A wedding officiated by an Elvis Presley impersonator
One effect of the recession has been a decline in Las Vegas weddings. Photo Credit: davidMonroy/Flickr.com/CC-BY-SA

One of the traditions associated with Las Vegas, Nev., is what is referred to as the “quickie wedding” or “Las Vegas wedding,” where couples get a marriage license and are married in minutes. However, Minister Elvis must be weeping, as the number of  Vegas weddings has declined over the past few years.

Feels like cold morning in the ghetto for Vegas wedding industry

Las Vegas has been decimated by the recession. The Vegas housing market, according to USA Today, was one of the hardest hit by the housing crash. Home prices in Sin City seem to have been buried in a hole in the desert, having recently reached the lowest point since the housing crash of 2008.

Yet the glamorous former home of the Rat Pack is far from doomed. Tourism has been increasing for the past 15 months according to Forbes, as more visitors and higher room rates have been recorded. Far fewer tourists are actually heading to Vegas for a Las Vegas wedding.

Quick weddings frequently becoming quick vow renewal

Las Vegas weddings, according to Bloomberg, were thought to have reached a peak in 2004 and dwindled slowly since then. Clark County marriage licenses hit 128,250 in 2004, then declined to 91,890 in 2010.

Reacting to the downturn, Las Vegas wedding chapels have focused on the “quickie” vow renewal niche market. While estimates vary, it appears that as much as one-third of wedding chapel business is now devoted to such ceremonies, where the betrothed pledge to continue to love each other tender in the eyes of Elvis. In total, it is estimated that 78 percent of couples that arrive in Vegas are already married.

According to Las Vegas ABC affiliate KTNTV, Clark County had planned to issue renewal certificates in order to stimulate business, but as the Las Vegas Review-Journal reports, once individual Las Vegas wedding chapels began – of which there are more than 60 – began to produce the documents, the county action became unnecessary.

Still the hitching post of America

Despite falling wedding numbers, Las Vegas is still considered the wedding capital of America. According to Vegas.com, a travel information site run by the “Greenspun family of companies,” which includes several newspapers and other corporate concerns, 5.5 percent of all weddings in America occur in Las Vegas. Nevada also has, according to Oprah.com, the highest divorce rate in the nation, as “quickie divorces” in Las Vegas are about as easy to arrange as weddings. A wedding can cost as little as a few hundred dollars, as a marriage license costs $60 per person. No blood tests or waiting period is required, according to the Clark County Clerk’s website.


USA Today: http://www.usatoday.com/money/perfi/housing/2011-07-26-home-prices_n.htm

Forbes: http://www.forbes.com/feeds/ap/2011/07/11/business-us-vegas-visitors-nevada_8559361.html

Bloomberg: http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2011-07-21/las-vegas-woos-wedding-vow-renewals.html

KTNTV: http://www.ktnv.com/news/local/125970598.html

Las Vegas Review-Journal: http://www.lvrj.com/business/county-abandons-wedding-vow-renewal-plan-126386633.html

Oprah.com: http://www.oprah.com/omagazine/Marriage-and-Love-Statistics

Vegas.com: http://www.vegas.com/lounge/centennial/numbers.html

Clark County Clerk: http://www.clarkcountynv.gov/Depts/clerk/Services/Pages/MarriageLicenses.aspx

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