Getting Married in Las Vegas

Getting hitched is one of the most popular things to do in Las Vegas. Just ask Britney Spears. As she rather infamously revealed, it's all too easy to get married here. See that total stranger/childhood friend standing next to you? Grab him or her and head down to the Clark County Marriage License Bureau, 201 Clark Ave. (tel. 702/761-0600; daily, including holidays, 8am-midnight), to get your license. Find a wedding chapel (not hard, as there are about 50 of them in town; they line the north end of the Strip, and most hotels have them) and tie the knot. Just like that. No blood test, no waiting period -- heck, not even an awkward dating period. Though a potentially very awkward time explaining it afterward to your mother, your manager, and the press.
Even if you have actually known your intended for some time, Las Vegas is a great place to get married. The ease is the primary attraction, but there are a number of other appealing reasons. You can have any kind of wedding you want, from a big, traditional production number to a small, intimate affair; from a spur-of-the-moment "just-the-happy-couple-in-blue-jeans" kind of thing to an "Elvis-in-a-pink-Cadillac-at-a-drive-through-window" kind of thing. The wedding chapels take care of everything; usually they'll even provide a limo to take you to the license bureau and back. Most offer all the accessories, from rings to flowers to a videotaped record of the event.
We personally know several very happy couples who opted for the Vegas route. Motivations differed, with the ease factor heading the list (though the Vegas-ness of the whole thing came in a close second), but one and all reported having great fun. Is there a more romantic way to start off your life together than in gales of laughter?
In any event, the more than 100,000 couples who yearly take advantage of all this can't be wrong. If you want to follow in the footsteps of Elvis and Priscilla (at the first incarnation of the Aladdin Hotel), Michael Jordan, Jon Bon Jovi, Richard Gere and Cindy Crawford, Pamela Anderson and ill-fated husband no. 3, Angelina Jolie and Billy Bob, and, of course, Britney and What's-His-Name, you'll want to peruse the list of the most notable wedding chapels on or near the Strip. There are many more in town, and almost all the major hotels offer chapels as well; though the latter are cleaner and less tacky than some of the Strip chapels, they do tend to be without any personality at all. One exception might be the chapel at the Excalibur Hotel, where you can dress in medieval costumes, and the lovely chapel at Bellagio, which has personal wedding coordinators and a high level of customer service, holding only 8 to 10 weddings a day -- seems like a lot, but it's nothing compared to the volume on the Strip.
With regard to decor, there isn't a radical difference between the major places -- hence, no star ratings here -- though some are decidedly spiffier and less sad than others. Attitude certainly makes a difference with several and varies radically, depending on who's working at any given time. Given how important your wedding is -- or should be -- we encourage you to give yourself time to comparison-shop and spurn anyone who doesn't seem eager enough for your business.
You can also call Las Vegas Weddings (tel. 800/488-6283;, which offers one-stop shopping for wedding services. They'll find a chapel or outdoor garden that suits your taste (not to mention such only-in-Vegas venues as the former mansions of Elvis Presley and Liberace); book you into a hotel for the honeymoon; arrange the ceremony; and provide flowers, a photographer (and/or videographer), a wedding cake, a limo, car rental, music, champagne, balloons, and a garter for the bride. Theme weddings are a specialty. They even have a New Age minister on call who can perform a Native American ceremony. And yes, you can get married by an Elvis impersonator. Las Vegas Weddings can also arrange your honeymoon stay, complete with sightseeing tours, show tickets, and meals.
Weddings can be very inexpensive in Vegas: A license is $55 and a basic service not much more. Even a full-blown shebang package -- photos, music, some flowers, video, cake, and other doodads -- will run only about $500 total. We haven't quoted any prices here because the ultimate cost depends entirely on how much you want to spend. Go cheap, and the whole thing will set you back maybe $100, including the license (maybe even somewhat less); go elaborate, and the price is still reasonable by today's wedding-price standards. Be sure to remember that there are often hidden charges, such as expected gratuities for the minister (about $25 should do; no real need to tip anyone else), and so forth. If you're penny-pinching, you'll want to keep those in mind.
Be aware that Valentine's Day is a very popular day to get married in Vegas. Some of the chapels perform as many as 80 services on February 14. But remember, you also don't have to plan ahead. Just show up, get your paperwork, close your eyes, and pick a chapel. And above all, have fun. Good luck and best wishes to you both.
Note: When we describe the chapels and say "flowers," don't think fresh (unless it's part of a description of services provided); the permanent decorations are artificial, of varying levels of quality, though usually well dusted.
An Elvis Impersonator's Top 10 Reasons to Get Married in Las Vegas
Jesse Garon has appeared in numerous Las Vegas productions as "Young Elvis." He arrives at any special event in a 1955 pink, neon-lit Cadillac, and does weddings, receptions, birthdays, conventions, grand openings, and so on. For all your Elvis impersonator needs, call tel. 702/588-8188, or visit his website at
1. It's the only place in the world where Elvis will marry you, at a drive-up window, in a pink Cadillac -- 24 hours a day.
2. Chances are, you'll never forget your anniversary.
3. Where else can you treat all your guests to a wedding buffet for only 99¢ a head?
4. Four words: One helluva bachelor party.
5. On your wedding night, show your spouse that new "watch me disappear" act you learned from Siegfried & Roy.
6. Show your parents who's boss -- have your wedding your way.
7. Wedding bells ring for you everywhere you go. They just sound like slot machines.
8. You can throw dice instead of rice.
9. Easy to lie about age on the marriage certificate -- just like Joan Collins did!
10. With all the money you save, it's dice clocks for everyone!