Ever since Benjamin “Bugsy” Siegel, “the man who invented Las Vegas” launched the iconic Flamingo Hotel & Casino back in 1946, celebrities and civilians alike have been flocking to sin city and its mystical surrounding desert to get hitched. Las Vegas weddings are as old as Las Vegas, itself.
From everlasting marriages like those of Grammy-award winning rock musician Jon Bon Jovi and his wife Dorothea and Live! With Kelly and Ryan talk show host Kelly Ripa and her husband Mark Consuelos; to tabloid-worthy fly-by-night marriages including the ill-fated unions of Pamela Anderson and Rick Solomon, Nicky Hilton and David Katzenberg, and Britney Spears and Jason Alexander, and Carmen Electra and Dennis Rodman; Las Vegas weddings continue to make headlines and raise eyebrows. Love them or hate them, Las Vegas weddings have remained both a cultural myth and mainstay.
Until very recently, famous venues like the Little White Wedding Chapel, the Graceland Wedding Chapel (for all of you Elvis fanatics) and even drive-through wedding chapels have been all the rage for the matrimonial version of the ultimate impulse buy. Southwestern Nevada continues to be one of the most popular wedding destinations in the world, with an estimated 120,000 couples saying “I Do” each year in and around Fabulous Las Vegas. That comes to 10,000 marriage ceremonies each month and more than 300 weddings a day.
Although Las Vegas elopements are not going anywhere, the way couples are going about it has gotten a significant upgrade. Las Vegas, Nevada has evolved into a prime destination wedding location to which couples descend from all over the world. People are even ditching old-school elopements in favor of the new “micro-wedding” trend; intimate destination weddings that include just a handful of loved ones in a romantic location.
Companies like Las Vegas destination wedding company, Cactus Collective Weddings, are creating what are now being dubbed “micro-weddings,” and bringing wedding ceremonies into Las Vegas’ drop dead gorgeous desserts, canyons and parks in lieu of the more garish Las Vegas Strip.
“Couples from all over the world are realizing that Las Vegas and its surrounding areas make for an ideal destination wedding experience,” says McKenzi Taylor, owner of Cactus-Collective.com. “Some of my clients want a more rustic, nature-based wedding experience and others seek something more adventure-based. Las Vegas can accommodate a variety of tastes.”
The city offers couples a big world of possibilities outside of casinos and Elvis impersonators. Rock climbing enthusiasts, tree huggers, plant and wildlife lovers and even those who enjoy the tranquility of being near a body of water can find their ideal wedding location among Las Vegas’ diverse terrain. “As an added bonus, our outdoor weddings in natural settings are eco-friendly and sustainable, so you can make a splendid affair while being kinder to the environment,” explains Mckenzi.
Natural southern Nevada locations with names like Valley of Fire, Red Rock Canyon, Cactus Joe’s Blue Diamond Nursery, Eldorado Canyon, Dry Lake Bed, Floyd Lamb Park and Red Rock Resort offer natural multi-million dollar three hundred and sixty degree views for couples, which require little to no made-made décor. “It’s a win-win,” states McKenzi Taylor. “Getting married outdoors in picturesque natural locations on the outskirts of Las Vegas makes for a stunningly romantic backdrop and creates less waste in the form of manufactured decorations.”
Taking full advantage of Las Vegas’ natural beauty also means saving money on an indoor venue and using less materials that make an impact on the environment.
More outside the box Las Vegas weddings also mean greater opportunities for couples to express their own creative wedding vision. From bursts of bold color to southwestern cowboy themes, leather and lace and adding fury friends to the guest list, Las Vegas still injects a rebellious and carefree spirit into wedding ceremonies.
In addition, to plenty of traditional couplings, Cactus Collective Wedding’s McKenzi Taylor is proud of the many same-sex marriages she has produced for many couples. “It’s a true celebration of marriage equality that I am proud to be a part of,” she says. “We’ve also seen our brides and grooms throwing away traditional bachelor/bachelorette and wedding party traditions in favor of more integrated choices.”
McKenzi’s company has seen plenty of combined, co-ed bachelor/bachelorette parties. She has also seen plenty of her brides opt for men in their wedding party as opposed to the standard bridesmaids; and grooms choosing close female friends to stand with them during the ceremony in lieu of a “best man.”
The Las Vegas micro-wedding is also ideal for those who are saying “I Do” for the second time, states McKenzi. “Many of my clients have already had their big wedding, and the second time around these couples want something more intimate. For fifty percent of our clients, it’s not their first wedding. Many of them will say, ‘Oh, I already had the big wedding. I want this one to be more about us.”
Another factor that draws couples to the Las Vegas dessert for their special day is the promise of taking their vows amidst million-dollar views, for affordable rates. “We’re seeing more and more couples in their thirties who are paying for their own weddings, and they’d rather spend the bulk of their savings on a home, as opposed to a big, splashy wedding. A natural setting offers a beauty and wonder that often surpasses any manufactured décor, and for a fraction of the cost.”
Las Vegas is easy to get to, and marriage licenses are simple to obtain in the state of Nevada, where the wedding license bureau is open until midnight most days of the week. Would-be newlyweds can pick up marriage licenses the day they want to get married or up to a year in advance.
People don’t have to entertain their guests when they do a destination wedding. There are plenty of options for people to explore and do their own thing, which leaves newlyweds without the added responsibility of being a travel agent and event planner for their guests.