Monthly Archives: June 2017

How Las Vegas Became the Wedding Capital of the World!

Vegas Wedding florist
Only in Las Vegas! The history of how Viva Las Vegas Weddings (and other Vegas chapels) got to where we go through a large cooler of wedding bouquets every day!

Traditionally, June is recognized as a popular month for blushing brides, marking the beginning of the summer wedding season. Las Vegas, however, is known as a more non-traditional wedding capital where it’s wedding season year ’round and where tying the knot with Elvis has become a Vegas phenomenon. Here at Viva Las Vegas Weddings, we DO perform an awful lot of Elvis weddings and Themed weddings, but our traditional ceremonies still make up more than half of our business. But how, you ask, did Las Vegas become the wedding capital of the world?

The city developed its reputation as a mecca for weddings as far back as the 1930s—long before Elvis—when several laws were relaxed during the Depression in order to stimulate the economy. Mining in Nevada was on the decline at the time, and gambling was legalized to compensate for lost revenue. The state also shortened its residency requirements for couples seeking divorces, and marriage laws became more lenient. The legislation was so successful that wedding chapels sprang up all over to accommodate the resultant demand.

Soon after residency requirements were relaxed to encourage divorce tourism in Las Vegas, the divorce and wedding trades benefited dramatically from the publicity of a national scandal related to the messy affair between Minnie (Mildred) Kennedy and Guy Edward “Whataman” Hudson. Guy had fled Los Angeles in July of 1931 after posting bail on a bigamy charge. Three weeks earlier, he had married Minnie “Ma” Kennedy, a California evangelist and mother of noted evangelist Aimee Semple McPherson. The marriage was annulled soon afterward, but Minnie followed Guy to Las Vegas. (When she arrived, Minnie made a well-documented fire and brimstone sermon atop a blackjack table at the Boulder Club on Fremont Street.) After Guy’s divorce was finalized in August, the two again were united in matrimony on a cliff overlooking the Boulder Dam construction site at Black Mountain along the Colorado River. The marriage lasted only a year. “Whataman” went on to entertain in a Colorado nightclub as a “sexologist” and then disappeared from the limelight into relative obscurity.

Vegas bridal bouquet
Lilies, the most popular flower for wedding bouquets when Las Vegas was young!

By the 1940s, Las Vegas became rather notorious for celebrity weddings. Real-life movie star weddings began fairly early on and included Betty Grable and Henry James tying the knot in Vegas in July of 1943. Over the next several years, the trend continued, and in January of 1958, iconic film couple Paul Newman and Joanne Woodard married at the El Rancho. A memo to the publicity and promotions office at the hotel read, “Joanne Woodward and Paul Newman, Hollywood motion picture personalities, will be married in the bungalow of Mr. Beldon Katleman…EVERYTHING COMPLIMENTARY, PER BK.” It’s touching to remember that despite Las Vegas’ reputation for short-lived marriages, the Newmans were married for 50 years at the time of Paul’s death…

Other famous wedding vows included those of Frank Sinatra’s daughter, Nancy, who married singer/actor Tommy Sands in September of 1960 at the Sands Hotel. The whirlwind romance made all the gossip columns and teen magazines, but the marriage lasted only until 1965. Perhaps coincidentally, in 1966 Nancy Sinatra’s “These Boots are Made for Walking” made it to #1 on the pop music charts. On March 2, 1963, Desi Arnaz Sr., who had been married to Lucille Ball from 1940-1960, married for the second time, also at the Sands Hotel in Las Vegas. Desi and his new bride, Edith Mack Hirsch, were married until Edith’s death in 1985. Desi passed away the following year.

In the years since, many famous folks (and thousands of lesser-known couples) have been married at the dozens of chapels along the Strip as well as in chapels at the resort hotels. Big names have included Angelina Jolie, Michael Jordan, and of course Elvis and Priscilla, who were wed at the Aladdin Hotel, now Planet Hollywood!

