Basilica Monday

Photo by Yue Wu

Photo by Danielle Rose

Photo by Yue Wu

Photo by Danielle Rose

This morning I spent an hour and fourteen minutes with a busy signal as our morning pump-up music. I did everything with one hand, not because Ryan wanted to be glued to my hip, but because I had a phone glued to my hand. And it paid off:

Today is the first Monday of March...which means that it is Basilica Monday, the Black Friday of Notre Dame weddings. The day when couples hoping to marry at some point in the following calendar year in the Basilica of the Sacred Heart on campus gather all of their nearest and dearest (and not-so-nearest and not-so-dearest because, come on, it's a numbers game) to ambush the poor Basilica secretary from 8am on. That is the situation. There isn't a four year long waiting list or any truth to the "Book your wedding when you are a freshman so you have a date ready!" myth; on the contrary, there is just one woman answering the phone and hundreds, maybe thousands of people battling it out with their dial speeds to be that lucky caller who gets in right as a luckier caller hangs up. Here is the run down. 

1. The Basilica has openings for four weddings on Saturday and two weddings on Friday (except during Lent) for every weekend besides football weekends, holiday weekends, and weekends with major university events such as graduation or ordination, give or take a few.

2. The time slots are 9am, 11am, 1pm and 3pm for Saturday weddings and 1pm and 3pm for Friday weddings.

3. They open up the calendar for the following year on the first Monday of March. So today, March 4, 2013, the Basilica starts booking weddings from January 2014 on (although this year the 2014 football schedule isn't set in stone so they aren't booking fall weddings yet! I feel bad for the brides who are waiting anxiously).

4. The most competitive months are obviously the summer months (wedding season!) and September and October. Why? Because this is what campus looks like in the fall. Throw in the fact that those two months already have half of the weekends reserved for football and you have some pretty nervous brides-to-be calling in. It really is crazy how quickly all the summer dates go. I got in at 9:14am today for Meagan and Tommy, and all of the 1pm and 3pm time slots in June and July were already gone. Wow.

5. You must be either a current student, alumnus/a, member of Sacred Heart Parish, or a current full-time member of the faculty or staff who has been employed at ND for at least five years.

6. To call in, you do not have to the bride or groom. If you are the caller with the magic dialing finger, then you just need the names of the bride and groom, their affiliation to the university, religion of both the bride and the groom and at least one must be Catholic, address where the confirmation packet should be mailed, phone number of either the bride or the groom, a long list of dates and times that they are interested in. Options dwindle quickly so the list better be long!

7. You don't technically need to be engaged to get a date! I thought this proposal story was really cute when I was researching for our wedding three years ago. 

8. You don't actually have to call in on Basilica Monday to get a date...it is just first come, first serve. I know four couples who called in after they were engaged, didn't want to wait until the next year to be married, found openings in less popular months of that year and had got married at the perfect time for them.

Calling in this morning for Meagan and her fiance, Tommy, made me remember how nervous I was back in March of 2010. I was freshly engaged, studying abroad in France, had rounded up probably 40+ family members, friends, dorm friends, the rugby team to call, call and call and since I was in Europe, I only had my unlimited calls to the US via Skype to let me participate in the running of the calls. Despite our large group, each hour kept passing without any luck until my friend Sara, a Basilica bride who had gone through the chaos the year prior sent me a glorious email that she had reserved our very top choice date! That email is on my short list of best emails received ever.

Are there any tricks? Be a Basilica bride who didn't get in for herself, I guess. But other than that, not really. Or at least I don't know any that still work. The year Sara got in, her friend called the operator, gave the Basilica extension and the operator put her through and she got in! However, the next year (the year we were calling), my friends tried that numerous times and no bueno. They tried calling from the dorm phones in the hallways...same busy signal as a cell phone. Sara actually wasn't even calling the whole morning for us...she had a break in the middle of classes at work, called and got in right away! Thank goodness for Sara and her impeccably serendipitous timing. Hi Sara! As for my luck this morning? We have Ryan to thank for that! I was alternating between calling, getting a busy signal, hanging up, calling, nursing him, him twisting around to watch his favorite YouTube dog video, busy signal, coming back to nurse, hanging up, calling and then IN! Maybe try that next year? Ha.

So say a rosary, start a novena and pray that God's will is carried out.

Is it worth it? For Chris and me, yes, yes and yes. The first time I went to Mass with him and our two best friends before we were even dating was at the Basilica. It was where Chris first picked a tulip for me (shhh! not sure if that is allowed...). The Basilica was where we went to Mass throughout the week and on Sundays. It was where I would poke Chris while standing in line for Confession whenever we saw this young couple with a sweet baby boy and whisper, "Let's be them!" and hope in my heart that that wish would come true. It was where we would pray and pray and pray some more. I couldn't have imagined being joined to my husband in the Sacrament of Holy Matrimony anywhere else.

Not to mention it is pretty breathtaking. But, I'm just a tad bit biased.

Can't wait for your wedding, Meagan and Tommy!!

What was it like for your wedding church or venue? Four year wait, Basilica Monday or six-month call ahead?