With the cost of the average wedding in the UK now around the £17,000 mark, it's no real surprise that 1 in 4 couples are now choosing to get married overseas. As well as (fingers crossed) guaranteeing good weather for your big day, and avoiding a lot of the family politics that can crop up when the word ‘wedding’ is mentioned, getting married abroad can really help to keep your costs down. And getting married in Las Vegas gives you the best choice of all.
There are some obvious savings to be had by getting married in Las Vegas:
* you can combine your wedding and honeymoon into a single trip
* your guest list is likely to be much smaller and self-selecting - Great Aunt Maud who you last saw when you were 7 is going to be less keen to pop on a plane than she is to turn up to that local hotel back home
* there is less formality - unless you really want to, you're not going to be forking out for bridesmaid dresses, party favours, and reception seat covers to match your dress that you might be ‘encouraged’ into at home
In a nutshell, by getting married in Las Vegas you can really pin down what you want from your wedding, putting yourself firmly back in the driving seat. With over 70 possible wedding venues (not counting destination wedding options) there is a lot of competition for your business, which means that your dollar goes a long way on your wedding day if you do your research first.
For accommodation, there are dozens of options in Las Vegas. Staying in one of the major resort hotels is going to cost you a lot more than staying in a less glitzy establishment off-Strip. If you want to compare rates for your chosen dates, Expedia or similar is a good option. Mid-week room rates tend to be cheaper than weekends, and if you're on a budget also avoid major holidays - including Valentines Day - when Vegas tends to get very busy. It's a good idea to book your accommodation in advance - I have a friend whose honeymoon recollection of Vegas is driving from hotel to hotel to find that every one of them was fully booked.
And then there's the question of where exactly you're going to get married. It will cost you $55 to buy your wedding licence - you will need to do this in person before you can go off and get married, but there is no minimum residency period and no bloodtest to get your licence. Decide whether you want a themed or non-themed wedding, and your budget. There are 28 chapels offering ceremonies under $200 - including The Graceland Wedding Chapel, Little Chapel of the Flowers, Little Church of the West and the Stratosphere Hotel - you will definitely be able to find something that won't break the bank.
Then you need to do your research - and we would really recommend you do this before you get to Las Vegas as there can be a fair amount of hard sell if you turn up at the chapels on-spec. Read the chapel websites, check feedback about chapels online, and ask as many questions of the chapels as you want. If they don't want to help, you probably don't want to get married there. And remember to ask the following questions before you book:
* Exactly what does the advertised wedding package cost include?
* Is there a limit to the number of guests to a particular package?
* Do you need to pay a ministers fee on top? - if so, how much? [most recommend $50+]
* If a limo is included in the wedding package, what are you expected to tip the limo driver?
* Is the cost of wedding photographs included, or is this extra? (i. e. they may take your pictures, but do you have to pay for the prints on top)
* What sort of flowers will you get as part of the package?
There will always be an option to upgrade aspects of the package such as your bouquet, photography and videography, but just bear the overall costs in mind before you commit to anything. You can even hire a wedding dress and tux for the groom if you don't want the expense of buying them - some chapels have their own on-site hire facility, or can recommend a good hire shop.
Will all the options available, you should be able to find something suitable for you. But if you really want to do this cheap and cheerful, here are some of the lowest cost options for weddings in Las Vegas. Just remember that the ministers fee at least is payable on top ($50+):
* $25 Drive Thru Appetizer package at A Special Memory Wedding Chapel
* $50 basic wedding (no frills) at the Marriage Commissioners Office
* $79 Amor Package at The Belleza - one of the newest chapels in Las Vegas
* $149 for a daytime, mid-week ceremony at the top of the Stratosphere. Not strictly one of the cheapest options, but just to show that a great view and a spectacular setting for your wedding needn't cost the earth.
The website http://www.las-vegas-weddings.co.uk lets you browse every wedding chapel in Las Vegas (over 80) and search every wedding package (over 600) by cost and themed or traditional ceremony. Good luck!
As for reception venues, use the website http://www.las-vegas-weddings.co.uk to search over 90 restaurants and venues with fixed price menus by cost and cuisine. Alternatively, just ask your chapel if they can organise a wedding cake and champagne for you and your guests.
However you want to do it, enjoy!