Here at Viva Las Vegas Weddings, we’ve had our fair share of recognizable names and faces! Erin Brockovich (her story was made famous by the movie titled with her name) renewed her wedding vows with her husband, and more recently, Shia LaBeouf said “I Do” to bride Mia Goth in an Elvis Pink Caddy ceremony. Several other stars visited the chapel while performing their duties as attendants in the weddings of friends or family members. LeAnn Rimes was a maid of honor at a friend’s wedding, and Matt LaBlanc was best man at the wedding of his father. Talk and game show host Craig Ferguson was at Viva Las Vegas Wedding Chapel as best man in a wedding that was also attended by Ringo Starr. Sara Ramirez from Grey’s Anatomy even did something of a group BFF “wedding” with all the girls from the show. Jillian Armanante from Judging Amy had the extra honor of having Angelia Jolie as her maid of honor here at Viva. And, Nick Wechsler from Revenge was best man to his best friend from high school.

We DO seem to be name-dropping, but…When you book your fabulous Las Vegas wedding with us—Traditional, Elvis, or Themed–you’ll at least know you’re in good company, historically-speaking. The walls of our lobby are filled with photographs of celebrity couples and guests from the past 18 years, all now part of the wedding history of Las Vegas, and of Viva Las Vegas Wedding Chapel!
www.vivalasvegasweddings.com
Las Vegas candlelight weddings

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A Trio of Toga Weddings in Las Vegas–The Wedding Toga Challenge!

Roman Themed Wedding Vegas
Get married by a Roman Centurion or Caesar himself–When in Vegas, do as the Romans do!

History buffs, have we got a Las Vegas themed wedding for you! Get married in Vegas by a Roman centurion, or by the Caesar of your choice! (Shakespeare fans will go with Julius!) While it’s not on our menu of themed wedding packages, simply choose our Gladiator Wedding or Egyptian themed wedding package and request Caesar or a Roman soldier as your minister. As an upgrade, add Cleopatra as your maid of honor…or the two of you can come costumed as Antony and Cleopatra yourselves. Suggest that your guests wear Roman fashion and turn the whole wedding ceremony into a toga party! (We call it the Wedding Toga Challenge!)

Our Gladiator and Egyptian-themed weddings convert into a Roman theme with ease. Just let us know your preferences and we will customize the package as you choose from a Pharaoh, Gladiator or Centurion for your wedding officiant. Your Cecil B. DeMille-worthy wedding can include a cast of characters…an Egyptian dancing girl, slave boys carrying the bride (or Cleopatra) down the aisle on Cleopatra’s throne, smoke effects, a candle lighting ceremony, theatrical lights and sets, not to mention flowers, photography and video, and limousine service to and from your Las Vegas Strip hotel! (And, as always, you can choose to have your wedding streamed live on the Internet.)

Egyptian themed wedding Las Vegas
Come in costumes, or rent ours! Call us for assistance at 702-384-0771

You’ll have spine-tingling background music to set the mood. Best of all, you can combine your toga-style wedding ceremony with a stay at Caesars Palace, if you’re up for a TOTALLY themed wedding and honeymoon adventure! (You’ll blend right in, walking through the casino in your Roman duds to catch your Viva Las Vegas limousine curbside.)

For more information on your custom Roman wedding, visit us at www.vivalasvegasweddings.com. Click on Themed Weddings and see all the frills and options under our Gladiator Wedding or Egyptian Wedding packages. See you in ancient Rome for your wedding of the centur–ion!

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Meet Monica…And Let Her Help You with YOUR Viva Las Vegas Wedding!

Las Vegas Wedding Planner
Here’s Monica, hard at work scheduling weddings and helping with all those wedding details!

