You’ve seen it in the movies. Two people in love, no matter how brief, have made the decision to tie the knot with a bang. The fancy term is ‘an elopement’, but it darn romantic whichever way you look at it.
Whatever your reason is, be it a planned escape from the immense planning of a traditional wedding or you’ve found love at first sight in the magical land where quick decisions are king. For a lot of people, a wedding in Vegas is a dream, come true; but for some, it may be just like a bad hangover that just won’t quit.
Any way you see it, this guide has you covered with everything you need to know about eloping in Vegas.
When eloping in Las Vegas it is important to consider the needs of your guests, the hotel they stay in is a big deal, as well as what you want out of your own experience. Choosing a package from a hotel will simplify the entirety of the process for you or you can choose a ceremony only package from a budget wedding company to save some money.
Las Vegas is a huge powerhouse of luxury and temptation and thus can be intimidating to make a selection. Here are some guidelines to get you started.
Note: All quoted prices in USD.
Before arriving in Vegas
As with any venture, thinking things through ahead of time will seriously increase the chances of everything going smoothly. And, of course, reduce the odds of crazy unforeseeable curveballs.
As Vegas is a massive tourist destination for weddings among many other things, it has a huge variety to consider and requires some time dedicated to narrowing down your options. Here are the main points you need to consider ahead of time.
What is the best time of year to get married in Las Vegas?
Depending on your crowd this will differ for some groups. However, based on shooting for the right temperature, the best time for weather in Las Vegas is around the end of April, up until the beginning of June. This is due to the springtime wind settling down and not quite having the extreme temperature of summer beating down on you.
Even though Las Vegas is a hot desert it can still get quite cold in the wintertime and RIDICULOUSLY HOT in the summer, so the time of year is something that should not be taken lightly.
If your schedule allows for everybody to make it in this time period then this would be the way to go. Granted, this would be the high season for weddings and will most certainly make it more expensive and reduce the selection. So, if you are going towards the end of spring make sure you book well in advance.
If you do choose to go in the offseason (January-February or July-August) then you will be sure to save money on the venue, flights, and accommodation. But, best to go with a large indoor climate-controlled venue just to be on the safe side.
How can my guests and I get the best deal on Airfare?
This is potentially where you could save the most money for everybody. Las Vegas airport is the 19th busiest airport in the world and has loads of budget airlines flying in several times a day from many departure points.
Budget airlines such as Southwest Airlines, Frontier Airlines, Allegiant Air and Alaska Airlines offer flights ranging from $45 and upwards for a one-way flight to Vegas from within the United States. Any short-haul domestic flights will be the cheapest with many departures leaving daily. However, this is not possible for everybody.
A good rule of thumb is to book your flights around 3 weeks away from the time of the flight (if you have the willpower), this is because the prices of the flights will change depending on the popularity of the flight and it’s around this time that the airline will drop the cost of empty seats to ensure that the flight is as full as possible.
If you are traveling in a large group during high-season, however, I would not recommend this strategy because it may be tough to get a large number of tickets in this case.
Using a search engine like skyscanner.net or cheapoair.com can be a good option as they will do the legwork of searching all of the airlines for you and you are able to save searches and get a notification if the price drops.
Keep in mind though that using third party websites like these can make it difficult or costly to make any changes or cancel the flight if something changes. It is best to be careful and be sure of your dates before booking on these websites.
Can I handle our marriage license ahead of time?
Getting a marriage license in the state of Nevada requires no waiting period or blood testing with no appointment needed. You can go down to the courthouse located at 201 Clark Ave., Las Vegas NV, provide government-issued photo ID from both parties which must both attend in person and voilà!
Assuming you are of the age of consent (18 years old) your marriage license is handled once you have paid the $77 in cash. If you are from outside the United States, your marriage license is legally granted you provide your own country with a County Clerk’s Office marriage certificate ($15) and an Apostille from the Nevada Secretary of State ($20).
