Tips for Eloping in Vegas

When it comes to tying the knot, many people opt for an elopement rather than going through with an expensive, elaborate wedding, and it’s easy to understand why. Having a lavish ceremony is not everyone’s cup of tea, and the amount of stress, planning, and money involved in the process of planning and executing a wedding can be overbearing for most–making what is supposed to be an exciting day a lot more taxing than it should be.

Then of course there is the thought of being in front of a ton of people, pouring your heart out, all eyes on you. Some love the spotlight, but if being the center of attention is not your jam, eloping in a more private setting might be the wiser choice for you. 

Having to deal with telling others that they won’t be there to celebrate with you can pose its own stresses. Most people agree that it’s daunting to have to be selective with who to invite, especially knowing that it will let some people down. If you’d prefer not to have to choose who to exclude and include on your special day, eloping in secret can be a more intimate way to honor your love and make it official, without hurting anyone’s feelings. The experience could be just you and your boo, or you can invite a few of your closest friends and family to join in on the fun!

Tips for Your Perfect Vegas Elopement

Tips for Eloping in Vegas

With an elopement, you can avoid all the hassle of sending invitations and thank you cards, planning decorations and floral arrangements, to hiring caterers and entertainment, and beyond. Eloping in Vegas is not only much cheaper and less hassle than alternative to conventional or destination weddings, but the experience is simply unlike anything else!

Before you go through with an elopement, we wanted to offer some tips and insight that might be a gamechanger for your overall experience.

(A Modest Disclaimer)

While we think the idea of eloping in Vegas is an adventurous and exciting way to marry your person with a lower barrier to entry than a traditional wedding, we also know that an impromptu elopement can lead to unfavorable consequences later down the road. If you are just getting to know your partner or on the fence about eloping, it doesn’t hurt to sleep on your decision to elope! 

That leads us to one of our main tips for eloping in Vegas–take it slow and think about your decision! You’ve got time, there’s no rush, so before eloping in Vegas, do some reflection and a relationship assessment to determine what exactly you want and how you envision your elopement experience and overall marriage going. 

Whether you’re brand new to the idea of eloping or have friends or family that have eloped and know the process well, it’s important to know all the moving parts involved if you plan to elope in Vegas.

Choosing the Right Time to Say “I Do”

Tips for Eloping in Vegas

When is the right time to say I do? When considering eloping in Las Vegas–or before any binding agreement really–it’s important to do a deep dive and ask yourself a few questions. What is your relationship like in this present moment? Rocky? Stable? How well do you truly know your partner, as well as their friends and family? When you two don’t get along, how do you resolve conflict, make amends, and move forward? 

Gaining clarity on each other’s values and life goals is a must! If you have different or conflicting religious or spiritual beliefs, or disagree on important lifestyle choices such as whether to have children or where you want to settle down, you might want to put a pause on the idea of elopement and figure out how to get on the same page or make some compromises.

Aside from navigating important questions and reflecting on whether your lover is really in it “till death do us part,” it’s necessary to outline expected costs and budgetary constraints that might push back the elopement date or determine venue and amenities on elopement day. Other crucial factors that can make or break your wedding experience are tourism and overcrowding, as well as weather.

Weather wise, the best time to elope in Vegas is in the Spring–between the months of March to May, or Fall–between September and November. Months outside of these windows can be either freezing or extremely hot. That said, tourism tends to be highest during these months, and high season also means hotel and ticket costs for shows will be more pricey.

Did you know that in order to elope in Vegas, you’ll need to obtain a marriage license prior. The legal prep is just as important as the wedding itself! 

So, how does one obtain a marriage license in Las Vegas? 

The Marriage License Bureau is open every single day of the year. Your marriage license must be received by the Marriage License Bureau within 10 days of conducting a wedding ceremony, which is the responsibility of the officiant to submit. Please note that before performing the marriage ceremony, your officiant will ask you for this marriage license.

But where do you start? You can easily apply online for a marriage license, but both parties must fill in their own information, and their names must match exactly how they are shown on their identification card. In order to successfully fill out the application, there are certain criteria you must fall under. Let’s run through them so you know what you need, where to go, and what to bring. Be cognizant that your marriage license expires one year from the date of issue, and you should apply no more than 90 days before the date of your ceremony. 

For starters, you must be currently unmarried and 18 years or older, as well as have a valid, government-issued ID with a photo present for both yourself and your partner. You and your partner must both be present in-person together to complete the process of receiving your marriage license. U.S. citizens will need to know their social security number, but don’t need to bring in the physical SSN card. 

