Last-minute Vegas wedding? After all, this is the city with a drive-thru wedding chapel, 24/7 venues and officiating Elvis around every corner. This city fully lives up to its “Wedding Capital of the World” moniker. The Downtown wedding chapels aren’t the only venues willing to go last minute. Some of the city’s resort chapels will accommodate couples on shorter notice on a space-available basis. The trend toward less expected venues and outdoor spots means that Las Vegas is ready to marry you whenever, wherever.
There is a bit of paperwork, of course, but Las Vegas makes that easy for you, too. The Clark County Marriage License Bureau is open seven days a week from 8 a.m. until midnight, in case the mood strikes. Unlike most other places, Las Vegas requires no blood test, and there’s no waiting period. Get your license and you can get married the same day. You can even start the paperwork online.
The only question is: Can you get outfitted here as quickly as you can get your paperwork done? Wedding dress shops in Las Vegas are around but not always open. If you opt for jeans, as Angelina Jolie did when she married Billy Bob Thornton at The Little Church of the West in 2000, then your wedding-attire problems aren’t an issue. But if you’d like something a tad bit more matrimonial for your last-minute nuptials, you will need to do advance planning—and legwork.
Veronica Markowsky, co-owner of Creative Bridal Wear, who works with major Strip resorts and the Downtown chapels, says that she is seeing a trend toward more spur-of-the-moment events.
“[Many] weddings are spontaneous now. People [previously] would plan their weddings three to six months out, at least. Now, the majority of our weddings are not even a week out,” she says.
To that end, Markowsky and her business partner Kelly Bain have become turnkey wedding solution providers, doing everything from renting tuxedos and gowns to arranging fittings, delivering for free, negotiating with venues, and even providing spray tans and hair-and-makeup services. As one of the wedding dress shops in Las Vegas, they have 450 gowns in stock to rent, which come with shoes and a veil (and jewelry to purchase). Conveniently for your last-minute Vegas wedding, they also have 10 different lines of tuxedos. She recommends that spur-of-the-moment brides and grooms come in without preconceived style notions.
“Nine out of 10 people will come in and say, ‘I want a mermaid gown,’ or ‘I want a princess gown,’ and they’ll walk out with something else,” Markowsky says. In fact, when she spoke with us, she’d just finished outfitting a bride and groom who’d disembarked from their flight with no wedding attire at all, arrived at her store at 8:30 a.m., and were fully dressed, made-up and getting married by 12:30 p.m.
For those who don’t want to rent, there are wedding dress shops in Las Vegas that offer dresses off the rack—even spectacular ones. The Story Bridal Couture is one of the few stores where brides can come in and purchase a gown right from the collection, says owner Tory Dean. She currently has about 230 dresses in stock with a size range of up to 24, with plans to expand next year.
“Most of the time, brides come in at the last minute looking for accessories,” she says, but she does get her share of same-day brides. Dean recommends coming armed with as much inspiration as possible—and pictures. “Especially for a last-minute bride, it helps us find something quickly when you have a feel of what you want your wedding to be.”
Dean says that the last-minute Vegas weddings she and her Vegas contemporaries see are consistent with the experience of people in the bridal business nationwide. “My brides are either getting married next month, or in two years,” she says. Even those with plenty of lead time are worried about supply-chain issues, so they’re choosing to buy gowns right from the collection. She does have advice about off-the-rack gown buying: “Last-minute brides who want to purchase off the rack shouldn’t expect something at a discount. [Quick availability] isn’t necessarily a money-saving strategy.” Like other vendors in the bridal business, Dean can refer clients to other same-day services, including alterations (“It’s a little legwork, but we can make it happen”), and networks with Friar Tux. The former Tuxedo Junction store carries same-day suit and tux rentals, as well as shirts, vests, ties and even shoes, and will pick up and deliver to most hotels in Las Vegas.
Even bridal stores that hadn’t previously worked with many—or any—last-minute brides are now seeing compressed schedules. Annette Cirillo-Bergen of Couture Bride, who doesn’t carry stock but sells gowns from the samples she orders, says, “We’ve sold a lot of samples off the rack because people want to get married in the backyard or in the mountains.” She’s noticed that people’s perspectives have changed in general. “What was so important before seems a little less important now,” she says. People aren’t willing to pay sky-high prices for gowns when they are getting married in dynamic venues—like national parks, on a picturesque mountaintop or in the desert. And that change is trickling down to wedding gown fashion.
Alos, many couples like that chapel look but aren’t religious.
“Dresses have become a lot more playful since people aren’t necessarily walking down the aisle in a church,” she says. Having recently come back from a market trip to Chicago, she’s seeing “a lot of floral, sheer, lightweight and whimsical dresses.” Even though Couture Bride is still a by-appointment-only store and doesn’t generally take walk-ins, you can still get completely outfitted on short notice, Cirillo-Bergen says.
“I had a bride come in at 1 p.m., buy a sample from us that we were able to alter on the spot because our alterations woman happened to be there. We put a belt on her and she was walking down the aisle four hours later.”