If you are a go-getter, you can pre-register for a marriage license online here. This will be valid up to 60 days prior to the wedding and will save you some time at the Bureau.
Keep in mind that you will need to use your legal names as they appear on your government-issued ID. You will still need to pick up your marriage license in person once you arrive in Las Vegas at the same address.
Can a friend of the couple perform the ceremony?
Having a friend or person of importance perform the ceremony can add a lot of meaning and pizazz to the festivities (it could even be a celebrity to really pump the guests up).
To perform a wedding in Nevada you must complete the ordained minister application and submit it to the county clerk no earlier than 90 days from the ceremony and no later than 30 days prior to the wedding. You can apply and submit your application here.
The Wedding Ceremony
How will I choose the right wedding photographer?
Lucky for you, weddings are a very popular attraction in Vegas and thus have created a lot of demand for good wedding photography.
Therefore, there are many companies and freelance photographers that are very ready and willing to provide you with outstanding service right in the city. Choosing a local photographer is likely cheaper than paying somebody from your hometown to come to Vegas so it is generally your best bet.
You can do your research online to find a local one in the Vegas area, or there have been many reviewed and ranked by quality across a few different platforms including expertise.com that you can look at here.
These will give you reviews written by real customers as well as average pricing that will vary depending on the event and what your demands are. You can expect to spend from $500 up to $2500 for full-service top-quality photography.
Alternatively, you can take your own photos. I’ve written a detailed article on exactly how to do this yourself and the pros and cons of taking this approach. Check it out here.
How can my guests and I handle our hair and makeup for the wedding?
Most of the time the venue you choose will have a hair and makeup package that you can choose which, depending on what you usually spend at the salon, can be quite reasonable with a hair and makeup add on costing around $160 for a bride along with a big array of others services. Chapel of the Flowers, for example, has a list of beauty services available to add on you can have a look at here.
However, if you are not the trusting type there are many salons that offer full-service wedding packages in the Vegas area that you can do a little research on beforehand if you want to be picky.
Through the miracle of customer reviews, you can see second-hand which salons have provided excellent service in the past. Such as this top 10 ranking on yelp.com, you and your wedding party can rest easy that you will look great for your ceremony.
What’s better, some companies like Las Vegas Hair and Makeup offer to come straight to where you need them, saving you and your party the hassle of navigating Las Vegas in a large group.
What Venue do I choose?
Choosing the venue itself is likely the most crucial part of planning any wedding as it will be the scene of the place everybody will remember when they think about your big day.
Several things to consider when choosing a venue would be the location (as Las Vegas is quite a large city), the weather outside (make sure its indoors if the weather is chilly or unpredictable), size, price and, of course, glamour.
If you are looking to get the all-in luxurious wedding experience, the top of the pack is the Wynn Hotel and Casino wedding package. This will provide you with a chauffeur picking you up at the airport, taking you to the courthouse to pick up your marriage license followed by checking you into a 2,490 sq ft Wynn Fairway Villa with views of their golf course for two nights! Included with the package are two rounds of golf with your own caddy!
When it comes to the ceremony itself, the Wynn provides you with nothing but the best options and array of selection that will knock your socks off! You can have a look at their packages and other experiences on the Wynn Las Vegas website.
All of this and many more perks for the, within reason, cost of $23,090. Granted if you are to choose a package like this one, everything will be taken care of inside and out by the resort and you will have nothing extra to plan.
So although it is expensive, you will get a headache-free and incredibly glamorous wedding and vacation on top.
If this is a touch too expensive there are a few other great packages that have been reviewed and ranked that you can check out here.
If money is an issue for your wedding then Vegas is, not surprisingly, a great choice for you. There are many chapels in town offering packages from as low as $99, including seven photographs, ministers and traditional music! Such as the Lucky Mini Package offered by the Lucky Little Wedding Chapel ($99) or the slightly more expensive Chapel of the Flowers Basic Package ($299).
