ABOVE: The Rev. Cecelia LePage
A small-venue wedding chapel received a unanimous approval recommendation from the Chesterfield County Planning Commission last week.
The Rev. Cecelia LePage and Stephen Louderback requested a conditional use permit for their residential property at 9903 Hustings Court, which is located east of Iron Bridge Road between Krause and Centralia roads in the Courthouse Green South subdivision.
Someone filed a complaint about the home-based business in March. Planning staff said that The Little Wedding Garden has been operating since January 2017.
During the Oct. 16 meeting, LePage said she came home after marrying a friend in Ohio and sat in her backyard gazebo. “It was almost like God said to me, ‘Look what I have given you,’” she said. “And I started marrying people.”
“I feel like I serve an underserved part of this community,” she said. “You can’t get married in the courthouse anymore.”
“I’m just here to serve these women,” she said. “The men are necessary, but every woman wants a wedding.”
LePage said she plays processional and recessional music on a small speaker in the house “that you can’t hear in the yard.” In addition, she provides a bouquet for the woman and takes photos for free if needed.
She charges $95 for ceremonies held Monday to Thursday and $120 on weekends. The business’ website says a couple can get married within 30 minutes of calling.
Two of her neighbors spoke in favor of permit approval during public comment, and LePage read two other neighbors’ letters, which also were in favor. No one spoke in opposition.
Planning staff did not recommend permit approval, but suggested 10 conditions if the commission decided to approve.
Commissioner Michael Jackson recommended three changes to the conditions, which were accepted and approved unanimously. The business would be able to have no more than 10 people on site for wedding ceremonies instead of the 12 recommended by staff or the 15 requested by the property owners. Sunday hours would not be allowed, and business hours would be 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. In addition, a requirement that the owners install a 6-foot fence separating them from the neighbors’ view was stricken. A white 5-foot fence is already on property, and although it has 1 1/2-inch gaps, a substantial portion of the backyard is already blocked from neighbors’ views because of their 7-foot fence.
The board of supervisors will consider the permit request next.