Two years ago, on November 26th, 2016, my husband and I decided to take the uncoventional route (as we so often do) and get married in Las Vegas, Nevada. It was a spur of the moment decision made only three weeks prior. After getting engaged along our Icelandic road-trip in June, and after dating for five years, we agreed it was a good time to take the plunge. Furthermore, we mutually concluded that neither of us wanted to spend tens of thousands of dollars on a traditional wedding and reception. We didn’t want the pressure of pleasing hundreds of guests on our most special day; we wanted the day to belong to us and our LOVE.
Nowadays, more often than not, the ceremony and decor, the cake and floral arrangements, the venue and the catering become the full focus of the whole wedding affair – each trying to outdo the last and each trying to impress their loved ones. However, in my opinion, I feel none of this should matter in the slightest. I believe the only thing a bride and groom should focus their attention on is their unbreakable bond, unconditional love and committal vows they’re creating in the name of their everlasting future together. The hoopla that a wedding usually entails is, in large part, FOR the guests and a mere distraction from the real purpose – the true meaning of it all.
Even more, I didn’t want the worry and the stress of planning the “perfect” (what the majority deems ‘perfect’) wedding. I wanted FUN and I wanted freedom to marry how, when and wherever we fancied. I wanted only my closet friends and family in attendance – the ones crazy enough to fly to Vegas with less than two weeks notice. I wanted a long honeymoon to follow with no set agenda. I wanted spontaneity. Above all, I wanted to marry the love of my life – that was it. It was as simple as that.
Therefore, we chose to have a “VIVA LAS VEGAS WEDDING” and… it was the best day and best decision ever! It was the wedding of MY dreams. Not every girl grows up dreaming of and planning her “fairytale” wedding. Heck, I barely dreamed of getting married at all. All I ever wanted was a man to love, whole-heartedly, and who loved me just the same in return. A partner to spend a lifetime having endless adventures with; A partner to share a life of passion with; A partner to create a life revolving around giving and receiving love, kindness and support with. That was my dream. This Vegas wedding was my dream.
If you and your partner sound anything like my husband and I, than perhaps a small and fun Las Vegas wedding is in your future …AND I am here to provide some insight on what that can really entail (continue reading below). HINT: It’s not JUST the ridiculous, drunken elopement performed by the tacky Elvis with a stripper as a witness (as many assume).
WARNING: This post was in NO way intended to offend any one who does go the conventional, large wedding route. IF that is what you truly dream of – than by all means, make it happen. Just be absolutely sure to acknowledge all the possible stress and worry this choice could potentially cause. Just ask yourself, “Is it worth it? Could the worry drain all the fun, positive, and radiant vibes?”. If you truly ask yourself these things beforehand and STILL land on having that big, conventional ceremony and extravagant reception – then GO FOR IT! Good for you for being able to do all that (because I sure the heck couldn’t have). ❤
In Las Vegas, you have so many options when it comes to choosing a venue: chapels, outdoor locations, hotel banquet rooms, etc. There is NO shortage of places to wed in the wedding capital of the world. Doug and I considered an outdoor wedding (especially in the Valley of Fire State Park) however, it wasn’t convenient for our guests. We needed a place more conducive and easily accessible for our parents (and grandparent). I also had zero desire for Elvis to officiate our wedding, even though it’s the stereo-typical Vegas wedding. I didn’t want to make our wedding into a farce. I didn’t want it to be any sort of “joke” in any way, shape or form. Now, I’m not knocking on those who do get married by Elvis and characters – maybe to some people it’s not so silly and absurd. As always, to each their own. Regardless, we landed on the venue: Viva Las Vegas Wedding Chapel and opted for a traditional ceremony called the Forevermore Wedding Package.
The package cost $525 and included:
- Ceremony Performed in The Main Chapel
- Rose Bouquet
- 8 Candid Photos (taken during ceremony)
- Unity Candle Ceremony
- Toasting Glasses
- Souvenir Wedding Scroll
- Candlelit Chapel
- Complimentary Limousine Service to and from the Chapel for the Couple
- Wedding Website and Wedding Invitation
- Your Names In Lights on Our Marquee
- Wedding Coordinator
- Chapel Fee
- Ceremony is Limited to 50 Wedding Guests or Less
- + more
In summation, we paid $525 for everything we needed – so, incredibly cheap in comparison with the usual weddings most choose to have. There are, indeed, [much] more expensive Vegas wedding packages as well as many cheaper ones (there’s even a drive-thru wedding option ha!). But, with all that said, this package included all we needed and the venue was the most charming of all the ones I had researched. The ceremony was on time, the officiant was nice and well-spoken, they delivered on all promises and I didn’t have to worry about a single thing throughout the day – other than getting ready, of course.
Since our wedding costs were so minimal, I was able to really splurge on my dress and my hair – oh how costly my long locks were! We were also able to splurge on all the other Vegas festivities along with our honeymoon. It was IDEAL.
My friends and family, along with Doug and I, stayed in the Luxor for the weekend. The morning of our wedding, my maid of honor (Amy) and I woke up early to have breakfast with my family (my mom, dad, brother and sister-in-law). I was in disbelief over the amount of calmness I had awoken with. I felt total peace and total excitement – there was no doubt in my mind that everything about this day was RIGHT.
