But if you’re ready to get stuck in – congratulations, you’ve done all the hard work! The planning is over. You’ve landed in Las Vegas and booked into your hotel – apart from grabbing yourself a tequila, what happens next?
To apply for a marriage license in Las Vegas, you’ll need to show up in person at the Clark County Marriage Bureau with appropriate I.D – I think we used our passports and driver’s license. This is where hiring a driver comes in handy because they know the best time to visit. During the day waiting can sometimes be a couple of hours, but our driver took us at 8 pm and we walked straight in. A few hours earlier people were queuing around the block. Even if you don’t have a driver, you can speed up the process by filling out the necessary forms before you arrive. Just visit the Clark County website to print them off.
It’s standard to be given a marriage certificate after the wedding, with the option of ordering extra certified copies from the Clark County office. I ordered a few certified copies before leaving the States purely for my change of name purposes back home. I knew I wouldn’t want to send off my original certificate, so I needed something to keep my bank etc. happy. Also, ordering them before leaving the country meant the postage was cheaper.
Paying for a driver from the chapel to take us for our license was well worth the money, and if it’s available at your venue, I highly recommend it. Our driver was amazing. After we’d been for our license he took us to a mini-mart so we could get some shopping, then gave us a night-time tour of the strip. He and his wife were a blast. Cruising along the strip in a gold RV we couldn’t have got more Vegas if we’d tried, and it turned out he was also our limo driver on the day of our wedding. Extremely knowledgeable of the area, drivers are one of the best people to ask for information on where to shop, eat, and visit etc.
We paid $66 for our marriage license, but as of October 2016, the price is $77.
On the day
When my (then) best friend got married, we both stayed at her parent’s house the night before the wedding and did the very English thing of go out for one last night of freedom. We went to the local pub and had a couple of beers before heading home to get some much-needed beauty sleep. On the morning of the wedding, I helped calm her nerves along with other family members who were also present in the house, and her dad poured bucks fizz for everyone.
When Ian and I got married, the situation couldn’t have been more different. Waking up on the morning of the wedding was a bit surreal – it was just the two of us. We had breakfast, went downstairs to the gym for a run, grabbed a Starbucks then got showered and ready. Ian accompanied me to the salon while I got my hair and make-up done, then we headed back up to the room to change into our wedding gear. It felt a bit like getting ready for a reeeeaaallly fancy night out, but you know, at 11 o’clock in the morning.
I remember getting into my dress, taking a deep breath and then walking out of the bathroom. Ian was waiting for me outside the door and the look on his face is something I’ll never forget. My only disappointment was that I had to ask him to zip up the back of my dress. I really wanted to make an entrance, but in reality, I came out clutching my dress so it wouldn’t fall down!
Reception called up to inform us our limo had arrived, and we made our way downstairs to the lobby where people oohed and aahed as we walked towards the car. It all felt a bit random. It was only after we’d been in the limo for a couple of minutes that it all started to sink in. I turned to Ian and said ‘Shit! We’re getting married’, ‘I know!’ he replied, and we both burst out laughing.
Vegas is the City that never sleeps, or is that New York? I can never remember. Either way, Las Vegas really doesn’t sleep; you can eat, drink, dance, catch a show, go for a run, take a gondola ride, or go shopping – to name but a few. You can spend the morning of your wedding doing whatever you please. This is Vegas baby! While we chose to hit the gym and go for a run, I’m pretty sure there are many, many, many, weddings that start off with tequila slammers in the wee small hours and continue…. into the wee small hours.
At the Chapel
Each venue might do things a little differently, but when we arrived at the chapel we were greeted by our wedding coordinator who had our flowers and button hole waiting for us. She explained what was going to happen and when we were ready, we walked towards the gazebo together with our song playing in the background.
Present at our ceremony was a Minister, a photographer and a videographer – the photographer and videographer also acted as our witnesses. This is standard practice when getting married in Las Vegas as there aren’t always guests present at the ceremony.
Once the ceremony and the photos were complete, we were taken into a small room where the Minister presented us with our marriage certificate. We were then handed an envelope in which to leave gratuities for the Minister, photographer, and limo driver. Our Minister handed us the envelope and then left the room, although I have heard stories of staff staying in the room, which I imagine could be quite uncomfortable. You can find the suggested fees here. Apart from the G-bomb, we were very happy with everything so we coughed up the suggested amounts at the time.
