Sunday, June 23, 2024

Las Vegas has long been a stage where reality dissolves into fantasy. In the heart of the desert — a place where the Eiffel Tower, Egyptian pyramids, and medieval castles all beam on one glamorous strip — the entertainment is virtually unlimited. It’s no wonder, then, that a city built on the promise of pleasure and escape has remained a popular destination for weddings.

According to the clerk of Clark County, Nev., about 80,000 couples exchanged wedding vows in Las Vegas in 2022, including some celebrities: Kourtney Kardashian and Travis Barker, and Jennifer Lopez and Ben Affleck. Clark County also issued its five millionth marriage license the same year. On September 23, Las Vegas celebrated its 70th anniversary as the “Wedding Capital of the World”. And the city is undergoing a lot of change.

Las Vegas weddings have been immortalized in movies like “Viva Las Vegas” and “The Hangover.” The city became popular for quick and easy weddings beginning in 1931, during Prohibition, when Clark County eliminated blood tests and waiting periods that were required of couples who were trying to get married. Las Vegas also marketed itself as a short ride away from Los Angeles — a four-hour drive and a 45-minute plane ride — which helped its draw as a celebrity hot spot, said Lynn Goya, the Clark County clerk.

Elopements have become increasingly popular in recent years, with many couples opting for more intimate wedding experiences. Most Vegas weddings are elopements, according to Ms. Goya, because of the prevalence of the casual, no-frills, 15-minute ceremonies offered by chapels — the bread and butter of the industry.

In 1991, the iconic wedding drive-through window was born at the Little White Wedding Chapel. Themed weddings, including gothic, Elvis, and Star Trek weddings, also started becoming popular in the ’90s. The city is also home to grand and elaborate weddings, hosted at casinos and venues on the strip, including custom wedding packages at the Bellagio start at $35,000.

According to the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority, the total spending in the tourism industry of Las Vegas hit almost $80 billion in 2022; the weddings industry was responsible for $2.5 billion of that, with the office also stating there are about 100 chapels and about 18,000 people who work in the weddings industry. The Clark County Marriage License Bureau, which distributes about 219 licenses a day to couples, is open from 8 a.m. to midnight, 365 days a year. Many chapels are also open until midnight, with no appointment required, making it easy for couples to grab their license at the marriage license bureau, make a quick stop at a chapel, and then celebrate on the Strip. On a Thursday afternoon in September, a couple from Los Angeles — Pei Lin, a 24-year-old student, and Min Gjia, a 28-year-old taxi driver — were holding hands after just getting married. Las Vegas continues to be a popular wedding destination that offers glamour, excitement, and a high level of convenience for couples deciding to tie the knot. Las Vegas has long been a stage where reality dissolves into a fantasy, and remains a top choice for many couples, including celebrities, when selecting their wedding destination.

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