Funeral parlors, places where actual dead bodies are sometimes haphazardly stacked on top of each other in a giant freezer, are branching out from the business of death and working on spending another very important occasion with families: weddings.
Some people (those of us who are not Phaedra Parks) might be initially shocked at the idea of hosting a celebration only feet away from dead bodies or a crematorium. But none of that has stopped many happy couples from spending their Most Special Day™ eating canapés while someone’s dear, deceased grandma chills out in the basement.
According to The Associated Press, there are several reasons why the funeral home wedding is taking off (and none of them have to do with an uptick of goth weddings in America). First, young Americans have a very different relationship with both death and religion, making funeral homes both less sacred and less creepy. Second, there’s never a shortage of marrying couples looking for a beautiful place to hold their weddings; some funeral homes can be pretty nice and cemeteries are often quite scenic. Third—and this might be the most important—as more and more people abandon organized religion and as funerals become less elaborate and costs come down (more people are opting for cremation), houses of death have to find a new way to eke out revenue from the communities that support them.
From The AP via Crux Now:
Funeral home operators also say there’s a need in their communities for locations that can host weddings or other big events, and people are no longer hung up on their main business.
Declining membership in churches and civic organizations also may be boosting demand for nontraditional venues for weddings and receptions.
As a result, funeral homes and cemeteries nationwide have been marketing their properties for an array of uses. Nearly 10 percent of 280 respondents to a National Funeral Directors Association survey last year said they built a community center to host other events. That’s up from 6 percent in 2011.
There are, of course, some rules. Weddings generally happen as far from death work as possible and decorators do what they can to separate the living from the dead on the big day. In addition, many funeral homes hosting the weddings have sufficient space for events that is both removed from the dead and doesn’t look like it’s a funeral facility. One bride, the AP reports, had to ask her photographer to make sure there were no tombstones in pictures of her wedding, but that was workable and most people appear to be happy with their choice.
Here’s how one bride described her experience of getting married in a Cleveland funeral home opened by her grandparents:
“It felt like a place of love and just bright happy joy on that day, it really did,” she said.
That reaction could be because her grandparents had something to do with the home, but it could also be (as The AP points out) that younger generations are simply less hung up on tradition. People are already getting married at sewage treatment plants—why shouldn’t funeral homes be next? If the price is right and the place is beautiful, who cares?
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Image via ABC Chicago.