Planning My Las Vegas Wedding

    I'm not your typical bride: glittery-eyed, with dreams of a big, glamorous wedding. Parties aren't my thing and ogling crowds freak me out. I have no qualms with traditional, dreamy weddings, but that isn't in the cards for me. Vegas is more my style. And a Las Vegas wedding is what my husband and I had.
    We're not alone. Clark County, Nevada has issued over 100,000 marriage licenses annually since 1995, earning the city a reputation as marriage capital of the world. Consequently, you can easily plan any size wedding in Las Vegas. Here is my list of tips to help make your version of a Vegas dream wedding happen:
    The Ceremony.
    Whatever your dream, chances are you can find it in Las Vegas. Options range from a bare-bones $50 civil ceremony at the courthouse to a $19,000+ posh ceremony at the Wynn (NOT including the reception,). If you want a themed wedding, Elvis, Captain Kirk, Liberace, James Bond, and others are eager to please. Always dreamed of a Gothic or Egyptian wedding? They have got it covered in Vegas.
    The Marriage License.
    Nevada does not require blood tests or waiting periods. To get a marriage license, simply present adequate documents, paperwork and payment at the marriage license bureau. When Tim and I were married, official proof of identity was not required. Beginning January 1, 2008, however, you must provide an official form of identification (drivers license, passport, etc.) to prove you are you. The Clark County, Nevada official Website has all the details (
    Chapels fall into two categories: stand-alone and hotel chapels. To narrow your options, start by searching the chapel database at visitlasvegas or request a visitor information packet, which includes a wedding booklet. Then visit each chapel's Website, where most have photos and package details. If cost is an issue, consider a weekday ceremony, which is generally lower priced than weekends.
    The Reception.
    Many Las Vegas hotels house wedding chapels and have on-site reception venues and catering available, making it easy to jointly plan a ceremony and reception. Once you have a short list of preferred chapels, discuss reception options with consultants from each before making a final decision.
    Wedding Attire.
    Dress depends on you. Blue jeans and t-shirts, costumes, traditional wedding attire, and couture are all options. Vegas has several shopping malls -- with nearly every department store represented -- as well as boutiques, where you can purchase or rent gowns and tuxedos. We rented a suit for Tim and I brought my own dress (bought on sale at Dillards before we left St. Louis). If you are looking to buy, take a look at the shopping section on
    Hair, Makeup, and Nails.
    Like everything wedding related in Las Vegas, beauty options abound. Schedule someone to come to your room, book time at one of the multitude of spas, or go to a salon. My hair, makeup, and nails were done at an independent salon recommended by our chapel. The salon owner provided curb service -- picking me up for my appointment and returning me to the hotel afterwards. Meanwhile, Tim got a manicure at the hotel's spa. You can ask for recommendations like I did, or Google Las Vegas hair and makeup to find options.
    What happens when you run off to Vegas but your family had ideas of actually attending a wedding (besides a general sense of annoyance on their part)? They can attend virtually through a Webcast. Little Chapel of the Flowers (where Tim and I were married) was one of the few chapels with Webcasts in 2005, but they are increasingly common. My family in St. Louis got a chat room so they could all watch the ceremony together, each from their own homes! Pretty cool.
    Everything else.
    The consultant provided by your chapel can generally help with flowers, cake, photography, and anything else you can imagine. They are often part of the package, but can also be arranged a la carte. If you'd rather choose your own vendors, have a look at one of the official Vegas Websites I mentioned earlier or do a Google search for the term (together with "Las Vegas"), and you will uncover many options.
    You are expected to tip anyone who makes your day wonderful -- the officiant, wedding coordinator, photographer, chauffeur, impersonator, videographer, salon service providers, etc. Our chapel had specific suggestions for each, as did some of the service providers.
    If you are thinking of going the Vegas route, I say DO IT and live your own unique version of a perfect wedding.

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