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What is a Wedding Chapel?

Mary McMahon
Updated May 17, 2024
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A wedding chapel is a building or room set aside specifically for the purpose of performing marriage ceremonies. Wedding chapels are distinct from churches, which are used for a range of religious activities, and clerks' offices, which are used for contracting civil marriages. The American city of Las Vegas is especially famous for its wedding chapels, thanks to the fact that it is easy and quick to get a marriage license in this city.

Many wedding chapels are designed along religious themes, and they include a resident officiant who may be ordained in a particular church, or otherwise licensed to perform marriages. Others may be organized along pop culture themes; Elvis wedding chapels, for example, are especially popular, with officiants who dress up as Elvis. Drive through wedding chapels and other chapels with various gimmicky themes can also be found in many corners of the world.

In order to be married at a wedding chapel, people must present a marriage license, indicating that they have fulfilled the requirements for a marriage as set by the city or region, along with proof of age so that the officiant can confirm that the participants are above the age of consent. Some wedding chapels require people to make appointments, and they may be organized along more formal grounds, while others welcome walk-in couples.

A basic wedding chapel charges a small fee for rental of the facility and the services of the officiant. Many chapels also offer additional services, like photography, videography, floral arrangements, dress rental, and so forth. Patrons can choose from a menu of options, mixing and matching to plan a service which meets their needs. For wedding chapels which require advance notice, there are often options such as a contract with a catering service and other services which may require more planning.

People may choose to utilize a chapel for wedding planning because it is significantly cheaper than other options, especially since chapel weddings are usually intimate and simple. Others may use a wedding chapel because they are not members of a particular religious faith, but they don't want to use a county clerk's office. Some brides and husbands to be also enjoy the feel of a chapel wedding, which can feel like a fun elopement rather than a formal ceremony in many circumstances.

Las Vegas, which is famous for its wedding chapels, has popularized the idea of a “Vegas wedding,” a wedding which is hastily entered-into and sometimes just as hastily annulled. The city advertises itself as being very wedding-friendly, and some Vegas chapels advertise readily around the city and in tourist publications to encourage visitors to use their services. Despite the stereotype of a Vegas wedding, a wedding chapel need not be seedy or tacky, and a marriage which begins in a wedding chapel can have every chance of success.

WiseGeek is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Mary McMahon
By Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a WiseGeek researcher and writer. Mary has a liberal arts degree from Goddard College and spends her free time reading, cooking, and exploring the great outdoors.

Discussion Comments
By Scrbblchick — On Mar 03, 2014

The nice thing about a wedding chapel is they usually have everything necessary for a nice wedding on the premises. They will probably have a photographer on staff, along with an officiant. Some even provide gowns, tuxes and flowers, along with a limousine to drop the couple off at their hotel. It all depends on the chapel.

Most chapels do offer packages which feature a variety of options for many budgets. They may range from $100 to $2,000, depending on the options the couple wants. Even on the high end, though, it's still usually much, much cheaper than a full, formal "traditional" wedding.

Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a...

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