If you are divorced you will need to know the full date and where your divorce was finalized–both city and state. You won’t need a divorce decree unless it grants you the ability to use a new legal name. If widowed, be prepared to answer the month, day, year, and city and state where you were widowed.

Once you’ve applied for your marriage license be sure to save the confirmation number you receive to have on hand when you pick up your marriage license from Clark County Marriage License Bureau. You are not required to book an appointment–walk-ins are accepted and you’ll typically be helped and done with the process in less than an hour. Once you verify all info is correct, you’ll pay a $102 fee in cash, plus a small convenience fee if you plan to pay on a credit or debit card.

When you’re ready to say “I do,” don’t forget to bring paperwork with you to the ceremony, including your marriage license. The ceremony must be performed in Nevada by an officiant who is licensed in Nevada. 

You’ll also need a witness, excluding the officiant, that must be present for you saying your vows. Once your officiant files your certified marriage certificate, you can order it online or purchase a certified copy in person for $20.

Choosing the Perfect Venue

Tips for Eloping in Vegas

Choosing between drive-thru chapels, small wedding venues, eco-friendly wedding venues, luxurious hotels, or unconventional locales can be a difficult decision, unless you know exactly what you want. If you’re ready to ball out on the elopement experience, opting for a luxurious hotel might be the move. You’ll feel like royalty as you celebrate holy matrimony. 

With so many venue options to choose from, it is important to note that most venues in Vegas still offer a limited amount of guests in eloping. Some venues are super straightforward, in and out service, where you simply exchange vows and off you go. These include drive-thru weddings where you can stay in the car and get married from a limousine, pink cadillac, or your own vehicle, without all the glitz and glam. Other venues work hard to eliminate the hassle of decision-making by taking care of all the logistics. Who wants to do the leg work on their special day anyways? 

If you’d like something more elaborate, you can select from one of the venues that offer in-house services, such as a dressing room for the bride and groom, hair and makeup services, transportation to and from the venue, food and bar service, a wedding photographer, ceremony officiant, corsages and boutonnieres, bouquets, and so on and so forth. These are all parts of packages or a la cart items you can opt into for an additional fee. Some venues even include clothing rentals, which is spectacular for those who prefer not to actually purchase a dress or tuxedo that they know they’ll never wear again.

For those looking for an experience similar to that of a traditional church, Las Vegas’ classic chapels feature decor that have gorgeous traditional wooden benches, stained glass windows, and religious motifs. 

Making It Official: Finding an Officiant

The officiants role is to sign documents, stating that on a particular date at a particular time and place, a couple entered into a legal marriage arrangement, but that’s only part of their duties. That’s why finding the right officiant can make all the difference at your wedding. Officials who articulate well, listen, respect and prioritize your preferences are what we are looking for here. You don’t want to show up the day of your elopement and have your officiant on a completely different page, because that might leave a permanent mark on the whole experience for the bride and groom. 

An officiant’s services vary, but you’ll definitely want to confirm beforehand that the officiant you plan to work with is a licensed professional. You’ll also want to verify that the officiant is knowledgeable of the Las Vegas marriage license process, as they will be responsible for submitting your official paperwork within 10 days of the conclusion of the ceremony.

Some tips on selecting an officiant that suits your style–whether you prefer a traditional minister or an outlandish Elvis impersonator–include confirming dress code prior. Do you want the officiant to wear attire that compliments your culture? Do you want them to be professionally dressed or more casual? Do you want them to go all out and dress up as your favorite celebrity? Get clear on your needs to help identify the right match. 

Another major consideration is your wedding vows. How important are they to you? Do you and your partner have a good grip on the vows you are planning to exchange, or do you think you could use some assistance in finishing writing your vows? Some wedding officiants can assist in helping you write or fine-tune your wedding vows, so know that is available to you.

If you are opting for a traditional minister, consult with your partner about whether you want them to include prayer, a scripture, any mention of God, or to keep what is said more secular. Also figure out whether you plan to exchange wedding rings? 

It’s important to think about all of these considerations in advance in order to let your wedding officiant get a solid grasp on what is to be expected of them during the elopement. 

You’ll want to confirm pricing upfront, and ensure that their rates are posted on their website. You should look for an officiant who accepts electronic payments, which keeps a trail of the purchased service.

In order to get a read on whether your officiant is a good listener, you can schedule a virtual or in-person meetup prior to the ceremony. It depends on your preference, but you’ll want to know whether they will be doing most of the talking and deciding of what is said, or whether they value and incorporate your input as they carry out their duties.

