Filed Under Tourism

Chapel of the Bells

One of Reno's first wedding chapels opened here in 1965.

When George Flint opened the Chapel of the Bells in 1961 at its original location at 540 W. Fourth Street, there were only two wedding chapels in town, the Park Wedding Chapel and a small chapel farther out on West Fourth Street. In 1965, he purchased a house on the corner of West Fourth and Washington Street, converting it to a wedding chapel. As an ordained minister, Flint could perform marriages himself. The chapel offered everything necessary for a wedding, including flowers and photographs without the expense and hassle of a traditional church wedding.

In a 1998 interview, George Flint explained that for an average young couple, a traditional wedding would cost about $10,000. If they came to Reno and brought 20 guests, got flowers and photos, it would cost them $200. Flint recalled a time when a young couple received a cashier’s check for $5,000 from the bride-to-be's father. The father told them the money could either go to a down payment on a house or to a wedding. The couple decided to come to Reno and got married for $150 and put the rest of the money down on a house.

The wedding chapels can also cater to the particular demands of the bride and groom. An example cited in a 1970 newspaper article was the “full-fledged hippie ceremony” that took place the summer of 1969 at the Chapel of the Bells. The bride and groom were dressed in black and were mounted on their motorcycles. This was notably bizarre for Reno, which has kept its wedding chapels operating at a certain level of dignity, leaving the Elvis impersonators and drive-up wedding chapels to Las Vegas.

Over time, the demand for quick marriages declined, and there are now only a few chapels operating in town, although a Reno wedding holds appeal, with Valentine’s Day and the month of June bringing many brides and grooms to town.

George Flint died in 2020, and the Chapel of the Bells closed its doors soon thereafter. The building has since been purchased by Jacobs Entertainment.

Audio

A ministerial background Interviewed in 2012, Chapel of the Bells owner George Flint explains how his ministerial training sets him apart from most wedding chapel operators. Source: University of Nevada Oral History Program Creator: Will von Tagen
I was impressed with Reno Interviewed in 2012, Chapel of the Bells owner George Flint recalls what inspired him to open a wedding chapel in Reno. Source: University of Nevada Oral History Program Creator: Will von Tagen Date: 2012

Images

A thriving wedding chapel since 1965
A thriving wedding chapel since 1965 The Chapel of the Bells is a modified single family home purchased by George Flint in 1965. Creator: Mella Rothwell Harmon
A tall sign
A tall sign The Chapel of the Bells fronts West 4th Street, the former route of the Lincoln Highway and U.S. 40. Creator: Mella Rothwell Harmon
"Be Married in Your Car"
"Be Married in Your Car" A drive-through wedding chapel Creator: Mella Rothwell Harmon
George Flint, minister
George Flint, minister Owner George Flint in his office at the Chapel of the Bells in 2013. Source: University of Nevada Oral History Program Creator: Patrick Cummings Date: 2013
A coupon
A coupon Part of a 2002 brochure for the Chapel of the Bells outlines the chapel's range of services. Source: Nevada Historical Society Date: 2002

Location

700 West 4th Street, Reno, NV

Metadata

Mella Rothwell Harmon, “Chapel of the Bells,” Reno Historical, accessed May 24, 2024, http://renohistorical.org/items/show/6.