'We got married at Kettering's crematorium site...but I was never walking down the aisle in the chapel'

We speak to the only bride to get married there

By Sam Wildman
Saturday, 14th May 2022, 7:00 am

If you ask most brides and grooms-to-be, they wouldn’t choose a crematorium as the venue for their big day.

But one couple – and we literally mean one couple – did just that in Kettering.

This week we exclusively revealed a scheme by the now-defunct Kettering Borough Council to hold weddings at the Warren Hill site resulted in just one service before it was scrapped.

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Joelene and Sean Lawrence tied the knot on June 22, 2019, getting married outdoors after the weather gods were kind.

But, speaking to the Northants Telegraph, 42-year-old Joelene said she would never have walked down the aisle in the crematorium chapel even if it rained.

She said: "I did give feedback (to the council) and said don’t have the crematorium as the wet weather alternative, have the mayor’s parlour and you will get more bookings.

"You look at the pictures from our wedding and it’s so lovely. It was like a little secret garden and you’d never know it was at the crematorium, it could be anywhere.

Warren Hill's first and only wedding ceremony. Credit: Sean O'Dell Photography

“But there was no way we were doing it in the chapel. We bought a lot of umbrellas for if it rained.

"I was not going to get married in that room. I was going to get married in that garden, whatever the weather.”

The venue was granted a wedding licence in June 2018 with promises that funerals and marriages would not be held on the same day. Couples had the option of getting married outdoors or in the 135-seat Edgar Newman Chapel.

But, with the funeral curtains in the background, it didn’t prove popular.

Warren Hill's first and only wedding ceremony. Credit: Sean O'Dell Photography

North Northamptonshire Council admitted they did not renew the licence in 2021 because usage had been so low.

Secretary Joelene and construction site groundworker Sean, 40, had originally planned to wed in a registry office before they saw an advertisement for the Warren Hill venue.

Joelene, originally from Stamford, had never been to a funeral there but Sean, from Raunds, had.

They went up to have a look and booked it – but ended up being the only couple to do so.

Warren Hill's first and only wedding ceremony. Credit: Sean O'Dell Photography

Joelene said: “I had a message from a woman asking loads of questions and she seemed keen but I don’t think Covid helped.

"When I tell people we got married there they say ‘really?’ but we loved it. It was amazing.

"Getting married inside the crematorium itself was never a consideration. It was never happening.”

The pair’s surprise wedding was filmed for UKTV’s ‘Wedding Fixer’ show. The 40 ceremony guests were stunned, having been told there was a change of venue that morning.

The bride and groom’s rings also went missing, with Joelene borrowing TV show host Sarah Haywood’s and Sean borrowing his best man’s ring. Thankfully they turned up in a tin weeks later.

The newlyweds celebrated with afternoon tea and a reception on the Brambleside estate.

Joelene said: "It was a bit of a novelty to have your wedding on TV in the first place, but even more when you’re the only person to ever get married at the venue you picked.”

The service was held on Joelene’s 40th birthday and the 10th anniversary of her and Sean being together.

She added: "He’s got no excuse for forgetting now!”