Chances are good that when you call Viva Las Vegas Weddings to book or plan your wedding day in Vegas, you’ll speak to Monica, one of our friendliest and most helpful wedding staffers! (She’ll even chat with you online on our website at www.vivalasvegasweddings.com Monica is a HUGE asset to our chapel, since she’s among the rare few NATIVE Las Vegans. (It seems that almost all of our residents came from somewhere else and have migrated to Vegas because of its climate and great career opportunities.) Because Monica grew up here, she knows the city very well and is a good source of advice not only on wedding ideas, but also on great things to see and do while you’re honeymooning in Vegas!

On her days off, Monica loves hiking at nearby Red Rock Canyon (check out our Beautiful Red Rock Wedding Package and the stunning scenery on our website!) or walking along the Las Vegas Strip, checking out all the casino and resort happenings. (You can ask her about her favorites when you call!)

Asked about the best part of her job, Monica says, ” My favorite part of working at Viva Las Vegas Wedding Chapel is meeting people from all over the world and seeing how in love and happy couples are.” When asked what the hardest part of her job is, she replies “Nothing really! Viva Las Vegas is a very well organized company and well-maintained.” (We will ask her again on Valentine’s Day or Halloween, when we’re doing up to 100 weddings in a single day!)

We also asked Monica about the sweetest, funniest or most memorable event she has witnessed at the chapel. “Something I will always remember is (when) one of the wedding guests surprised his girlfriend. He asked her to marry him at the chapel, when she thought they were only here to see his dad renewing his wedding vows. The girl had no idea she was about to receive a marriage proposal!”

Wedding Limo Vegas
From the planning to the kiss, our wedding staffers aim to make your Las Vegas wedding experience seamless and memorable!

Sometimes the best stories our wedding staffers have to share are about the funny things that can go wrong during a wedding. For Monica, this was when a beautiful bride tripped on her dress as she was walking down the aisle. If you ask our wedding planners for advice, they’ll nearly always tell brides to practice walking in their wedding dress and shoes before the ceremony. Make sure the dress isn’t too long, and make sure to practice walking on carpet in heels! (Of course, this doesn’t apply to brides who opt for barefoot for the Elvis Blue Hawaii or Beach Party Themed Weddings!)

Offering up further advice for couples planning their weddings, Monica adds, “Always ask for help and plan ahead of time. Don’t assume something is a certain way–actually spend time doing research and asking experts on the process of getting married.” When you book a wedding at Viva Las Vegas Weddings, you’ll receive an online packet with instructions for every aspect of your wedding day. Reading it and asking questions ahead of time will make sure that your day is exactly what you dream it to be, and that all goes as perfectly as possible!

Say “hello” to Monica if you call or see her at the front counter on your wedding day!

Vegas Wedding Planners
Coming soon: Meet Monica’s colleague, Alondra!
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A Day in the Life of the Viva Las Vegas Wedding Chapel

Rocky HOrror Wedding Vegas
Another day, another Time Warp at Viva Las Vegas Weddings! Photo Credit: Las Vegas Review-Journal

On a recent Saturday, the local newspaper, the Las Vegas Review-Journal, hung out with us to document a typical day at Viva Las Vegas Weddings. While we had several elegantly traditional weddings going on that day, it’s easy to see why our wild and wacky Themed Weddings got the photographer’s attention most of the time! It’s pretty amazing just to be a guest witnessing ONE of our themed ceremonies, but a whole day of them–with all the costume and set changes involved– can mean sensory overload for those who aren’t used to it!

Here’s a link to the full article, if you’d like to read the RJ’s take on things and see all the great photos they shot while visiting the chapel: https://www.reviewjournal.com/life/las-vegas-chapel-does-rocky-horror-star-trek-elvis-weddings-video/

Elvis pink Caddy Wedding
Ron DeCar as Elvis drives a couple–in matching shades and sideburns–into the chapel and down the aisle! Photo Credit: Las Vegas Review-Journal

If you’d like just a taste of some lesser-known facts included in the story on our chapel, here’s an excerpt from the article, below:

