Gambling, conventions, glamorous concerts, and extravagant stage shows draw visitors to Sin City from all over the world, but in Las Vegas weddings are big business too. From average couples standing before a sober Justice of the Peace ( Elvis-attired or not) to the glitzy celebrity nuptials of Pamela Anderson, Noel Gallagher, Michael Jordan, Nicky Hilton, and so many more, Las Vegas weddings have been the talk of the town (and beyond) for decades.
More than 95,000 marriage licenses were issued in Clark County, NV (population less than two million), in 2007; by comparison, New York City, with four times the population, issued just 66,600. The odds a marriage will take place in Las Vegas are 1 in 20.24, while the odds a person lives in Nevada are just 1 in 116.9.
What draws couples to Vegas? For some it’s the glamour; for others, the kitsch factor; for many, it’s a way to escape from everyday life and make a marriage ceremony feel even more special. Sometimes it’s even the numbers; you can gamble away your wedding budget any day, but when a numerologically “potent” date comes around, happy couples descend on the desert town in droves. One popular chapel booked 72 ceremonies for Sept. 9, 2009 (9-9-09), several times the normal volume for that day; that same night, 99 couples were scheduled to be married in a shared ceremony at exactly 9:09 p.m. in the observation deck at the Stratosphere Tower, a wedding package that set each couple back exactly $99.
Unfortunately, the old adage “what happens in Vegas stays in Vegas” is often true of marriages as well—many don’t last, and Nevada’s divorce rate is the highest in the nation. That doesn’t stop the Las Vegas wedding juggernaut, though. Vegas tourist websites make sure to point you right to the city’s wedding planning resources along with its casinos and shows. According to the Nevada Wedding Association, 400 weddings on average take place each day in Las Vegas.
So, while your chances of winning a bundle at the slot machines may be slim, odds are you know a couple who’ve had a Las Vegas wedding—maybe on the Strip, maybe at a drive-thru chapel…maybe even in a helicopter.