On Sept. 23, 1953, a headline in the London Daily Herald proclaimed Las Vegas “The Marriage Capital of the World!” In the article itself, the reporter wrote “Las Vegas now claims it is ‘the wedding capital of the world.’” Either way, Clark County Commissioners decided it was an anniversary worth celebrating. September is officially Wedding Month in Las Vegas, and on September 3rd a large shindig took place at Caesars Palace. When I read that the party would include a replica of Elvis and Priscilla’s wedding cake, a special show, a fancy buffet, and a chance for 250 couples to renew their vows, I knew I’d regret it if I didn’t show up. Fortunately, my husband thought a Moonie-style mass vow renewal sounded like fun, so we sprang for the VIP tickets.
I should’ve paid more attention to my outfit, and I’m glad most attendees did. There were lots of wedding dresses that still fit (or close enough), and lots of wedding-inspired accessories like black and white matching Mickey Mouse ears. Young, old, and everything in between had responded to the massive online ad campaign. Some had gotten married in Las Vegas, some were curious, some were locals, and one couple was getting married later that day but didn’t want to miss the fun. I heard at least five different languages being spoken. At least one couple had traveled from Germany, and another was visiting from Finland.
Clark County Clerk Lynn Goya was our official host. “Before 1953, Las Vegas was known as Honeymoon Highway and the Niagara Falls of the West,” she told us, among other tidbits of Las Vegas’s history as a wedding destination. She also revealed that Clark County issued its five millionth wedding license last year.
After the brunch, all the couples formed a two-line procession to a bigger ballroom for the show and renewal ceremony. From Dennis Bono’s debut performance of “Las Vegas Will You Marry Me” to performances by some of Las Vegas’s best-known artists, each song reflected a decade of Las Vegas romance. The show ended with actor Patrick Warburton leading the vow renewal ceremony. Short but quite sweet!
Cake and champagne followed, along with a chance to look though souvenir gift bags that included etched glasses, a luggage tag, a deck of cards, a commemorative poker chip, and a very nicely produced program book with an excellent timeline of Las Vegas wedding history.
Before they left, couples lined up for photos with the giant Elvis wedding cake and Brian Mills, who is president of the Las Vegas Wedding Chamber of Commerce, the only wedding chamber of commerce in the world. Need I even mention that he is an Elvis impersonator?
So now, even though I did not get married in Las Vegas, I have a little bit of the glow. And I do think Las Vegas has rightfully earned its title, the “Wedding Capital of the World.” Next stop, solar system.