Two decades ago, Rochelle Bergstrom and her now-husband lined their toes up with heart stickers on the carpet of a Las Vegas wedding chapel, joined hands, and recited their marriage vows in front of their closest family and friends.
“We were very young and had very little money,” Bergstrom explained. “And my parents had just recently divorced, so there was a lot of drama, and I remember thinking, ‘I don’t want to deal with any of that; I just want to get married.’”
Today, the 41-year-old is the owner (and officiant) of Tacoma’s first elopement chapel, Elope 253, inspired by her own Sin City nuptials. Inside Bergstrom’s downtown Tacoma chapel, couples won’t find the cheesy Elvis impersonators of Las Vegas; rather they will encounter an intimate, elegant, and magical matrimonial oasis that is both affordable and stress-free.
The idea for such a business had been dominating Bergstrom’s thoughts during her daily commutes for years. In fact, the catalyst that sparked her into action came during one such commute in the form of a Move to Tacoma Podcast entitled Starting a Business in Tacoma’s Empty Spaces with Heather Joy from Spaceworks.
“I asked if I could take her out for a drink,” Bergstrom recalled of the call she made to Joy in the days following the podcast. “I told her I’d had this crazy idea for years and asked her if this was something she thought could work. “She was like,’ ‘I think it’s an amazing idea; you should apply.’ And I did.”
Bergstrom was accepted into the Spaceworks program and, in April 2017, launched her business on a part-time basis, and then went all in approximately one year later. Bergstrom said that being a part of her couples’ special day is the best part of her job.
“There’s a high that you get from just being around (happy) people,” she said. “I’m naturally a very emotionally spongey person anyway, but when you are just surrounded by joy, it’s amazing.”
Photos Courtesy Rochelle Bergstrom
Waking up with my coffee while I check email, finalize checklists, and ensure all the things to make sure I’m ready for my day. Also, our cat Lexi is looking to get fed.
On my way to pick up donuts for wedding No. 2 today. My go-to donut shop is Original House of Donuts. Not only is it local, but its donuts are pretty — oh, and the French crullers are to die for.
I arrive at the chapel and unpack everything, and start to set up for the first of three weddings today.
First I need to vacuum, mop, prep the name signs, light candles, and many other tasks.
Working with my co-eloper — also known as my husband, Craig — for today’s first wedding. He will officiate and I will photograph.
Presenting our first couple of the day: For her processional song, he surprised her with voiceover messages from their kiddos. Not a dry eye in the house.
I quickly prep for the second wedding by making sure the gift box is ready for the next couple. Our gift boxes include tiny Prosecco bottles; exclusive, custom candles by Puyallup-based Wax & Wool; and chocolates from Johnson’s Candy Co.
“Everyone, raise a glass!” This couple just tied the knot and are enjoying their donuts with a celebratory toast.
I do a lot of cleaning between weddings to make sure the next couple feels special and like they are the only wedding of the day.
My third couple of the day is about to walk down the aisle, and I stand ready to kick things off.
It’s closing time: With three weddings done, I’m on a love high and exhausted in the best possible way.
I don’t always do three weddings in one day, but when I do, it calls for a night out for dinner with my family. Tonight, we visit Cactus in Proctor.
With the kids in bed and emails checked, it’s time to watch something self-indulgent on Netflix with a glass of wine and my favorite snuggle buddy, Ferris Bueller.