Is the dirt church a real wedding venue?

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At the end of September 2021, Snopes spotted reports about a so-called “dirt church” near a hiking trail in the Utah countryside, where couples reserved space for free outdoor wedding ceremonies.

The alleged wedding venue was indeed an authentic venue, and the couples used an honor system to set aside their time to exchange vows there, as explained via the evidence below. For these reasons, we rate this statement to be “true”.

According to a Google Maps search, “The Church of Dirt” was in the Empire Pass area, about five miles south of Park City, Utah.

Searching social media, we found several photos showing rows of wooden benches, a rock-lined driveway, and an archway where officiants could actually conduct wedding ceremonies. Users who uploaded these photographs used a “Church of Dirt” geotag or #ChurchOfDirt hashtag in posts.

For example, the Instagram user pictured below apparently chronicled his marriage on the Utah site through several grid posts on the social media platform.

Via Instagram user @brittwentz

Additionally, a dedicated “Dirt Church” Facebook page described the location as an “interfaith church” located in the mountainous region and posted numerous wedding photos.

“What a view and this wedding venue is FREE!” Read the caption of an article on this Facebook page.

We also found several websites where wedding photographers were showing images of similar scenes. For example, a company called “Austen Diamond Photography” said of the outdoor site for a couple, “this makeshift chapel was the perfect place for those outdoor lovers to get married.”

In other words, a plethora of digital evidence existed to confirm the authenticity of the site and that couples exchanged marriage vows there. A Google review of the location says:

You reserve your time and day by placing your information on a stone and writing your name in the calendar (sometimes the calendar is there, sometimes not), people are good enough at keeping the time and date. There is not a lot of parking space and it is a very popular place for biking so you will have strangers walking / riding. I’m almost reluctant to talk about it, so it’ll stay low-key, but it’s a great choice for a low-key wedding.

Other critics, however, have shared stories of couples allegedly disrespecting the honor system for reservations, forcing other families to adopt a “plan B” for their wedding site at all times.

“My sister and her husband… were kicked out by a big wedding party on their wedding day,” one reviewer said.

Then we got a July 2021 broadcast segment from KPCW, the NPR affiliate station for Park City, which said families had booked dates for the rest of the year (site is closed for the winter. ) and in September 2022.

“It’s really cool to love saving money,” said someone who got married there during the COVID-19 pandemic. “This is the thing that was for us. We’re like, “Dude, if only we could have a view of the ski resort with no cost to the ski resort.”

Additionally, a local television news channel, Fox 13 Salt Lake City, interviewed a couple from Atlanta who made the trip to the Utah site for their big day. “It’s unique, at least where we’re from, that people come here and have this special moment,” one of them told the outlet.

Sources:

“The Dirt Church · UT-224, Park City, UT 84060.” Dirt Church UT-224, Park City, UT 84060, https://www.google.com/maps/place/The+Church+of+Dirt/@40.6064769,-111.5126425,17z/data=!4m5!3m4!1s0x875273bb190ef8cf:0x33a430de0f2c79ab!8m2!3d40.6064209! 111.5104444. Accessed September 27, 2021.

“The Church of the Land Marriage.” Austen Diamond Photography, August 19, 2018, https://austendiamondphotography.com/church-of-dirt-wedding/.

Lowell, Jessica. More and more couples are saying “yes” to Dirt Church. https://www.kpcw.org/post/more-couples-say-i-do-church-dirt. Accessed September 27, 2021.

“Couples from all over the country come to Utah to get married in ‘Church of Dirt’.” KSTU, September 23, 2021, https://www.fox13now.com/news/uniquely-utah/couples-from-around-the-country-come-to-utah-to-be-married-in-church-of- dirt .



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