Pauls Valley, OK, Pauls Valley Democrat

February 11, 2013

Surprises many for wedding chapel

Barry Porterfield
Pauls Valley Democrat — More times than not officials at a wedding chapel south of Pauls Valley have no idea what surprises are coming their way, especially with the Valentine’s Day holiday right around the corner.

Bob and Joan Bratcher have had longtime ties to PV, but they also own the Arbuckle Wedding Chapel located in far southern Garvin County near the I-35 and state Highway 7 crossroads.

The chapel, opened back in the summer of 2009, has been the site of some amazing ceremonies as couples from all over have chosen it as the place to take the leap into married life.

With love being at the center of this week’s Valentine’s Day, it represents a good time for someone like Joan to reminisce about some of those wonderous sights since the chapel opened its doors.

“We’ve had hundreds of fairy take weddings, met hundreds of lovely people and shared in the joy of so many great couples,” Joan said. “We’ve been truly blessed to be a part of their lives.

“Many of these couples keep in touch with us, letting us know how they are doing, where they live and even bring their babies to show us,” she said.

This kind of work is far different from what Joan used to do as she once worked for 13 years as a school counselor in Pauls Valley before retiring from the nearby Mid-America Technology Center.

As for Bob, he once served on the Pauls Valley City Council and continues to work as a local stock broker.

Now they oversee a wedding chapel that’s hosted all kinds of different ceremonies with each reflecting the personalities of the couple getting hitched. Joan serves as the wedding coordinator.

“We’ve had western weddings, peacock weddings, polka dot weddings, Eiffel Tower weddings, holiday weddings, vintage weddings and weddings of every imaginable color,” Joan said.

There have been the dazzling weddings with clouds or roses, crystal, lace and pearls or some with burlap, mason jars, sunflowers and rustic decor.

Even how the couples leave varies as some have chosen the traditional limos while others take to party buses, horse drawn carriages, souped-up race cars, pickup trucks and in one ceremony it was a brand new John Deere tractor.

Ceremonies have also included couples of all ages, from their 20s up through one in their 70s with some from the Oklahoma City metro area simply because brides found out about the chapel online, Joan said.

There have naturally been some unforeseen things that add a little drama to the big day.

“We’ve had those last minute dilemmas — the mother of the bride whose zipper broke, the groom who left the marriage license in Oklahoma City, the best man who forgot the rings, the maid of honor who got lost and held up the wedding,” she said.

Along with a chocolate fountain, candy buffet and a “crowd pleaser” photo booth, Bratcher said there have also been ceremonies where the couple includes their pet.

“Several adorable dogs have served as ringbearers and one canine was the best man.”