Bridal Critics and Couples Agree
Texas (October 28, 2011)
- Bridal Critics & Couples Agree: Despite Dark History,
Presidio La Bahia, Loreto Chapel Gaining Popularity
as Texas Wedding Destination Recent regional and national
publications are indicating the Presidio La Bahia
(Fort of the Bay) in Goliad, TX, and its quaint Our
Lady of Loreto Chapel are an elegant wedding location
despite the long dark history. And altar-bound and
recently wedded couples seem to agree that the Spanish
Colonial citadel and the 232-year-old church are a
great place to tie the knot. Despite its dramatic
and often bloody past, including the Goliad Massacre
during the Texas Revolution in 1836, couples continue
to seek out the National Historic Landmark and its
pastoral setting beside the San Antonio River to exchange
marital vows, Catholic, Christian and non-denominational.
"San Antonio Weddings" and TheWeddingRingBlog say
the couples are attracted to its unique sanctuary,
dark history and The Quarters, overnight accommodations
once used by former officers and priests, which many
visitors contend regularly exhibits paranormal activity.
other parts of the world, there are old cathedrals
or castles that connect you with the distant past.
This is the closest thing to a castle in our area."
-- Newlywed groom Aaron Lee Ochoa, Port O'Connor,
Goliad, Texas (PRWEB) October 28, 2011
For a memorable wedding, couples should "Remember
Goliad!" . . . Texas, that is, and its Presidio La
Bahia (Fort of the Bay). After all, couples have been
exchanging vows in the citadel's quaint Our Lady of
Loreto Chapel since 1779.
The National Historic Landmark, located on a pastoral
hilltop beside the San Antonio River, is probably
the most fought over piece of ground in Texas. The
site marks one of the bloodiest chapters in Texas'
quest for independence from Mexico - the "Goliad Massacre"
in 1836, which followed the disastrous Battle of Coleto
Creek nearby. (presidiolabahia(at)goliad(dot)net)
But the betrothed are undeterred. Nuptials occur frequently,
from Catholic rituals replete with lace and mantillas
to Christian services celebrated with the wedding
party decked out in camouflage hunting gear. Honeymoons
often begin in The Quarters, former lodging for officers
The Presidio has received national attention this
year as a desirable matrimonial destination:
"San Antonio Weddings.com called a marriage in Goliad
a "treasure of memories unlike those found anywhere
The WeddingRingBlog referred to the Presidio as possessing
"unbelievable and unmatched atmosphere." (http://www.theweddingringblog.com/2011/09/presidio-la-bahia-texas.html)
Still, as wedding locations go, the 290-year-old Spanish
fort may not be the envy of everyone headed for the
altar. But no one can dispute its unique and unusual
background or historic import.
Within the Chapel walls, revolutionaries signed the
first Declaration of Independence on Dec. 20, 1835;
Texas heroes prayed and received Holy Communion. In
the Quadrangle, where wedding receptions are often
held, wounded defenders like Col. James Fannin were
executed. Just beyond the fort's eight-foot high stone
walls, parapets and cannons, hundreds more of his
"Texians" were massacred.
7th Generation Ancestral Ties
The ancestors of Roxanne Caye Gayle, who married Aaron
Lee Ochoa in the chapel in July 2010, did the same
thing more than 180 years ago. Gayle is a seventh-generation
descendant of Don Carlos de la Garza, a Mexican rancher
who was born at the Presidio in 1807. He was baptized
in the Chapel and married his wife Tomasita there
"We chose Presidio La Bahia for our wedding because
we both love the history of the place," said Roxanne,
a Port Lavaca math teacher. "We actually went to see
the (Massacre) reenactment when we began dating. We
realized that we had both gone there on field trips
in elementary school and liked it a lot."
"In other parts of the world, there are old cathedrals
or castles that connect you with the distant past,"
said Aaron, an electrician. "This is the closest thing
to a castle in our area."
In 1836, de la Garza led 80 rancheros known as "Victoriana
Guardes" into the battle of Refugio, defeating forces
sent by Col. Fannin and helping pave the way to the
Mexican victory at the Battle of Coleto Creek. He
was later instrumental in sparing the lives of at
least six of his captive neighbors at the Presidio
moments before their execution.