Photography on the strip
Although we had photos taken within the grounds of the chapel, we paid extra for an hour of off-site photography too. Even if you don’t use the photographer from your venue, I recommend hiring a local photographer so you don’t miss out on the experience of having a photoshoot on the strip. My favourite location was the ‘Welcome to Las Vegas’ sign which was great fun. We had cars honking at us as they drove past and people clapping and cheering as we posed underneath the sign. Other popular locations include the fountains at The Bellagio (unfortunately, they were switched off the day we got married), and the terrace at The Bellagio – if you don’t get thrown off the premises that is!
Unfortunately, if we’d have paid extra to keep our driver, he would have had to leave us at the last photo location instead of dropping us back at the hotel. This wasn’t convenient for us, so once our ceremony was over and we’d had the tour of the strip, our driver dropped us back at our hotel where I’d booked another limo company to pick us up for our off-site photography.
Check with your venue what their arrangement is for off-site photos.
Viewing your photos
Depending on your venue, you’ll either get to view your photos the next day or a few days later. We viewed ours the next day, and I’d just like to say we were very impressed by the fact we weren’t given the hard sell. We sat down to view our images and our video, all the time waiting to be sold to – but it never came. We’d already paid to have our video and all of our photos on a disc with no intention of buying anything else, but once we saw our photos presented in a fancy pants slideshow, we decided we had to have it: ‘How much? How much?’ we begged. The reply? ‘Oh, you can do that yourself at home much cheaper. You just need some basic photo editing software’. Ha! When we returned home, Ian made us a fancy pants slideshow of all our photos.
Happily ever after
And that’s it. I’m not saying for one second this is how you should go about booking your wedding – this is all based on my own experience and what worked for us. I just hope that if you are looking to get married in Las Vegas, you can pull a few gold nuggets from this series of posts.
I had so much fun planning our wedding, and to be honest, apart from booking the hairdressers about a month before, everything else was booked roughly 6 months in advance. The venue, flights, and accommodation were all locked down and our wedding outfits were also sorted months before. All I had to do nearer the time was go for my dress fittings and alterations. I’m not saying it was stress-free, but it was probably a hell of a lot less stressful than organising a traditional wedding for 100 guests and it was a lot cheaper too. Also, once the ceremony was over, BOOM, we were on our honeymoon (or wedding moon as we like to call the whole shebang)!
Looking back, Would I do anything different?
To be honest, there’s not much I would change. Aside from some of our photographs, we were both really happy with our ceremony and the service we received from Chapel of the Flowers. Given the option to do things a little different, I would definitely spend time looking for a local photographer to do our photos on the strip, and if possible, see if I could bring in our chosen photographer to shoot our wedding too. Even though I’m no longer a wedding photographer, I still understand the importance of good wedding photography. After your flowers have died and your dress has been stored away in a cupboard, the photos will always be there as a visual reminder of your special day.
I would also do more research into local hairdressers and make-up artists. Although everything worked out in the end, I didn’t actually find the staff at Christophe Salon particularly friendly, I found them a little aloof, to be honest. I think booking an independent hair and make-up artist to come up to the room would have been better.
The last thing I would do differently is book all the accommodation myself, direct with the hotels instead of using a travel agent. While they were very good at arranging the transportation of my wedding dress, there was a problem with a hotel that would have been avoided if I’d have booked it myself, and how they dealt with the mistake afterwards was infuriating. This is the reason I’ve never used a travel agent since, and so far, everything has worked out exactly as it should.
So there you go, looking back, there are only three things I would do differently – that’s pretty good going I think.
A few words for the groom
Once we’d discussed the places we wanted to visit I was left to my own devices to arrange everything. I just quickly ran the itinerary past Ian just to make sure I hadn’t missed anything. Although this is my take on planning our weddingmoon, Ian wanted to add his bit for any grooms out there. Basically, it goes like this: “Say yes to most things, question a couple of things and then agree to those too. Buy your suit, get on the plane, turn up in Vegas and then look on in amazement at what the wonderful woman in your life has arranged!”.
Good luck with your Vegas wedding – you’ll have a blast!