Vegas Wedding Project

posted on: March 22, 2009

When I found out that the Wedding & Portrait Photographer's International Convention was going to be held in February, around Valentine's Day this year, I decided to make the most out of my obligation to be in Las Vegas by starting a documentary project on the Las Vegas Wedding Chapels, called the Vegas Wedding Project.

Las Vegas Vow Renewal.jpg

Originally I was just curious about what it's like behind-the-scenes at a typical Vegas Wedding Chapel on the busiest day of the year- Valentine's Day. As I got to know more about the chapels and more about the history of Las Vegas weddings, it became clear that in order to do this project well, it needed to be more than I could create on my own, so several other photographers joined in and helped document the Vegas Chapels on Valentine's Day.

Each photographer chose a chapel to spend the majority of their time documenting. I decided to document the Graceland Wedding Chapel, at the recommendation of the Las Vegas Wedding Concierge, which is home of the original Elvis Themed Wedding Chapel in Las Vegas. In preparing to document the chapel, I found out that they do 60 weddings on Valentine's Day!! Other busy days for the chapels are any date like 09/09/09, 10/10/10, 07/08/09, etc. On these busy days, if you didn't make your reservation in advance, you probably won't be getting married at any of the popular chapels. However, on any other day of the year, you can pretty much just go to the Las Vegas Marriage Bureau and then get married in a chapel on the same day!

When you think of a Las Vegas Wedding, you probably think of the crazy celebrities that got married there and then got divorced shortly after. However, what I found was a lot of really sweet and genuine people wanting to do something a little different, and a little more personal than they might have done if their weddings had been at held at home with all of their family and friends. As I was documenting the behind-the-scenes process of the wedding chapel, I also asked if I could sit in on a few ceremonies. The chapel agreed as long as I had the permission of the couples. Since most couples were in and out in just under 15 minutes, I had only a short period of time to introduce myself, the project, and ask for permission to witness their vows. As it turns out, the personal stories of the people getting married at the chapel were actually the most interesting part of this project, and part of what made me really fall in love this project.

The first couple that you'll see saying their vows met when they were in 7th grade, shared their first kiss together, and then pretty much stopped talking to each other through the rest of grade school. They went their separate ways, married, had kids, divorced, and then saw each other again for the first time after high school at their 20 year reunion. It was pretty much love at first sight, and after a year and a half of dating each other and feeling like they should have been together all along, they decided to run off to Vegas to get married with Elvis.

The second couple that you'll see the most images of has been married for 37 years. They originally got married when they were 17 & 19, and shortly after they were married, he enlisted in the army, where he remained in service for about 21 years. Many of those years had been spent apart for the couple because he had been stationed in areas where she couldn't always live with him. Somehow in that they were able to raise children and remain married. Recently some of their close friends and family members had seen hard times or had passed due to age or illness, and realizing the fortune that they had found in one another, they decided to come to Vegas to renew their marriage vows to each other and celebrate the love that they still had. They took an extra moment to share some very touching vows with each other that had me in a puddle of tears.

What I loved about the chapel weddings was that it wasn't about impressing anyone. It was simply about love and commitment, and making a set of vows to be with each other through everything, no matter what happens. I hope you enjoy this little behind-the-scenes look at a Vegas Valentine: (Click on the image below to view the slideshow.)

Here are links to some of the other photographers who were out documenting the Chapels on Valentine's Day:
CoreyAnn Photography
Ray Anthony Photo

The ultimate goal of this project is to create a book on the history of Las Vegas Wedding Chapels. If you, or anyone you know of, was married in a Las Vegas Wedding Chapel on Valentine's Day, please get in touch!! We'd love to include your story in the book to be published!!

7 comments, to add [click here]:

  1. This is just awesome Anne! Great job!! :)

  2. Anonymous10:33 AM

    Fantastic project Anne and I love your writing about it. It sounds like you found something very rewarding.

  3. What a brilliant idea! Gorgeous photography!

  4. Anonymous7:33 PM

    How fun is that??!!!

  5. Anne - love how you have conveyed the genuine feeling in these weddings. We got married in Las Vegas 18 months ago and I wouldn't change a thing! Too cool.

  6. nice. I love the couple + song.

  7. I love this idea! Anne you rock!


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