More than 100,000 couples say “I do” in Las Vegas every year – that’s five per cent of American weddings – bringing in more than a billion dollars to the economy.
One of the enduring reasons for getting married in Vegas is the ease with which you can get a license. There are no blood tests needed and no waiting period, plus you can obtain permission for just $60 at the Clark County Marriage License Bureau from 8am to midnight, 365 days a year.
The phenomenon started in 1912 when neighboring California passed a “gin law” making a three-day waiting period mandatory in a bid to stop couples indulging in drunken marriages. Vegas saw an opening and started advertising its wedding services and the rest is her-and-history.
A bartender at The Mirage tells me a different story. “Vegas became so popular as a wedding venue thanks to Reno becoming famous as a quickie place to get divorced,” he says. When some states were not allowing divorce at all, or only on the grounds of adultery, Nevada saw a growing business.
In the 1930s-era Great Depression, the city fathers of Reno, only 450 miles away from Vegas, cut the residency requirement for divorce from three months to six weeks. Business boomed as that decade saw 30,000 divorces, with hotels and boarding houses springing up to offer a place to stay.
“People would get divorced in Reno and then descend on Vegas to celebrate,” he says. “The combination of newly single people wanting a good time and the fun to be had in Vegas was simply a match made in heaven.”
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