Cemeteries as Wedding Venues

When planning a wedding, professional planners often recommend that couples secure a venue first. In Indianapolis, that could mean nailing down a premier spot in the last place you would think the cemetery. The Community Life Center is one of the most picturesque and picture-worthy locations in town. The $10 million event center shares a plot of land with a funeral home and is run by the Washington Park East Cemetery Association.

Adapting to the Times

The funeral business has undergone tremendous change in recent years. People today are frequently choosing options such as cremation over traditional internment. A significant reason for the shift is that funerals can be quite expensive. A typical service, including a casket, burial and headstone, can exceed $10,000. For many people, that's more expense than they feel they can afford, especially when a cremation can cost less than half that amount. The downturn translates to a loss of revenue for funeral businesses across the country. Some operations have seen an economic light at the end of the tunnel. The often grand buildings that once exclusively served to honor the dead and comfort the bereaved are now hosting banquets, proms, and yes, nuptials.

A Shift in Spiritual Attitudes

Mike Nicodemus, a vice president with the National Funeral Directors Association, stated that younger people view the subject of death differently than their parents did. He observes that people in general do not seem to be as religious as they once were, or at least are attending church in smaller numbers. Funeral homes that at one time were useful for only one type of function are now seen as viable venues for all kinds of celebrations, especially weddings.

Mixing One's Milestones

Some funeral directors who open their businesses to weddings are careful to separate memorial services from marriage ceremonies. They may use different areas of the grounds and dedicated areas of the buildings for the two purposes. The reason for this is twofold. Despite a growing openness toward holding weddings at a cemetery or funeral home, there remains a general reticence toward creating too close an association between the two life events. Secondly, directors are by no means giving up or scaling back on their primary mission, which is to help memorialize and service the dead and the grieving. While a wedding reception venue may be booked months in advance, funeral facilities often get little notice as to when they will be required. Space must be held and made available as the need presents itself.

Celebrations of Life

As the wedding industry opens itself to the advantages of venues such as funeral homes, directors are finding that their core business is benefiting in unexpected ways. Of course, the added revenue helps to keep businesses healthy. In addition, multi-purpose properties are better suited to modern memorial services. Old-fashioned viewings and hushed services have given way to slideshows and catered buffets. Memorials these days can be very social occasions, best served in a welcoming, well-appointed environment. While in the U.S. this merging of life's major milestones may seem novel, historically, family events such as marriage and funerals were held at home, amid the hustle and bustle of daily life. It was not until the late nineteenth century that funerals, in particular, were removed to a separate and specific location. The current trend may be born of economic necessity, but it can be seen as a return to a more community-based way of meeting life's big moments.

A Lively Future

The Community Life Center rents space at a rate of about $4,000 per event. According to The Knot, a popular website, traditional wedding venues in Indiana normally run a shade under $10,000. That difference is making the cemetery site quite popular with local brides and grooms. One bride commented that she thought the location was ideal. Her only concern was that the photographers keep the headstones out of the photographs.

Category: Get Ordained Wedding Planning

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