The Little Brown Church in the Valley, a diminutive sanctuary in Studio City surrounded by multistory apartment buildings, has hosted more than 23,000 weddings. But it’s probably best known as the site of the union between Ronald Reagan and Nancy Davis on March 4, 1952.
It was the 1,761st marriage ceremony performed in the modest chapel.
“They're definitely the most famous and well known,” Michael Kosik, the church’s associate pastor, said Sunday.
The church is so popular, in fact, that in years past, couples from Japan, where the Reagans are “very big,” would buy package deals in which they could fly to Los Angeles to have their wedding at the Little Brown Church and then go on a honeymoon at Disneyland, Kosik said.
He has presided over ceremonies in which the bride and groom’s English was limited to “I do.”
Despite the Little Brown Church’s association with the iconic Republican couple, Senior Minister Russell Willoughby noted that the church today is “very progressive.” It holds same-sex wedding ceremonies, and Willoughby was outspoken against Proposition 8, the 2008 ballot measure that outlawed same-sex marriage until it was overturned in court.
Still, the church takes pride in its historical association with the Reagans. At one point, there was even “loose talk” of the church building being moved to the Reagans’ ranch, Willoughby said.
“We are very proud that our history is connected to the history of the president and first lady,” he said. “No matter what our positions are on things, we’re very proud of that connection.”
The church leaders said more people than usual had been filtering in and out of the church's 24-hour prayer chapel Sunday, after Nancy Reagan’s death.