When a bride and groom begin their journey to find their perfect civil ceremony venue, the topic of chapels will almost certainly arise.
The issue for modern wedding couples, especially those who are determined not to have a religious ceremony, is that chapels are often associated with the Catholic church. The reason for this is that chapels are historically places of worship, and worship (in western society) is commonly associated with Christianity.
Whilst chapels are a regular feature of church structures, they can also be stand-alone independent structures, completely detached from any denominational parish or influence. The stand-alone (style of) chapel arguably offers modern couples the choice of either a denominational or civil ceremony.
Many stand-alone chapels are free of the usual denominational chattels, providing a fresher and more secular environment in which modern couples can get married. Having said that, the ubiquitous church pew and traditional red carpet (often) still remain, whilst stained glass windows are also a regular fixture in modern chapels.
As a Civil Celebrant, it is always perplexing why modern stand-alone chapels remain as popular as ever, however it seems that as long as their are no obvious signs of denominational content, modern couples (looking for a civil ceremony) are as keen as ever to utilise chapels.
It is possibly the fact that we (really) have no other ‘alternative vision’ of marriage ceremonies, other than that which the Catholic church has provided (for western society) over the past 2,000 years, thus perpetuating the use of chapels as an accepted ceremony space.
Stand-alone chapels provide fantastic solutions to weather-affected outdoor ceremonies, generally accommodating from 50 guests upward. Often the acoustics are better than comparable venues, whilst chapel layouts tend to lend themselves to the traditional incorporation of a bridal party, and certificate signing.
Modern reception venues have taken advantage of Gen ‘Y’s desire for chapel ceremonies, by (often) including a chapel on the reception grounds. This also shows how the modern approach to weddings has shifted (dramatically) from the bride and groom, to the guests. In days gone by, guests would attend a church ceremony, and then make their way to a separate (off-site) reception venue, the logistics of which could often present many challenges.
So the big questions is whether Chapel Ceremonies are sustainable, considering Gen ‘Y’s arguable shift away from the Catholic church. Given the arguments above, the answer is a resounding ‘yes’.