Weddings in the Smokies: big bucks come down the aisle

July 12, 2007

Sevier County, home of Gatlinburg, Pigeon Forge, and Sevierville, is second only to Las Vegas for non-resident weddings, with some 20,000 nuptial ceremonies per year. July 7, 2007, with its date of 7/7/07, brought a surge of ceremonies to the wedding chapel biz. An article in the Mountain Press said that “From Monday through Saturday, a total of 875 couples applied for marriage licenses in order to be married on 07/07/07.”

I called up Dan Tilley, the owner/manager of Creekside Wedding Chapel in Gatlinburg, for a look into this aspect of Smoky Mountain tourism. He said that his company has three locations and can offer anything a couple can get in their hometown: live music, ice sculptures, sit-down dinners, and chocolate fountains.

“On 7/7/07 we did 48 weddings at our three locations,” he reported. Some couples wanted to be pronounced husband and wife exactly at 7:07 AM or PM. “That cost them a couple of hundred more,” he noted.

Mr. Tilley commented further on the economic impact of weddings. “We average 25 guests per wedding, and we estimate that each pair of visitors spends $800 while they are in the area for the ceremony.”

Any gay weddings? “I don’t know anyone who does those,” he added. “This is the Bible Belt, and gay couples cannot get a marriage license here.”

Mr. Tilley noted that his company is already taking reservations for August 8, 2008.


Photo courtesy of Smoky Mountain Wedding Chapel in Pigeon Forge

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