Monday, October 3, 2011

Seeking: A "Proper" Venue in Las Vegas

Dear ESB

Since my FH and I are teachers, we decided to take this summer to road trip and explore the United States. In lieu of planning a big expensive wedding, we are opting to spend our saved money seeing the sites we've never gotten to see and visiting friends and family we've missed over the years. Approximately mid-way through the trip, we'll reach Vegas, and finally get married. A few very close friends and immediately family (10-15 people) are excited to fly out and join us for the ceremony and a few days of Vegas fun during this small event. 

Here is the issue: I am having trouble finding a proper Vegas wedding location. From all of the Internet searches I've done, I'm coming up with venues that are among many other descriptors cheesy, straight out of 1970 wall paneled, Burgundy carpeted or tacky muraled out. We do not want an Elvis wedding, we do not want any schmaltz. We just want to have a low-key, intimate ceremony.

My wedding dress is a cocktail-length white crocheted A-line I got for like $80. He is wearing a grey jcrew suit, no tie. Very simple, to the point.

We do not want to have a reception, but instead are going to find some great restaurant to meet everyone out at, and then go clubbing on the strip for the rest of the night. Most likely, my FH and I are going to stay at the Hard Rock Hotel, but because of expenses and informality of the ceremony don't want to book a wedding at one of these big-type hotel venues.

Do you, or anyone you know, have any suggestions of where we could do the damn thing at? I am open to venues not directly on the strip, but I don't want to stray too far because I know that sometimes the outskirts of Las Vegas can be kind of sketch.  

Thanks so much for your help!!!


No Elvis. No schmaltz. But you're staying at the Hard Rock and going clubbing after the wedding??

The only thing to do is EMBRACE IT, LADY.


Me, I'd get married at The Little White Wedding Chapel. It worked for  Joanne Woodward + Paul Newman.

Photo: Michael Forester via 100 Layer Cake


  1. I was at a wedding here:

    And honestly, it was pretty beautiful. There are a couple different places to get married on the grounds... I think it's kind of what you are looking for?

  2. So upon viewing the videos of the tours of the different chapels, I felt compelled to say the venue is not cheesey like the "tour."

  3. I *completely* hear you. My wedding is in Vegas next Spring, and while I wanted to embrace the Vegasy-ness with my theme, my FH and I didn't want the stereotypical Vegas wedding venue.

    MGM Grand or Mandalay Bay both have very nice chapels that are far enough from the casino slot machine noise that you won't feel like you're in the middle of the casino floor. They also both offer very cost effective options for a ceremony, and MGM even has a live streaming feature for any family or friends that couldn't make the trip.

    I also have a friend who hired a big tour bus to take friends over to the LV court house and got married there. Nothing fancy at all, their budget went straight to the transportation part. I still regret not being able to make that one.

  4. @esb...That's what I was thinking...

  5. I have friends who live in Vegas and they drove up to Lake Tahoe for a "proper" wedding. If you're having a Vegas wedding, might as well have a Vegas wedding

  6. Yup. You just gotta go with it.

  7. The Flamingo has a really cute chapel/garden area... I would say go with the Casino/Hotel Chapels and not the ones of the stip.. but that's just me. Enjoy Vegas!

  8. I don't understand. If it is just 15 or so people gathering for a ceremony, why do you need a proper "venue"? It could be virtually anywhere. If you look for small places to have a "wedding" *on* the strip, you are going to get strip/vegas type wedding places. So, look for non weddingy places.

    If you are outdoorsy, I would head in a heartbeat to my favorite part of (not town) red rock canyon. You could just have the ceremony guerrilla style.

    Art museum? Park? Cactus garden?

    Rent a bitchin penthouse suite somewhere with a great patio and view and hold the ceremony there.

    Find a lovely vacation rental that jives with your style. And have the ceremony in the backyard.

    And, um. The strip is one of the sketchiest parts of Las Vegas. There are many perfectly clean and safe other areas. (It feels really weird to be defending it, but hey it is my hometown.) In fact, the outskirts are generally WAY nicer than the center of town.

  9. i don't know what happened to the link i coded in:

  10. My sister-in-law got married at TheChapel at the Mandalay Bay and it was a very small intimate non cheesy vegas wedding.

  11. I have been to three ceremonies at the Flamingo Hilton in a little grassy enclave and it sounds perfect for what you're looking for.

  12. Did I miss something? What's wrong with cheesy, 70s Vegas? I second ESB's advice. Embrace it... like Bowie Bride's "re-do" wedding... story HERE. More photos HERE. I mean, if you're gonna do Vegas, DO VEGAS, especially if you're on a tiny budget. xo.

