The New Las Vegas – Wedding Capital of the World

Whether it’s a case of ‘I do’ or ‘I do – again’, the Wedding Capital of the World can provide a great location to get married or renew your wedding vows.

Enjoying a resurgence as a ‘must see’ destination, Las Vegas has shaken off it’s tacky, downmarket image and has emerged again as a glittering jewel in the heart of the Nevada desert. If you want 5 star luxury in your hotels, world class dining with more than its fair share of celebrity chefs, and entertainment to rival any major city anywhere (shows include several by Cirque du Soleil, while residencies by artists such as Celine Dion and Elton John have become synonymous with the city), Las Vegas is for you.

The Las Vegas Strip hosts some of the biggest and brightest hotels in the world. The latest addition is casino developer Steve Wynn’s self-titled Wynn Hotel. The Wynn is a $2.7 billion development and, like most of the hotels in the city, is on a massive scale. To give some context to this, the main feature of the hotel is a man-made mountain and waterfall that runs into a 3 acre lake. The waterfall and lake have images displayed on them to produce a unique show on the hour, every hour, called “Lake of Dreams”. And if you have your own waterfall and lake, why not?!

The Wynn was built to outshine Steve Wynn’s previous luxury hotel The Bellagio – most recently made famous as the casino robbed by George Clooney and Brad Pitt in the film ‘Ocean’s Eleven’. And the Bellagio is no slouch in the luxury stakes either – its Picasso restaurant has real Picasso paintings on its walls. Outside the hotel, its musical fountain shows have become one of the unmissable sights of Judi Live  Casino

If you wanted more proof that Las Vegas is changing, you don’t have to look far. The Venetian Hotel has its own Guggenheim Museum. In the hotel and independent shopping malls you will find all the upmarket shops you would expect in the most exclusive of shopping streets – Chanel, Dior and Ferrari-Maserati to name but three – as well as more affordable high street staples.

But if you’re looking for somewhere to get married, or you want to renew your wedding vows, Las Vegas could be the place for you. So what’s the appeal? Well, it can be as simple or as elaborate a ceremony as you want. It can be as traditional or themed as you want. And there is a ceremony for any budget – starting at only $25 and going up to $20,000 plus – and everything in between. And you’ll have plenty of choice of restaurants to celebrate your wedding.

There is no minimum stay required to get a marriage licence in the city – all you need is $55 and i.d. and you’re ready to get married. And the wedding is legal in the UK when you get home. If you’re renewing your vows, you’ll just need to take a copy of your marriage certificate to your chosen chapel. There are over 70 chapels and other venues around Las Vegas, some of them within the major hotels as well as a big selection of independent chapels. And that’s before looking at ‘destination’ wedding venues such as the Grand Canyon, Mount Charleston and Lake Las Vegas.

If you’re looking for a wedding chapel with celebrity links, The Little Church of the West is a pretty little wooden chapel that has been around for over 50 years – which is positively antique in Las Vegas terms! They have married stars including Judy Garland, Betty Grable, Deanna Durbin, Shirley Bassey and Richard Gere – it’s also the chapel where Elvis and Ann Margaret exchange vows in the film ‘Viva Las Vegas’. Or the famous Little White Wedding Chapel which has married stars including Frank Sinatra, Judy Garland [she obviously liked Las Vegas for her weddings!], Joan Collins, and more recently Demi Moore and Bruce Willis. It is also where Britney Spears started her first round of married life – it lasted only 55 hours.

If you want to follow in the footsteps of the King, Elvis and Priscilla married at the original Aladdin Hotel back in 1967. That hotel was replaced by a new and improved Aladdin, but you can still book your ‘Love Me Tender’ Wedding Package with Elvis impersonator here. In fact if you want an Elvis impersonator at your wedding, you have 94 ceremony options at various chapels – the Graceland Wedding Chapel even has a ‘Duelling Elvis’ package where you get 2 different eras of Elvis for your money.

So what are the most romantic wedding package options available in Las Vegas? Well it obviously depends on your definition of romance – if you’re already married to your motorbike, for instance you can have a Harley Davidson wedding where you ride right up to the altar, or you can even get married in the Harley Davidson Café, surrounded by Hogs and related memorabilia. But we have a few of our own favourite options:

1) Get married on a balcony overlooking the lake at the Bellagio Hotel. When the minister pronounces you man and wife, the fountains will play for you.

2) Get married in a gondola on the Grand Canal at the Venetian Hotel as a gondolier serenades you both.

3) Get married at the top of the Eiffel Tower at sunset for stunning views of the city.

4) Take a helicopter ride to the Grand Canyon and get married in the Canyon itself – your wedding photographs will be stunning

And for something more out of the ordinary, how about the following:

1) Pirate ship wedding at Treasure Island. The bride enters down a rose-strewn walkway before a pirate swings down from the rigging with the rings. Not the most private of settings in the middle of Treasure Island lake, but great fun nonetheless.

