FARGO—It has elements of a traditional wedding venue, such as romantic phrases on the walls and a place to sign a guestbook, but downtown Fargo's newest venue to get hitched isn't like any other place to say "I do" in town.
The Chapel de Puzzled is a new escape room created by Kay and Steven Cameron, the owners of a business that challenges people to get through 13 puzzles within an hour to earn bragging rights. It's Puzzled FM's fourth escape room in the Black Building, 118 Broadway N.
The room has a wedding theme, complete with a fictional backstory of would-be newlyweds needing help to find the marriage certificate in an hour or miss out on getting hitched after a lovestruck best man hides the document.
While it could be a fun new activity for friends or co-workers to take on together when it opens Saturday, April 29, the owners also think it can be an affordable, unique place to actually get married.
"For people that just don't maybe have much of a budget and want a nicer, little, cute ceremony, it gives them more options," said Amanda Jewell, gamemaster and the daughter of the owners.
The origins of Puzzled FM's wedding room are decidedly unromantic, but it does suggest a local need for more economical places to get married.
It all started when they opened their first escape room in the the lower level of the Black Building last year. They said it's fairly common to see groups of people gather by the fountain near Romo's Tacos for quick weddings, probably because it's an accessible public place out of the elements where small, unofficially organized ceremonies can happen in a matter of minutes.
"What inspired the room was the fact that people get married here," said Steven Cameron.
Sensing an unmet need for more venues, the Camerons believed they could make their latest escape room a fun, intimate space for small ceremonies.
The space itself also helped inspire the room, especially the pillars along a back wall that they knew would be practically perfect for a wedding theme.
"It made it seem like it could be a cute little Vegas-style kind of chapel," Kay Cameron said.
They referenced that Vegas feeling with a series of small music panels painted by Jewell behind the pillars. If played by a musician, the paintings would represent the beginning to Elvis Presley's "Viva Las Vegas."
Those music panels double as one of the 13 puzzles that participants need to crack within an hour to beat the escape room, as does a large painting of doves in the front of the space.
Kay Cameron said she knew the wedding theme could work when she read a story about a new trend overseas. Increasingly, she said, bachelor and bachelorette parties are opting to skip the bars and instead solve an escape room together.
It doesn't hurt that the room also will let the Camerons celebrate their 27th anniversary on May 27.
"Instead of going on some big, fancy trip, we put this room together to have our own venue for our own vow renewal," she said.
Her preparations for this latest offering from Puzzled FM included something new—she became legally ordained online, meaning she can serve as an officiant for a legitimate ceremony.
The venue could also be a good place for anniversary parties, she said, but it's primarily meant to be another escape room that anyone can play, whether or not they're engaged.
Puzzled de Chapel costs $26 per participant to play as an escape room, or it can be rented for $260 for one hour with space for 20 to 30 people for bachelorette parties, anniversary gatherings or weddings. Other options can be negotiated if a party wants to rent the room for more than an hour.
Only time will tell how locals will use the room, but Kay Cameron said it should be interesting to see what happens.
"It could be something where maybe their idea would be to go to Vegas, but they can't really afford the whole Vegas thing," she said. "They can just stay here and have their friends be able to come."
What: Puzzled FM
Where: Black Building, 118 Broadway N., Fargo
Hours: Available by appointment 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. Monday through Saturday
Phone: (701) 446-8548