If it was good enough for Elvis and Priscilla, Billy Bob and Angelina, Britney and Jason…well then, it’s good enough for the rest of us. What’s that I hear you say? None of those marriages were particularly successful? Ok, so one-in-two marriages mightn’t make it until the end, but those 50:50 odds are still a lot better than you’ll find in any casino, and nobody thinks you’re dumb for spinning the roulette wheel or going for a flush on a poker machine.
It’s easy to get hitched in Vegas, but it’s not that easy. You can’t just roll up with a belly full of tequila and marry someone you’ve only met for the first time three hours earlier. All Vegas weddings need a marriage license, and to get one (costing from $60) you’ll have to apply 24 hours ahead of time at the Clark County Marriage License Bureau (clarkcountynv.gov/Depts/clerk/Services/Pages/MarriageLicenses.aspx) – which can get pretty busy at weekends and during holidays. Also, despite Sin City’s reputation for lax morals, it’s pretty traditional when it comes to eligibility: you have to be 18; your spouse can’t be “nearer of kin than second cousins or cousins of half-blood”; and you can’t already be married to someone else who’s still alive.
So, now that you’ve determined you’re of age and don’t plan to marry your sibling, you’re free to take the plunge…but the question is where?
Las Vegas’ most famous hitching post is the Graceland Wedding Chapel (619 S Las Vegas Blvd; gracelandchapel.com), where, from around $200, an Elvis impersonator will tie the knot and break into a chorus of Love Me Tender (or something equally suited to the occasion). They also offer – for an extra charge - fresh or silk flowers, a photographer/videographer to immortalise the beautiful moment and even the option of a live internet feed, so that Aunt Peg and Uncle Michael in Brentford, who couldn’t make the wedding because nobody told them about it, can share in the joy from the comfort of their sitting room.
These add-ons are pretty standard nowadays in most of Vegas’ wedding venues, plus a whole lot of others, including limo service to and from your hotel, wedding rings and – because it’s Vegas – a candid photo shoot of the bride and groom for that ‘special’ wedding album.
The All-Inclusive VIP package at the Little Church of the West (4617 S Las Vegas Blvd; littlechurchlv.com), a wooden chapel built in 1942 that featured in Viva Las Vegas, will cost around $3000, but you can get a basic ceremony for around $200.
What they don’t offer is a live feed, but you can also get that at the Viva Las Vegas Wedding Chapel (1205 S Las Vegas Blvd; vivalasvegasweddings.com), which offers the choice of a traditional or themed wedding: you can opt to ride down the aisle on a Harley Davidson to get married by a biker dude (or dudette); say ‘I do’ while wearing a gladiator costume including a sword and shield; or exchange rings in a graveyard setting. This is Vegas, baby – where you can get pretty much anything you want.
If you’re in a hurry, you can get married in a drive-thru chapel like Vegas Weddings (555 S 3rd St; 702wedding.com), a cathedral-style chapel that also does more traditional sit-down weddings as well as outdoor weddings in beautiful settings like Lake Mead or the Valley of Fire State Park, about 60 miles northeast of the Strip.
Finally, if you want a no-fuss, no-nonsense wedding, you can book a slot at the county’s Office of Civil Marriages (330 S 3rd St), which is all well and good, but what’s the point of a Vegas wedding without a little Vegas schmaltz? I know that if I was to get married in Vegas I’d go for an Elvis-themed ceremony so that as we were exiting the chapel the celebrant will say, “Elvis has left the building.”
Our Spin Fionn Davenport is an experienced travel writer who's written for Lonely Planet for more than 20 years. He loves Las Vegas in all its gory glory, but subscribes to a simple formula: treat a stay here like you would a course of antibiotics; anymore than three days and you might have to consult your doctor.