BURNING LOVE – Graceland To Inaugurate New Chapel
Graceland To Inaugurate New Chapel With Wedding During Elvis Week 2018
By Ron Maxey – 8-13-18
MEMPHIS — They met in a hotel lobby, he back in his hometown on business and she attending her first Elvis Week.
A spark between them quickly flamed into burning love as he offered her a tour of iconic Elvis locations around Memphis. Now, Marc Caudel and Julie Guardado will take their next step in a wedding made at Graceland.
The couple, who met during Elvis Week 2015, will become the first to marry in a new chapel on the Graceland grounds. Their ceremony today will inaugurate the Chapel in the Woods, along with a renewal of vows by 10 couples who met at Graceland or during Elvis Week.
“That is the power of Elvis, of Elvis Week,” Guardado, 46, said of her immediate connection with Caudel, 47.
Caudel is a native Memphian — he grew up in Raleigh and attended Craigmont High School — who moved to California. Both he and Guardado are now living in Memphis, where they will continue to live after the wedding.
“This profound love for Elvis brings people together,” Guardado said, “even if for one small moment, one sacred candlelight vigil or for a lifetime, like with Marc and me. We can’t imagine our life without this Elvis connection.”
Guardado was here for the first time in 2015 to do interviews for a book she wrote about Elvis — “Conducting the King” — as a tribute to her father, a die-hard Elvis fan.
“He (Caudel) gave me a tour of downtown, and we ended up at the Elvis statue at Beale and Main,” Guardado said. “After Elvis Week was over, we kept in touch from there.”
“I’m a fan — she is a huge fan,” added Caudel, who said he never visited Graceland until he was stationed at Millington and a buddy wanted to go. “I grew up listening to Elvis, like any Memphian, but she is a die-hard.”
Theirs isn’t the first love story borne of a mutual love of Elvis. In fact, their ceremony at the new wedding chapel, adjacent to the new The Guest House at Graceland, will mark the 2,000th wedding, dedication or vow renewal.
Previous events were held in the old chapel, behind the mansion. Future uses for the 18-year-old chapel have not been determined, said Graceland spokeswoman Ashleigh Gallant.
“It (the old chapel) is nice because it’s within walking distance of the mansion,” Gallant said, “but this new chapel will be great because it’s within walking distance of the hotel. So for people who want to do a nice reception, it’ll be a little easier.”
The new chapel will seat 75. It features a grand ceiling and windows that will show off the woods surrounding Graceland as a backdrop. Parking is available, for a fee, at the adjacent Guest House.
Reservations for the new chapel are being accepted for dates beginning Tuesday. An open house in the chapel is set for 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Thursday as part of Elvis Week 2018. A celebratory wedding cake will be served.
The 10 couples renewing vows today were selected from among those who submitted an Elvis-inspired love story for consideration.