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.
The Chapel of the Bells is one of the oldest existing wedding chapels in Reno. The demand for quick marriages is not as great as it once was, and there are now only a few chapels operating in town. Still, a Reno wedding holds appeal, with Valentine’s Day and the month of June bringing many brides and grooms to town.