Snohomish County Career Fair - September 10
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'I do,' 24/7: Everett chapel celebrates weddings anytime

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By Andy Rathbun
Herald Writer
Published:
  • The Purple Wedding Chapel in Everett earned its name from engaged couples, who took to describing it by its colorful paint job.

    The Purple Wedding Chapel in Everett earned its name from engaged couples, who took to describing it by its colorful paint job.

  • The Rev. Barbara Raspberry recites vows while Adam Stobbe and Frances Hodges stare into each other's eyes during their ceremony at the Purple Wedding ...

    Kevin Nortz/The Herald

    The Rev. Barbara Raspberry recites vows while Adam Stobbe and Frances Hodges stare into each other's eyes during their ceremony at the Purple Wedding Chapel's backyard gazebo.

  • Newlyweds Adam and Frances Stobbe kiss while one of their witnesses finalizes their union in the kitchen of the wedding chapel.

    Kevin Nortz/The Herald

    Newlyweds Adam and Frances Stobbe kiss while one of their witnesses finalizes their union in the kitchen of the wedding chapel.

The tagline for the Purple Wedding Chapel in Everett doesn't quite call to mind an image of eternal wedded bliss, even if that is the spot's ultimate goal.
"Anywhere, anytime," ads read.
"We do weddings 24 hours a day, seven days a week," the Rev. Barbara Raspberry, 60, said. "We don't take holidays. It's so we can accommodate people."
Raspberry -- yes, that's her real last name -- has lost count of how many weddings she has officiated in the past 11 years. She estimates between 1,000 and 2,000.
With summer about to begin, she and her husband, the Rev. Donald Raspberry, 66, expect to perform weddings for about 30 people a month through September. For some, they will travel outside Snohomish County. For others, they will hold the celebration in their back yard -- the chapel is also their home.
"We're not making big bucks," Barbara Raspberry said. "We're just trying to make people happy."
They succeed. Take Adam and Frances Stobbe, a young Everett couple who were wed at the chapel on May 1.
"I probably wouldn't have gone anywhere else," Frances Stobbe, 18, said. "It was so personal, and I loved it."
The couple were considering going to a courthouse until they drove past the chapel, near their Everett apartment. They were intrigued. After all, purple is Frances Stobbe's favorite color.
Raspberry told them the service would cost an economical $100, discounted from $150 since Adam Stobbe is in the U.S. Marines. She told them how to get a marriage license and walked the couple through other details.
"She pretty much typed up our vows right there," Adam Stobbe, 19, said.
Granted, she has experience with vows. Raspberry keeps more than a dozen basic templates near her kitchen table, which is decorated with heart-emblazoned place mats.
"Our biggest rule is, 'It's your wedding, your way,'" she said.
The Raspberrys started performing weddings for a roundabout reason. A neighbor had been presiding over marriages for decades in her own living room. When she moved, she encouraged the Raspberrys to take over. The couple, already reverends in the nondenominational Awareness of Life Church, decided to give it a try.
"It just kind of got dumped on us," Barbara Raspberry said. "It's the best thing that ever happened."
As chance had it, their home was a pale lavender, and so couples who visited dubbed it the Purple Wedding Chapel.
"When we had to replace our sign, we thought, 'Well, everyone's calling it that, so we might as well put that up,'" Raspberry said.
The Raspberrys, retired except for their wedding work, made other changes to the one-story home.
They converted two bedrooms into one indoor chapel with seating for 20. Outside, they set up covered seating for 70 and installed heat lamps for damp days. They decorated a wooden gazebo with silk flowers and kept up on their gardening, tending flowers and ornamental fruit trees.
Those trees, incidentally, were in full bloom during the Stobbes' wedding.
"Her back yard is amazing," Frances Stobbe said. "They take care of it like no other."
The wedding business keeps the Raspberrys busy. Sometimes, they hear a knock on the front door at night and find a couple outside with a marriage license. Twenty minutes later, the service can begin.
Other times, couples make arrangements months in advance. To stay accessible, Barbara Raspberry takes calls until midnight.
The Raspberrys, married for 31 years, plan to stay in the wedding business as long as they can. The reason?
"It makes my soul very happy," Barbara Raspberry said.
Andy Rathbun: 425-339-3455, arathbun@heraldnet.com.

Purple Wedding Chapel
10814 4th Ave. W. Everett 425-353-7250


Story tags » EverettCelebrations

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