KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) – In East Tennessee, many future brides and grooms had to rearrange their wedding plans over the past year due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Many couples turned to wedding chapels.
WATE 6 On your side, Don Dare spoke to a wedding chapel owner who says 2020 has been a very good year for business.
The Sevier County’s wedding chapel industry is big business. Historically, nearly a quarter of all marriages in Tennessee are recorded in Sevier County each year. Band operators report that 2006 and 2007 set records.
Despite the store closing last spring due to the pandemic, the number of chapel weddings in 2020 is close to that of ’06 -’07.
The eleventh month of the pandemic isn’t holding back couples from tying the knot in wedding chapels. In Gatlinburg, wedding coordinator Maureen Campbell says bookings in 2020 at the two chapels she operates are more than the number has doubled from 2019.
The chapels she owns were closed for about five weeks last spring, and business picked up when they reopened.
“We held a lot of weddings during the week. We pretty much had weddings in both chapels on the weekends, ”said Maureen Campbell, owner of the wedding chapel. “We book, we start adding them to the calendar. (Valentine’s Day) is a Sunday this year, so it’s going to be a pretty big weekend. Many people who can’t be here on Sunday will choose either Friday or Saturday. “
Reverend Robbie Groover performs ceremonies in the wedding chapels. Strict health guidelines are followed in the chapels during services – and many brides and grooms have their masks photographed.
“I think one of the things that come out last year is the fact that people are taking more personal responsibility for how they look after themselves,” said Reverend Robbie Groover.
Since weddings are sacred ceremonies, the chapel operators do not only hope for a successful year 2021.
“I think we have to be sure about how we do things, but at the same time I think we have to trust a higher authority,” said Rev. Groover.
With the new year, bookings for spring and even autumn have started. Will it be another banner year?
“We stay positive. We believe everyone wants to get married and Gatlinburg is the perfect place to do it, ”said Maureen Campbell.
Sevier County is known nationally as “the wedding capital of the South”. Maureen Campbell’s The Chapel on the Glen and Chapel on the Glades are just two of dozen of wedding venues in the county. One interesting fact she told us is that the masks that many brides and grooms wear have inscriptions that show their sense of humor, such as “Married During the Pandemic” or “Shut Down and Bound”.
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