How to Get Married in Las Vegas
Want an officiator that will dress as Darth Vader? A five-day, $500,000 extravaganza? You've come to the right place.
In 2015, more marriage licenses were issued in Clark County than in any other county in the U.S.—81,276, to be exact—thanks, in large part, to the enduring ease of the Vegas merger. In Las Vegas, there’s no waiting period required for a marriage license, and some chapels even offer pre-wedding transportation to and from the courthouse to get your paperwork. (Bonus: The courthouse is open seven days a week, from 8 a.m. to midnight.) And while the cost of a license went up last year, it only rose $14, to $77.
You can even follow up your nuptials with a Grand Slam breakfast—so long as you get married in the wedding chapel in the Denny’s on Fremont Street.
And while plenty of high-profile Vegas weddings have been short-lived (we give you Mia Farrow and Frank Sinatra, two years; Carmen Electra and Dennis Rodman, nine days; Britney Spears and Jason Alexander, 55 hours), a Sin City marriage isn’t synonymous with a post-honeymoon annulment. Consider Joanne Woodward and Paul Newman, 50 years until his death; Jon Bon Jovi and Dorothea Hurley, 27 years so far; and Kelly Ripa and Mark Consuelos, who got married 20 years ago in Chapel of the Bells—a star in its own right, with cameos in camp classics like Mars Attacks and Honeymoon in Vegas.
But as many chapels as there are—mostly in the Downtown area—that range from kitschy to outrageously tacky, there are also casinos and even a new event center that specialize in traditional, elegant weddings—and you won’t even have to traverse a floor full of slots on your way out of the chapel. Whether your engagement is only, ahem, hours long or you have ample time to plan, here are some venues and experts that can make the planning easy.
Marriage on a Whim
No one’s judging your exuberant, spur-of-the-moment decision here. After all, that $14 increase in license fees is anticipated to contribute more than a million additional wedding dollars to our economy. Drive down Las Vegas Boulevard and you can’t miss A Little White Wedding Chapel, whose sign reads “Joan Collins and Michael Jordan were married here” (presumably not to each other).
It’s famous for its 24-hour drive-thru wedding window, and the option to be married in a pink Cadillac under a starry sky painted with frolicking putti and inspirational sayings. In business since 1951, it’s a full-service wedding business that will outfit you and provide floral services, a DVD, and photography—all with virtually no notice so long as all five chapels aren’t booked.
A veritable wedding factory, Vegas Weddings has expanded from one venue to five on-site venues (including “The Fast Lane,” a walk up or drive thru wedding for $199), and multiple off-site locations, including Hawaiian garden weddings at the Hilton Garden Inn, a helicopter wedding in the Grand Canyon, and, for Pawn Plaza enthusiasts, a wedding next to television’s favorite pawn shop (swoon). Enhance the experience with an acoustic guitarist or an Elvis impersonator—or mini Elvis impersonator—who will both sing and officiate.
Speaking of Elvises, at least five of them share the duties at Graceland Wedding Chapel, whose packages range from a basic “Viva Las Vegas” package (Elvis escorts the bride down the aisle), to the more extravagant “Famous Dueling Elvis Package,” in which a gold-clad young Elvis and '70s jumpsuit older Elvis stage a sing-off on your special day. Bonus: We were able to reserve online—sort of like OpenTable—for a ceremony the next day.
Want something on short notice but without the impersonators? New venue IPEC (the International Peace Education Center) is a marble-clad super-center with grand staircases, a 10,000-square-foot ballroom, and 49 rooms to rent out. What's more, the venue's wedding planners can organize your bash within 48 hours.
Spur-of-the-Moment Wedding Resources
Dress and Tux: Many chapels have their own dresses and tuxes, for those who truly didn’t have the time to go shopping. However, if you want to pick out something that you don’t have to return immediately after the ceremony, consider the selection of bridal dresses at the Rent the Runway location at The Cosmopolitan by designers like Marchesa, Nicole Miller, and Badgley Mischka. Want to get dressed on the way to the chapel? Downtown institution Renta Dress and Tux prides itself on the ability to outfit bride and groom in under an hour.
Rings: Hit it big at the tables? Tiffany & Co. in The Shops at Crystals has a proposal balcony, so you can pick out a ring and propose in record time.
If You've Got Months to Plan
Despite the city’s reputation for the cheesy Elvis wedding, Las Vegas actually has incredibly beautiful wedding venues. Need an endorsement you can trust? How about Martha Stewart, whose niece tied the knot at Wynn Las Vegas. The whole thing was covered in her own Weddings magazine.
Wedding planners for the city’s more extravagant venues recommend planning about a year in advance. This is particularly true for elaborate nuptials like Wynn’s “Diamond Extravagance” package. For $500,000 (and very little effort on your part), you’ll get a five-day package that includes custom Cartier wedding bands, a first dance choreographed by performers from Le Réve—The Dream, a private party inside XS Nightclub, and a reception on the Margaux lawn overlooking Wynn’s golf course, and the use of one of the opulent ballrooms to host a further post-wedding party.
The marble Grand Staircase at the Four Seasons Las Vegas is one of the most in-demand locales for wedding photography, and an entire wedding team will coordinate everything from flowers to cake to passed hors d’oeuvres and open bar in one of its luxurious ballrooms.
The wedding chapels at Caesars Palace, meanwhile, will provide a coordinator, photographer, music, limo service to the Marriage License Bureau, and hair and makeup at Color Salon. The more unusual package can be found at Nobu Hotel, the boutique within Caesars. The San San Ku Do traditional Japanese joining of two families can get as involved as you want, including taking place inside the very desirable Nobu Penthouse, and, naturally, food provided by Nobu Matsuhisa’s team.
Wedding Resources for Those Who Plan Ahead
Dresses: Couture Bride’s appointment-only salon is one of the best sources for high-end bridal in Las Vegas, with dresses from Vera Wang, Simone Carvalli, and more. For truly custom pieces, Mina Olive in Tivoli Village designs each one-of-a-kind dress specifically for its wearer—and planning and sourcing the rare French laces and other fabrics can take months. The
Tux: Go custom with suiting made by a master tailor at Stitched in the Cosmopolitan.
Rings: From Graff and Cartier to Van Cleef and Arpels, options for wedding jewelry abound. But Las Vegas’ secret to fabulous custom jewelry is in an unassuming store in an industrial area called The Jewelers, where Mordechai Yerushalmi has been sourcing and designing the most fabulous jewels for the likes of Elvis Presley, Larry Holmes, Robert De Niro, and Floyd Mayweather (whose commissions have run well into the tens of millions), since 1976.
The cake: Want something truly special? The best hotels have their own incredible pastry chefs, but if you want a little star wattage on your plate, you can consult with the Cake Boss himself at Carlo’s Bakery at the Venetian.