Personally Perfect Weddings
May – June 2019
In Las Vegas, people say I do with customized events.
STORY BY MEGG MUELLER
PHOTOS BY JOHN GRAHAM/LV WEDDING CONNECTION
Getting married in Las Vegas—if Hollywood is to be believed—is for the young, the foolish, the headstrong, or the inebriated. In the really far-out tales, those qualities are all rolled up in one impatient, lovestruck couple who have just met and take their new-found passion all the way to the altar.
In truth, inebriated couples will be denied a marriage license. Of the 73,000 weddings performed in Clark County in 2018—that’s a whopping 200 per day average—the vast majority have nothing to do with impetuous behavior. Weddings in Las Vegas are serious business, and as with any destination wedding, require planning and a level head. The options for how to tie the knot are endless and as unique as the couples coming to say “I do.”
PLANNING FOR FOREVER
“People are wanting experiences, not just a wedding,” explains Joni Moss Graham, CEO of LV Wedding Connection.
Joni’s been helping people find their wedding bliss for 28 years, and notes the trend toward experiential activities falls right in line with the rise in destination weddings. Vegas has always been a destination for weddings, but now it’s not as an after-thought or whim.
“I’ve got a group from Scotland, about 38 people,” Joni says. “They are coming a year in advance to plan and then comimg back for the ceremony.”
What would warrant two international trips for such a large group? Well, love, of course, but also the ability to have the wedding of your literal dreams. For every outlandish idea, every unique wish, Vegas is ready to serve.
“Game of Thrones”-themed wedding? No problem, right down to the Tyrion Lannister-lookalike officiant. Want to tie the knot just before you get shot 160 feet in the air at 45 mph, only to plummet seconds later, and then get shot up again? Head to the STRAT’s Big Shot thrill ride and you can do just that. If getting high while getting wed sounds good, but you’re not into the G-force of the Big Shot, maybe the Linq’s High Roller pods are a better choice. As the pods climb to 550 feet above The Strip, say your vows with up to 40 friends watching. Let’s not forget the quintessential Las Vegas wedding: Elvis is alive and well and performing ceremonies at a number of Las Vegas wedding chapels.
SO MANY CHOICES
Whatever the idea, today’s couples are taking the concept of Las Vegas’ legendary buffets and applying it to their nuptials. While the major casino properties often offer more traditional one-stop wedding planning in sumptuous venues that host the ceremony, reception, after-party, and accommodations, there are myriad offerings for anyone looking to pick and choose from a variety of options.
According to Clark County Clerk Lynn Goya there are thousands of wedding professionals in Las Vegas including wedding planners, officiants, photographers, and florists standing ready to help plan your perfect day.
A professional planner can help put together weddings that involve starting at one destination for the ceremony, perhaps another for photos or taking a photo tour around the city, on to a restaurant for a wedding dinner, then to a nightclub for the reception and dancing, ending with dropping the couple off at their accommodations.
This ability to choose each locale to create a signature event for their wedding day is what makes Las Vegas so popular. You can visit the Las Vegas Wedding Chamber of Commerce’s website and choose from more than 70 certified professionals that can help with the many options.
LOCATION, LOCATION, LOCATION
Choosing the right spot to exchange vows is generally the first step. From taking a helicopter to the Valley of Fire at sunset to standing among signs from the city’s colorful past at the Neon Museum, wedding locations run the gamut. Go with a gangster theme and choose the Mob Museum for an un-forget-a-bout-it ceremony, or declare your love for one another and breakfast food by getting hitched at the Denny’s on Fremont Street in Downtown.
Wedding chapels are still the mainstay of the industry in Vegas, however. The approximately 50 chapels offer their own unique touches, from the historic Little Church of the West where many celebrities have married to the iconic Graceland Wedding Chapel where the Elvis Presley Package gets you the voice of The King singing at your wedding. A Special Memory Wedding Chapel offers drive-through ceremonies—as do a few others—and the Viva Las Vegas Wedding Chapel has themed ceremonies that include Camelot, intergalactic, western, gothic, and disco among others.
Scenic weddings aren’t confined to The Strip, which is a breathtaking backdrop in its own right, but within an hour (or less, depending on your mode of transportation) the splendor of southern Nevada’s outdoors is ready to host the perfect ceremony.
Red Rock Canyon offers an unparalleled backdrop, especially from the helicopter-only landing pad. The limo-accessible area isn’t anything to sneeze at, if flying isn’t in the budget.
“Red Rock is often combined with wine tasting and dinner in Pahrump,” Joni mentions. “There’s a mix and match going on when planning an experience.”
Eldorado Canyon is another popular wedding site, thanks to its rugged beauty and quirky setting that make it picture-perfect for so many couples (think old mining town with an upended airplane). The proximity of scenic choices is almost endless.
“Springs Preserve is a gorgeous place for weddings. Lakeshore—near Summerlin—is completely beautiful. Lake Las Vegas, which is restoring its golf course, is amazing and just 30 minutes from the Strip, and Boulder City is another great romantic place offering untraditional experiences,” Joni says.
The ability to create a wedding ceremony a la carte, from an almost unlimited supply of ceremony options, restaurants, party venues, and more puts Las Vegas ahead of the curve of any destination-wedding city. And while some people still associate weddings in Vegas as a flight of fancy or something out of the film “The Hangover,” the truth is the ceremonies, regardless of setting or length, are deeply serious undertakings. People often ask if weddings in Las Vegas are real, and the answer is, if a marriage license is secured and signed, the wedding is as real as one performed anywhere else.
The 73,000 weddings last year didn’t include all the renewals and commitment ceremonies that occur each year because they don’t require a license. However, according to Lynn, starting in 2019, those who wish to can obtain a certificate for those ceremonies from the Clark County clerk’s office, just like you would a marriage license.
With the ability to tailor a wedding to your wildest dreams, fangeek preferences, pop culture fascination, and everything in between, where does it end?
“It doesn’t,” Joni exclaims. “That’s why getting married here is so much fun.”