7 June 2011
So you're thinking about getting married in Las Vegas - congratulations! Have you spoken to friends or family and they've said in horror 'you can't do that because...' and shared their wisdom about Las Vegas weddings that they know 'for a fact' is true? Well just before you run for the hills, take a look at our top ten myths about getting married in Las Vegas - do any of them ring bells with you?
1) "Las Vegas weddings aren't legal when you get home"
Oh yes they are. Whether you are a US citizen, or a citizen of any other country of the world, your Las Vegas wedding is legal and binding from the moment the wedding happens - and that includes when you get home. [That said, we're not lawyers - we know this is the case in the UK and in the majority of other countries, but check in your own country if you think it might cause problems]. Las Vegas is fabulous fun to visit, and we know you're on holiday out there, but marriage is a serious business - so don't do it on a whim.
We still get a handful of emails each year from Las Vegas newlyweds saying 'we only did it as a joke - that's ok isn't it?'. We're afraid it isn't - you've taken that person for richer for poorer, in sickness and in health, just as you would anywhere else in the world. You're now Mr and Mrs, courtesy of fabulous Las Vegas, Nevada. The vast majority of Las Vegas weddings are happy ones, but if yours isn't - it will take a lawyer to get you out of it.
2) "You need to be a citizen of the USA to get married in Las Vegas"
The beauty of getting married in Las Vegas is that it's simple, and that anyone can do it. As a UK citizen, myself and my husband-to-be turned up at the Clark County Marriage Licence Bureau, waited in queue, filled in a form, handed over $55 [it's now $60 - that's inflation for you!] and our passports for checking, and we had a Marriage Licence which let us get married in any of the wedding chapels straight away. The licence is valid for 12 months - so you don't need to rush into it if you don't want to. If either of you has been divorced in the past you need a bit more paperwork [you can see the details here], but essentially if you're over the age of 18, and you're a male and female couple [Las Vegas doesn't allow same sex marriages], you can get married there.
However, if you're doing this to get an immigration Visa, you need to check with the relevant immigration authorities - a wedding certificate alone won't do it for you.
3) "You need to be there for a week and get a blood test to get your wedding licence"
You can step off the plane, drive to the Clark County Marriage Licence Bureau and get your marriage licence immediately if you want (during their standard opening hours, of course). You don't need to be resident in Las Vegas for any amount of time, or get a blood test.
4) "Your parents won't approve of a Las Vegas wedding"
Don't bet on it. The average wedding in the UK now costs almost £20,000 - which is a huge amount of money to save or get a loan for. People - even parents! - are a lot more understanding than you might expect if you don't want to do the traditional, expensive wedding at home that will take you 2 years to plan. Besides, they may not want to see Great Aunt Maud glowering at them across a function room any more than you do!
Why not run the idea past them? 'We're thinking of flying out to Las Vegas to get married because we think it will be fun/it will save us money/we want to/we just can't consider getting married by anyone other than Elvis'. They might surprise you. When we (my husband and I, to coin a phrase) announced we were going out to Vegas to get married, within 24 hours we had 29 friends and family saying they were coming out with us. We had to save a bit harder for the unexpectedly larger wedding party, but that was part of the fun - it became a week-long event. My mum who had never been out of the UK before loved it.
And I'm sure our getting married was the reason for the enthusiasm, and they didn't just want a great holiday in a great city!
5) "You have to get married by Elvis"
I don't know if you knew this, but you can actually get married by Elvis in Las Vegas. That's not a surprise, is it? That's the stereotype - an Elvis impersonator in a gold jacket swinging his hips in a wedding chapel? And at last count there were 83 different Elvis wedding ceremonies to choose from, so there's an Elvis for every taste. Elvis weddings are fabulous, but it doesn't have to be an Elvis wedding.
Las Vegas wedding chapels can offer very simple and traditional ceremonies, or they can do pirate ship weddings, or vampire weddings - and just about anything else you can think of. You can get married in a traditional wedding chapel, on the Las Vegas Strip, at a drive-through wedding chapel window, in a helicopter, at the Grand Canyon, at Red Rock Canyon - it's up to you.
Elvis or no Elvis, however you want your wedding to work, Las Vegas can do it for you. It's your day, your way.
6) "You can't have a white wedding"
Want romantic and understated? Want the big white dress, and roses, and confetti? Not a problem. Las Vegas Wedding Chapels understand how to do this - they've been doing it for decades and they do it very, very well. They will help you plan your perfect day with the music, the flower arrangements, the wedding cake. At last count there were 102 wedding chapels and other wedding venues in Las Vegas - and that's without the outdoor options such as Grand Canyon Weddings, so you're sure to find the perfect wedding for you, at the right price.
7) "It won't be like getting married in a Church"
Take a look at pictures of the wedding chapels - a lot of them are absolutely beautiful. And if you want a religious ceremony, just discuss it with the wedding chapel or your wedding coordinator. A lot of the wedding officiants are religious ministers - so you can have a religious ceremony if you want it.
8) "Las Vegas weddings are tacky"
If you want tacky, you can have it. If you want to avoid it, it's really easy to do it. 102 wedding chapels. Literally hundreds of wedding packages. You're going to be able to find something that is just perfect for you.
9) "Las Vegas weddings don't last"
We all know about Britney, and Katie Price. But Las Vegas marriages are just as likely to last as any other kind of marriage. It's about people, and relationships. Las Vegas is just the location of the wedding - but it's a great location to get married!
10) "If you get drunk in Las Vegas, you could wake up accidentally married to a stranger"
We're confusing real life with the movie 'What Happens in Vegas' here. To be issued with a marriage licence you both need to turn up sober - and the same goes for turning up to get married at the chapel (i.e. sober). So if you do manage to wake up married to someone you don't recognise - you have a very, very poor memory. Or you're in an old episode of 'Two and a Half Men'.