Getting hitched is one of the most popular things to do in Las Vegas. Just ask Britney Spears. As she rather infamously revealed, it's all too easy to get married here. See that total stranger/childhood friend standing next to you? Grab him or her and head down to the Clark County Marriage License Bureau, 201 Clark Ave. (tel. 702/761-0600; daily, including holidays, 8am-midnight), to get your license. Find a wedding chapel (not hard, as there are about 50 of them in town; they line the north end of the Strip, and most hotels have them) and tie the knot. Just like that. No blood test, no waiting period -- heck, not even an awkward dating period. Though you may have a potentially very awkward time explaining it afterward to your mother, your manager, and the press.
Even if you have actually known your intended for some time, Las Vegas is a great place to get married. The ease is the primary attraction, but there are a number of other appealing reasons. You can have any kind of wedding you want, from a big, traditional production number to a small, intimate affair; from a spur-of-the-moment “just-the-happy-couple-in-blue-jeans” kind of thing to an “Elvis-in-a-pink-Cadillac-at-a-drive-thru-window” kind of thing (see the box “Vows with a Wow,” below). The wedding chapels take care of everything; usually they’ll even provide a limo to take you to the license bureau and back. Most offer all the accessories, from rings to flowers to a videotaped record of the event.
More than 100,000 couples who yearly take advantage of all this can’t be wrong. If you want to follow in the footsteps of Elvis and Priscilla (at the first incarnation of the Aladdin Hotel); Michael Jordan; Jon Bon Jovi; Richard Gere and Cindy Crawford; Pamela Anderson and ill-fated husband no. 3; Angelina Jolie and Billy Bob; and, of course, Britney and What’s-His-Name; you’ll want to peruse the following list of the most notable wedding chapels on or near the Strip.
You can also call Las Vegas Weddings (tel 800/322-8697; www.lasvegasweddings.com), which offers one-stop shopping for wedding services.
Weddings can be very inexpensive in Vegas: A license is $60 and a basic service not much more. Even a full-blown shebang package—photos, music, flowers, video, cake, and other doodads—will run only about $500 total. We haven’t quoted any prices here because the ultimate cost depends entirely on how much you want to spend. Go cheap, and the whole thing will set you back maybe $150, including the license; go elaborate, and the price is still reasonable by today’s wedding-price standards. Be sure to remember that there are often hidden charges, such as expected gratuities for the minister (about $25 should do; no real need to tip anyone else), and so forth. If you’re penny-pinching, you’ll want to keep those in mind.
Same-sex marriage is not legal in Nevada as of this writing but many chapels will perform commitment ceremonies. The best bet for gay and lesbian couples is to go with one of the facilities in the hotels as opposed to dealing with the smaller, independent shops.
Be aware that Valentine’s Day is a very popular day to get married in Vegas. Some of the chapels perform as many as 80 services on February 14. But remember, you also don’t have to plan ahead. Just show up, get your paperwork, close your eyes, and pick a chapel. And above all, have fun. Good luck and best wishes to you both.
An Elvis Impersonator's Top 10 Reasons to get married in Las Vegas
Jesse Garon has appeared in numerous Las Vegas productions as "Young Elvis." He arrives at any special event in a 1955 pink, neon-lit Cadillac, and does weddings, receptions, birthdays, conventions, grand openings, and so on. For all your Elvis impersonator needs, call tel. 702/588-8188, or visit his website at www.vegaselvis.com.
1. It's the only place in the world where Elvis will marry you, at a drive-up window, in a pink Cadillac -- 24 hours a day.
2. Chances are, you'll never forget your anniversary.
3. Where else can you treat all your guests to a wedding buffet for only 99¢ a head?
4. Four words: One helluva bachelor party.
5. On your wedding night, show your spouse that new "watch me disappear" act you learned from Siegfried & Roy.
6. Show your parents who's boss -- have your wedding your way.
7. Wedding bells ring for you everywhere you go. They just sound like slot machines.
8. You can throw dice instead of rice.
9. Easy to lie about age on the marriage certificate -- just like Joan Collins did!
10. With all the money you save, it's dice clocks for everyone!
Vows with a Wow
Simply getting married is not a big enough deal for some people. No, they can’t trust that the exchange of vows with the person they love will create memories that will last forever, they have to make sure it is truly memorable by throwing in a volcano, a giant fountain, or maybe even a roller coaster. If you are such a person, Las Vegas has plenty of places to put a little wow into your vows.
If you want to have the iconic dancing waters as a backdrop, you can get married on a balcony overlooking the Bellagio Fountains at Bellagio, 3600 Las Vegas Blvd. S. (tel 702/693-7700; www.bellagio.com/weddings). As you might expect, it ain’t cheap, but you can even time your “I do” to the fountains’ big climax.
An almost aerial view of the fountains is available across the street from the Eiffel Tower at Paris Las Vegas, 3655 Las Vegas Blvd. S. (tel 877/650-5021; www.parislv.com). You can get married on the observation deck at the top of the tower replica. Similar wow-worthy vistas are available at the world’s tallest observation wheel, High Roller, 3545 Las Vegas Blvd. S. (tel 800/CAESARS).
An even higher view is available at the top of the Stratosphere Las Vegas, 2000 Las Vegas Blvd. S. (tel 800/789-9436; www.chapelintheclouds.com). Their chapels overlook the entire city from more than 100 stories up, or you can get married on the indoor or outdoor observation decks. They even have packages that will include the thrill rides, so you can take the plunge both metaphorically and literally.
Adrenaline junkies can also join in holy matrimony while zooming along at nearly 70 mph on the Roller Coaster at New York-New York, 3790 Las Vegas Blvd. S. (tel 702/740-6616; www.newyorknewyork.com).
If you want to add a little fire to the festivities, try getting married in front of the volcano at The Mirage, 3400 Las Vegas Blvd. S. (tel 702/791-7155; www.mirage.com). You can have the ceremony during the day or at night when the thing is all lava-riffic.
Finally, several of the city’s most popular museums offer themed wedding packages with very interesting backdrops, including the Mob Museum and the Neon Museum.
Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.