Wedding industry in Gatlinburg moves forward

(Courtesy: WATE)

GATLINBURG, Tenn. (WATE) – Business was booming in Gatlinburg Saturday. It was the second day it has been open to the public since the devastating wildfires.

One industry that has always been popular there is the wedding industry, and people are still heading to town to tie the knot.

“We just planned it last month. We’ve been engaged almost five years, been together almost 10,” said Kaliegh Holcombe.

PHOTOS: Wildfires in East Tennessee

She and her new husband Matthew exchanged vows at Chapel at the Park in Gatlinburg, but before Friday they were not sure it would still be a possibility.

“I had someone send me a picture of a chapel that was burning and I thought it was this one, so we were kind of scared, but we found out the good news. It was still standing,” Kaleigh said.

When Gatlinburg reopened to the public Friday, it was a sigh of relief for the newlyweds and the five other couples getting married at Chapel at the Park Saturday.

The owners of the chapel are also dealing with loss suffered in the fires though.That burning chapel Kaleigh saw was Cupid’s Chapel of Love. It also belongs to them.

“We found out that Cupid’s was in the path of the fire. We found out watching the news that it had gone up in flames and was completely destroyed,” said Guy Jacobs, Co-Owner. “It was the iconic white chapel everybody knew Cupid’s Chapel of Love. They’ve married over 25,000 couples there.”

The sign is the only part of Cupid’s Chapel of Love that survived the fire, and the owners say they are going to move the sign up the road to Chapel at the Park so people who got married here can still have a place to take pictures and remember their weddings.

“We immediately called all those brides and said ‘OK this is what’s happened, you’ve probably seen it on the news, our side of the town is fine,’” Jacobs said. “We can move your wedding to Chapel at the Park.”

Most of the couples did just that.

Now they are looking to the future, helping couples like Kaleigh and Matthew do the same.

“The outcry is please rebuild, please rebuild so we’re going to talk about that and consider it,” Jacobs said.

“It was very important. We had no other plans,” Kaleigh said.

Matthew added, “It’s been such a long time coming.”

Click here to view News 2’s complete coverage of the Sevier County wildfire.