The “Father of the Bride” ChurchesJan 6th, 2010 | By Lindsay | Category: Movie Locations
One location that I have wanted to stalk for what seems like years now is the church where Annie Banks married Bryan MacKenzie in my all time favorite wedding movie, the 1991 classic Father of the Bride. But, according to IMDB, two different locations actually stood in for Annie’s wedding church in the film – one for the exterior shots and a different one altogether for the interior scenes. And I’d been longing to stalk both of them pretty much ever since I moved to the Southern California area. What I didn’t realize at the time, though, was that IMDB actually got one of the churches – the one which they claim was used for the establishing shots – wrong. Get out of here! IMDB posted a bogus address?? Well, I simply don’t believe it! 😉 Thankfully though, fellow stalker Owen stepped in and decided to put the mystery of Annie’s wedding location to rest once and for all. While doing some cyberstalking recently, he happened to stumble upon this blog in which the author randomly mentions that he lives down the street from the church used in Father of the Bride. So, Owen contacted the blog author and asked for the name and address of the church, which he happily gave him and, voila, the mystery was solved! YAY! And once I had the correct addresses, I immediately dragged my fiancé right out to stalk both churches!
Surprisingly enough, even though the church used for the exterior shots – which is named HOPE Christian Fellowship in real life – looks very much the same today as it did when Father of the Bride was filmed back in 1991, it wasn’t at all what I was expecting to see in person. In the movie, the church, which is covered in snow thanks to an unprecedented Los Angeles snowstorm which takes place the night before Annie’s wedding, seems to be a charming, little small-town type of parish. But in real life, HOPE Christian Fellowship is located on a very busy and very wide thoroughfare, which takes away from its small-town feel. Other than that, though, I am happy to report that the church – and its bell tower – look pretty much identical in person to how they appeared onscreen in Father of the Bride.
The interior scenes of the Banks/MacKenzie wedding were filmed at Trinity Church in Santa Monica (pictured above), which is located a good thirty miles away from HOPE Christian Fellowship. Why the producers chose to film at two churches that were located thirty miles away from each other is beyond me, especially since the exteriors of both are quite similar looking. I am guessing, though, that they wanted the exterior of Annie’s wedding church to have a quaint feel to it, and Trinity Church, while pretty, is anything but quaint. You would think that producers would have been able to find a quaint church in the Santa Monica area to use for the exteriors, but I guess that’s Hollywood for you!
According to an EXTREMELY nice congregation member whom I spoke with named Bob, the Father of the Bride producers had the interior of Trinity Church painted for the filming and it has not been repainted since! So, in essence, the church still looks EXACTLY the same today as it did when the movie was filmed back in 1991! How incredibly cool is that??? Sadly, though, Bob told me that there are currently plans in the works to paint the entire interior an ivory color sometime this year. SO SAD! I tried to talk Bob into leaving the church exactly as it appeared in the movie, but unfortunately, being that I am not a member of the congregation, I don’t think what I had to say had much merit. LOL So, if you are a fan of FOTB and want to stalk the church where Annie got married, I suggest you do so sooner rather than later, as Trinity may look a whole lot different in the coming months. Bob, who was actually the very person who negotiated the deal for Father of the Bride to be filmed at Trinity, also told me that producers had the crew lower the church’s overhead hanging lights for the filming, after which time they were returned to their normal height. As you can see in the above screen captures, the lights do not hang quite as low in real life as they did in the movie. The crew also brought in a red carpet to cover up the white tile located in the lobby’s entrance area and after the filming was over that carpet was gifted to the church. In fact, that very same carpet is still used to this day when the church hosts special events such as – you guessed it – weddings! So cool!
As you can see in the above screen capture, it also appears that producers covered one of the church’s side doors with a fake wall for the filming, to make it appear as though the lobby had an ante-room. In reality, though, that area is little more than a hallway. Other than the height of the lights, the lobby rug, and the covering of the side door, though, Trinity Church still looks EXACTLY – and I do mean EXACTLY – the same today as it did when Father of the Bride was filmed there 18 years ago! Love it! Love it! Love it!
And, of course, I just had to take a picture sitting in the spot where George and Nina Banks (aka Steve Martin and Diane Keaton) sat during Annie’s wedding. In real life, though, there is no barrier separating the first row of pews from the altar as there was in the movie.
Trinity’s main entrance doors were also used in Father of the Bride, in the very brief scene in which Annie and her new husband, Bryan, exit the church immediately following their wedding ceremony.
Trinity Church of Santa Monica is absolutely beautiful in person and the people I spoke with while there could NOT have been nicer to me or more informative! I honestly can’t recommend stalking the place – or even getting married there – enough! If I didn’t already have my wedding venue locked down, I would seriously consider Trinity Church. I mean, how cool would be it be to get married in the same place where Annie Banks tied the knot? 😉
Big THANK YOU to Owen for finding these locations!
Until next time, Happy Stalking!
Stalk It: The church used for the exterior shots in Father of the Bride is named HOPE Christian Fellowship and it is located at 6116 North San Gabriel Boulevard in San Gabriel. You can visit their website here. The church used for the interior shots is named Trinity Church of Santa Monica and it is located at 1015 California Avenue in Santa Monica. You can visit their website here.