtown skyline by its radio masts illuminating the Biltmore name, relics of the South’s first radio station, WSB, which broadcast from the top floors of the hotel from 1925 to 1956.
The Biltmore Hotel was in operation until it went bankrupt in 1986. After renovations, the property reopened in 1999 as an event and office space, including the Biltmore Ballrooms. The building is now placed on the National Register of Historic Places. In 2016, Georgia Tech purchased the Biltmore Hotel, whose many engineering firms, energy companies, and technology start-up residents fit right in with the university’s Technology Square portion of campus that sits just across the street.
Where would you have your most perfect Atlanta wedding? Tell me in the comments!