Las Vegas Weddings and Vows Renewals

A Brief History of the City of Las Vegas.

Las Vegas is a City of Lights and has been since the first neon sign went up on Fremont Street in 1925. Today, the iconic beam emanating from the Luxor alone cost about $50 an our to pierce the night sky.

In 1829, Spanish explorer Antonio Armijo and his party, blazing what would become the Old Spanish Trail, found water in the desert a few hundred mile Northeast of the present-day city and named the land “The Meadows.” In Spanish that name is Las Vegas.

Nevada became the 36th state in the Union on 31st October, 1864, but Las Vegas remained a dusty stop on the trail until the transcontinental railroad turned the town into a repair and watering station.

Until the Great Depression started in 1929, Las Vegas existed as a railroad town, then in 1931, three events changed its future: Construction of the Hoover Dam, the advent of the 6 week divorce law and the legalisation of casino gambling.

At the end of World War 2, gangsters used Vegas Casinos to launder money from their criminal activities, building in the process, a premier entertainment and gambling destination, albeit one with shandy links to the underworld.

Thanks to the influence of the eccentric, reclusive billionaire Howard Hughes, all that changed in the 60’s. He became the state’s largest private employer and owner of casinos property and mining claims.

Las Vegas – Wedding Capital of the Country.

In the 1930s, Nevada relaxed marriage laws making it the easiest state in the country to get married. Nevada enticed movie stars to make the trek from Hollywood to take advantage of a simple, discrete ceremony out of the limelight.

World War 2 – Wartime romances and weddings.

The shadow of war had young couples from around the nation rushing to the altar to marry before being drafted during World War II. In 1942, 1.8 million weddings took place around the U.S., with 20,000 of those weddings taking place in Clark County, a 145% increase over the previous year.

Dedicated chapels like the The Hitching Post and Wee Kirk o’ the Heather were also born from this. The renowned Little Church of the West opened in 1942, becoming the first free-standing chapel on the Strip, and is listed in the National Register of Historic Places.

A Little White Chapel, another iconic chapel known for the introduction of the drive-thru wedding, has been the altar for numerous celebrity weddings in addition to being featured on many television shows.

The Weddings Boom

In 1965 Vegas was fresh, young, new, sexy, and inspired. Las Vegas understood that couples were ready to blend the old with the new when it came to getting married.

Many couples wanted something between an elopement at the local county courthouse and the elaborately staged production of traditional marriage.

The stand-alone chapel provided an intimate, traditional setting for a wedding ceremony without all of the fuss. Couples could grab their license at the Clark County Marriage License Bureau, make a quick stop at the chapel, then run to the Strip to celebrate their vows. The ‘quickie wedding’ became a Las Vegas signature.

From Official Site of the Office of the Clark County Clerk, Nevada

“In 1965, President Lyndon B. Johnson by executive order eliminated the draft deferment for childless men married after August 26, 1965. Couples flocked to Las Vegas to avoid the draft.

As the midnight deadline approached, the Marriage License Bureau was bombarded with couples trying to marry. “I came back to the office from performing a ceremony at the Dunes at around 9:30 p.m., and it was packed,” said Justice of the Peace James Brennan, who was on call that night. “I knew they had a mission to get married before midnight.” Justice Brennan performed 57 weddings before midnight that night, cutting words from the ceremony, grouping couples together, and eventually hung a typewriter cover over the clocks at 11:45 p.m., so that the clock never struck midnight. He continued his services into the early hours of the next morning, ensuring every couple he saw was married that night, no matter what.”

By 1972, more than six million visitors came to Las Vegas and they just kept coming. By the mid-‘80s, over 15 million people visited Las Vegas, which translated to a hugh demand for Las Vegas weddings.

In 1995, over 100,000 couples said their “I do’s” in the city.

Behind the scenes, the resorts were soliciting celebrities to get married in Las Vegas, plying them with free services and hospitality. Non-celebrities were also courted by wedding chapels and resorts who took pictures of each newlywed, sending them to the couple’s local newspaper for their announcement section.

Wedding tourism is one of the most enduring economic engines for Las Vegas, generating approximately $2 billion per year in economic activity, annually. Approximately 18,000 people depend upon wedding tourism for their livelihood. Hundreds of small businesses cater to wedding couples across the city and 50 dollars from every marriage license issued funds the state’s Domestic Violence Prevention programs.

This lady has conducted over 21,000 weddings here in Las Vegas.

In 2019, 80 percent of marriage licenses issued in Las Vegas were to tourists, and of that 80 percent, over 20 percent were to international guests.

In 2004, more than 128,000 licenses were issued with 2,000 weddings on Valentine’s Day alone, with another 1,000-plus weddings performed on April 4, as couples duly snatched 4/4/4 for their wedding date.

Today, there are more than 75 chapels in Clark County, not including the dozens of chapels in the Las Vegas resorts or the hundreds of additional indoor and outdoor venues available scattered throughout the county.

In a town known for being over the top, Las Vegas is home to a varied selection of chapels that will accommodate any taste, budget or couple.

From traditional ceremonies to the unique and different, Las Vegas chapels offer one-of-a-kind packages, that are all-inclusive, affordable, and provide couples a smooth and relaxed experience when planning their wedding.

The easing of the marriage license process has changed the way Wedding Ceremonies and Vow Renewal Ceremonies are planned and made it possible for couples to marry any way they wanted.

Las Vegas embraces the LGBTQ+ community from all around the world. Since same-sex marriages became legal nationwide in October 2014, Clark County has issued more than 30,000 same-sex marriage licenses, celebrating key milestones along the way.

It has certainly opened my eyes to the different possibilities and I will be talking about some of those possibilities in future blogs.

Please feel free to contact me to have a chat about any kind of ceremony.

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