Wedding in Vegas
The thought of weddings once made me cringe, until twenty of my friends and family headed out west to the city of lights for my Vegas wedding. After being best man three times and being in seventeen wedding parties, I had grown tired of weddings. The one thing I had learned from all my prior history in weddings was that the day after the wedding you don’t remember what kind of flowers were used or who the DJ was. What you do remember is who was there. My wife and I invited our friends and family to join us on our “special day” in Las Vegas.
The persons that are usually burdened with the wedding costs are the bride’s parents. Charlie and Jean Ann, my wife Amy’s parents, made an offer of a substantial amount to forego a large wedding. Since we had already planned a vacation to Las Vegas, we figured that we would kill two birds with one stone and get hitched while we were out there. We didn’t want to elope; we just wanted to have a wedding our friends could enjoy as much as us.
We started to make preparations. The usual family invites and itineraries were sent out to parents and siblings. We already had three free nights at the Sahara, but wanted to enjoy Las Vegas as newlyweds so we booked 3 nights at the Bellagio after the wedding. If we were to get married in Vegas, then it would have to be Vegas through and through. We had to be married by the one person who personifies Las Vegas, Elvis. We decided on the Las Vegas Wedding chapel.
News of the impending nuptials soon rippled through our circle of friends like a spark running down a line of gun powder. Everyday we would get another phone call from a friend wanting to know when and where we were to be wed. Eventually I had to post a website with all the info to keep up with the interest our wedding news had generated. After weeks of fielding calls and emails, our little trip to Vegas had grown to four parents, three uncles and aunts, four ladies on the bride’s side, three men and a lady on the groom’s side, and six other close friends. All the rooms were booked and the trip was finalized.
My wife had never been anywhere west of Indiana. This trip would be her first long flight as well. Luckily for us, as a wedding present, my parents gave us round trip First-Class tickets to allow us to travel in style. Not sooner then the engines started spinning up did I feel her white knuckled fingers start to dig into the flesh of my forearms. Her anxiety faded as the plane leveled into cruise mode. We were to land in Las Vegas at 3:00pm.
The first time you fly into McCarron International Airport in Las Vegas is a breathtaking experience. While cruising at 21,000 feet your perception is slightly skewed; you pass over the great Grand Canyon which looks more like a pan of brownies that has begun to crack from one too many nights uncovered. The landscape changes from a large crevasse in the earth to vast expanses of umber sand, as the Grand Canyon fades from view. The arid landscape gives way to a broad body of crystal blue water. It is surrounded by a thin strip of green where the desert drinks from the shores of Lake Mead. You hardly have time to take in the wonderment of Hoover Dam as the plane starts to bank on its approach to McCarron. The unmistakable skyline appears from behind the banking wing and your heart skips a beat.
Tradition states you have a rehearsal, then rehearsal dinner, then a lot of other hoopla. This wedding was not traditional so why should any of the festivities be traditional. Our “Rehearsal” Dinner was a cozy night out with friends at a nice Japanese steak house just off the strip. As soon as dinner was over we headed back to the Sahara to get ready for the part everyone really wanted to be a part of, the Bachelorette and Bachelor Parties in Vegas.
The bachelor party was pretty tame by my standards. We started the night with a few rounds of Craps in the Arabian styled casino at the Sahara. Once we had gotten our fill of free cocktails at the tables, we headed out to our limo. Next stop was the Olympic Gardens Gentlemen’s Club for some interesting entertainment. After several hours of watching my friends make total fools of themselves we headed back to the strip for some more table action.
The wedding day had arrived. We arrived at the church forty-five minutes before the ceremony for our “Rehearsal”. “Rehearsal” consisted of Elvis telling us where to stand. With that out of the way, the ceremony had begun. Elvis sang “Love me Tender” as we walked in. The dearly beloveds led into the “I do’s”. As he said, “You may kiss the bride,” the subtle piano chords that started “I Can’t Help Falling in Love” rose from the speakers. We held each other and danced while Elvis softly serenaded us. After our dance Elvis got the entire wedding chapel to stand up and dance to “Viva Las Vegas”. It was a fun ceremony for all.
The night of the wedding we checked into the majestic Bellagio and made plans for the night. We decided we would go out to Nine Fine Irishmen in the New York, New York Casino.
Nine Fine Irishmen, as the name suggests, is a quaint Irish pub located off the casino floor of the New York, New York. Upon entering the bar, atrium opens to a bar area filled distressed wood fixtures and a stage area with a 5 piece band setting up for the evenings entertainment. A wooden railed staircase on your right leads to a balcony area overlooking the stage, beneath the balcony was several tables back in a corner off the side of the stage. This little nook would become our retreat for the rest of the evening.
My wife and I sat the furthest table towards the back, while all our friends gathered around in the chairs stolen from nearby tables. The band started about twenty minutes after we had arrived. Drinks flowed. We danced. We sang pub songs with the band while a Celtic dancer stomped and kicked her feet on a side stage to our left. It was a spectacular evening filled with camaraderie.
After several nights much like the first, this chapter in the fairy tale had to end. We headed back to Dayton with heavy hearts. It is never fun to leave Las Vegas. Although there was a highlight on the trip back to Dayton, we sat directly behind the famous baseball player Rollie Fingers, who was headed to a celebrity golf tournament at Country Club of the North in Beavercreek. I took a snapshot with him in the airport after we landed.
After four years of marriage, I don’t remember who the DJ was at my reception. I don’t remember what kind of flowers were there. What I do remember is the time we shared with our friends on a very special day in July in Las Vegas, Nevada.