Drive-by Weddings

Be it hot-air balloons, tunnels, casinos, or deserts, Las Vegas is a fun and somewhat practical place to practice the institution of marriage.

Recently, the institution of marriage has taken major hits from President Clinton's exploits to Tom Cruise's break-up. Samuel Butler, an eminent English author and grandson of a clergyman once said about marriage "For in what stupid age or nation was marriage ever out of fashion?" Certainly, in Las Vegas marriage is never out of fashion.

And though it may not be out of fashion, the institute of marriage has certainly gotten less stodgy. In Vegas especially, spontaneity and the do-it-yourself ethic have made fun of the ceremony that has many mother-in-law loose sleep.

For those who are in a hurry to say, "I do," Las Vegas offers the most unique range of quick ceremonies available. From the basic justice-of-the-peace ceremony to the convenient drive-through wedding window, The New Marriage Capital of the World caters to all your nuptial whims. With dozens of marriage parlors and hundreds of ceremonies performed daily, Las Vegas has asserted itself as the destination for couples ready to take the plunge.

One of the most popular chapels in Las Vegas is Candlelight Wedding Chapel. Popular because it is the only wedding service in the tourist district housed in a freestanding chapel.

Shirley Barton and Sam Foster woke up at Caesars Palace, brushed their teeth, threw on some clothes, and headed for breakfast. What this loving couple didn't know was by 3 a.m. their days of being single were over.

"Sam and I are spontaneous people. All week we saw advertisements on the Strip offering ceremonies 24-hours-a-day," said Shirley. The happy couple didn't believe how easy it was to get married in Las Vegas. "Sam and I popped into the Marriage License Bureau at Clark County Courthouse, and we were off to the Candlelight Chapel. It was that easy."

So easy in fact that Clark County recorded more than 100,000 marriages in 1999, 12 percent from outside the US.

Another hot spot is the Little White Chapel. Serving-up blissful matrimony since 1946, this well-known chapel has united such stars as Michael Jordan, Joan Collins, and The Who. The chapel's appeal is its marriages in the sky … er balloon … and a drive-through window resembling a fast food joint

"It's like going to a drive-in movie without the movie," says Tim Maxwell. Tim has been married for ten years and attributes his success to keeping his relationship interesting. "I believe that to have a good marriage one partner has to mix it up a little bit. Las Vegas gave us that chance to be ourselves," Maxwell said.

If the thrill of a drive-through wedding window or a chapel open 24-hours-a-day is not your style, then a visit to the Commissioner is in order -- the Commissioner of Civil Marriages that is. A surrogate-Justice of the Peace Deputy Commissioner will unite you in holy matrimony for $35. This wedding option is the quickest and most convenient way to tie the knot.

Some of the more famous people to wed in Las Vegas are: Elvis Presley, Dennis Rodman, Frank Sinatra, Bruce Willis, Richard Gere, Cindy Crawford, Sammy Davis Jr., and Paul Newman. These celebrities carry on the love affair Hollywood has with the rich tradition Las Vegas has to offer.


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