In an effort to give back to those who give the country their all by serving in the military, Ringgold Wedding Chapel is giving away a free wedding to an active duty serviceman or woman.
"It's a way to say thank you to the military for what they are doing," said chapel owner Teresa James, adding that the event is also in celebration of the Fourth of July. "These special people are called to step out and defend our country so that we can enjoy the freedoms we have today."
In order to enter the drawing, engaged military men or women should email, call or visit the chapel by the Fourth of July. The winner's name will be drawn from a vase by a third party and announced on the Ringgold Wedding Chapel Facebook page.
The grand prize giveaway, worth $500, includes 50 guests. The wedding winner must show proof of current active duty in the military in order to redeem the prize, and the wedding must take place sometime between July 5 and Aug. 31.
The wedding will take place in the chapel with ordained minister Troy Simmons presiding over the ceremony. The couple can select music available at the chapel or bring their own. A unity candle will be provided. On-site dressing rooms are available.
Ringgold Wedding Chapel staff will help direct the ceremony, giving detailed instructions on where to stand.
"People pop in the chapel all the time to get married from around the world," said James. "A couple from northern Michigan plans to drive down this summer to get married here. We've had weddings for people from England, Japan, Tibet, China, the Philippines, Austria, Vietnam, Australia and weddings for soldiers stationed in Germany, Iraq and Afghanistan during their rest and relaxation time. We get a lot of military weddings. People find us online and hear about us by word of mouth."
James said Ringgold hosts more than 3,000 weddings per year, both at its location as well as at the courthouse and other local churches.
"We are not just stationary now," she said. "We go out to other venues for weddings. We've been to the Georgia Winery, Heritage House and the Delta Queen. We will host a wedding on The Bluff and a wedding at the Ringgold Depot soon too. We have a good professional team that works well together and knows what they are doing."
She said a couple can come in one day and she can have everything for their wedding planned out the next day. A wedding cake is available for the reception and a photographer takes wedding photos. Guest books, candles and flowers are provided.
"Ringgold is the Wedding Capital of the South," she said. "For years they called it Little Vegas because we host a lot of weddings for a small town. We [Ringgold Wedding Chapel] are a one-stop shop for weddings."