Wedding bells will no longer ring at the Mall of America.
The Chapel of Love, which has operated for 28 of the megamall’s 30 years, will close later this month.
Owner Felicia Glass-Wilcox, 61, said she was ready to retire and close the small wedding shop and ceremony space where more than 8,000 couples got married.
“Our favorite phrase is, ‘Not everybody walks down the same aisle,’ ” Glass-Wilcox said.
The Chapel of Love opened in April 1994, before the Mall of America reached its second anniversary. The chapel will close on Aug. 28 and is offering discount prices until then.
Glass-Wilcox, who had spent most of her career in engineering, purchased the chapel from the previous owners in 2005, in the hopes of putting her knack for event planning and flower arrangements to use.
The small storefront served as a great place for couples who didn’t care for the pomp and high price tag of a big wedding, Glass-Wilcox said.
“They wanted something intimate and simple,” she said.
Glass-Wilcox said the majority of weddings and marriage license signings at the Chapel of Love are planned as opposed to walk-ins. At times, though, she would have to grab mall shoppers to serve as witnesses.
“You can’t imagine the variety when you hear their stories, their love stories. … They just tell us,” said Tairie Starr, the lead wedding coordinator who has worked in different roles at the chapel since not long after it opened.
Through the years, the Chapel of Love has moved locations and gotten a little cozier. Its current space on the eastern third level of the mall can fit about 35 people in the white pews of the small back room that serves as the chapel.
Couples can have “romantic background music” played and additional add-ons such as flowers, photos or video packages. The shop no longer carries wedding dresses, but future brides and grooms can find accessories from veils to flower dog collars.
Starr, who is also ordained as a minister and can officiate weddings, was married herself at the chapel in the mid-1990s.
“We don’t just sell stuff,” Starr said. “We provide a service, an emotional service. Every wedding, somebody is crying. Sometimes it’s me.”
Since the start of the pandemic, there was an increase in traditional wedding ceremonies at the chapel as more people downsized their wedding guest list, Glass-Wilcox said.
Glass-Wilcox and Starr both shared their sadness at closing the chapel, which has been part of so many lives.
“It’s been very traumatic,” Glass-Wilcox said, as she started to choke up.
Glass-Wilcox intends to make the chapel’s last wedding special, as the bride’s parents were also married at the chapel. Starr will officiate it.
Glass-Wilcox said she plans to enjoy retirement with her recently retired husband.
Starr said she may start another line of work.
“I’m kind of looking into the funeral business,” she said. “You are planning an event. It can’t be that different.”