No book on far and away weddings would be complete without at least a brief look at the wedding capital of the world: Las Vegas. In 1931, both gambling and easy marriage became legal and the place hasn't been the same since. Celebrities and non-celebrities alike have flocked here to tie the knot. Recent star nuptials have included such luminaries as Bruce Willis, Axl Rose, and Joan Collins.
As you might expect, getting a marriage license in Vegas is as easy as dropping $20 into a slot machine. Both the bride and groom must apply in person at the Clark County Marriage License Bureau (702-455-3156 or 702-455-4415) at 200 South 3rd Street. The bureau is open Monday through Thursday from 8 am to midnight and continuously from Friday at 8 am to midnight Sunday. There is no blood test required and you just bring a driver's license as identification. The license costs $40 (cash only, no poker chips). There is no waiting period.
Best Time to Go
We actually visited Vegas once in June and can report that it was DAMN HOT. And forget all that stuff about it being "a dry heat." That's bull. When it gets to 110 degrees, it doesn't matter what the humidity is. Consequentiy, the busy seasons in Vegas are in spring and fall. The Christmas/New Year's week can also be incredibly crowded. Winters can be downright cold, with strong winds adding to the misery.
Costs, Accommodations, and Getting Around
The three most popular chapels are Little White Chapel (702-382-5943 or 800-545-8111), Candlelight Wedding Chapel (702-735-4179), and Little Church of the West (702-739-7971). Most chapels charge about $50 to rent and request a "donation" for the minister of at least $40. Almost all take credit cards.
Airlines often have pretty cheap fares to Las Vegas; Southwest Airlines is usually the cheapest. Most hotels are also fairly inexpensive ($50 to $100 per night). The sheer variety of places to stay can boggle the mind. From the fancy Mirage with its white tiger displays and exploding volcanoes to the schmaltzy Circus Circus, Vegas must have more hotel rooms than most third-world countries.
Food is incredibly cheap, as is the booze—the casinos use cheap eats to bait you into gambling. We recommend staying away from the ultra-cheap buffets where most food items are unrecognizable, thanks to a coating of yellow fake cheese sauce.
Do you need a rental car? Probably not. Several shuttle services run from the airport to the casinos. Buses run up and down the strip at frequent intervals.
Even if you want to take an excursion outside of Vegas, many companies offer bus tours to Hoover Dam and Lake Mead that will save you the expense of renting a car.
What Makes it Special
Are you kidding? This is Vegas. Where else in America can you get married by a bad Elvis impersonator crooning an equally bad "Love Me Tender"?
In the age of Pat Robertson and Jerry Falwell, it's comforting to know that a place as sleazy, noisy, and obnoxious as Las Vegas still exists.
On the other hand, Vegas has been trying to clean up its image lately to appeal more to the "family values" crowd. Hence, an indoor amusement park just opened on the strip and casinos are offering more "kid-friendly" shows and concerts. Who knows, maybe Barney (that darn purple dinosaur) may replace the nude dance reviews some day? Nah.