DELLS BUCKET LIST #21 - Going behind the scenes of the Dells Bells Wedding Chapel

Watching a wedding never fails to bring a smile to my face but after having suffered through many long, drawn out wedding ceremonies throughout my lifetime, they usually aren’t something I particularly look forward to attending.

This was before I went behind the scenes of the Dells Bells Wedding Chapel, where for my latest Dells Bucket List adventure I got to witness a couple’s complete wedding experience, taking less time than it did for me to recently get fitted for a tux. 

Located in the downtown on Eddy Street, Dells Bells is owned and operated by Scott and Tara Joles, who came up with the concept of offering affordable Vegas style weddings in the Wisconsin Dells one evening a little over a decade ago. 

“It was the middle of summer at about eleven o’clock at night. We were driving through downtown with all the neon lights and I turned to my husband and said: Why doesn’t this town have a wedding chapel? The streets are packed; it’s like a Midwest Vegas. There should be a chapel.” 

 While they knew the idea of bringing a wedding experience similar to what they shared together when getting married in Vegas was a good one, Tara initially had some trepidation. It wasn’t until Scott mentioned that she would end up kicking herself if someone else beat them to it, that they begun the year-long process of acquiring a good location.

When I asked Tara why she ended up choosing what was most recently home to Millie’s House of Gifts, she told me besides realizing the marketing potential of being downtown in the middle of all the fun would bring, it was the arched windows that sold her on the place, even though the building was in shambles: “It was literally a shell with pretty arched windows and a tree growing inside when we got it!”

That begun the whirlwind experience of bringing their dream to fruition, literally finishing only hours before the first ceremony began. Scott did everything from woodwork to plumbing in the building, but he told me that when they got their first online reservation, the chapel was still in the middle of construction, and they weren’t sure it would be ready in time. “In fact, the toilet literally went in the morning of our first wedding!”

Having successfully survived the first one, they went on to have thirty-two weddings that first season. Growing steadily ever since, they’ve now have had well over two thousand weddings, sometimes eight a day, averaging between two to three hundred a year. A big reason for this is that they fill a niche for fun couples that are looking for something more elegant and traditional then a courthouse wedding, but don’t want to go into the huge debt big weddings usually bring. Tara told me: “With us, you can have a beautiful ceremony for $300, walk out the door, and have a Swig at Nig’s to kick off your celebration.”

When I arrived at Dells Bells, I learned that ceremonies always start at the top of the hour, and that a couple by the name of Jose and Andrea would be the first of four that day. The chapel seats forty-two people comfortably, so I was definitely interested to see how they would be able to pull off having a wedding with that many people and still stay on schedule.

About twenty minutes till four, the wedding guests started showing up and were allowed to take their seats. Tara kept things running smoothly by directing the guests, while keeping an eye out for when the bride arrived. Once she did, Tara whisked Andrea away to the office to pick out her wedding parties bouquets, as well as keep her out of sight from Jose.

When Jose arrived Scott ushered him to the front of the beautifully decorated chapel where the ceremony would take place, and then went back and closed the door. This allowed for Andrea to come out from hiding. Tara took this opportunity to learn who was going to walk Andrea down the aisle and what order she would like her wedding party to enter the chapel. After this, it was basically just coordinating everything so it looked well-rehearsed. “It’s a matter of lining them up, letting them know when to walk, and reminding them to smile on their way up the aisle.”

At four o’clock harp music started to play, and the wedding was on its way. After Tara opened the door and the wedding party made its way down the aisle, Jose got his first look at his bride to be in her wedding dress. It was evident they had been waiting for this moment for quite some time. Scott begun the proceedings by saying, “We are gathered here today to celebrate one of life’s greatest moments,” and not even ten minutes later, the couple was officially married.

After the obligatory ringing of the bell that’s housed in the roof’s steeple, Jose and Andrea excited the chapel to congratulations and blowing bubbles from their guests. Being it was only fifteen after, there was plenty of time to take photos in front of the Vegas style Dells Bells sign that’s displayed on the front of the chapel before the next wedding party would arrive. 

The Dells Bells Wedding Chapel offers a variety of affordable wedding packages, as well as rents out the gazebo for ceremonies at River Walk Pub. All you need to do is show up with your wedding license and they will do the rest. For more information please visit or call 608-393-4228.

For more photos of Dells Bells Wedding Chapel visit the Dells Bucket List Facebook page.