(Ron) DeCar opened the chapel in 1999 after 14 years as lead singer and emcee in “Folies Bergere” at the Tropicana. He says the chapel typically hosts about 300 weddings a month. Its record is 550 in a month. On 7/7/07, 150 couples got hitched, and 230 on 11/11/11.
Just over half of all weddings at Viva Las Vegas are traditional. And the theme weddings? “I think it’s people who are, obviously, more lighthearted and want to do something crazy and don’t want to have a mundane, normal thing,” DeCar says.
But the day isn’t all about fog machines, flashing lights and costumed characters. There are also couples such as Lee McCulloch and Stuart Dootson, who came to Las Vegas from England to get married. They’ve been together 17 years, and while nobody is there to see them marry, the chapel live-streams each ceremony for far-off family and friends.
At 4 p.m. comes an Elvis-themed wedding. And while an Elvis wedding probably never can be devoid of cheesiness — vows include promises “every day of my life to be a hunka hunka burning love” and that “I will never have suspicious minds” — watching the couple end the ceremony by dancing to “It’s Now or Never” is sort of adorable.
With his entertainment industry know-how and hefty contact list, DeCar can concoct just about any sort of ceremony. He once put on a Liberace ceremony that included a song by a Cher impersonator, and another time crafted a ceremony that included Mr. Spock from “Star Trek” teleporting into a Camelot theme.
With lights, music, smoke effects, actors and, most of all, the sense of showmanship that go into every ceremony, “every half hour is a performance,” DeCar says.

Many of the folks who come to us for one of our creative wedding themes are renewing their vows for an anniversary, so don’t be shy about calling to do this, too, if you’re already married! For more information, visit our website or call us at 702-384-0771. www.vivalasvegasweddings.com

50s Diner Weddings Vegas
And… We also do weddings in our Fonzy-esque 1950s Doo Wop Diner Chapel…
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Viva Las Vegas Weddings–Your Reviews on Facebook! (Our faces are red!)

Beatles Wedding Vegas
Don’t see a Beatles themed wedding on our website? Not a problem…Just ask and we’ll do our best to make a custom impersonator wedding just for the two of you!

Every once in awhile, staff members at Viva Las Vegas Chapel check out our reviews on the social media sites, just to see how we’re doing. It’s one way to feel good about what we do each day, and it’s also a good way to see if there are ways we can improve. We’re constantly trying to find out how we can communicate better with our customers and their guests, to help couples know what to expect of their Las Vegas Wedding. Most of all, it’s an important means of seeing things from the perspective of the couples who pass through our big doors each day, in a pink Cadillac, or the regular way!

We thought we’d share some of our recent Facebook reviews with you, in case you’re trying to decide on a chapel to get married in Las Vegas, or to renew your wedding vows. Most Las Vegas chapels offer both Traditional and Elvis Wedding packages, but we try to stand out with our quality of service, variety of chapel settings, and our spectacular Themed and Custom Themed Weddings. Here are a few reviews that made our day!

May 30
I must say that my wedding day was truly a great day it was a good place for my family to come together to celebrate a day of my wife and I making the ultimate commitment to each other we have been wanting to get married and checked out the reviews on the Viva Las Vegas chapel and they all seem pretty well so we decided to go with that one and overall it was a good experience and I must say that they strive to make sure that your needs are met and if for some reason there’s any confusion they seem to be very helpful with delivering excellence and going above and beyond for you so thank you very much Viva Las Vegas wedding chapel my wife and I are very grateful to have chosen yours over the rest
The Viva Las Vegas Wedding Chapel

March 3
We traveled from Australia to renew our vows and celebrate my 50th birthday on the 23rd of February, it was everything and more than I expected. Shout out to Blaze who was charming,funny and made it very easy, Elvis was awesome, my husband and friends had the best day, cannot recommend this venue highly enough.

