Who is eligible to be married at the Chapel?
In order to schedule a wedding, blessing ceremony, or reaffirmation of wedding vows, one member of the couple, 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 extended wedding eligibility to current members of the Board of Trustees and to faculty and staff who retired from Duke after 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 page 4 of the policies manual.
Do I need to sign up in person?
No, you are not required to camp out or sign up in person for a Chapel wedding. However, monthly sign-ups are conducted on a first-come, first-serve basis, starting on the first business day of each month. On that day, priority is given to couples who sign up in person. After in-person sign-ups have been completed, the Wedding Coordinator will begin accepting reservations via phone and email for the dates and times remaining.
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 to arrive to camp for Chapel weddings. As every student knows, there is a robust camp-out culture 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 wider 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. Some general guidelines for camping out may be found here.
If you're interested in camping out for a wedding date, it is essential that you contact the Wedding Coordinator at least one week prior to 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.
Virtual camp-outs of any kind are not permitted.
When can I sign up?
Weddings can be booked only one year in advance of the wedding month, and sign-ups begin at the Chapel at 8:30 a.m. on the first business day on or after the first of the month. For example, the reservation book for September 2017 weddings opened on Thursday, September 1, 2016. Sign-ups for October 2017 weddings began on Monday, October 3, 2016 because the first two days of the month fell on a weekend.
As noted above, if you are interested in reserving a wedding date in person on the first day of sign-ups, it is essential that you contact the Wedding Coordinator at least a week beforehand. If you're unsure when sign-ups begin for your wedding month, please contact the Wedding Coordinator for that also.
Of course, you are also welcome to sign up after the first day of sign-ups on a particular month. Simply email the Wedding Coordinator for a list of dates and times that are still available.
I live out of town and can’t sign up in person, but I want to have the best chance possible of securing my ideal date. 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, wedding planner, or colleague) to 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 2016. But it’s already September 2015! 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 July) 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 officiants 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 officiant should be recognized by the laws of the State of North Carolina.
What about engagement and wedding portraits? Can I have these taken at the Chapel, too?
Yes, you can! We do, however, require a Duke affiliation: only Chapel couples, current full-time Duke students, current full-time Duke employees, and Duke graduates can request to have wedding 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 wedding 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 Chapel couples’ wedding days, so your wedding 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.