By Katrina Schmidt
For Unwind magazine
From choosing a dress to picking a DJ and ordering a cake, a wedding is one of the most complicated — but exciting — life events to plan.
With the average cost for a District of Columbia-area wedding hovering around $40,000, according to The Knot, keeping costs reasonable while still having your dream wedding may be easier said than done for many couples in the region.
The most memorable day of many people’s lives is not one to take lightly, and the Memorial Chapel at the University of Maryland provides an elegant and cost-efficient venue for any couple, university-affiliated or otherwise.
The Chapel, located on south campus near Route 1, is a classic but simple building with two chapel areas available for booking weddings or other events.
Weddings of any religious preference or cultural background are welcome, and the Chapel hosts approximately 60 weddings annually, according to Chapel staff.
Like many wedding venues, the spring and early summer are the busiest seasons, and the Chapel is home to nearly two weddings every weekend during that time period.
As spring wedding season rapidly approaches, the Chapel is hosting open houses for prospective clients on March 26 and April 3. However, prospective clients “can really come any time,” said Maddie Darbie, the event manager and a senior government and politics major.
Although the Chapel is available for booking a variety of events from memorial services to concerts, the primary clients are engaged couples.
“Year-round, it is mostly people who are getting married,” said Mel Coles, the event sales and office assistant for the Chapel.
Danielle Mahone, who was married to her husband at the Chapel last June, chose the Chapel for its convenience, traditional feel and free parking.
Mahone is from Baltimore and her husband is from Prince George’s County, making the venue ideal for both of their families.
“As soon as we got engaged, that was where we booked,” she said. Reserving the Chapel was “was probably the easiest part,” of the wedding planning process, Mahone said.
Mahone and her husband held their reception at the Samuel Riggs IV Alumni Center, making the entire wedding day extremely simple for them and their guests.
Although Mahone herself is not a graduate of this university, her husband is, putting them in the vast majority of the Chapel’s clients.
“The price is different for affiliates, which is a big draw to get married here if you are,” said Darbie.
Renting the Main Chapel costs $1,300 for non-affiliates, but is $900 for alumni, veterans, current students and current faculty and staff. The price drops to $900 for non-affiliates and $500 for affiliates booking the Garden Chapel, an intimate space that holds 90 guests seated comfortably.
While the Chapel is not the flashiest of spaces, the ease of booking and low cost appeals to many couples. Spending less time and money on a venue allows them to focus on what matters — their wedding day.