May 7
So glad to see this place is still open. We got married here 10 years ago, it was so much fun! I don’t know if they have reopened the themed hotel but that was closed back then. We were married by Elvis in the gothic graveyard chapel… way spooky and weird and perfect for us! The package included limo service to and from our hotel, and professional photos/vhs copy. Great memories!

Wedding silk flyers
A romantic and unique addition to your wedding vows!

February 22 ·
I wanted the most unique wedding with a friendly budget and after searching venue after venue, I found Viva Las Vegas Wedding Chapel. We went the very non-traditional route and threw a Halloween wedding. We had aerial dancers, was driven down the aisle by Elvis and a Las Vegas Showgirl and exchanged vows with the Grim Reaper by our side. The sound system and effects are spectacular. We wanted theatrics and we sure got it!

March 23
It’s been almost a year, April 1, 2016 was our wedding day. The chapel was perfect, the atmosphere was exactly what we wanted for our day. I came down with shingles shortly before our wedding day, so I was in so much pain, but the staff at the chapel did their best to make me comfortable and everything turned out beautiful. We are returning to vegas next week to celebrate our first anniversary and to have a mini honeymoon. We’ll come back again to this chapel someday to renew our vows as well.
Thanks viva las vegas for making our wedding a day to remember!

May 16
Me and my partner Brian got married on the 15th May and honestly we could not recommend enough. They where there the whole way through planning and answered any questions we had. They treated us with love and respect on the day of the wedding and we found every single member of staff to be friendly and welcoming. We could not have asked for a better wedding. Thank you to every one of you. You made our special day that little bit extra special. If you plan on getting married, I urge you to choose viva Las Vegas weddings!!

We at Viva Las Vegas Weddings thank you for your kind input, and we vow to try to live up to your expectations. Let us know how we can make YOUR day, and we’ll always try our hardest to surpass your expectations! Our deepest thanks from Viva Las Vegas Weddings!

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Wedding Karaoke in Vegas! Sing During Your Viva Las Vegas Wedding!

Vegas Wedding Karaoke
We’ve got all the right stuff to make you sound as good as…possible….

Recently a Viva Las Vegas Weddings couple renewed their wedding vows for an anniversary and treated their chapel full of guests to a karaoke duet at the end of their fabulous Elvis wedding ceremony! Our ears are still stinging, but it was both hilarious and touching and oh-so-special! Everyone present LOVED it!

At Viva Las Vegas Weddings, we’re happy to customize your ceremony with the unique elements that make your wedding or wedding vow renewal package completely YOU. If you want to sing, bring your karaoke CD, or request for us to set this up for you. Want to dance to “your song” at the end of the wedding or during the vows? We can arrange that, too. We’ve got fantastic sound equipment and can even provide a live vocalist or musician if you want to go all out.

Although we have a wide range of Traditional. Themed and Elvis wedding packages, we’re likely the only chapel on earth that will be delighted to help out should you want to COMBINE themes or create one that’s not among the wide range of wedding packages listed on our website at www.vivalasvegasweddings.com.

Theatrically lit Vegas wedding
Our theatrical lighting makes you look good while you tie the knot…or sing…or dance!

Our weddings include flattering theatrical lighting, too, plus dramatic fog effects if you choose a themed package or add fog as an upgrade. It’s your wedding day, so you want to shine– and we’ll do our best to make that happen. If you have friends and family who can’t come to your Las Vegas wedding in person, add live streaming coverage so they can watch your “production” online!

Even if you’re having a traditional wedding, consider an unexpected touch to make your day unforgettable. If you’re fans of a particular vocal group or singer, we can bring in an impersonator, either to conduct the vows and sing, or to just make a brief appearance to sing the song of your choice during the otherwise “normal” traditional ceremony. Often you can save money on our packages by requesting just the elements that are important to you.

We’re hoping it won’t be long before we hear another custom karaoke wedding here at the chapel. Call us with any requests or questions you may have, and we hope you’ll make our day and come sing and dance at our Viva Las Vegas Wedding Chapel! 702-384-0771

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