Keep in mind that these packages will provide you with the very little included by way of wedding dresses, tuxedos, hair and makeup or limo service. But, they will perform the ceremony that you need if in a pinch.
If you and bride/groom to be are the crazy type, that wants to go for an extra memorable wedding, you guessed it, Las Vegas has you covered on that too.
The Chapel in the Clouds venue offered by the Stratosphere Hotel and Casino has an observation deck and private reception desk on the 112th floor! Not a bad place to say, “I do” seemingly on the very top of the city of Las Vegas.
Of course for Rock n roll enthusiasts, there is the KISS themed wedding at Rio all-suite hotel and Casino provides the authentic rock star wedding experience, inspired by the legendary rock band KISS!
With this package, you will have a “tour manager” (aka your wedding planner) along with invitations that look like concert tickets. Don’t forget your selection of a rock star minister like Angus Young, Alice Cooper, Slash or any member of KISS!
The city of romance comes to Las Vegas, with this top of the Eiffel Tower wedding available at, you guessed it, the Paris Hotel and Casino! The venue is 460 feet above the strip and offers a 360-degree view of the city. Giving you everything you need for some of the best photos and after wedding partying a couple could ask for.
If you’re into a little more doom and gloom, Bally’s offers a Real Bodies wedding, all-inclusive with actual dead people’s bones on display! Why not start the beginning of your journey together surrounded by mementos of many other peoples ending…
Keep in mind that while these unique weddings will most certainly be something you and your guests will never forget, you will be paying a little extra for the added value. So be prepared to part ways with a little extra change.
Where can I get my wedding clothes?
This is another area that you will be able to choose from a variety of methods to fulfill given Las Vegas’ overall need to please. If you choose an all-inclusive wedding package, such as at the Chapel of Flowers, you will be able to select from several wedding attire add on packages.
With packages ranging from $375 for a basic gown and tuxedo all the way to the designer gown and tuxedo package at $775, you can find everything you need in-house and make it easy on yourself.
If you’re the picky type, as many people are, there are certainly alternative options throughout Las Vegas that may suit your fancy.
Looking for a bigger selection
With many selections to choose from in this department, it is important to do a little research to find a company that suits your style when it comes to formal wear. Companies like Renta-Dress and Tux, Creative Bridal Wear or Bridal Elegance, can provide you with out of this world quality within a reasonable price right in downtown Las Vegas.
Since it is very common to do these things in a hurry in Vegas, they claim; and with the reviews to back them up; that they can dress a bride and groom within about an hour. Many will even offer you a free pickup service to and from your hotel! How about that, turning what could be a marathon into a comfortable sprint.
Where can we get our rings?
With so many tourists, degenerate gambling and last minute weddings, this has turned Vegas into a repo, pawn and, yes, jewelry mecca! There is a huge variety of jewelers scattered throughout the city of Las Vegas. So if you have not got this area sorted for your wedding yet, do not fear, the city of sin has got you covered.
Get your rock
Interestingly, the majority of resorts will have a jewelry/wedding band store right within their grounds. So it is likely that you won’t have to go too far to find rings that will be suitable for you and your spouse to be. If the shop within your hotel doesn’t quite have what you are looking for, companies like Michael E. Minden or Huntington Jewelers, are among the best wedding band dealers in Las Vegas and can provide you with the selection you need to make the right choice.
If you are up for doing a little of your own research further on this topic, here is a ranking of jewelers in Las Vegas, based on reviews.
As cheap as we can get
If you are looking at saving as much money as you can in this department, there are also some very cheap alternatives you could consider.
Las Vegas has many outlet malls where you may find a great deal on diamonds. Companies like D and R House of Diamonds, offer discount rates on very respectable diamonds.
