A roadside wedding chapel is something you'd imagine seeing on the Vegas strip, not on Forest Home Avenue in Greenfield, but lo and behold, such a place exists. Parkside Wedding Chapel, 9008 W. Forest Home Ave., has been around for five years and it's truly a labor of love for owners Jeff and Sharon Kohl.
"This started out as a business adventure, but the satisfaction of making a couple's special day even more fabulous has nothing to do with money anymore," says Sharon.
For $350, Parkside Wedding Chapel provides a nuptial event that accommodates up to 50 guests. The building, which was custom built, features a decorated chapel, receiving hall, dressing room and an on-site hair and nail salon.
The package comes with the service, a bottle of champagne, roses, a rehearsal and assistance to the wedding party from the staff with details like boutonniere pinning.
If the wedding includes fewer than 10 people, the cost is $175. For a bride-and-groom-only ceremony, it's $125. For off-site premises, the Kohls charge $200 per service without a rehearsal or $250 with a rehearsal, as long as it's within 30 miles of Milwaukee County. Beyond that geographic range a wedding costs $250 or $300, depending on if there's a rehearsal included or not.
Both Sharon and Jeff are ordained wedding officiants and offer a variety of different services, from religious to civil. Jeff usually performs the larger weddings and has a more improvisational style, whereas Sharon prefers the smaller, more straight-forward affairs.
"We're not a church, so we focus more on life in general in our ceremonies," says Sharon. "We talk about how life is a roller coaster, with many highs and lows, so make sure to have fun. And if you get in an argument, get it out and move on so you're not dwelling on it for days."
Parkside also provides baptisms, vow renewals and commitment ceremonies – non-legal "marriage" ceremonies for same-sex couples or heterosexual couples who do not want to legally wed.
"You don't need a marriage license to make a commitment to someone you love," says Sharon.
Although Parkside will perform a short-notice ceremony, a spontaneous wedding is not an option because it takes eight days to obtain a marriage license unless the bride or groom are in the military in which case they can get it the same day. However, if the couple already has a license, they can often arrange a time within the week.
In the summer months, the Kohls perform 15-20 weddings a month and about 10 per month in the winter. The first Saturday in June is the most popular wedding date, but recently, days with numerical repetition like 7-7-07 or 11-11-11 have been coveted dates, too.
"On 7-7-07 we performed 12 ceremonies, from 8 in the morning to 8 in the evening. 12-12-12 has been booked for two-and-a-half years, and it's a weekday," says Sharon.
The Kohls also own The Patio Banquet Hall, 1421 E. Howard Ave., so often the wedding party has their reception catered by The Patio. There's also a pastry chef, musicians / DJ and photographer available, all of which, like the manicure/pedicure services, need to be pre-arranged by the wedding party.
Up until recently, the couple owned a jewelry store, attached to the chapel, but sold it off after feeling overwhelmed by running three full-time businesses.
"Performing wedding ceremonies is very fulfilling for us," says Sharon.
Molly Snyder started writing and publishing her work at the age 10, when her community newspaper printed her poem, "The Unicorn.” Since then, she's expanded beyond the subject of mythical creatures and written in many different mediums but, nearest and dearest to her heart, thousands of articles for OnMilwaukee.
Molly is a regular contributor to FOX6 News and numerous radio stations as well as the co-host of "Dandelions: A Podcast For Women.” She's received five Milwaukee Press Club Awards, served as the Pfister Narrator and is the Wisconsin State Fair’s Celebrity Cream Puff Eating Champion of 2019.