There must be something magical about Las Vegas for lovers, because a blushing couple ties the knot there every five minutes. In fact, a jaw-dropping one out of every 20 marriages in America happens in Las Vegas.
Scores of celebrity couples have exchanged vows in Sin City, from Elvis Presley and Priscilla Beaulieu to Sammy Davis Jr and Swedish model May Britt to Andre Agassi and Steffi Graf. Why not you and your intended, too?
After all, the 50-50 odds of a marriage surviving 'till death us do part' start to look pretty good in comparison to the chances of hitting a royal flush at the poker table. (You don’t have to be sober to get married in Vegas either – that helps some folks a lot.)
Choices for the perfect spot to say 'I do' are endless. Weddings are performed in gondolas at the Venetian or atop the Eiffel Tower at Paris Las Vegas. You can hire an Elvis impersonator to serenade you with 'Blue Hawaii', or you could dress up like Marilyn Monroe. Getting married after a dramatic helicopter landing on the floor of the Grand Canyon is also an option.
But to be truthful, the more Vegas wedding chapels you see, the less you may be inclined to entrust them with the happiest day of your life.
Many are pretty tacky: full of plastic flowers, fake stained-glass windows and doll’s-house pews. You may feel rushed, as these places crank out dozens of weddings every day. Expect to pay upwards of $200 for a basic service, including a chintzy limo ride to the chapel.
Before you get hitched at a wedding chapel, stop by the Clark County’s Marriage Bureau for a licence. Overseas visitors should check back home first if they’ll need any additional documentation to 'make it official'.
It’s the low licence fee that attracts a lot of couples, as well as the no-wait period and lack of blood-test requirements that are often advertised. The services themselves range from a ten-minute drive-through with a streaming internet simulcast to a big function at a megaresort (more than two dozen casino hotels have wedding chapels).
Valentine’s Day and New Year’s Day are crush times for Vegas wedding chapels; if you want to say your vows at peak times, apply for a licence online, up to a year in advance. Make wedding-chapel reservations as far in advance as possible, too. Otherwise, civil courthouse ceremonies are performed from 8am to 10pm daily.
Several shops around Las Vegas rent tuxedos and wedding gowns for the occasion; some casinos have high-end jewellery shops that stay open late, even 24 hours. Many day spas and beauty salons offer beauty treatments and up-dos for the brides, and there are even bakeries that sell same-day wedding cakes and fresh flowers.
However, you don’t have to elope to find romance in Sin City. Steal a kiss over mega martinis atop the Stratosphere Tower, clasp hands as you watch the Bellagio’s dancing fountains or hide out with your paramour in a deluxe suite all weekend. Room-service menus feature champagne, gourmet chocolate and X-rated goodies to spice up your love life.
This article was updated in February 2012.