After our delicious meal at the Pyramid Cafe, all the women went to the Nurture Salon to have our hair and nails done together. It was an intimate setting and such a treasured time of bonding, love and laughter spent with some of the most important women in my life.
After getting ready, my two best friends came to my room to hang out and relax before the ceremony (and perhaps have a drink or two). It was unbelievably amazing to have those two there for my special day.
The fact that every pre-ceremony activity was able to smoothly take place in ONE location (the Luxor) was a phenomenal bonus. It further added to the no-stress, hassle-free wedding day I so desired. We didn’t have to leave this huge (and I mean HUGE) establishment until the limo arrived and swept us all away to the Viva Las Vegas Wedding Chapel.
The ceremony itself was short and sweet. As tradition has it (and as the one tradition I was unwilling to waiver from), my dad walked me down the aisle and gave me away to the man of my dreams. My maid of honor and Doug’s best man stood beside us in support of our union. Two of our other best friends, John and Joe (who happen to be professional photographers + videographers in the film industry, too) watched from the pews and filmed it all, free of charge (we have great friends, undoubtedly). Our parents, siblings and other best friends were in attendance as well (I believe there were 17 people in total). We said our vows, lit our unity candle, kissed and were on our merry way as the newly wed “Mr. and Mrs. Michaels”.
Now, even though our package included a photography session post-ceremony, Doug and I took our own photos afterwards with our wonderfully talented photographer (and best friend), John Bair – whom we trusted to out-perform any photographer they could hire.
Next, upon nightfall, we all headed to the Bellagio Fountain (an iconic and beautiful Vegas staple) to continue our photography + wedding videography session.
To our delight, the crowds parted for Doug and I as we danced to Celine Dion’s “My Heart Will Go On” alongside the Bellagio Fountain’s grand show. Non-stop, passerby’s excitedly congratulated us and cheered us on. The genuine bliss in the air encompassed every fiber of my being. Not often I cry tears of joy but, as we played among the fountain, such uncommon tears gently graced my cheek. I was elated; beside myself in utter euphoria.
Note: to see these Bellagio Fountain scenes (such as us dancing), check out our wedding video linked at the end of this post (filmed by Joe Nugent and edited by Doug Michaels).
*above photos taken by John Bair and video stills by Joe Nugent.
After the Bellagio Fountain extravaganza, we all headed to dinner at Stratosphere Hotel where the speeches were made and the cake (tiramisu in our case) was shared. We all conversed, laughed, dined and drank wine as we enjoyed each other’s intimate company. It was absolutely splendid to be able to spend such quality time with each person in attendance – this is atypical with a common + conventional wedding.
After our marvelous dinner, we taxi’d back to the Luxor and said goodnight to some of our guests (parents and such) before “getting the party started.”
Doug and I, along with our friends, made our way to LAX Night Club where we all got in for FREE! That’s right, because it was our wedding night and our wedding party, none of us had to pay the usual $50 cover charge. EVEN MORE, we were all given two free drink chips. But, once inside, we ended up not paying for a single drink anyway thanks to all the amazing club goers who were super happy for us and feeling very generous. We had a total BLAST dancing and celebrating the night away.
After all the dancing and clubbing, we hit the casino – feeling very lucky on our special night! Long story short, Doug and I put down $300 on red at the roulette table. Low and behold, red hit. We were now at $600. “BET AGAIN” – everyone chanted! So, we put our $600 on red, once more. AND WE WON AGAIN! We walked away with $1200 and that was as far as I was willing to push my luck at that particular game. We continued to play slots, drink and live it up with our people until the wee hours of the morning.
Our wedding day – 11.26.16 – was the utmost, true Vegas experience and I couldn’t have dreamed of a more perfect way to spend the most special day in my life. I was blessed beyond measure.
I hope that this post helps anyone who is weighing the option of having a Las Vegas wedding and I hope that it shows you another side to it; A side that is still a bit traditional, a side that includes close family and friends and a side that is still classy yet SO MUCH FUN. Most of all, I hope it shows you that you can have a stress-free wedding – it IS possible. You do NOT have to do all those little things that society makes us, women, believe we HAVE to do in order to have a great wedding. You can follow your own damn rules when it comes to your special day. Nothing irks me more than when I hear brides (and grooms) relentlessly complain about how stressed and worried they are about their impending wedding. I want to shake them and say, “Hello! Wake up! This was ALL your decision – you CHOSE to have this stress in your life. It didn’t HAVE to be this way”. Just food for thought (as always)! You CAN get married in Vegas, or on a mountain top in the wilderness with no one else in sight for miles and miles. The possibilities are limitless.
And now, without further ado, check out our Viva Las Vegas Wedding via our fantastic wedding video shot by Joe Nugent (our dear friend)…
As always, thank you for reading and happy travels,
P.S. If you have any further questions regarding a Vegas wedding / our Vegas wedding, feel free to ask in the comments below (or reach out to me via my website’s contact page). I am more than happy to help in any way that I can. 🙂
This post is dedicated to my husband, Doug Michaels
2nd Wedding Anniversary ❤