When I worked at Gate of Heaven Cemetery in Los Altos, California, many newlyweds would opt for a wedding day portrait on the stunning bridge cresting the duck pond. A white limo would occasionally roll in around closing on Saturdays and a blissful couple would spill out for photos. We would stare out the office windows in awe of their random, but breathtakingly beautiful choice.
Marriage is exciting. It’s a new beginning, and for that alone I love weddings. I’m particularly intrigued by couples who pledge their undying love among the dearly departed. A cemetery is a fantastic choice for the joining of two hearts. I was married in a colossal palace in New Jersey, and we did it again in a cathedral downtown Portland, Oregon, but I am a true fan of the cemetery wedding, nonetheless.
Couples are looking to green their lives in all sorts of ways, and the concept of cemetery weddings are gaining momentum. It might sound morbid at first, but it makes a lot of sense: Cemeteries are spaces where life and death, celebration and solemnity, and the natural cycle of life come together, and funerals are becoming much more a celebration of life.
I witnessed an amazing wedding a few years back. The bride walked down a rose-strewn path to Trans Siberian Orchestra’s “Wizards in Winter” played on the viola. She met her groom who was waiting by the graves of her parents and little sister. She wanted to make the wedding a family affair. I respected and adored her sentimentality.
The bride stood near a huge bush of bubblegum pink hybrid tea roses and wore an off-white silk gown, complete with flowing train. A funky gargoyle loomed nearby. It was all so charming and was indeed a simple wedding at a historical romantic place, as the bride wanted. The ambience was solemn, but the mood was festive. They exchanged vows in the aptly named Garden of Hope.
Cemeteries are also starting to work with brides and grooms. Wisconsin Memorial Park cemetery in Brookfield, Wisconsin, has expanded their business to weddings-and it makes sense. With five chapels, a reception hall, and kitchen, they’ve realized that their facilities are suitable for far more than funerals. Several couples have already tied the knot amongst Wisconsin Memorial Park’s headstones.
Numerous couples love the graveyard idea due to the variety of breathtaking canvases for wedding day photography. Older burial yards offer majestic crypt buildings, centuries-old headstones, and even some gorgeous stained glass. Many contain a wide variety of trees, natural vegetation, as well as other colorful and cool flowers. Lots of cemeteries have chapels, and a memorial chapel is the perfect size for a smaller wedding.
According to the Forest Foundation, “a green wedding (no matter what color you wear) can help launch a marriage toward a sustainable life in a loving relationship.” They even have a staff available to the public who work with “…contractors who can deliver a full-service package of goods and services that are sustainable, healthful, organic and nurturing.”
I walked up the aisle to Alison Brown’s haunting banjo solo “Saint Genevieve.” So many times I thought about how incredibly perfect it would have been as its luscious melody filled the air of a cemetery.