It all started with a white dress and a beautiful bunch of flowers left on the bed in our hotel room at the Golden Nugget, Las Vegas. Our real, legal wedding will of course be in the UK this summer with friends and family but once the casual suggestion had been made to pay a visit to Elvis Chapel we thought, when in Vegas be spontaneous!
So a couple of days later, there we were, me in a simple, long, white dress with blue ombré effect at the bottom, a headband made of beautiful and colourful fresh flowers with lipstick to match and Jonathan in a classy tuxedo and coordinating blue tie bought on that day. Standing outside the Graceland Wedding Chapel, known as ‘the original world famous home of ceremonies with the King’ who is of course Elvis Presley and also made more famous for hosting the surprising wedding of Jon Bon Jovi! If it’s good enough for him, it’s good enough for us and with his new haircut and suit, the white backpacker monkey was transformed into a rock star, and me a coachella princess!
Also joining us at the very sweet and nearly 80 year old chapel were our friends, Michelle, Sandy and Althea, who kindly dressed me for the occasion and my wonderful make-up artist introduced to me by Sandy. After deciding to practice tying the knot, a couple of days earlier, we enlisted the help of of our Vegas resident friends and followers to book our slot in advance and it was so nice to see other couples waiting in line too. Many actually getting married for real! In order to have a legal wedding in Las Vegas, you need to apply first for a marriage licence and once you have this you can choose the time, date and style of your ceremony in which aside from the obvious Elvis theme, it can also be the traditional one. And finally, you can register with the chapel.
We had spare time while waiting for Elvis to arrive so we had a quick good look around the wedding space. The whole building has a really homely, traditional feeling with warm coloured furnishings, drapes and floral arrangements adorning the 5 rows of pews either side of the little aisle. We were distracted trying out the best walking styles when suddenly Elvis arrived in a fabulous black all-in-one suit covered with gold sequins and amazingly he also had the same gold-rimmed sunglasses that Jonathan was wearing for the occasion!
We didn’t really know exactly how this process was supposed to work but Elvis kindly explained where Jonathan and I should be standing while the photographer arranged his equipment to record this momentous occasion. All of a sudden, the music played and we were ready to go. I saw Elvis picked up a microphone and as he was walking down the aisle towards me, he began to sing ‘I can’t help falling in love with you’. He continued singing as we walked together towards the altar as Jonathan and our guests were laughing at the absurdity of the situation. Even so, I was suddenly overwhelmed and couldn’t help crying, just a little bit from both happiness and laughter!
Now time for the vows, Elvis kept us laughing while introducing the many values and importance of marriage all the while maintaining his style and charisma until finally it was our turn. With the soundtrack of ‘Love Me Tender’ serenaded to us by our extravagant pastor setting the scene, we then proceeded to repeat the classic wedding vows with a few extra added for relevance to the situation. If only I’d brushed up on my Elvis song lyrics beforehand! Finally we exchanged just one ring (with the real ones coming in July) and showed off some not-so-well practiced dance moves as we walked back down the aisle as husband and wife, even if only in the eyes of Elvis. Now it was time to mark the moment with some group photographs with Elvis and our new friends, which may not be as carefully planned as our real wedding photos will be but will always bring back memories of this hilarious but special night in Las Vegas.
To celebrate your wedding in style, you don’t need to look far, being in one of the world’s most notorious party cities. We started our reception at Niu Gu restaurant in Chinatown with our new friends and their partners. The owner, Jo, knew that it was a really special night for us, and prepared some incredible dishes specially for our group. Huge plates with tender lamb chops cooked to perfection, pork ribs with sweet and spicy dipping sauces and generous sides of colourful, crunchy salads. Usually they close at 9PM but when our friend called and explained about our spontaneous wedding ceremony, they agreed to operate later than the usual opening hours just to host our private reception party of seven people.
The talented chef came out to congratulate us personally and introduce himself and the menu as it was being served! All of this was accompanied by the most delicious red wine, perfectly chosen to match the rich, deep flavours of the meat dishes. They gave us such a sweet and personal service, preparing little welcome gifts for our table for us to open on arrival from the chapel and after explaining our story, even agreed to be in our live Facebook stream to answer questions about their food.
They are more than happy to host more private wedding receptions in the future, just find them on Yelp or Facebook to contact them about a reservation. They are known as a cornerstone in the Las Vegas community, a reputation earned through the consistency of outstanding quality in their Asian Fusion menu, friendly service and high standards of fresh, quality ingredients. They are also so reasonably priced that you can really push the boat out for this special occasion. We enjoyed all the best dishes on the menu and had enough left in our Vegas wedding budget to continue celebrating that night downtown.
Being newlyweds in Las Vegas makes you feel like a superstar! In our tuxedo and gown and especially with my flower crown we attracted a lot of attention and received so many ‘congratulations’ from strangers all around us! Everyone wants to party and celebrate your wedding with you in this non-stop party city! Once we were finally exhausted from all of the excitement, it was time to head back to our Vegas home, the Golden Nugget Hotel and Casino. Being so conveniently located in the midst of the action, we thankfully didn’t have to go far and while you might think that the noise of the busy streets would keep us up, from our room’s location in one of the high towers , the good noise insulation allowed us to sleep peacefully in quiet comfort. Definitely the perfect ending to a very unexpected but exciting and unforgettable day!
Note: This amazing Las Vegas wedding experience was made possible in partnership with Graceland Wedding Chapel in Las Vegas, although all thoughts, ideas and opinions are entirely my own.