What happens when a wedding planner and her husband take a trip to Las Vegas on their 8th anniversary? A completely casual, impromptu vow renewal, apparently.
When our friends told us last year they were headed to Vegas right around our anniversary and invited us to tag along, we quickly jumped at the chance. We hadn’t been in years and were excited to see some shows, try new restaurants, and I was especially excited for the massage I booked at the Bellagio spa (well worth it…go next time you’re there!). Side note, don’t tell Sam and I about a trip you’re taking if you don’t want us joining you. We tend to invite ourselves whenever possible and really enjoy tagging along on other people’s vacations.
Knowing we would be there during our anniversary weekend, we joked about how funny it would be to do a vow renewal at a little white chapel. We did no research, I brought no cute little white dress, we simply figured we would Yelp a chapel if we had some time. Romantic, right?
During our stay we saw “O” (AMAZING), visited the Hoover Dam (much cooler than I thought it would be), ate at STK (get ready to dance in your seat the whole time you’re eating dinner. Really, you can’t help it), won $115 on Roulette (and then lost half of it), and used plenty of Visine to combat the insane amount of smoke inside the casinos (come on, Vegas, it’s 2016). The February weather was beautiful and I got two chances to wear my new over-the-knee boots so overall the weekend was definitely a win!
On the last morning we had a few hours before our flight and the keys to a rental minivan. Over breakfast we quickly decided that sure, we had some time for a wedding before take off, so I searched Yelp for nearby chapels and of course there were tons within a few minutes of the Strip. We hopped in the car and took off in the direction of one that offered a “drive through wedding” complete with their convertible pink Cadillac. Go big or go home, right? What I failed to notice as we pulled in was the teeny tiny difference in the chapel names – “A Little White Wedding Chapel” vs. “Little White Wedding Chapel” or some nonsense like that. You know where this is headed? We walk in, and being a Monday morning in Vegas, the only person working was a woman at the front desk. They were open 24/7 but she still may have been a little surprised to have patrons so early. I mentioned the drive through wedding and Sam said he’d rather be in the chapel with Elvis, and I went with that idea and promptly forgot to even look for the pink Cadillac. The receptionist informed us that it was “a little too early for Elvis” so we said we’d be happy with any officiant and she set off making calls to the cast of characters that would pull off our quickie vow renewal. Inside the lobby was a flower refrigerator and Sam was promptly pinned with a red rose boutonniere, as I was handed a 6 rose and babies breath bouquet. I insisted we didn’t need flowers for this ceremony but the receptionist insisted we did so we embraced it. She showed us to the chapel, which you’ll witness in the photos below, and as you can see it was cute but they could use a little Tickled Pink touch if you know what I mean. 🙂
After a bit of a wait, a friendly minister from Florida (!!) shows up along with a super sweet photographer named Hannah from Budapest. We were warmly greeted, they congratulated us on eight years of marriage and our decision to renew our vows, and then we got busy. I was whisked into the bridal suite for a series of traditional bridal portraits with my bouquet. The photographer was professional and helpful, though I felt like I was playing a part and honestly felt so silly. Partly because I already had my turn at our real wedding, and also because I am so used to being behind the scenes watching other brides do their thing in front of the camera. Also I was admittedly a little nervous for the actual ceremony for some reason, which is ridiculous but now that we were about to get started I had butterflies! It’s funny now but I was totally ready to get the show on the road and get those vows renewed, just like at a “real wedding” where you can breathe a sigh of relief after the ceremony is over. When we reentered the chapel, Sam and I were asked to wait at the back of the aisle so that the photographer could hit play on The Wedding March recording on the boom box at the altar (you guys, for a wedding planner this was just getting hilarious!).
The music starts, and we begin our walk as man and wife, for the second time, down the aisle. The minister had such a kind demeanor, seemingly many years of weddings under his belt, and gave a warm and thoughtful little ceremony. While much shorter, I felt like it was just as sweet as our actual wedding day. As we had not prepared any vows, we recited traditional renewal-type vows, and he gave us a moment to say something to one another. This being unplanned and all, I don’t know if either of us knew what words ended up coming out, but that’s why we paid for the DVD at the end! That, and to show our children who will be amused that mommy and daddy pretended to be a bride and groom again.
The service wrapped up in about 5 minutes, possibly less, and Sam was given the go ahead to kiss his wife! This time, he dipped me! It really was fun to get a second version of a wedding, and thank the good Lord it was with the same husband both times. When the ceremony was over we were presented with a vow renewal certificate which is a lovely piece of memorabilia we’ll hang onto. Now I wonder why traditional weddings don’t have a pretty certificate to commemorate the event? I’m pretty sure there must be something like this on Etsy (keep that idea in your back pocket, brides). Hannah the photographer took so many more photos than I had expected, which was wonderful considering I’d only expected our friends to take some iPhone snaps. I tossed the bouquet to my friend Jamie for fun, we got a few more photos outside in the beautiful sunshine, and we were on our way! I’ll save you the reading time of how we finagled our photos and video for $100 cash (no, those are not included) but should you head to Vegas for your very own vow renewal or wedding, I’ll just say that it’s all very negotiable.
I would not trade our traditional wedding here in Orlando eight years ago for the whole world, and I for one would have missed the party and all our family and other friends had we actually eloped “little white chapel-style”, but this was a memorable, somewhat comedic and fun way to kick off our 8th year of marriage! And hey, if I’m ever asked to weigh in on a couple’s decision to elope in Vegas, at least I now have some experience. I’m so thankful for 8 HAPPY years of marriage to my one sweetheart and very best friend. Maybe we’ll come up with some other wedding to try in the next decade? Aside from sky diving, I’m open to anything.
And to circle back to that cute pink Cadillac I was originally looking for, I have to tell you that we pulled out of the parking lot, certificate in hand, and as we passed the NEXT “little white wedding chapel”, there it was! Parked right outside in the drive-thru of THAT business. Not the one we had visited. Oops. Maybe next time? 🙂