More than 100,000 get married in Vegas every single year. There is something quite magical about getting away from it all and eloping on your own terms! That’s exactly what photographer Bethan wanted when she and her husband John decided to renew their vows. They wanted to have the day just for them and the only person they brought with them was their wedding photographer, Lisa Jane.
The couple met at 18, when they were both at the same university and have been together ever since. “That first year of university, and every year that has passed since, has been pretty damn awesome”, Bethan told me. “In fact 16 years of adventures and good times have passed and John and I live one of those sickly true love story things but neither of us are embarrassed to shout about it.”
“Our 16th anniversary might seem like an odd year to celebrate in style but the truth be told the year before that been just a little crazy. Renovating our house, putting our heart and souls into our business and just about managing to remind our friends and family that we existed, so we didn’t get a chance to do much at all that year. We had a wonderful wedding six years ago, a brilliant day filled with loved ones and partying, but it passed so quickly. I wouldn’t change a thing about our actual wedding day, and I am from a very close family, but when we decided to renew our vows, we thought it would be fitting for it to just be us. No distractions, no worrying of people were having a good time, just all about me and my boy and our love for each other. It felt a little self indulgent at first but sometimes there is nothing wrong with a little selfishness and celebrating how much you blooming love each other.”
I first visited Vegas in February 2012 for a wedding photography conference. I kinda knew I’d love it before I even got there. It’s basically like a giant theme park for adults after all! Also, living vicariously through all the hundreds of epic Vegas weddings I’ve featured over the years meant I was SO READY to experience it for myself.
What I didn’t expect was that I’d leave that trip with not only a new favourite place, but with two new best friends and a brand new business venture! It was on that holiday that I first met Gala and Shauna in-person and we came up with the idea for a little blogging workshop called The Blogcademy!
Needless to say, ever since I’ve been GAGGING to go back, and once we’d decided to do a workshop in Los Angeles, which is only a one hour flight away, I begged and pleaded with them to do a quick detour on the way home. They didn’t take much convincing, mind..!
Now I know plenty of you reading this will be hopping over to LV for either your wedding or the honeymoon of a lifetime in the near future so I wanted to take this opportunity to share some of my top recommendations. This is just the tip of the iceberg of course (we didn’t even get the chance to explore off the main strip) so even if you’re not particularly into drinking or gambling there is so much to keep you occupied.
Pick your hotel wisely
There are so many hotels in Vegas it can be quite intimidating knowing which is the best choice. One of the most important things you need to consider is location. While the main strip itself is only around four miles long, it takes forever to walk from one place to another thanks to the clever maze of bridges, roadblocks and diversions designed to get you inside as many casinos as possible!
Crossing the street is no simple matter. You often need to walk half a mile down to the next bridge (because only someone with a death wish would attempt to run across Las Vegas Boulevard and it’s 12 lanes of traffic!) which leads directly into a casino and then weave your way back into the daylight! It’s a mission and a half, believe me, and comfortable shoes are a must!
Teresa and Nathan were married in Vegas, but their wedding was anything but the “traditional” shotgun wedding. Their ceremony was held at the iconic Neon Graveyard museum!
“With both of us losing all four of our parents, and the rest of our family split in two different parts of the US, we decided that we were going to keep the mood light and do exactly what we want for our wedding – go to Las Vegas!”, the bride began. “People often ask if we were married by Elvis. I think a lot of people have the misconception that Vegas weddings mean drive-through ceremonies and kitsch. While there is a fair share of that, we chose Las Vegas because of the unique venue choices and our ability to tailor our wedding to suit our personalities. We made the day a reflection of us. I am actually a graphic designer in the signage industry, so what better ceremony venue that The Neon Sign Museum!?”