Dressing for the Occasion

Tips for Eloping in Vegas

Picking the appropriate attire that aligns with your venue choice is one of the most exciting parts of the whole experience!

A more eccentric wedding venue might be a reason to match your wedding dress with something equally as out there. Heck, they even have a Cheeto chapel on the Las Vegas Strip where they recommend “Chester-approved attire!” So you can wear bright orange and wear extra cheesy clothing.  

That said, not every venue will want you to embody Vegas and its wild, colorful lifestyle by rocking out-there, bold attire, especially if you’re a guest–it can take away from the spotlight being on the bride and groom, can be distracting, and look tacky. Replicas of classic chapels might insist you wear a relatively fancy white dress and formal tuxedo. Always check the dress code of the venue before booking so there is no chance of you failing to miss the mark on dressing the part on your elopement day.

Keep in mind when deciding what to wear that Vegas gets quite warm in the Spring and Summer months, and cold in the Fall and Winter months, so wearing several layers, thick fabric, or darker colors is best to be avoided in the warmer months, unless you don’t mind breaking a sweat during your ceremony. Floor length gowns, full length tuxedos–probably not the best idea in the hotter months. Likewise, bringing a warm coat for the Winter months–especially if you plan to elope once the sun goes down–is a hot tip you’ll want to remember (or should we say cold tip). 

Capturing Your Vegas Moment

One of the greatest parts about eloping is that it is extremely easy to find a photographer or videographer to capture the experience. You won’t have to go through the lengthy process of sifting through potential clients on the internet and assessing portfolios to determine whether they are the right fit, because a lot of places that offer elopements also offer packages that include photographs and video content from professionals. Due to the high concentration of elopements in Vegas, it’s also effortless to find a local professional known for their work with elopements. 

Celebrating After the Ceremony

One of the reasons people choose Las Vegas to elope is because of the countless unique options to choose from to celebrate pre and post-ceremony. If you want to soak in some of the culture of Vegas, you can opt to hit a casino at a luxury resort like Wynn and Encore or the Bellagio, or cops some tickets to catch some vibrant showgirls performing dances with frills and feathers. Or perhaps a tour of the Las Vegas Strip and all its bells and whistles is more your vibe. 

Taking the scenic route to see the “Welcome to Fabulous Las Vegas Sign” is a fantastic alternative once you make it official, which you can do by limousine depending on the venue you decide to go with. Red Rock Canyon, Nelson Ghost Town, and the Fremont Street Experience are iconic options as well. 

No celebration is complete without a celebratory meal–be it a fancy shmancy five star dinner like top-tier restaurant Joel Robuchon (the most expensive restaurant in Vegas that offers a prix-fixe dinner menu), or something more casual. For additional entertainment, you could hit a concert at The Sphere, catch some crazy cool acrobatic circus acts with Cirque du Soleil, or if you’re partner and you are both comfortable with it, hit one of the many strip clubs and throw some bills. Needless to say, you and your boo have no shortage of options to choose from to celebrate.

Final Tips for Keeping It Stress-Free

Tips for Eloping in Vegas

It’s easy to see why Las Vegas Nevada weddings are so common–they’re quick, easy, relatively painless, way less stressful and expensive  than a conventional wedding, positively memorable, whacky, and just plain fun!

A smooth experience on your big day means having transportation and accommodations already dialed in prior, as well as a specific time frame for your wedding already booked. Be aware of traffic or other things that could delay your arrival–such as hair and make up, high season, and crowds from sporting events or concerts. To enjoy the moment without hassle, prepare for these things and you’ll have a grand ol’ time!

Weddings are meant to be fun, but as with any special occasion, there is always room for error. While many things are outside of our control, we can choose how to react to the situation and keep a positive attitude. If something doesn’t go according to plan, be patient and try not to get too stressed out. Deep breaths.

If you’ve considered eloping in Vegas, you’ll want to of course do your own research on wedding venues and price comparisons for wedding packages. Whether you’re eloping for a specific reason or for true love, just be sure the person you are eloping with is someone you want in your life for the long haul

About the author: Courtney Pester is a San Diego-based, San Francisco bred millennial with a passion for design and self-expression.  She prides herself in her charcuterie board making skills and has a soft spot for animals. When she’s not pumping out articles, you can catch her playing tennis, singing, hiking, and enjoying the diversity of events and restaurants San Diego has to offer.

Media credit: All conceptual images about eloping in Las Vegas in this article are copyrighted to VegasNews.com.

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