Sacred Space

A beloved architectural icon with roots beyond Palos Verdes continues to shine brightly.

Written by Jennie Nunn

Known as “God’s Candle” to sailors on passing ships in the Catalina Channel and “The Glass Church” to countless admirers, Wayfarers Chapel has remained a fixture in Rancho Palos Verdes for decades. Built in 1951 by Lloyd Wright Jr., son of lauded architect Frank Lloyd Wright, the large windowed chapel (sponsored by The Swedenborgian Church) is engulfed in a grove of redwood trees and perched atop a cliff above Abalone Cove and the Pacific Ocean.

Initially the vision of Palos Verdes resident Elizabeth Schellenberg, a member of The Swedenborgian church, plans for the 3.5-acre chapel and gardens with juniper trees, ficus, olive and Canary Island pines became a reality in the 1930s—thanks to fellow member Narcissa Cox Vanderlip who contributed land for the fated site. Today the chapel, originally inspired by Wright and the redwoods inherent in forests in Northern California, is listed on the National Registry of Historic Places. It’s also become a coveted chapel around the globe for seaside and off-the-beaten path weddings, with reception venue options including nearby Terranea Resort.

“People of all religious and spiritual backgrounds are welcome,” says Joan McSweeney, reservationist at Wayfarers Chapel. “The Wayfarers Chapel offers equal blessing and support to all people regardless of gender, sexual orientation, race, national origin, religious background or chosen spiritual path. We are always happy to send our couples to Terranea Resort as a possible reception site. The proximity is especially appealing.”

“Because we are neighbors, it makes such great sense,” adds Christina Canalez, Associate Director of Catering at Terranea Resort, of the chapel’s location—approximately a mile down the road. “It’s easy to get to, and we have a great relationship with them. Whether it’s 10 or 100 people, we have different reception sites available.” Reception venues on-property include the Santa Rosa Suite with space for an elegant, seated dinner for 42 guests and the Point Terrace, an outdoor event space for up to 125 guests.

“At Wayfarers it feels like you’re in a forest, and you feel like you’ve been transported,” says Christina of the site’s location, architecture, ocean views and dramatic vistas. “One of the things that Terranea is so proud of is the fact that when you come around the bend from Long Beach or Redondo Beach, as soon as you enter Palos Verdes, everything feels different. It feels like the pace has slowed and you’re out of the city, and you feel like you’ve gone on a vacation and hit a destination that was most unexpected. I think that Wayfarers has really achieved that same situation in a different way. It’s a little lusher, it’s a little greener, and it really does feel sort of enchanted. It’s one of those secret spots that certainly not enough people know about.”

For more on the chapel or to schedule a visit, go to

Christina’s Winter Wedding Tips


1. Start Early: Maximize the day in winter and start earlier. It’s dark by 4:45 p.m. now, and it’s special to be able to see that winter sunset by then. It’s extraordinary, and the sunsets are so vibrant. We are in this location where you can see both the sunrise and the sunset. On certain weather days, you have a clear view of San Nicolas Island [part of Ventura County].

2. Make It Personal: Choose cold-weather signature cocktail drinks that are festive and seasonal, such as Candy Cane Coolers, Chai Toddies, Pomegranate Sangria and Cider Jack cocktails.

3. Warm Up: Consider providing pashmina wraps for the bridal party.

4. Think Sparkle: Sparkle, sparkle, sparkle. We’re seeing lots of mirror-topped tables with glowing candles creating reflective surfaces. Some of the most popular choices to create the look include mercury glass, Lucite, crystals, and hints of gold and silver. These create a reflective surface whether it is a dining table, cake table or a sweets table.

5. Custom-Made: Another popular option is to create custom signage with large mirrors with table assignments as opposed to place cards, or custom dinner menus and cocktail napkins with his and hers drinks imprinted on each side. It makes the theme cohesive from start to finish.