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History of Las Vegas Weddings

Viva Las Vegas! In the city that never sleeps, millions of marriages have begun with two simple words: “I do.” Surrounding this promise is a whirlwind of Las Vegas wedding options: quaint wedding chapels, grand luxury hotels, well-kept golf clubs, local churches, spacious banquet halls, and even adventurous outdoor terrains, like Mount Charleston or The Valley of Fire. With an easy marriage license application process, plenty of hotel accommodations, affordable airfare, warm weather, and special discounts year-round, it’s no wonder Las Vegas, Nevada, is the wedding capital of the world.

History of Las Vegas weddings
Along with a reputation for hosting more than 1 in 20 marriages in the United States (footnote 1: PBS), Las Vegas is also known as the entertainment capital of the world. This aspect only adds to the enchanting appeal of this city for weddings. With glitz, glamour, and gaming, Las Vegas has gained a reputation as a location for couples to “tie the knot” on impulse.
While Las Vegas may be world-renowned for its midnight marriages that rarely last, this city is also home to weddings that require plenty of planning for a lifetime marriage commitment. As a destination wedding hot spot, engaged couples from around the globe may plan their Las Vegas weddings for weeks, months, or years in advance before they travel to be wed in the world’s wedding capital. Also, as home to 1,951,269 people (footnote 2: U.S. Census 2010), Las Vegas’ Clark County hosts thousands of weddings for locals as well. With a well-equipped wedding industry in place, Las Vegas offers local brides and grooms the latest wedding trends, expansive vendor selection, and high-quality bridal shows, all combined with the utmost customer service, to provide the start to a well-planned wedding.
Celebrity Weddings
Thanks to celebrity unions, Las Vegas continues to gain notoriety for its wedding accessibility. Notable famous couples married in Las Vegas include (footnote 3: Las Vegas Review-Journal): Rex Bell and Clara Bow in 1931, Paul Newman and Joanne Woodward in 1958, Cary Grant and Dyan Cannon in 1965, Frank Sinatra and Mia Farrow in 1966, Elvis Presley and Priscilla Anne Beaulieu in 1967, Michael Caine and Shakira Baksh in 1973, Jon Bon Jovi and Dorothea Hurley in 1989, Axl Rose and Erin Everly in 1990, Artis Ivey, Jr. (also known as rapper Coolio) and Josefa Salinas in 1996, Dennis Rodman and Carmen Electra in 1998, Andre Agassi and Steffi Graf in 2001, and Britney Spears and Jason Allen Alexander in 2004.
While some celebrity marriages lasted minutes and others are lasting lifetimes, the amount of celebrity weddings has certainly added to the glamorous appeal of Las Vegas weddings.
Las Vegas Wedding Venues
Las Vegas may be best known for popularizing the wedding chapel ceremony. With opportunities for drive-through vows, Elvis impersonators to officiate, and intimate settings for elopement, Las Vegas wedding chapels provide some of the biggest business to Las Vegas’ wedding industry. But these chapels aren’t the only places to be wed in this city.

Luxury Las Vegas weddings are also often planned by destination brides on The Las Vegas Strip in sophisticated hotels. Often organized by a hired wedding coordinator, these luxury weddings involve destination brides in intricate details and wedding day decisions. Whether the guest list is large or small, a Las Vegas luxury wedding offers all the commodities of a traditional wedding but with a more alluring location.
Much like chapel weddings, some hotel luxury weddings can become themed weddings. Many couples have embraced romance in the Italy-inspired The Venetian Hotel, Resort, and Casino, the Eiffel Tower look-a-like Paris Las Vegas, the medieval Excalibur, the pirate’s cove Treasure Island, and the Romanesque Caesar’s Palace. Or, for no wedding theme whatsoever, engaged couples may also be married in a civil service at the courthouse in downtown Las Vegas (footnote 4: Civil Marriage Commissioner).
For destination brides or Las Vegas locals who prefer an elegant wedding outside the Las Vegas Strip, Las Vegas wedding venues can also be found in plenty beyond Las Vegas Boulevard. Many Las Vegas brides and grooms choose to host their wedding ceremonies and receptions at golf course resorts, country clubs, churches, hotel and casino banquet halls, spacious restaurants, museums, gardens, state parks, and recreational areas. With such varied options available, Las Vegas lets brides and grooms find wedding locations that best fit their personalities and the tones of their Las Vegas weddings.
Marriage License
Las Vegas, Nevada, offers one of the easiest application processes to obtain a marriage license. Brides and grooms must appear together before a Clark County clerk at any approved Clark County Marriage License Bureau. They must: be joining in heterosexual marriage, be at least 18 years old, provide proof of name and age (such as a U.S. driver’s license or international passport), and, if applicable, know the date of past divorce decrees. Each marriage license costs $60 cash or $65 by credit card. Nevada has no waiting period, and no blood test is required (footnote 5: Clark County Marriage License).
Marriage Certificate
According to Las Vegas’ Clark County Clerk, exactly 1,223,646 marriage certificates have been ordered between 2000-2010 (footnote 6: Clark County Marriage Certificate). After a wedding has been performed and filed by an officiant, a bride and groom may order a copy of their marriage certificate.

Wedding Planning Checklist
Brides and grooms who are planning Las Vegas weddings should make sure they take care of all the essentials before they arrive at the altar.
The Essentials:
  • Marriage License
  • Bride and Groom
  • Officiant (officially approved through Clark County License)
For engaged couples who prefer to host more traditional weddings, a Las Vegas wedding planning checklist (footnote 7: Spectacular Bride) can provide a look into extra items their weddings may need.
The Extras:

Sources and External Links:
1. Public Broadcasting Service (PBS) statistics of marriages in Las Vegas in proportion to all United States weddings: http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/amex/lasvegas/sfeature/sf_weddingstories.html
2. Statistic of total Las Vegas population for United States Census Bureau 2010:
http://2010.census.gov/news/releases/operations/cb11-cn51.html
3. Las Vegas Review-Journal newspaper on Las Vegas celebrity weddings: http://www.reviewjournal.com/weddings/celebrity/
4. Clark County Clerk, Commissioner of Civil Marriages on civil marriages:  http://www.clarkcountynv.gov/depts/clerk/services/pages/civilmarriages.aspx
5. Clark County Clerk on Marriage License application: http://www.clarkcountynv.gov/Depts/clerk/Services/Pages/MarriageLicenses.aspx
6. Marriage Certificate Data derived from Clark County Recorder’s Index: https://recorder.co.clark.nv.us/OnCoreWebEcommerce/search.aspx?bd=1%2F1%2F2000&ed=1%2F31%2F2000&n=mar&bt=OR&d=3%2F9%2F2011&pt=-1&cnc=1&cn=1&dt=MC&st=documenttype&vbt=MC
7. Wedding Planning Checklist by Spectacular Bride: Your Essential Guide for Las Vegas Weddings, Vol. 21/No. 1, pages 162-165:
http://issuu.com/bridalspec/docs/jan_2011?viewMode=magazine&mode=embed
Author: Allyson Siwajian
Photo Credit: John Morris Photography (first image), Artistic Imaging (second image), Allyson Siwajian (charts)

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