North America

It’s a Wedding Wonderland in Las Vegas

written by | Posted on June 1st, 2009

The $900 million wedding industry in Las Vegas is alive and well and popping champagne corks all over town.

With more than 100 chapels in town and venues that range from quiet lakeside elegance to dramatic desert escarpments to fountain extravaganzas, Las Vegas remains the wedding capital of the world for those couples seeking just a little something extra for their special affair.

“Although we’ve seen a downward trend in recent years in the number of marriage licenses issued in Las Vegas, this industry is starting to pick up again,” says LVCVA spokesperson Alicia Malone. “Part of the reason is couples may be choosing to stay closer to home these days. But travel agents know that in choosing Las Vegas, their wedding-bound clients can pretty much have any experience and at any price point they want.”

Indeed, Paris and Venice wait, Vegas-style, for those who may not want to put the money and time into traveling to Europe for a destination wedding. But the city offers some authentic destinations of its own.

weddings with a twist “How about a wedding in the Grand Canyon with 50 of your closest people and then topping it off with a celebration back in Vegas?” says Robert Graff, v.p. of marketing for Papillon Grand Canyon Helicopters with ports in Las Vegas and Boulder City and which offers weddings packages that are entirely commissionable. A limousine takes the couple and party from their hotels to the helicopter for a narrated flight from Las Vegas and down 4,000 ft. to the floor of the Grand Canyon. At the banks of the Colorado River, before witnesses, minister, and millions of years of geologic history, the couple exchanges vows. They toast their commitment with champagne and cake before a return flight over the Las Vegas Strip to a waiting limousine that takes them to their hotel. Included in the trip is a 12-rose cascade bouquet for the bride, a rose boutonniere for the groom, plus the minister’s donation and driver’s gratuity. The event lasts a little under four hours and the rate for the couple alone starts at $2,349 but additional seats and helicopters can be chartered, and F&B can be arranged.

Couples can also take their nuptials in the air above the Strip for an $899 ceremony that includes the minister to pronounce the couple over the neon.

Water-focused wedding couples can reserve a houseboat for a completely coordinated and catered wedding in a private cove along the shores of Lake Mead booked through Forever Resorts and Calville Bay Resort & Marina. A 50-ft. houseboat can be reserved for rack rates starting at $449 per day, including houseboat-piloting lessons. Six styles and sizes offer room for multiple couples to sleep, as well as a party-size top-deck jacuzzi, water slide, bar, satellite TV, modern kitchen and plenty of conveniences—all completely commissionable.

“We can make it all happen—from an elaborate event on the perfect cove with a hundred guests or a quiet wedding on the lake. Each request is handled individually,” says Penny McCollum, manager at Calville Bay Resort & Marina. “People love it. They are in or near Las Vegas but this is a whole other side to the destination and they can really get away.”

“It’s a very serious business,” says Las Vegas Bride editor Ginger Tafoya. “Coordinators are under a lot of pressure to pull things off well and correctly with all the subjective tastes of not only the bride and groom but a train of influence throughout the family. In Las Vegas, these are not necessarily cookie-cutter decisions as there are so many options, settings, prices and possibilities. You can get married 1,000 ft. in the air, on top of the Eiffel Tower, on a desert ridge, around a beautiful pool setting, on a bridge in ‘Venice,’ or in a simple chapel. But you still have to think about it and plan for it and know something about what it takes to do it in Las Vegas.”

“We are often called by travel agents to handle all the wedding plans. They comprise half our business,” says Joshua Gust, president and CEO of A Special Memory Wedding Chapel in Las Vegas. “We pay a minimum of $55 and that is on our basic $199 package. But we also offer 10-20 percent commission on weddings that might go as high as $10,000 for an entirely customized and catered affair.”