Last week, I looked at how to choose your wedding venue and what extras you should pay for. This week, I cover what happens after you’ve chosen your venue.
Even if the reviews are good, once you’ve decided on your venue I’d still recommend phoning to have a chat – this is your wedding day after all. I called Chapel of the Flowers to ask a bunch of questions and see how helpful the staff were. As it turned out, the answer was very helpful indeed. I’d scrutinised their wedding packages before phoning up so I already had an idea of what I wanted. Speaking to someone just gave me the reassurance that it was the right venue for us and confirmed we could amend the package to suit our needs. After I’d put the phone down I went online and booked everything through their website – it was really easy. The week before our wedding I decided I wanted to upgrade my flowers, so I dropped them an email and they sorted it for me without any problems.
Don’t worry about the time zone
Chances are if you’re reading this guide, you live in a completely different time zone to where you’re getting married. If this is the case – don’t panic. At first, I was concerned, but after the initial conversation with my wedding planner, I started to chill out. Panic emails and calls were met with calm and reassurance and the time difference I first thought could be an issue, didn’t matter in the slightest. As long as you can get your head around the fact that your email might not be answered for at least 24 hours, and you’re aware of the time difference when making phone calls – you should be fine.
Booking your flights
At the time, I think BMI only had a couple of flights a week going to Las Vegas. I checked with our travel agent which dates were available and then matched them up against our wedding venue. I provisionally booked our flights with the travel agent and then booked our venue later the same day.
If you’re flying from the UK, check out Virgin – I think they’re the main airline for flights into Las Vegas.
To get from McCarran airport to the strip, the two main options are either the shuttle bus or a taxi. We opted for a taxi, but if you do the same, make sure you tell the driver to avoid the freeway. The strip is easily accessible without taking this route, unfortunately, many taxi drivers take you the long way around so they can rack up the cab fare. We got stung with a $25 bill when in actual fact, our hotel was just around the corner.
9 years ago we needed a Visa to enter America, but currently, holidays and tourism fall under the visa waiver program; so no visa is necessary.
Where to stay
Most people these days’ head to Trip Advisor before booking accommodation and it was exactly the same 9 years ago. Just like when choosing our wedding venue, I hit the internet to do some research and was happy to discover that finding a hotel, was much easier than finding a chapel. We had no intention of doing any gambling, so this helped me to narrow down my search. At the time, there weren’t that many hotels without casinos, but just like with our wedding venue, I cross-referenced Trip Advisor with any other reviews I found. For us, this was a no-brainer. We wanted somewhere a bit spesh that didn’t have a casino – cue The Signature at MGM Grand. The towers were still fairly new at the time, probably only about a year old, but they had everything we needed: Starbucks, a gym, and a breakfast room. Although as we were staying in a junior suite with our own facilities, we probably only used the breakfast room once. The hotel was immaculate. It was also non-smoking which was an added bonus – seeing as everywhere else in Vegas smelt like a stale ashtray.
If like us, gambling isn’t on your agenda, check out this page for a list of hotels that don’t have casinos.
Being like the newlyweds in friends, who were always one step ahead of Chandler and Monica, we weren’t bothered about the stuff, so I didn’t say anything when booking our room about us getting married. But, if like Chandler and Monica you do need the stuff, most hotels have welcome packages available where champagne and flowers will be waiting for you upon arrival.
Choosing your wedding dress
This shouldn’t really need to be said, but when choosing a dress for a destination wedding, pick something lightweight and easily transportable. You also want something that won’t easily crease. Although if creasing does occur, hang it up in the bathroom and turn the shower up hot – the steam will help some of the bigger creases drop out.
I bought my dress from Virgin brides and luckily enough, they had a destination range specifically designed with travelling in mind. Unfortunately, the company closed its doors the same year I got married but there are plenty of designers who cater for this. My friend got married in New York and she bought her dress from the designers at Debenhams range.
Travelling with your wedding dress
My biggest concern was, ‘what if my dress ends up getting trashed because I have to shove it into an overhead locker?’ Flying to Vegas to get married was the first time I ever went on a plane. Back then I wasn’t that clued up on booking everything myself so we booked our flights, car hire and a couple of hotels through a travel agent and then I just booked the remaining hotels myself. We flew with BMI, and I’m so glad we booked our flights through an agent because they handled everything regarding transporting my dress. Ian was planning on carefully folding his suit into the overhead locker, but when we boarded the plane, even though it wasn’t requested, an attendant took Ian’s suit from him and hung it up alongside my dress. They were really helpful.
After leaving Vegas, we were driving to the Grand Canyon, Death Valley, Yosemite and then San Francisco. As we had a car, I just loosely folded my dress over in the carry bag and placed it on top of the cases in the boot then hung it up at each destination.
Travelling with my dress in a carry bag I had no issues boarding the plane or getting it stored. Although I have read stories about brides who get their dress packed neatly into a hand luggage case, by the shop where they bought it from. Other stories include brides buying a ticket for their dress. Yep, that’s right – they stump up the money for another seat so they can guarantee that nothing will happen to it.
The main thing here is, if you just turn up with a wedding dress, one of two things will probably happen: it’ll either get rammed into an overhead locker or you’ll end up having to put it in the hold. Eugh. Speak to the airline when booking your flight. Make them aware you’ll be boarding with a wedding dress and try to make arrangements for it to be hung up in the staff locker area.
Hair and make-up
Even though you’ll be thousands of miles away from home, I still recommend having a hair and make-up trial with someone local. If you’re not planning on doing either of these things yourself, I think it’s best to know what you want and turn up armed with photos, so your destination hair/make-up artist can see exactly what you’re after.
My local make-up artist was amazing. She spent a couple of hours doing a few different looks and then took photos for me so I could show them to the make-up artist in Las Vegas. I also booked in with my hairdresser so she could do the same thing with my hair.
All I can say is, I’m so glad I did. Not feeling confident enough to do my own hair and make-up without looking like a drag queen, I booked into the Christophe Salon in the MGM Grand. I made the appointment about a month before and then I called in two days before just to confirm it.
Unfortunately, my trip to the make-up artist didn’t start out great, but once I’d made it damn clear that my make-up was going to look like it did in the photos, it ended well. She wiped off her idea of how she thought my make-up should look and copied the make-up on the photos – putting everything right in Lorna land again. There’s a reason my brother’s nickname for me is Scary Lorna!
And even though the curls in my hair were a little looser than in my trial, I was happy with the result and it was waaaaaaay better than anything I could have done.
So, you’ve booked your venue and hotel, you’ve bought your wedding dress and figured out how your hair and make-up should look. Next week, in the last part in the series I’ll cover what happens once you’ve reached Sin City.