If you want to go cheaper still, you could even consider checking out one of the many, many pawn shops throughout Las Vegas. The Las Vegas Jewelry exchange or Gold and Silver Pawn Shop could provide you with an extremely great deal on what they have in stock and will get your wedding band problem solved lickity split.
How will we get to and from the venue?
Based on the venue that you choose for your wedding, the more expensive the nicer the shuttle and or transport to and from the venue will be. However if you have chosen a package that does not include transport, there are some traditional and unique options to consider.
When choosing a traditional limo service, as many do because it will accommodate you and many of your guests all at once, it is best to do your research on quality and service.
Among the top-rated is Presidential Limousine, where you can get everything from a stretch limo seating 6 with Champagne included ($69/hr) all the way up to a stretch Hummer seating 14 ($125/hr) or Party bus seating 25 ($175/hr). You can look farther into their selection here.
Let’s talk sports cars
Certainly not recommended for your afterparty, but if you are looking for something original to drive to your wedding, why not pull up in an exotic car of your choosing! There are a few companies in town that make it easy for you to try out a large variety of sports cars!
Royalty Exotic Cars offers 24 hr specials on every brand from a Nissan GTR ($699) or a Lamborghini Aventador ($1999) all the way up to a Rolls-Royce Ghost ($1199)! For a more detailed look at their selection, you have a look at their stock here.
What Hotel would be best for me and my guests?
In the event that you are choosing to purchase a package at a hotel, staying at the hotel where the venue is, will be the best bet. However, if this is not the case then, for the sake of you and your guests (if you have any), this is a consideration that you should not take lightly.
Choosing the right hotel will be the difference between a great wedding and holiday for everyone in attendance and a mediocre forgettable one. Take into consideration, the age and habits of the majority of your guests; be it, the party animals, the fancy diners, the gamblers, the sightseers or the in bed at 7:45 type.
If you have a large group it may be necessary to split the group into a few different hotels as they will all have different tastes and preferences. Here are some main recommendations to get you started.
The party crew
The new centralized development in Las Vegas (which there is always a new and upcoming area in Las Vegas) always attracts the youthful party-going type.
The Aria, located in the city center makes it a great base camp for those guests looking to get out and experience the city. Within the hotel itself, there is the Liquid Pool Lounge and Haze the nightclub, so your party never even has to leave the hotel if they don’t want to.
Ranked among Las Vegas’ top party hotels, puts this hotel in the elite world-class! Did I mention that it is also one of the classiest and modern-looking hotels in the city? They have not left a stone unturned at the Aria and the average stay is around $469/night. Check it out here.
If you and your crew are the fancy, money is no object type, looking for the ultimate pampering and luxury experience, then hotels like Wynn Las Vegas(avg. $985/night), Encore(avg.$985/night) and Waldorf Astoria Las Vegas (avg. $1,275/night) will give them everything they are looking for. With breathtaking views from every suite in this hotel and a triple 5-star luxury rating from Forbes, these hotels will give you the ultimate celebrity luxury stay in Las Vegas that you have always dreamed of.
With a huge array of five-star restaurants in the close vicinity, it makes it easy to spend a day drinking margaritas by the hotel pool and wander downstairs right into Gordon Ramsay’s Hell’s Kitchen for dinner. Be prepared to be blown away by the food but also by the damage to your wallet! This is a world-class place with world-class prices.
The Tight Budgeters
The wonderful thing about Las Vegas is that it caters to not only the mega-rich vacationers but the ones on a budget as well. It is possible to choose from one of the many budget hotels and still have a great time.
Because Las Vegas is very big and being close to the core of the city is very important, so that your guests do not have to walk extremely far; we will leave out the extremely cheap options on the outskirts.
Hotels like the Hard Rock Hotel and Casino (avg. $220/night) and New York New York (avg. $180/night), can provide you with a centralized location and still a relatively luxury experience. Each with grand Casinos and restaurants on the ground floor, these reasonable prices make it intriguing for any party traveling to Vegas.