  13. @ Jamie

    Didn't mean to offend with the 'sketch' comment, just meant that we are unfamiliar with the outskirts of Vegas and wanted to keep things simple. I LOVE the guerilla wedding idea and have contemplated doing just that in familiar territory here on the east coast, but sort of want something that involves as little planning and people management as possible. My FH and I are definitely outdoorsy, but some of our guests are not (mother in-law is 72). And finding an officiant whom we don't personally know to follow us out into the desert seems like an unwanted extra step. However, those spots you've recommended looking fucking fantastic, but I am sort of bent on simple logistics (because even fifteen people to manage is overwhelming to me).

    @ Elle,

    The Chapel of the Flowers gazebo looks about right, thanks for recommending it, I will check it out!


  14. If you don't want to embrace the cheese, and if you're in Vegas I feel like you have to embrace the cheese, have you thought of changing the location and doing something in Utah? Bryce and Zion are not only totally stunning, but are as far from cheese as possible and I'm sure have the facilities you need to get married. Otherwise, I agree with esb.

  15. MGM is a good option... still in vegas still the light but a chapel that's not on top of the poker table!

  16. i second snarkycat's advice. my husband and i just honeymooned in Utah -- unbelievably beautiful and completely CHEESE FREE. the towns surrounding Zion are so adorable ... and the landscape there is absolutely staggering.

    (we also spent a couple nights in Vegas -- if you aren't interested in embracing the kitschy-ness of it all ... including getting a giant plastic cowboy boot filled with booze ... you may want to rethink that leg of the trip).

  17. So I went to Vegas for 3 days this summer, and then Hurricane Irene hit, and we were there for 9. So I've seen a lot of Vegas, and I think you either have to a) embrace the Vegas charm and go the The Little White Chapel or b) shell out the $$ for the more sophisticated Mandalay Bay TheChapel, etc. Vegas is not a city of middle ground.

    And now I will proceed to give unsolicited advice: Visit Old Vegas one night. All the old school neon signs and unpretentious charm you can stand. Also, 25 cent roulette.

    I love love loved Red Rock Canyon; we went hiking and it was simply breathtaking (and also not too strenuous, so you can totally have a Vegas night out after your hike). And if you're going to a show, Love is super incredible and worth the $$. Crazy Horse was also fun.

    You have to go here:
    KoMex Fusion and get Beef Fusion Burrito. Yes, this place is in a strip mall in no man's land. You will not regret it, and you just might dream about this burrito weeks after your trip.

  18. The Aria hotel. We attended a conference there. Not very Vegas-like. Cl rooms

  19. My best friend got married in Vegas and did the same "reception", but for the ceremony her dad got ordained and married them in a beautiful hotel suite! I forget which hotel it was, but whichever you pick I'm sure you can find a nice "upgrade" room which would be a nice backdrop. Then they met David Hasselhoff through the window of their limo bus.

  20. Hi,
    Congratulations! I'm with Chapel of the Flowers are totally that not-cheesy Vegas wedding chapel, but focus on elegance and intimacy while still having the Vegas budget and simplicity in planning. We have a couple venues on-site that you may like such as the outdoor gazebo or the Magnolia Chapel, which is super cute and contemporary. On that same note, a photo shoot at the Neon Graveyard could be a ton of fun and it invokes that vintage Vegas vibe.
    We could also arrange a wedding for you at the Valley of Fire, which is gorgeous and outdoors and if you got two limos with that, you could have all your guests transported.
    Whatever you choose to do, congratulations and best of luck!

  21. My sister got married in Vegas, in May, at the Little Chapel of the West. It was a little cheesy and a little Vegas . . . but since we were IN Vegas, it seemed appropriate. She had her after-wedding dinner (with 20 guests) at Bootleggers and it was AMAZING. I'd recommend it over 75% of the other food we ate in Vegas.

    Have fun and congrats!

  22. @anon oh i wasn't offended. just trying to set the record straight.

    i still think having the ceremony in suite is the best bet! (if you don't want to embrace the cheese or go off strip.)

    or yeah, pick another state! in CO you can marry YOURSELVES. how cool is that?

    the whole thing makes me want to start a biz as an officiant who specializes in elopement/guerrilla weddings, also helping with coordination. Shit my husband should be the officiant and *I* would take photos. What else do you need?

  23. You guys are amazing, thanks for all the advice!

  24. @Jaime & Ash
    Renting a suit is starting to seem like a perfectly badass idea for a wedding and definitely something I'm going to investigate. Thanks you guys!!


  25. Yep, you gotta embrace the the Vegas. Just don't try to cover up the reality of whatever panelled venue you choose and take it for what it is--you know?

    On another note, I agree with Jess who suggested the NEON GRAVEYARD (damn that's a badass idea and I'm a little jealous of anyone who has even been there).

  26. The Artisan Hotel has a very cute, quaint outdoor area that is often used for small weddings. It's a boutique little hotel off the beaten path. It's quirky, fun, and sweet without being too "Vegas, Baby, Vegas!"