My fiancé and I would like to get married in the Chapel in the fall of 2015 or spring of 2016, but we heard that the building might be closed. Is that true? If so, where will Duke weddings take place during the closure?
The Chapel will be closing for necessary restoration work on the ceiling, windows, woodwork, and floors following graduation in May 2015, and will remain closed for the 2015-16 academic year. Weddings will not be offered by the Chapel during the closure; however, the University will give special preference to Duke affiliates for weddings at the Washington Duke Inn and the Sarah P. Duke Gardens during the restoration project. Beginning in the summer of 2015, the Chapel Wedding Coordinator will begin accepting reservations for ceremonies in the Chapel in the summer of 2016. As always, these sign-ups will take place one year in advance of the wedding month (for example, July 2016 reservations will be accepted starting July 1, 2015 at 8:30 a.m.).
Please note: Goodson Chapel in the Divinity School is reserved exclusively for the ministries of teaching and worship, and thus it will not be made available for any weddings during Duke Chapel’s closure. No exceptions may be made to this policy.
Who is eligible to be married at the Chapel?
In order to schedule a wedding, blessing ceremony, or reaffirmation of wedding vows, the bride, the groom, or one of their parents or grandparents should be a current full-time Duke student, a graduate of Duke University, or a current full-time Duke employee.
Effective June 1, 2013, the Chapel will extend wedding eligibility to current members of the Board of Trustees and to faculty and staff emeriti with 15 or more years’ continuous service to the University, and to their children and grandchildren.
We would be eternally grateful if you could make an exception, just this once...?
Although Duke Chapel is a special place for many people outside the University community, the Chapel regrets that it cannot make exceptions to its eligibility policies.
Can I get married on a Friday?
Unfortunately, no. The Chapel hosts a variety of worship, concert, and University events during the week, and for this reason weddings can be scheduled on Saturdays only. Occasionally , a single Sunday wedding may be offered, but the Chapel's ability to do so varies according the academic and liturgical calendars.
For more information on scheduling, please see pages 4 and 5 of the policies manual.
Do I need to camp out for my wedding date?
No, you are not required to camp out for a Chapel wedding. Monthly sign-ups are conducted on a first-come, first-serve basis, and priority is given to couples who sign up in person. For that reason, although tenting is not a requirement for signing up (nor is it endorsed or encouraged by the Chapel), occasionally couples do arrive to camp for Chapel weddings. As every student knows, there is a robust camp-out culture here at Duke --- and it seems to have infiltrated the Chapel's wedding ministry as well.
That said, whether a couple arrives early to “tent” is largely dependent on how flexible or inflexible they are regarding the date and time of their wedding. A couple who must be married on 10/12/2013 at 6:00 p.m. because they’ve already booked their reception site, for example, should arrive earlier than a couple who is more flexible and open to a variety of dates and times. Historically, 6:00 p.m. and 3:00 p.m. weddings tend to be reserved first, followed by 12:00 p.m. weddings.
If you’re interested in camping out for a wedding date, it is essential that you contact the Wedding Coordinator at least a week before arriving at the Chapel. When doing so, you should also verify with the Coordinator that your preferred wedding date is available for sign-up, as some weekends may be reserved for concerts and recitals, worship, and University events rather than weddings.
When can I sign up?
Weddings can be booked only one year in advance of the wedding month, and sign-ups begin in the narthex (the area just inside the Chapel’s main front doors) at 8:30 a.m. on the first business day on or after the first of the month. For example, the reservation book for October 2013 opened on Monday, October 1st, 2012. Sign-ups for September 2013 weddings began on Tuesday, September 4th, 2012 because the first day of the month was a Saturday and Monday was a University holiday.
If you’re unsure when sign-ups will begin for your wedding month, please call or email the Wedding Coordinator.
I live out of town and can’t sign up in person or camp out. What are my options?
It’s certainly possible to submit reservations “long distance” via telephone or email on the morning of sign-ups. However, because dates are reserved on a first-come, first-serve basis and priority is given to folks who sign up in person, many couples elect to send a proxy (a family member, friend, or colleague) to stand in line and sign up in their stead. The bride and groom do not need to be present on the day of sign-ups; however, they are asked to please mail their contract and deposit within 10 days of the date the reservation is submitted.
I just got engaged, and my fiancé and I would like to get married in July 2014. But it’s already September 2013! Is it too late to sign up?
Not necessarily. Please don’t hesitate to ask! Although many couples sign up 12 months in advance, ceremonies may be scheduled as late as six weeks before the wedding day. Simply call or email the Wedding Coordinator, and they will be happy to tell you which dates and times are still available for a particular month (such as August) or season (such as summer or fall).
Please, rest assured that many couples make reservations weeks or months after the official sign-up days at the beginning of each month. If you’re flexible with the date and time of your wedding, chances are that you will be able to be scheduled in.
Can my family minister officiate at my wedding?
Yes, please! Couples are encouraged to invite the ministers of their “home” congregations to perform their wedding ceremonies in the Chapel. However, if your minister is not available to perform your wedding ceremony, a list of ministers who may be able to preside over your ceremony is available on page 12 of the policies manual.
Please note that, in order to perform a wedding in Duke University Chapel, your minister should be ordained and recognized by his or her denomination and the laws of the State of North Carolina. Those who receive ordination online are not viable ministers for Duke Chapel weddings.
What about engagement and bridal portraits? Can I have these taken at the Chapel, too?
Yes, you can! We do, however, require a Duke affiliation: only Chapel brides and grooms, current full-time Duke students, current full-time Duke employees, and Duke graduates can request to have bridal or engagement portraits taken on the Chapel grounds. Happily, even if you’re not having your wedding at the Chapel, if you meet one of those requirements you are more than welcome to have your engagement or bridal portraits taken here.
In addition to an affiliation with Duke, we also require an appointment on the Chapel calendar, primarily to make sure that the shoot doesn’t interfere with events happening elsewhere in the Chapel or on the Chapel grounds. Before arriving, please email the Wedding Coordinator to discuss the schedule and reserve a time. This is important!
Note, too, that we don’t permit photos inside the Chapel except on brides’ wedding days, so your bridal or engagement shoot would need to be outside in the arcades only. We also don’t offer dressing facilities, so you’ll need to arrive fully dressed and prepped.