The appeal of funeral home weddings is easy to understand. A Pew Research study released in 2015 found that a growing number of U.S. adults do not identify with a particular religion. Thus, the need for secular wedding venues is on the rise. And funeral homes are starting to see how they can benefit from that need.
Funeral homes are cheaper than traditional wedding venues and are much more readily available. The average funeral home isn’t booked solid for months and years in advance. Many of them also offer festive accouterments, such as food, drink and reception areas.
Jessica Koth of the National Funeral Directors Association believes many people would rather see funeral homes utilized than let them sit idly empty, regardless of their intended use. “Instead of letting this empty reception space go unused, why not let families use it?” she says. “It could be a wedding or a birthday party or an anniversary party, a bar mitzvah, any kind of event.”
Changing Attitudes Towards Death
The palpable shift in how many people react to death is also contributing to this trend. It is commonplace now for bereaved families to hold memorials that celebrate a loved one’s life rather than focus on sadness or despair. (This is not meant to diminish the loss of a loved one or minimize anyone’s grief). It is in this vein that one can see the lure of funeral home weddings. Weddings, too, are a celebration of life and love.
Funeral home weddings are also a welcome change of pace for funeral homes themselves. Death rates are at historic lows, and life expectancy is rising. Further, more and more families are opting for cremation services as opposed to traditional burials. According to the Cremation Association of America, the cremation rate in the United States in 2015 was 48.6 percent. The projected cremation rate by 2020 is 54.3 percent. Cremations can bring in less than half the revenue of a traditional funeral service that involves a casket and burial. So many funeral homes are starting to branch out and host a variety of events, with weddings at the top of the list.
Although funeral home weddings may seem odd to some, I believe that they should be embraced rather than frowned upon. We will always associate funeral homes with death and bereavement, and it is certainly justified to mourn the life of a loved one we’ve lost. However, it is arguably more important to celebrate their life and the love that we had for them. And that’s what’s so wonderful about weddings: They are celebrations of the love and life together that the couple will share, ‘till death do them part.