The bride wanted a rustic aesthetic.

The mother of the bride wanted the wedding in a church.

Sean Strelec, who runs VIP Weddings and Events with his wife, Sanya, realized he had the answer. It came to him—like some answers to prayer do—on the internet. There was a Craigslist ad from a Northern California church that was moving. The congregation had to get rid of its 125-year-old pews.

“I ended up buying the entire lot,” Strelec said. “Loaded them up and brought them down to Orange County.”

Strelec moved the pews to an outdoor venue and arranged them in rows for the ceremony, giving the wedding a vintage feel with just a touch of religiousness. Both the bride and her mother were pleased. And Strelec discovered a new service he could offer as part of his wedding venue business.

Today, he and his wife rent pews to seat up to 180 wedding guests.

“For the Avant-garde couple with the family that revels in tradition,” the company website says, “there is no better option for ceremony seating than vintage church pews.”

From California to Colorado, New York to North Carolina, and many points in between, wedding vendors are offering pews for rent.

“Having our authentic church pews creates an elegant foundation that sets the scene for the whole day,” one company promises. “The guests will be pleasantly surprised by the beauty and thoughtfulness that our pews bring to the ceremony.”

Nearly 2.5 million weddings will take place in America in 2022, according to industry estimates. Most will not be held in churches. As recently as 2009, more than 40 percent of weddings were held in churches, but today houses of worship don’t even rank in the top three preferred ...

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