Skip to content

Tenn. wedding chapels beset by economic woes

Tenn. wedding chapels beset by economic woes

Posted: Monday, October 27, 2008 9:13 pm

GATLINBURG (AP) — Sevier County’s chapel owners have the wedding blues. The marriage business in the vacation region has dropped 29.5 percent during the last seven years, and with the state of the economy, even the month of October isn’t as strong as it has been. Chapel owners said they have been looking forward to October, usually the best month of the year for the county that issues the most marriage licenses in Tennessee. Wedding chapels live from tourists drawn to Sevierville, Pigeon Forge and Gatlinburg during the fall, when leaves are changing to warm autumn colors. But Lee Bennett, president of the Gatlinburg Wedding Chapel Association, told The Knoxville News Sentinel fuel and travel prices are deterring the mostly out-of-state couples. He also cited a Georgia law that shortens the waiting period for marriage licenses for the decline in Tennessee’s business. At the height of the county’s wedding boom in 2000, the clerk’s office issued 21,136 marriage licenses. That number has decreased year for year to 14,896 in 2007. The county has about 30 wedding chapels and packages range from $100 to more than $10,000. Couples also are becoming more cautious when they shop, scheduling weddings just a few months ahead of time and choosing cheaper packages, said Dan Tilley, vice president of the association and owner of Creekside Wedding Chapel. Now business owners are looking to the county for help promoting the industry. In February, the Smoky Mountain Wedding Business Alliance made its case to the Sevier County Commission, asking for promotional funding. The alliance said the county’s wedding industry brought $146 million to the economy in 2006. Although the commission did not give the industry any money, the alliance was allowed a representative on a new seven-member committee that will allocate the county’s lodging tax for marketing businesses. Published in The Messenger 10.27.08

Leave a Comment