The wedding had a purple and teal colour scheme. After the ceremony, the wedding party went to the Fireside Lounge at Peppermill Restaurant for a meal. “When I spoke to our suppliers, particularly the lady who made our cake, my inspiration was ‘Marie Antoinette on Acid'”, she continued. “We enjoyed the entire wedding day from start to finish, but if I had to pick a favourite moment it would be the meal after the ceremony and spending time with my family and friends. Since we only had six guests at our wedding, it was nice being able to talk, laugh and drink with everyone.”
Katie and Richard were saving to buy a house when Richard proposed. So instead of moving, they decided to splash out on their dream wedding in Vegas!
As they travelled for the wedding, most of the little things like flowers were provided by the chapel, but the bride did make all the pinwheels for everyone to wear. “I have always loved pinwheels so I knew I wanted to do something that included them”, she said. “I was speaking to Richard about themes and ideas and he said he was happy for me to do what I liked (YAY!) but I wanted to make sure it wasn’t just about what I wanted Richard had to be in there too. Both of us love colour and whilst looking through the internet one day, my friend found some fabric patterns that she thought we would love. She sent me the links and I sat and looked at them all and pretty much fell in love with one of the patterns which included sugar skulls, birds and flowers but most important of all had pretty much every colour you could possibly want! It was a winner and I was able to order the fabric by Alexander Henry via Etsy.”
Katie had her pink wedding dress and rainbow unicorn headpiece (!!) made by The Couture Company in Birmingham. “The rest of the ideas kind of just developed from there”, she continued. “I knew pink had to be included in my wedding dress because pink is just the best and I kind of just landed on yellow for Pam, my maid of honour. It wasn’t until we were looking for Richard’s shoes that things really clicked in to place. I wanted him to have something amazing so obviously Vivienne Westwood was one of the only places to look and there they were. They were pink and yellow and fabulous! Richard loved them and even though they would become one of the most expensive things he would ever wear, he had to have them.”
Stephanie and Sebastian travelled from their home in Germany to have a teeny tiny elopement ceremony on a dry lake bed just outside of Vegas. The bride wore a homemade dress and headpiece, and she arranged her own bouquet with flowers from Whole Foods. They brought lawn flamingos as décor and Mexican blankets to use as props for their photos.
“We tried to skip all the typical Vegas wedding things and keep it simple and cool”, wrote the bride “so we just head out of town! Luckily we found our wide open space in the middle of the desert and got married beside our beautiful friends. My friend played on the ukulele and sang after the ceremony which was very emotional.”
Ryan always wanted to get married in Vegas and luckily for him, when he ran it by his fiancé Beth she was up for it too! They travelled from New Zealand with 20 of their closest friends and family – 8 of them even went with them on the honeymoon to Hawaii!
“Beth is a full time burlesque entertainer and lounge singer and my background is in theatre too, although I’m now mainly a web designer”, explained the groom. “I really wanted to get married in Las Vegas, so Beth chose the date to fall on her 25th birthday, I think so I couldn’t possibly forget either event ever.”
“We had about 20 people at the wedding in total, and 8 of them travelled with us the whole way, including coming to Hawaii for the honeymoon. The dress code was sequins because Beth is practically a magpie. Everyone wore a sequin dress or white, and the girls all put bright colour in their hair to complement her bright pink hair. Even my mother in law coloured her hair bright purple.”
Beth wore a stunning sequinned dress from Jovani. “My favourite part of the whole experience was my beautiful bride”, he continued. “I could have cared less about anything else that happened that day as soon as I realised she was mine forever. I think Beth would say the same about me. Our biggest expense was our photographer, of course, because having beautiful images was our number one priority. The dress(es) ended up costing more than we anticipated too because Beth had had a champagne gold sequin dress made in NZ, but the day before the wedding (literally) in Vegas she was shopping for wedding shoes, and I got a phone call from her in tears because she’d walked past a shop full of sequins and realised that there was a dress inside which she absolutely had to wear or the world would end. So I did what any smart man would do and told her to just buy it. So each of those dresses cost around $1500 NZD, but that’s a lot cheaper than the alternative…the wrath of your wife!”