What to Expect at Your Las Vegas Wedding

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Viva Las Vegas

Couples decide to get married in Las Vegas for many reasons. Some people just want to elope; whereas others just want something simple with family and friends planned by a Vegas chapel. There are even those couples that want a big wedding and prefer a Las Vegas venue over others. In Vegas, your wedding can be as simple or as extraordinary as you choose. Of course, there are always surprises along the way.

If you are like me, and you've never been to Vegas before, much of the experience will be new, exciting, and sometimes exhausting. Even if you've been to Las Vegas before, getting married there is a totally different experience. Here is what I learned you can expect when you get married in Vegas.

The Marriage License

I've grown up watching movies about people spontaneously getting married in Vegas. Let me tell you all of that is oversimplified. There is nothing really spontaneous about it. It is not as simple as going to some chapel and 15 minutes later... boom! You are married. First, you must experience the pain of getting the marriage license.

The first piece of advice I have for you is to fill out a pre-application online. I realize if you just show up in Vegas and decide to elope, this is not likely to happen. However, if you are planning on having a Las Vegas wedding, make sure to fill out the pre-application a couple of weeks before you go. Then make sure to have your reference number with you. You can thank me later for this bit of advice.

Now here is what is really interesting to me. Even if you fill out the pre-application to save time, you may still end up standing in a line so long you want to cry. I realize August is one of the most popular months to get married. If you are lucky and pick a different month, maybe the line won't be so terrible. The day I went, there were about 30 couples and the line was moving at a snail's pace. Do yourself and everyone else a favor: visit the marriage license website first and it will answer most of your questions. Don't wait until the day you are getting the marriage license and play "20 questions" with one of the few clerks that are working that day.

Good Luck Finding the Marriage License Bureau

Another misconception I had about Vegas is that the town is all about weddings and, therefore, it would be super easy to find the Marriage License Bureau. Wrong. Google maps sent us to the wrong spot and then we wandered around aimlessly in the heat trying to find the right spot. In this case, we had relatives drive us there in their car. They did not know where we were going either and dropped us off in what we thought was the right location.

If you are going to Las Vegas to get married, do yourself a favor and take a cab! The cab drivers in Vegas know every side street, every short cut, and they sure know about people getting wedding licenses. Most of the cabbies are full of information and interesting stories to tell. Trust me, it is worth the 15 bucks.

When You See This, You Made It! The Marriage License Bureau

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You Might Just Get Pounced On!

About a week before leaving for Vegas, a co-worker warned me that we would get pounced on while leaving the Marriage License Bureau with our license. This was something that never occurred to me until then, but since Vegas is such a popular wedding spot, there are a ton of chapels. Those chapels can be quite desperate to compete, so there will be representatives from those chapels standing outside the bureau as you leave.

The best advice I have for you is to plan in advance. There are plenty of reputable chapels listed online and plenty of reviews so you can decide which one is right for your wedding. You can also opt to get married at one of the casinos. There are great package deals if you are staying at the place where you are getting married. Casinos also typically have giant venues that hold many guests.

If you are a last minute person, it is OK. You could find one of the deals offered by the chapel representatives appealing. If you are not offended by them pouncing on you the second you get your license, then it could be a good deal for you. They are often offering discounts and willing to negotiate with you. There is no shame in being spontaneous at that moment and going with one of those chapels.

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Know Your Venue

Even if you are well-prepared and researched a chapel online, don't forget to check it out before the wedding. I would recommend getting to Vegas the day before your big day so you can get the marriage license ahead of time and visit the location of your wedding. Trust me, it takes a while to get the marriage license, so it is better to get it the day before the wedding so you are not as stressed.

After we got our license, we went to the wedding venue to check everything out. We wanted to make sure we knew the location well so we could give guests directions if they were driving to it. We also wanted to make sure all the details were taken care of and all payments were received. We asked any questions we had at that time. In case you are interested, at most chapels it is usually a minimal charge to have the wedding streaming online for all your friends to see. We decided to do that and added it to the package deal.

