Normal’s First United Methodist Church has a very special place in Denis’ heart because it is the church where he photographed his very first wedding.
Organized in 1865, the church was established to accommodate the many Methodist students who attended what was then Illinois State Normal University, or ISNU. Settled in 1854, what is now the town of Normal was a village that was simply called “The Junction”. For a while it was referred to as “North Bloomington”. The name Normal was given for the university connection in 1865.
Village leaders voted to incorporate the town of Normal on September 30, 1865. In February of 1867, the Illinois State Legislature approved. The church's first formal sanctuary was dedicated the same year, located at the corner of Fell Avenue and Ash Street (now named College Avenue) in Normal.
The current church was built in 1957 and sits on the campus of Illinois State University, next to Milner Library and the ISU Bowling and Billiards Center. It is located in the same block as the ISU Bone Student Center and Braden Auditorium, at 211 North School Street.
In our earlier years of wedding photography, this was always one of our favorite churches to photograph in, because at the time, it was one of very few churches that were air-conditioned. Back in the 1970’s and early 1980’s, it seemed that so many spring and summer weddings were booked in hot, older churches that were not air conditioned, and it made the working conditions most difficult. Thankfully, that is much different today with most churches now air-conditioned.
First United Methodist Church is a lovely church for weddings, and the church staff is some of the nicest and most accommodating people that you will find. This photograph will give you a good idea how a wedding at First United Methodist Church looks from the viewpoint of one of your guests.
This photograph is from a wedding that took place in March, over the Easter weekend. Notably, this is one of the few and perhaps the only church in Bloomington Normal and Central Illinois that will schedule weddings the Saturday before Easter. Notice how beautifully decorated the church is, including the many Easter lilies available at no extra cost. Easter is such a beautiful time for a wedding, comparable only to Christmas.
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Location: 211 N. School St., Normal, IL 61761.