IT has been one of Blackpool’s most talked about new additions in recent months.
So here’s your chance to get a sneak peak at the resort’s £2.7m new beachside wedding chapel before it is officially unveiled later today.
More than 100 couples have already booked to say “I do” in the Festival Hall on the Promenade – with the first ceremony booked in for next month.
Those who choose to tie the knot in the main ceremony room will exchange their vows right in front of the Tower – viewed through a huge vertical window.
And an expected change in the law to allow night-time weddings could pave the way for people to marry while the Illuminations are switched on, for the very first time.
Couples choosing the smaller ceremony room will enjoy an equally spectacular panorama over the beach and the Irish Sea, framed by North Pier.
An outdoor balcony and a seafront garden will provide extra photo opportunities for newly weds and their guests.
The bold structure, which has seen a fierce “love it or hate it” reaction from locals so far, has been built from solid timber and clad in golden, stainless steel shingles.
But Blackpool’s superintendent registrar David Hill is confident people will fall in love with the new wedding chapel once they see the inside of the building.
He told The Gazette: “We want people who have said negative things to come and see the inside because we think it’s fantastic.
“We are expecting a lot of interest and we’re expecting bookings from all over the country as well as from local people. We don’t think there is anywhere else like this in the UK.
“At the moment you can only get married up to 6pm in the evening, but there is almost certainly going to be a change in the law which will allow marriages virtually 24/7.
“Here in Blackpool we will be looking to offer something during the Illuminations.”
There is a third room where people can bring in two witnesses for basic ceremonies, plus a ceremony waiting room for guests.
The reception area will be shared with the Tourist Information Centre on the ground floor, while a restaurant is expected to open later next year, also at street level.
As well as weddings and civil partnerships, the Festival Hall, funded by cash from the now defunct North West Development Agency, will also cater for baby namings, vow renewals and other events.
Mowbray Drive-based building company F. Parkinson built the wedding chapel.
Site manager Steve Bather said: “I think it will be really popular once people start using it.
“I know it has had a lot of stick but if you had just put a traditional building with a pitched roof on the Prom it wouldn’t have been such a landmark.
“When the sun catches the stainless steel shingles it looks like bright gold.”
The first ceremony is due to be held on January 12, but the chapel is having an open day from 10am until 4pm this Saturday and Sunday for people to head down and make up their own mind.