Words by Jessica Jacolbe.
Just as Paris and New York City have been embedded into the minds of single people as cities synonymous with falling in love, Las Vegas has developed its own reputation through its wedding chapels. The people working at these chapels have little to no expectations, they’ve seen it all. Having the ring bearer be a duck is another normal day at the chapel, and one of the milder stories of the bunch.
Themed weddings are a big deal and part of the thrill that makes a Vegas wedding a Vegas wedding. However, getting married in Vegas may seem like a line to tell friends and strangers as a fun factoid, but there’s no doubt that although in the presence of Elvis Presley, these couples know what they’re getting into.
Below, employees at the most popular Las Vegas wedding chapels share their most memorable stories that would only come from getting married in one particular city in America.
“I had two gentlemen [come in] the other day. They have been together for 30 years. It’s amazing the love between them and how long they’ve been together, waiting for this opportunity. We have a couple that’s here right now that has been together for 20 years, renewing their vows. Their two little ones are dressed up as Mario Brothers. They’re doing an Elvis ceremony with us today.
If you could think it, we’ll theme it. We drive the pink Cadillac down the aisle here at the chapel. No one has ever seen a car able to come in to the main chapel with Elvis driving them down the aisle.
We’ve seen a lot of different themes that pull you back for a minute. People are different. They’re colorful. If they’ve had anything to drink, sometimes that intensifies just how colorful they’re going to be. A couple of years ago we had to ask a couple to leave because they were really bad.
We get [couples] from all over the world. We’ve sat here and cried with them at the counter.” -Cammy
“There was a graveyard wedding. They had headstones and smoke and everything. What really struck me was they hired Cirque du Soleil. Throughout the ceremony, they would come down from the ceiling. They were doing all these acrobats. I remember watching the ceremony and it was just so well done.” –Willie
— Elaine Emerson (@E15Emerson) February 15, 2017
“Just the other day, we had a ‘traditional’ wedding but they all showed up as pirates. It was weird. We’ve had much weirder than that, but that’s just an example.
Years ago, we had a band that was performing at the House of Blues. Their lead singer came down here and got married. It was kind of crazy, and we knew about it. After the fact, we noticed that they were here getting married at the exact time their show was supposed to start.
We’ve also had people who just recovered from a long illness and thought they were gonna die, and their spouse-to-be helped them through it. Since they recovered, they were able to get married. We’ve had the opposite too where they would get married, knowing they were going to die.” –David
“We have really sweet stories because it’s near Valentine’s Day. People are more romantic than silly on that specific day. There was a lady that came here to get married and it was her second marriage. She was super nervous that she came two hours early so she sat in the chapel waiting for her fiancé. She wanted the day to go exceptionally perfect. She brought Colgate and her toothbrush and mouthwash so that she could make sure her breath was minty fresh when she had her first kiss after being pronounced married.
We had a guy here that married his iPhone. That was a couple of months back. He just wanted to prove a point that people are really addicted to technology. He had a ceremony with his iPhone and he got a lot of press coverage. It was more symbolic than it being legitimate. It was a first for us.
The usual touching stories are people who get married then divorce and happen to remarry 10 years later; that happened to us yesterday. They realized that they were meant for each other and decided to get remarried again. Surprisingly it happens quite often. Once every two months or so.” –Lillian
“We did have a ceremony not too long ago where the couple brought in goats as attendees to the wedding. I guess the bride really likes goats. We said we couldn’t bring the goats inside because they might start biting something.
We had one wedding where they may have been partying hard the night before and the groom wasn’t feeling too well. In the limo ride over, he threw up in a bridesmaid’s purse. There was a ring inside the bag. They left it outside and somebody took the bag afterwards.” –Michael
“I did a vow renewal where the mother had gotten a bad diagnosis and the whole family had come out to celebrate the marriage. They had been married for close to 50 years. Of course I prayed for her and did the renewal. Those are the ones you remember. We had several people fighting cancer who are going through chemo. To me, that stands out because the people getting married know that time is short and they know what they’re getting into. I think that’s a beautiful thing.
Guests can get wild sometimes. We’re not allowed to marry couples that have been drinking, but sometimes the guests have been drinking or they’re just feeling really good. One time we had a guest bring a blow-up doll to the wedding as his date. I was like, ‘You’re gonna have to put that away during the ceremony.’ I think at some point during the ceremony she ended up back on his shoulders.
When people think of Vegas weddings, they think of what they’ve seen in a movie. They’re not sure of how serious to take it. The couples we marry are truly in love.”
“We did a pretend wedding for a young couple one. Two days later, I see them come back through the door. I asked them if they left anything. I look down and see a white envelope. They said, ‘We tried it and know what it’s like.’ They wanted to get married for real. Then they did.
We get pretend weddings all the time; it’s to fool your friends. We’re on Fremont Street so there’s lots of party people and couples. They’re here already married for 10-20 years, but they want to do the Vegas wedding. It’s half-serious and half-funny. It’s all sincere. I ask, ‘Do you promise to stay sober during this entire trip?’ They’ll say, ‘I can’t promise that!’
Sometimes four people will come in, and I’ll say, ‘This is not The Hangover. You can’t just walk in and get married.’ We’ll lose our license. If you go to court the next day and say you’re drunk and can’t remember, I’ll get my license stripped.
We had a couple that was older. The lady, who is the sweetest person in the world, said his kids for some reason didn’t like her. I said to give it time and they’ll accept you. They had a pretend wedding and posted it. While we’re finishing their pictures, their phones were blowing up because everyone thinks they’re married and it looks real since we take the pictures the same way we would a real wedding. They came back the next day and said his children were irate. I asked if they were going to tell them [the truth]. They said, ‘No. We’re gonna let this ride the whole time we’re down here.'” –Mel