Pigeon Forge wedding chapel closure leaves couple in the lurch

Pigeon Forge wedding chapel closure leaves couple in the lurch

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"I was one of the lucky ones because I had four pictures, and others didn't get any at all," Frances Peel said. "I was one of the lucky ones because I had four pictures, and others didn't get any at all," Frances Peel said.
The couple does have a few pictures taken after the ceremony. The couple does have a few pictures taken after the ceremony.
The original marriage certificate had the wrong date. The original marriage certificate had the wrong date.

By DON DARE
6 On Your Side Consumer Investigator

PIGEON FORGE (WATE) - A June bride was devastated when she got no pictures and a messed up certificate from her wedding in Pigeon Forge, even though the bill was paid.

Sevier County is the second largest destination wedding capital, next to Las Vegas, Nevada.   

When couples get married, pictures of the wedding are treasured for years to come. But imagine what your reaction would be if you didn't even receive the pictures.

Frances and Kevin Peel were married at Wedding Bell Chapel in Pigeon Forge on June 15. The couple arranged the ceremony through Pastor Tom Holmes and bought a package deal called Picture This.

Although Pastor Holmes did the ceremony, Frances says it didn't start off well. "Him and his wife were both late," she said. The pastor's wife, Laurel Denise Holmes, "was the one who took the pictures."

For an extra $50, the wedding deal included five by seven pictures. "After the ceremony was over, they insisted that no one take pictures because 10 pictures were in our package," Frances said.

The chapel was supposed to email the pictures. "I assumed immediately," Frances said.

But six weeks passed, with no pictures and Frances said, "They wouldn't answer my phone calls."

The only pictures of their wedding day were taken after their marriage in their home in Seymour. "I knew from the beginning when no one would return my calls that we were took."

6 On Your Side contacted the chapel about a week ago. Business associate Pastor Dale Workman said the chapel is closed and has gone out of business.

When we asked about the Peels' wedding pictures, he said only a few turned out. The rest were over exposed. However, he sent several of them to Frances quickly.

"I have one of us and our grandchildren, another one of us and our grandchildren," she said.

Frances' 85-year-old mother attended the wedding. There's a snap shot of her outside the chapel. Frances is disappointed the pictures of her mother with the family were ruined.

"The pictures with her are not here. We had pictures made with her and us. They didn't turn out," Frances said.

At first, the couple's marriage certificate was wrong as well. "This is the certificate that Tom Holmes wrote, and he had put the wrong date," Frances explained. "He put June 16. We were married June 15."

She says Pastor Workman also arranged for a new certificate. "He had to take a paper to the courthouse so they could issue us a correct marriage certificate with the correct date."

When Wedding Bell Chapel closed at the end of August, the building was put up for lease.

The body of Pastor Holmes' wife was found in the Tennessee River in Knoxville seven days after she was reported missing. Investigators said she had a history of nervous breakdowns and suicide attempts.

Pastor Workman is trying to help more Wedding Bell Chapel customers receive what was included in their packages.

Frances said Pastor Workman told her several other people were affected by the chapel closing. He said, "I was one of the lucky ones because I had four pictures, and others didn't get any at all."

The Smoky Mountain Wedding Association, which organized a few years ago, is a good starting point to help resolve any consumer issues.

Unfortunately, Wedding Bell Chapel wasn't a current member of the association.


If you have a consumer issue, call the 6 On Your Side Hotline at 865-633-5974 or email ddare@wate.com.

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