The Las Vegas Wedding Experience

The Little White Wedding Chapel drive thru tun...
The Little White Wedding Chapel drive thru tunnel of vows located at coordinates 36.1554° -115.1494°, Las Vegas, Nevada, United States. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I love Las Vegas as a vacation spot. While I am there, I can’t turn off the wedding officiant brain . It may be weird but I like finding the wedding chapels and spotting brides.

Over 120,000 couples tie the knot per year in Las Vegas – that’s about the same as the yearly total for all of Ontario! As a portion of weddings in the United States, Las Vegas accounts for 5% of all registered weddings.

It wasn’t always the case. In 1911, the divorce laws in Nevada were liberalized to allow a divorce after 6 weeks of residency. This was to accommodate the short term residents of “Dude Ranches” which occupied the land which is now known as “The Strip“.  With the divorce of Ria Langham and Clark Gable in 1939, Las Vegas established a reputation as the “Divorce Capital of the World”.

The draw to tie-the-knot in Las Vegas began in the 1940’s. Where most states around the country required extended waiting periods and blood test to obtain a marriage license, Nevada required neither. The states lenient marriage laws created a new destination for couples in love get hitched. As Las Vegas’ demand for weddings grew, so did the demand for wedding chapels.

Las Vegas wedding chapels are mostly clustered around downtown and “The Strip”. City By-laws prohibit stand alone chapels along “The Strip” so most chapels there are in the casinos.

The Wee Kirk o’the Heather Wedding Chapel was the first chapel to open it’s doors in Las Vegas in 1940. Those doors are still open to this day, making the Wee Kirk chapel the oldest wedding chapel in Las Vegas. Other famous chapels include The Little White Chapel, Viva Las Vegas Wedding Chapel and Mon Bel Ami.

Old sign from Mon Bel Ami Wedding Chapel at the Neon Sign Museum Boneyard

Most chapels in casinos are coordinated to the hosting casino’s theme. For example, the wedding chapel at Excaliber is medieval themed.

Wherever brides and grooms are getting married, you can spot them walking through the casinos or on Fremont street for a photoshoot.

The locations for the weddings may be unique, but the reason for getting married is the same all over the world. It is because two people have fallen in love.

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