Looking to add a little more gravitas to the wedding vow phrase "Till death do us part"? Try having your nuptials at a funeral home.
The Associated Press reports that funeral home weddings are on the rise thanks to new, progressive views on death from millennials, older generations opting for less expensive funerals, and a shortage in venues for wedding celebrations.
“People aren’t as religious as they once were … and their attitudes toward death are changing,” Bruce Buchanan, a member of the Indianapolis cemetery association’s board and owner of a funeral home business, told the AP. “Funeral homes were seen for one reason: to have a funeral. Now they’re being used for all kinds of things.”
Part of that attitude change includes the rise of cremation burial instead of the traditional casket and cemetery plot. Whereas the cremation rate was less than 4 percent in 1960 in the U.S., it's now expected to account for more than 55 percent of all funerals by 2025. In order to make up that lost revenue, funeral homes are working to increase their hosting appeal for all of life's stages.
In some ways, getting married in a church is no different from getting married in a funeral home. After all, both venues celebrate life and death, with many churches also sharing space with a cemetery. Perhaps the biggest difference is that in a church, the room next door doesn't contain coffins for sale. Nonetheless, some funeral homes can offer just as beautiful a space as any alternative venue.
"A banquet hall is a banquet hall, and a chapel is a chapel," Sue Totterdale, national chairwoman of the National Association of Wedding Professionals, told USA Today. "If you can get past the driveway and the cemetery, it's going to be beautiful."
As one New York Times op-ed piece reported in 2006, weddings in funeral homes isn't exactly something new.
"Back in my father's day, people looked to the funeral director for many things. I remember my father would let young couples who didn't have a lot of money get married in the funeral home," Theodore Lee, Jr. said of his father's funeral home in White Plains, New York. "They used to say, 'If you want to get married and you ain't got no money, go to Mr. Lee.' Either we'd let them use our chapel or they'd get married upstairs in our living room. You know those couples were so in love, they'd think nothing of getting married in a funeral home."
According to the AP, some multi-use funeral and wedding centers are proving to be so popular that they're booked a year ahead. Rental options may also be considerably cheaper than traditional wedding venues.
“I fell in love and thought it was the perfect place,” said one bride married in the Center at Washington Park East Cemetery. “It was breathtaking, so it (the funeral home aspect) didn’t cross my mind again.”
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