Wednesday, October 13, 2010
Embracing Our Inner Tourist: Mountain Weddings
When we planned our Inner Tourist series of blogs, I didn't have to think long before I knew what mine would be -- mountain wedding chapels. I went to college just an hour or so away from Gatlinburg and remember the abundance of wedding chapels in the area. There don't seem to be as many now. Or maybe they're hidden away in little valleys and coves or are perched atop a mountain. Perhaps the beach has become more popular as the spot for a destination wedding.
I had a small church wedding. My dress was the sample from the local department store and cost $50 including the headpiece and full-length veil. My aunts gave us a pre-wedding party the night before the ceremony. In my neck of the woods that was common. They called it a "cake cutting" and you only had to invite the wedding party, family and very close friends. We had the wedding cake and other assorted finger foods plus punch. It was much cheaper than a reception, and it was a gratefully-accepted gift from family members. My aunt Polly, who had been a professional wedding director, came out of retirement for the day and made sure everyone knew where to go and what to do. My flowers were simple. My maid of honor and one bridesmaid made their dresses and wore big straw hats (it was the 70's you know). They were ready to vote me "Bride of the Year" because their out of pocket cost was about $25. The whole thing cost me and my mother about $1000 in 1973 dollars.
I watched "Say Yes to the Dress" with my mother when I visited her this summer and was appalled at the amount women spend on just a dress. With what some bridezillas spend on the wedding, you could make a sizeable downpayment on a house, furnish it and start married life debt-free except for your mortgage.
A minister friend of the family once commented that it's too bad people don't spend as much time on their marriages as they do on their weddings. Maybe pre-marital counseling should include what a divorce attorney charges for a retainer ($5000) and how long you have to wait in this county to get a court date (18 - 24 months). I've met lots of folks in the last year whose divorces have run well into five figures. But here I go, getting cynical when I'm supposed to be talking about mountain weddings.
The place I'd hoped to find to use as the focus of my blog is the Hillbilly Wedding chapel. Yes, you read that right. For $75 you get married by an ordained Christian minister in their rustic mountain chapel or garden complete with bouquet and boutonniere, souvenir hillbilly wedding certificate, the minister clad in bib overalls and free photos if you use your own camera. We tried to find it. Honest we did. But the GPS only led us to their post office box.
I did find Cupid's Chapel of Love. On their website, they boast of 15 years of service and over 15,000 successful weddings. I just have to wonder how successful the marriages were. But before I sink into divorce statistics, let me tell you about Cupid's Chapel of Love. The chapel itself is quite charming. It's reminiscent of an old country church, complete with stained glass windows and a steeple.
They offer a variety of packages starting with the "Forever Rose." It includes:
Music and Our Ordained Minister
Two Nights Complimentary Lodging at our Honeymoon Inn for the Bride and Groom
One hour Simplicity Reception for Your Guests at the Gatlinburg Wedding Center
(40) 5x7 Portraits Matted with Album
(6) 8x10 Portraits
(8) Wallet portraits
16 x 20 Framed Canvas Portrait
Groom and Best Man's Tuxedo Rental
Designer Unity Candle Ceremony and Song
Fresh or Silk Bridal Bouquet and Groom's Boutonnière
Fresh or Silk Maid of Honor Mini Bouquet and Best Man's Boutonnière
Video, Guest Book
3-Tier Wedding Cake
A Matted Copy of Your Wedding Vows
Rose Petals for Your Honeymoon Comforter
Just Married Sign and Bridal Garter
$1,399 Saturday or $1,049 Weekdays
Includes up to 40 Guests
And on the opposite end of the package deals is the "Just Get 'r Done," which is described as "Walk in, Say Your Vows and Sign the Papers $99.00."
They offer elopement packages and also have two specials on their website. They were open last Sunday so you could be married on 10-10-10. And they'll be open New Year's Day so your wedding day will be 1-1-11.
You're just as married if you spend $1399 for the Forever Rose or $75 for the Hillbilly wedding. Just make sure the minister is real. A while back Gatlinburg made headlines because one of their wedding chapel preachers wasn't legit and lots of couples weren't legally married.
Tell us about your wedding. Was it big or small? In a church or at the courthouse? Or maybe you had a destination wedding? If you were getting married again, would you do anything different? I'm not shopping for a wedding venue. I have to get the divorce finalized first. But should I ever decide to tie the knot again, that $99 package looks pretty good. It lets me hold on to some money in case I have to re-hire my divorce attorney. Oops, there I go getting all cynical again.
One commenter today will win a book from my stash -- a book where they all live happily ever after.
P.S. Problem Child is guest blogging over at the I Heart Presents blog today. Please pop over and say hi to her.