Wednesday, August 18, 2010

A New Destination

Something Old, Something New, the familiar start of the description of what a bride should either carry or wear on her wedding day for good luck. According to the Wall Street Journal, this now applies to wedding venues. Now down here, we are just getting used to "Destination Weddings". For a while, my Mama and her friends would roll their eyes when talking about one and describe it in "high faluten" terms. After all, don't you lose control, if you are in not the church? The church ladies think so.

But according to the Wall Street Journal, as always, we are far behind the times. The new "destination" for weddings is cemeteries. Now, personally, I have always regarded cemeteries, especially those old ones with magnificent monuments that are really works of art, nestled among large oak trees, as beautiful gardens. They never seemed "creepy" to me. (Of course, I have never made a habit of hanging around them at night, either.)

Funeral homes, usually the owners of cemeteries, and other organizations responsible for the care and upkeep of these grand pieces of real estate are finding themselves the victims of a national move toward cremation and therefore a less and less need for their space. Of course, that means loss of revenue. However, they still are responsible for the perpetual care of these large hallowed grounds.

For years one could visit cemeteries on Memorial Day or Veteran's Day for very somber ceremonies that included placing flags on the veterans graves. Now, some of these businesses have brainstormed - thought outside the grave - and decided to utilize their venues as a destination for more than just a final resting place. They want to increase their fiscal generating potential.

Their idea, let's get people "dying to come here" before the grim reaper shows up, while they are alive and kicking. The more progressive ones host bird walks, Shakespeare festivals, music concerts, and art shows. The more adventurous ones have "movie nights" using the backs of mausoleums as the screens for the shows, rock concerts, and fairs complete with food booths.

And, a natural attraction would be a destination for weddings - 'til death do you part. I can't wait until this comes to our town and my Mama gets her first wedding invitation to be held at "Memorial Gardens". Boy will there be talk about that.

The funny thing is that this is not a new idea after all. In the early 1800's cemeteries were seen as city parks, a place for people to go for strolls down the lanes among the tombstones (and terribly elaborate monuments) of their loved ones and community leaders. Instead of taking a chance that your peers would recognize you post mortem with a statute in the town square, one had total control of the legacy of one's memory by designing the monument to one's life himself. (But I digress.) There were picnics in the parks and musical events. Although, weddings were still traditionally held at home or in the church.

My guess is if (and when) this wedding venue idea ever takes off in our fair town, it won't take long for, at least part of, the old families to take a shine to this. After all, in our all older cemeteries, their families are the ones with the grand monuments and mausoleums memorializing their ancestors. In the past, these were only glimpsed at funerals, as mourners filed to or from the current grave side services. Now, hundreds of folks will have the opportunity to learn about the importance of the heritage of these "pillars" of the community. Their names will once again rise in importance.

One lady in our town already has her grand marker engraved stating, she 'was' the first lady of our town. (She anointed herself with this honor and put it in stone pre mortem to ensure she would be properly memorialized.) Town folk frequently visit the site having heard the rumors just to see if in fact it is true. They are not disappointed. But, hey, who said one is not allowed some poetic license when it comes to self memorializing themselves in stone.Maybe the monument people can hop on this bandwagon.

Like everything else, the "Cemeteries as a Wedding Venue" will eventually get here. And, even the church ladies will survive. Especially, those from prominent old families with the large monuments marking the resting place of their ancestors they, in their ever present ability to control a situation, can conveniently locate "the aisle" to run by.


Laraine Caldwell said...

I just looked at your Magnolia Cemetery photos and they are stunning.

AC said...

Thank you. It is an incredible place.