From the Herald Sun
FORGET about getting married in a traditional chapel, on a beach or in a park. Wedding ceremonies in cemeteries are starting to catch on.
Annelise Calderwood, 31, and her partner Josh Hoare, 35, are among those couples who have decided to buck the trend and tie the knot at the Springvale Botanical Cemetery on March 28.
The Frankston couple don’t believe a cemetery wedding is the least bit creepy. They say they will be surrounded by loved ones, including their three children, and believe their late relatives who are buried at the cemetery will be there in spirit.
“The gardens are just gorgeous and the price was very reasonable,” Ms Calderwood said.
The couple met at a party when she was 17, and over the years, Mr Hoare proposed several times, but the timing was never right.
This time, Ms Calderwood decided to pop the question herself over a romantic dinner and soon the pair was making plans for a cemetery wedding.
“We saw the new function centre being built and thought it would be a really nice place to get married,” she said.
“We’ve had great feedback and everyone’s really excited and thinks it’s really unique.
“You’ve got the gardens, the chapel option, the florist, the function room and it’s nice that it’s getting used, not just for funerals but for weddings too.”
Ms Grover said while many couples opted to use the gardens as a backdrop for wedding photos, cemetery weddings were uncommon.
“It is something that we want to change,” Ms Grover said.
“In keeping with our vision to demystify cemeteries, we would like to encourage more couples to get married in the botanical garden environment here at Springvale. Memorial parks such as Springvale should be regarded as great, multipurpose community assets.”
Cemetery weddings revives a common Victorian era practice of socialising among the gravestones on Sundays.
Southern Metropolitan Cemeteries Trust chief executive Jane Grover encouraged people to use the sites as community assets.
“We want society today to regard cemeteries and memorial parks in the same way Melburnians did in the Victorian era when people would gather to socialise with friends and promenade along its wide pathways,’’ Ms Grover said.
She said she hoped both sites would soon become popular wedding venues.
“Many weekends in the warmer months, couples will have their wedding photos taken at Springvale.
“Often these couples will have a close relative buried there or perhaps a family member has a cremation memorial at the site. For such couples, there is an emotional connection to the cemetery,’’ she said
Springvale Botanical Cemetery also holds lunches, picnics, walks, photography sessions and live music. There’s even a cafe and children’s playground.
Bunurong Memorial Park in Dandenong South is undergoing work to follow suit.
Stage 1 of the $50 million revitalisation of the Frankston-Dandenong Rd centre is almost complete, with the project on target to finish in February next year.
The grounds will have more than 80,000 trees and shrubs and native Australian-themed gardens.
A few weddings had been held there already and other couples should consider the cemeteries for their special day, Ms Grover said.
“We have a truly beautiful garden environment at Springvale that is about four times the size of Melbourne’s Royal Botanic Gardens,’’ she said.
“There are more than 30,000 rose bushes on site and we can host chapel services.
“Next year, Bunurong’s upgrades will be finished, making it a stunning place for couples from Mornington Peninsula, Frankston and surrounds to get married.
“Overseas, some of the iconic memorial parks such as Green-Wood in New York State are regularly attracting couples to have their weddings there. That’s a trend we want to match.’’
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