2) Star Trek wedding at the Star Trek Experience. Get married on the deck of the Starship Enterprise in the presence of Borg, Ferengi and Klingons (depending on the package), before celebrating your wedding with a Federation wedding cake in Quarks Bar.

3) Wild West Wedding at Bonnie Springs. Just outside the city, get yourself married old west style in this old west town with your minister on horseback and cowboys holding the groom at gunpoint during the ceremony.


Cigar Culture: The Rat Pack

It’s hard to imagine the culture of cigars without some of its most famous members: The Rat Pack. Known for alcohol, casinos, women, mob ties, and stogies, the Rat Pack was a group of Hollywood superstars who did everything in excess. Leaving no vice unturned, they were known as the rulers of Vegas, the raisers of Hell, the biggest indulgers, and the setters of culturist trends.

While Frank Sinatra is generally credited with being the leader of the Rat Pack, it actually began with Humphrey Bogart when he served as the common tie in a group of friends who frequently partied together. The term “Rat Pack” is rumored to have been coined by Bogart’s wife, Lauren Bacall, when she saw this group of red-eyed, tired, drunken friends after a five night party binge in Las Vegas and stated that they looked like a “Rat Pack.” Others believe the term came from the Holmby Hills Rat Pack, a group of many of the same people who typically partied at Judi Live Casino. From a scientific perspective, it is believed that the term “Rat Pack” was adopted because of the biological law where rats reject outsiders. Wherever the name was derived, it stuck, adhering to the group and to pop culture forever.

Though the Rat Pack is thought of as a pseudo-traveling gentlemen’s club, it did include women. Shirley MacLaine, Lauren Bacall, and Judy Garland were all involved to some degree. However, when Humphrey Bogart died, Frank Sinatra took over and many of the original group was no longer affiliated with the pack. At Sinatra’s hands, the Rat Pack eventually included a variety of others. Sinatra, Dean Martin, Peter Lawford, Sammy Davis Jr. and Joey Bishop are typically thought of as its most famous troupe.

While many of the members of the Rat Pack where often associated with each other, appearing together on film and in concerts and skits, each person involved was also famous in his own right. Frank Sinatra, or Old Blue Eyes, was known as one of the greatest singers of all time, sitting near Elvis Presley and the Beatles on the spectrum of musical greatness. He was known as living larger than life and making sure things were done to his liking, a desire he epitomized in his classic song My Way. Dean Martin was also known as one of the finest singers of his time. His acting abilities and his comedic sense of timing left him permanently imbedded in pop culture as well. Sammy Davis Jr. was a man of many talents, a virtual renaissance man of the arts. He was an actor, a comedian, a musician, a singer, an impressionist, and a tap dancer. Peter Lawford was not only famous for his acting talents – taking roles in several highly acclaimed films – but also for his family relations; John F. Kennedy was his brother-in-law. Joey Bishop was a comedian who served as the straight man in Rat Pack performances. He also holds the honor of hosting the Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson more times than anyone else.

The tightest knit friends, this group virtually adopted its own society, making the Sands Hotel in Las Vegas their headquarters. Here they drank, smoked, gambled, dated, and even adopted their own lingo. In “Rat Pack Language,” death was known as “The Big Casino,” anywhere that wasn’t Vegas was known as “Dullsville, Ohio,” and the average Joe was known as “Clyde.”

Partying aside, the Rat Pack was instrumental in important aspects of social and political reform. On a social front, they helped desegregate Las Vegas by refusing to perform or do business at any hotel that didn’t provide full service and amenities to African Americans. As the Rat Pack became more popular, and tickets for their shows were in higher demand, the Vegas hotels were left with the choice of removing their unfair segregation policies or losing the most sought-after performers. Politically, the Rat Pack is credited with helping John F. Kennedy get elected. Strong advocates of his candidacy, Sammy Davis Jr., Frank Sinatra, and Peter Lawford sang the Star Spangled Banner at the 1960 Democratic National Convention.

While they took part in these social and political acts, their fast lifestyle didn’t cease: they still lit up Vegas, frequently performing and partying for days at a time. But, what happened in Vegas didn’t stay in Vegas and the Rat Pack was soon under FBI surveillance because of their rumored affiliation with the Mob.

The negative light shed on them led John F. Kennedy, at the insistence of his advisors, to distance himself from the pack. This had a domino effect and caused Sinatra to distance himself from Kennedy’s brother-in-law, Peter Lawford. Despite the distance, it was John F. Kennedy’s assassination that is generally credited as the beginning of the end for the Rat Pack. Their reputation began to wane upon his death and by the end of the 1960’s the Rat Pack had all but diminished. The members, with the exception of Peter Lawford, all remained the closest friends for life.