"I think the chapel is so beautiful inside... no reason
to put up any decorations. The gorgeous woodwork,
the angel (fresco)," Roxanne added. The couple resides
in Port O'Connor, TX. (Video and story at: http://www.victoriaadvocate.com/news/2010/jul/31/kb_historicwedding_080110_105718/.
"I'm happy Roxanne (got) married there," said her
mother, Debbie Gayle, who discovered the historic
connection 20 years ago. "She can become part of history
and pass that down to her children."
A "Shotgun" Wedding By contrast, Shane McAdams and
Lea Ann Ellisor, avid hunters who now reside in Victoria,
TX, had a fun-themed wedding at Presidio for their
150 guests (ceremony) and 350 guests (reception):
"The Hunt Is Over."
Groomsmen and bridesmaids sported their Realtree New
Breakup camouflage vests and dresses. The flowers
were hunter orange canna lilies. Decorations included
deer horns, shot gun shell hulls, targets, etc.
"We rode away on a camo golf cart," said Lea Ann,
"and the guests threw (deer) corn at the bride and
groom," instead of rice. "Priceless! This perfect
day was a reflection of us."
The couple had grown up in Goliad and visited often.
"We both love Texas history and wished to create another
memory there," she added. They even spent the night
in The Quarters across the courtyard, describing it
as "more than adequate...quiet delightful...very peaceful
"We didn't experience any paranormal activity," she
said, alluding to comments by previous guests of hearing
music and voices and seeing apparitions.
The Quarters, a modern, cozy, two-bedroom suite with
a living room, fireplace and kitchenette, has two
private entries. It can accommodate four persons for
overnight stays, and is often used as a staging area
for the wedding party.
Peace and serenity now permeate the Chapel, as well
as more than 35,000 visitors annually. Highlights
include a double bell tower, an original groin-vaulted
ceiling, a choir loft and a religious statue estimated
at 300 years old. Located in the niche above the Chapel
entrance is the statue of Our Lady of Loreto sculpted
by Lincoln Borglum, of Mount Rushmore fame.
In 1946, noted Corpus Christi artist Antonio Garcia
painted a Texas-inspired Annunciation fresco behind
the altar. In addition to cactus and a rattlesnake,
the angel Gabriel is depicted with six toes. In the
deep background, Garcia portrayed a wedding at the
chapel, the very marriage of the woman who commissioned
The Chapel, which has served the spiritual needs of
Catholics - Spanish, Mexican, Texas, American, in
turn - for 232 years, continues its existence as a
place of worship. Mass services are held every Sunday
at 5 p.m.
Restoration, Renovation, Rejuvenation
"The Presidio and Museum, which completed a 3½-year
renovation in 2010, is one of the nation's finest
examples of Spanish Colonial architecture," explains
Newton Warzecha, Director.
"The original ruins were fully restored in the 1960s
with funds from the Kathryn Stoner O'Connor Foundation.
More than $500,000 was spent recently to broaden the
landmark's appeal and to convey its compelling story
of early Texas."
Presidio La Bahia is owned by the Catholic Diocese
of Victoria, but operated by a private foundation.
Weddings sanctioned by other denominations, however,
are welcome. For information or arrangements, contact
Newton M. Warzecha at Presidio La Bahia, P.O. Box
57, Goliad, TX 77963, 361- 645 3752, or presidiolabahia(at)goliad(dot)net
The Chamber of Commerce, located two miles away on
the Courthouse Square, will provide newlyweds with
catering and lodging information. Two motels serve
the area. Local restaurants can accommodate small
to moderate-sized parties in private dining facilities.
Contact: 361-645 3563 or goliadcc(at)tisd(dot)net.
Larger groups have access to the city's Memorial Coliseum
or to facilities in Victoria, 22 miles away. The Goliad
http://www.goliadcc.org offers more info on other
attractions and seasonal events.
With the exception of the annual Living History Weekend
at the end of each March, the roar of cannons, the
bang of musket fire and the gritos of clashing soldiers
and wounded men are no longer heard in this the 175th
year of Texas Independence. Instead, "The Wedding
March" echoes across the Quadrangle and the South
FOR MORE INFORMATION OR INTERVIEWS: Newton M. Warzecha,
Director, Presidio La Bahia; President, The Presidio
La Bahia Foundation, Goliad, TX, 361-645-3752
Preston F. Kirk, APR, Kirk Public Relations, Spicewood,
(Austin) TX, 830-693-4447