Elvis Week Blog 4 – 5 Things to Love About Graceland’s New Chapel in the Woods

BY JON WATERHOUSE

Elvis fans can’t help falling in love. Yesterday, in the midst of Elvis Week, Graceland ushered in a new era of romance with the first wedding at the new Chapel in the Woods.

Marc Caudel and Julie Guardado, who met at Elvis Week in 2015, exchanged vows, marking the 2,000th wedding, dedication or vow renewal to take place on Graceland grounds. Darlene Love, who sang alongside Elvis, crooned her classic “Today I Met the Boy I’m Gonna Marry” as Guardado walked down the aisle.

Elvis fans Marc Caudel and Julie Guardado were married at Graceland's new Chapel in the Woods three years after meeting at Elvis Week.

Elvis fans Marc Caudel and Julie Guardado were married at Graceland’s new Chapel in the Woods three years after meeting at Elvis Week.

Following the wedding, 10 couples renewed their vows in a single ceremony, an event Graceland dubbed “A Day of Love.”

Countless days of “I dos” are yet to come as Graceland’s latest addition replaces the original chapel, which chalked up 18 years of tender loving care. The new digs meld classic country church charm and contemporary architecture with tasteful nods to Elvis, perhaps the ultimate rock ‘n’ roll Cupid.

Elvis fans from around the world renewed their vows at the new chapel.

Elvis fans from around the world renewed their vows at the new chapel.

Savannah Burkholder, Graceland’s special events facilitator, gave us a rundown of the new Chapel in the Woods and what makes it the perfect place for couples who share a burning love for Elvis and each other.

Location, Location, Location

The Chapel in the Woods offers a quiet, quaint location for weddings.

The Chapel in the Woods offers a quiet, quaint location for weddings.

The new chapel is tucked in the woods between the Graceland mansion and Guest House at Graceland resort, but closer to the latter. In fact, take a peek out of the chapel window, and you’ll see the outline of the resort in the distance. A path links the chapel to the Guest House, giving couples the convenient option of spending their honeymoon in one of the resort’s 450 rooms or toasting their nuptials over drinks and dinner. According to Burkholder, some couples arrive without a vehicle of their own. With a wedding venue, luxury accommodations, restaurants and attractions all located on the Graceland campus, honeymooners can easily stay put.

The Decor

Do these lyrics sound familiar?

Do these lyrics sound familiar?

The chapel’s style remains strictly southern with its vaulted ceiling and wood accents. Floor-to-ceiling windows, one of Burkholder’s favorite aspects, put nature on display. “Up front where the couples exchange vows, the windows overlook the woods,” Burkholder said. “You really don’t have to do any decorating, because you can look out and see the beautiful trees and greenery. It’s truly breathtaking.” Subtle touches remind guests they’re on Graceland property.

Wedding photos of Elvis and Priscilla Presley can be seen on the chapel walls. Look for other hints of Elvis in both the bride and groom rooms. The former has artwork featuring lyrics from some of Elvis’ love songs. Blue suede chairs highlight the groom’s dressing area.

A Unique Experience

Ashley Davidson and Justin Owen of Choudrant, Louisiana were married at Graceland's original Chapel in the Woods on May 27, 2017, and had their photo made in front of the mansion after the ceremony.

Ashley Davidson and Justin Owen of Choudrant, Louisiana were married at Graceland’s original Chapel in the Woods on May 27, 2017, and had their photo made in front of the mansion after the ceremony.

Simply having a wedding on Graceland property is unique in and of itself. However, the basic Chapel in the Woods package offers several special opportunities. After each ceremony, the couple receives a photo op in front of the Graceland mansion. Graceland staff stop the tour, allowing the wedding party to become celebrity guests. The couple and as many as six others can pose on the mansion steps. “I always like to say that it’s your home for the next 15 minutes,” said Burkholder. And the couple receives a pair of Elvis Experience tickets, which grants access to a tour of the mansion, Elvis’ airplanes and the Elvis Presley’s Memphis complex.

Helping Hands

The groom's room also has that special Elvis touch.

The brides’ room has that special Elvis touch.

“From the day a couple calls or emails us,” Burkholder said, “we’re going to be with them until the day they go off to celebrate their honeymoon.” She explained Chapel in the Woods wedding coordinators do everything from zipping up the bride’s dress to booking vendors. Want a reception at the Presley Motors car museum? They can help make it happen.

Be a Part of History

The Caudels enjoyed a "blue suede" themed wedding, which included a blue suede cake.

The Caudels enjoyed a “blue suede” themed wedding, which included a blue suede cake.

Couples ready to take the marital plunge or renew their vows at the new Chapel in the Woods can be a part of this new chapter in Graceland history. As Graceland outgrows its old chapel and christens the new one, Burkholder said change can be bittersweet. “At the end of the day,” she added, “this is the kind of chapel that Elvis, Graceland, and our brides and grooms who come to Memphis deserve.”

Learn more about weddings at Graceland!


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