It really does ease a lot of your worries if you give yourself enough time to investigate the venue prior to the wedding. Do yourself a favor and plan to have the wedding a day or two AFTER you arrive in Las Vegas. This gives you time to adjust to the time difference (if need be) and time to plan last minute details.

The Big Day

Of course, this can't be a hub about a wedding without at least talking about the wedding. We opted for an Elvis wedding because we wanted something fun. However, you don't have to use Elvis if you do not want. There are plenty of other characters available for weddings in Las Vegas, such as Tom Jones, James Brown, the cast of the Rocky Horror Picture Show, and more. If you want something a little more dignified, you can have a minister perform the ceremony. In fact, I think most people do choose just that for their Vegas wedding.

The ceremony was fun, but as everyone often says, it was over fast. It is interesting how you can plan an event for over a year, then it is over in no time at all. I would say our ceremony was about 15 to 20 minutes long, which seems to be the standard in Vegas. Once it is all said and done, it is easy to think, "What now?" Just remember, now you don't have to obsess over the wedding anymore... and you can stay entertained writing out thank you notes.

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You Will See Other Weddings

When you go to Las Vegas, keep in mind you will see other weddings. You need to make sure you have a good idea what you want from your own wedding. Do you want to write your own vows? Do you want something fun with Elvis or something fancy at one of the nice resorts? Are you inviting a lot of people? You really can have anything you want at Las Vegas. Just remember, don't bother comparing your wedding to the many other weddings and wedding parties you will see while there.

Your wedding, no matter how big or small, no matter how extravagant or simple, it is YOUR wedding. Don't let other people try to talk you into having a ceremony you are not comfortable with having. You go to Vegas to have a good time and get married. Don't get caught up in all the drama. Just enjoy it while you can!


Copyright ©2015 Jeannieinabottle


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Comments 8 comments

bravewarrior profile image

bravewarrior 15 months ago from Central Florida

Congratulations on your wedding Jeannie! I hope you were relaxed by the time you got all the legalities out of the way. You've offered great advice here for anyone considering tying the knot in Vegas. Did you honeymoon in Vegas? I'd love to see photos.


drbj profile image

drbj 15 months ago from south Florida

From your encompassing description, Mary, it appears that getting married in Las Vegas may require more preparation than newly weds anticipate. Especially the information about being 'pounced' upon. :)


lambservant profile image

lambservant 15 months ago from Pacific Northwest

Congrats Jeannie! My son got married by Elvis also!


Jeannieinabottle profile image

Jeannieinabottle 15 months ago from Baltimore, MD Author

bravewarrior, thank you! Yes, we did relax some after all the legalities were over. I was far more nervous about the flight and getting the license than the actual wedding. Of course, there is so much to see, so we did not get to relax too much. Yes, we did have a honeymoon there, too. I just sent you a friend request on Facebook. I will post some photos there, but if you miss it, I am working on a Las Vegas hub about vacationing there during the summer, so I will include photos in that as well. :-)

drbj, yes, the being pounced on part of the journey was not so great. There are so many people trying to sell you stuff in Vegas, and the chapels are no different.

lambservant, thanks so much. Elvis weddings are pretty fun. :-)


randomcreative profile image

randomcreative 15 months ago from Milwaukee, Wisconsin

Congrats, Jeannie! I know that many people planning Vegas weddings will appreciate this information.


Jeannieinabottle profile image

Jeannieinabottle 15 months ago from Baltimore, MD Author

Thanks so much, randomcreative. I hope this helps others.


FlourishAnyway profile image

FlourishAnyway 14 months ago from USA

Congratulations! Very cool that you opted for this. Who knew that it couldn't be just a spur of the moment thing? Shared.


Jeannieinabottle profile image

Jeannieinabottle 14 months ago from Baltimore, MD Author

Thank you, FlourishAnyway! Yes, you can prepare for a Vegas wedding. I saw a lot of weddings in progress at gardens, casinos, etc. Some were really fancy with bridesmaids, best men, flower girls, coordinated outfits, and the whole nine yards. I am glad I did not opt for that, but I am impressed that it is a possibility for others. Thanks for your comment and for sharing.

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