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‘There’s no place like Vegas’ for a Valentine’s Day wedding

Wedding Industry

February 14, 2022

By: Meg Bernhard | LA Times

Heart confetti falls on Melissa and Jason Dowe as they pose for photos after renewing their vows at the Wedding Chapel in Las Vegas on Valentine’s Day. (Bridget Bennett / For The Times)

LAS VEGAS — In the marriage capital of the world — Las Vegas — love is always in the air.
This month, Clark County expects an influx of marriage license applications, with one date, Feb. 22, 2022 (2/22/22) — a popular pick for numerology fans — expected to break records. The Marriage License Bureau in downtown Las Vegas was closed for six weeks in 2020, at the start of the pandemic, but quickly regained business in 2021. The number of marriage licenses issued that year surpassed 2019.

Although the U.S. marriage rate is generally declining, the country will see an estimated 2.5 million weddings in 2022 — the highest number in the past decade, according to the Knot.

Rodger Lueto of Humble, Texas, and Jessica Negron of Wallington, N.J., kiss after their Valentine’s Day wedding ceremony at Graceland Wedding Chapel. (Bridget Bennett / For The Times)
Surrounded by family, Paul and Carrie Huyssoon kiss during their wedding ceremony at A Little White Wedding Chapel. (Bridget Bennett / For The Times)
The couple share cupcakes after their ceremony. (Bridget Bennett / For The Times)

On Valentine’s Day morning, the bureau was bustling with soon-to-be-married couples. They were dressed in jeans and dresses, embracing and sharing kisses as they waited in line to purchase marriage licenses — the document that would render their union legally valid — for $102. Some days, the line is hundreds of feet long, wrapping around the block, said County Clerk Lynn Marie Goya, who oversees the bureau.

“Everyone loves Valentine’s Day. Valentine’s is always a busy day for us,” Goya said. “It’s very easy to come to Clark County to get married.”

A woman wearing a white veil is among pedestrians passing by the Marriage License Bureau. (Bridget Bennett / For The Times)
Cassandra and Leslie Hines visit the Marriage License Bureau for their marriage license. (Bridget Bennett / For The Times)
Couples wait in line for their marriage licenses amid Valentine’s decorations.  (Bridget Bennett / For The Times)
Flower petals line the street in downtown Las Vegas. (Bridget Bennett / For The Times)

The office is open from 8 p.m. to midnight, every day of the year, and prides itself on efficiency. Most couples, Goya said, spend about 10 minutes waiting for their license.

“If you’re planning a big wedding at home, that’s not who we are,” Goya said. “If you really want to focus on you and not the event, but the actual nuptials and celebrating with your family and friends, there’s no place like Vegas.”

Melissa Dowe waits with her dogs for the vow-renewal ceremony with husband Jason to begin.  (Bridget Bennett / For The Times)
The couple renew their vows at the Wedding Chapel in Las Vegas. (Bridget Bennett / For The Times)
A wedding dress is on display. (Bridget Bennett / For The Times)

Dozens of wedding chapels were open for business Monday. Melissa and Jason Dowe brought their two Yorkshire Terriers, Minni and Harley, to renew their vows at Vegas Weddings, in downtown Las Vegas. The two were truck drivers who shared their first kiss in 2014.

That day, Jason told Melissa he would marry her. “I laughed in the man’s face,” Melissa said Monday morning. “I told him, ‘Good luck on that one.’”

Rodger Lueto and Jessica Negron pose for wedding photos. (Bridget Bennett / For The Times)
The Little White Wedding Chapel’s drive-through window. (Bridget Bennett / For The Times)
Jason Moore and Kelly Firesheets of Cincinnati kiss after their drive-through wedding ceremony. (Bridget Bennett / For The Times)