Last April, Kelly Brickley and her husband Richard had dinner together and turned on the news to hear about COVID-19 that had recently spread across Indiana.
The couple, who had been married for two and a half years, had just closed a house in Yorktown. Richard had been preparing a ham meal in a slow cooker all day and was excited to share it, Brickley recalled.
The 56-year-old put his wife’s plate down with a glass of wine and told her to keep eating as he went back to prepare his plate.
“Next he patted me on the shoulder and I turned and said, Richard?” I thought he was choking, “Brickley said. “He had a massive heart attack. He died right in my arms. “
If you had told Brickley back then that she would live in this new home without her husband, but with a wedding chapel in her back yard 10 months later, she would not have believed you.
But months after her husband’s death, Brickley was able to begin healing, and “Brickley’s Little Wedding Chapel” became her reason to get up in the morning.
“Here we are in February and he’s gone and I have a little wedding chapel,” Brickley said. “It’s just very strange. It’s almost out of my control, but I’m rolling with it. “
Now she is a certified Justice of the Peace and ready to help other couples on their big day.
When Brickley married her first husband decades ago, she turned down a major wedding and went straight to a justice of the peace. Her then-husband was stationed on military bases across the country, making it difficult for any family to attend.
Brickley said that when a lot of brides are planning a wedding, they don’t have many options, especially when it comes to the venue and the style of the event. They may be spending too much money on an event driving them crazy and trying to perfect it with lackluster results. Or maybe they don’t have enough money but want something more decorative than a government office.
“I think a lot of girls go through this, and sometimes you can even see pictures on Facebook and you’re like, ‘What on earth?'” Brickley said. “I always thought it didn’t have to be that bad.”
Her brother and his wife decided to flee when a difference in their religions made a traditional ceremony impossible. They drove all the way to Tennessee after finding the perfect chapel and held a reception for the family at home.
Brickley has seen case-by-case where a real wedding chapel is needed on-site that can keep the stress out of a big wedding while accommodating the couple’s needs at the same time.
Once her chapel is open, she hopes she can put Muncie, Indiana on the map for a wedding destination. Her chapel is on the list of wedding venues – albeit larger ones – that have opened on-site in recent years, such as the North Church Venue and the Barnside Bloom and Events Business.
“I’m the one who helps the majority of the brides out here,” Brickley said. “The little people who want something beautiful but for some reason don’t feel they can do it.”
The white chapel with a burgundy door is in Brickley’s backyard. Two rows of evergreen trees form a natural path to the front steps.
The chapel was designed by Keith Betteridge and Jesse Hart, the owners of Crossroads Solutions and All Seasons Landscaping, and has a rustic interior with white walls and gray wooden floors. A crystal chandelier that her husband originally selected for her new home hangs between two beams.
In line with their vision of small venues, there are around 16 chairs on either side of the chapel. There is a sign above the door that reads: “Really. Crazy. Deep.”
While there are other wedding chapels in Indiana, Brickley believes hers may be the only authentic chapel. She doesn’t try to sign marriage certificates and name it a day. She wants to create an authentic ceremony.
“Not everyone can afford a large venue. Not every bride has a lot of money. Not every bride has a lot of family. Not every bride has many friends, ”Brickley said. “But every bride deserves to have just that one day, regardless of her circumstances.”
Typically, an engaged couple hires people separately for music, decorations, and photography. And when couples flee, sometimes those options aren’t even available. To ensure that every bride has a great experience, Brickley has set up a one-stop shop that has it all.
Although she has a full-time job, she will be decorating the chapel, be it a theme or color scheme, putting together bouquets of flowers and decorating candles. For the oneness ceremony, she has options for tying sand, candles, and rope.
With a capacity of 20 people, the chapel has two small TV screens on the wall that show photos and videos of the bride and groom. There are speakers for music and a mounted camera to capture the big moment.
“If you want a day wedding, I’ll give it to you. If you want a midnight wedding and just want your friends and nice lighting, I’ll give you that. If you want a themed wedding, I can give you that, ”Brickley said. “I have the seats, I have the music. All you have to do is call me, tell me what you want and I will make it happen. “
Brickley planned a bride on a budget and said an event would cost no more than the price of a car payment (and she wasn’t talking about a Cadillac Escalade).
Just in time for Valentine’s Day, she hopes to be able to open “Brickley’s Little Wedding Chapel”.
“There’s no reason it can’t be beautiful for anyone,” said Brickley. “That was my only goal and that would have excited my husband.”
While the chapel is currently open to guests, Brickley already has different plans for the room.
In addition to brides looking for a small wedding or escape, she also hopes to help couples renew their vows and those who may remarry. Your idea is just love.
“I will marry everyone. I don’t care what color they are, I don’t care what gender they are, and I don’t care where they’re from, ”Brickley said. “You just have to love each other. This is about love. “
Previously, COVID-19 had temporarily halted the project when lumber prices skyrocketed, and at one point building materials became scarce as people turned to home improvement projects to keep them active while placing orders at home.
Now the virus could even help the small chapel’s business as couples cut guest lists to avoid the spread of COVID-19.
Initially, Brickley hopes to create better experiences and nicer ceremonies here so that couples don’t have to drive away for hours like they used to.
“(I hope) that we can spread love in so many different ways and that my little band is busy,” Brickley said.
For more information, people can visit Brickley’s Little Wedding Chapel on Facebook or call 260-571-2901 or contact Brickleyschapel@gmail.com.