Although we arrived in the U.S. on February 23rd, Nick and I had a bit more rambling on our itineraries: we eloped in Las Vegas.
Neither of us had been to Vegas, or even had the desire to go, until a few friends raved about Sin City over the past year. With our arrival back to the States and a major house restoration in the works, we thought, why not? We were ready to be married, and our plans for a 300+ wedding seemed more like a chore than a thrill.
Our three day wedding escape was exciting, spontaneous, and stress-free. Here are a few tips for ramblers who want to venture into the neon glitz and glam (whether you plan to tie the knot or not!):
Book your hotel room ahead, and upgrade upon your arrival. There are countless Las Vegas flight and hotel deals on sites such as Priceline.com and Expedia.com. Since Nick and I wanted to stay at one of the newest, nicest hotels in Vegas (the Encore), we signed up for it’s email list to receive promotional discounts and package deals. You can also search for promotional codes, which will provide discounts when you make reservations online (for example, we Googled “Encore promotional codes”).
If you would like a room upgrade, ask for this when you check into the hotel. The upgrade may be cheaper than the price for that same room online.
Skip the weekend vacation, if you can. Prices are cheaper for hotels during the week, and restaurants are less likely to be packed.
Not a great gambler, but still want to play? Head over to the Sahara for cheaper games, such as the $1 Black Jack tables.
Make restaurant reservations whenever possible. Even for same-day reservations, call your hotel concierge to book a table at desired restaurants.
And for you lovebirds who are looking to wed without a large wedding:
Discuss what your goals are for your wedding experience. If you want a typical Vegas wedding, go all out! If a classic ceremony with a few family members is what you desire, there is room for this too. Be prepared before you arrive and research the various wedding chapels on the strip. We paid close attention to customer comments, as well as pictures of the chapel.
Gaudy meets classic. Nick and I chose the most typical, Vegas-esque chapel we could find, but balanced that kitsch with a lovely hotel, top-of-the-line restaurants, and stellar shows. Vegas is a two-faced city, which gives you the advantage of drinking $1 Miller High Life in cheap casinos by day and toasting over foie gras appetizers in a tuxedo by night. Decide what your indulgences can be for your special day, and enjoy them with no regrets!
Buy select flowers from a florist as a money saver. I had a beautifully vibrant bouquet and flowers in my hair on my wedding day, and I spent less than $50 on them. Call ahead to order flowers from a nearby florist (our hotel had a florist in the building) and pick them up on the morning of your wedding. Since I used to work at a florist, I prepared the flowers myself in the early afternoon using 20 stems of ranunculus (10 magenta and 10 orange). Here are a few flower tips based on my wedding morning:
Notes: In order to keep the flowers from wilting, keep them in water for as long as possible before you begin the cutting and wiring process. Bring scissors, florist wiring, tape, and a thick white ribbon from home (or you may be able to order these from your florist).
To wire flowers for an updo:
Wiring your flowers will make it easy for your stylist to insert flowers into your hair with bobby pins.
- Choose 8-10 flowers that all vary in size. Cut the stems, leaving only a 1-2 inch stem from the flower.
- After cutting the wire into 6 inch pieces, insert the wire at the base where the stem meets the flower. Run the flower halfway along the wire’s length, and fold the wire in half. Twist the wire, being careful not to break the stem of the flower.
- Starting at the base, twist the florist tape around the stem, and slowly twist down to cover the wire.
- Cut the tape when complete, and repeat these steps for each flower.
For your bouquet:
Take the rest of the flowers and arrange them to your liking. Tie them together with your ribbon, cut the stems, and place them into a vase of water until you are ready to leave.
WHERE WE WINED, DINED, AND MARRIED:
A Little White Wedding Chapel– It was just what we had imagined for our truly Vegas wedding. The fake flowers, drive-thru marriage service, and limousine pick-up were just perfect. Our minister, Roger, was heartfelt and considerate, just as one should be for such an emotional event. And we figured, if Frank Sinatra, Michael Jordan, Brittany Spears, Bruce Willis, and Demi Moore all got married here, then it’s gotta be a snazzy place.
Encore –Steve Wynn, famous hotelier and developer of the Encore hotel, is also known for his prior Las Vegas hotel developments such as the The Mirage, Treasure Island Hotel and Casino, the Wynn Las Vegas and the Bellagio. The Encore is his latest masterpiece, offering every extravagance we could have hoped for our wedding vacation and honeymoon. I was particularly impressed by the customer service – any of my needs were immediately met by the concierge, room, or bell services.
D.L. Anderson and Kavanah Ramsier- As soon as we decided to wed in Vegas, we contacted D.L. Anderson, a photojournalist for the Independent Weekly in North Carolina. Fortunately for us, he and his fiancee, Kavanah, were open to traveling to Las Vegas to shoot the events of the week, and they did an extraordinary job. Every photo in this post is by Derek and Kavanah, who made us at ease while they expertly hid behind their lenses.
Le Cirque –Decadent french food and an interesting decor. It is pricey, but is hands down our favorite restaurant in Vegas. RAMBLER’S PICK
B&B Ristorante– Mario Batali’s restaurant combines flavors that complement each other well, but I still can’t buy into the “hoopla” of these superstar chefs’ restaurants. We also ended up talking with our neighboring table quite a bit due to a lack of space and privacy from table to table.
Cafe Ile St. Louis – We were hungry and made a rash decision – if you are basically an IHOP, why not admit it? We should have gone to Mon Ami, which is also located in Paris, and has outdoor seating.
La Salsa Mexican Restaurant –They claim to have the best margaritas in Las Vegas, but we’ve had better. However, the outdoor patio that sits virtually under The Forum shops fountain is a wonderful resting place on a sunny afternoon. The cheese dip and chips was a tasty treat.
Sensi –This Asian fusion restaurant allows the customer to peer into it’s kitchens while eating, since each kitchen is divided by glass walls. I sampled a few appetizers, which were creative and colorful, however they didn’t leave me raving about my meal. Order a Sensi’s version of a Dark & Stormy with spicy homemade ginger beer.
Jubilee! -This is the ultimate Vegas showgirl performance, with over a hundred topless women garbed in thousands of rhinestones. Although is was a bit cheesy, the sheer grandeur of it all is incredible and entertaining.
Cirque du Soleil’s “O” - One of the best performances I have ever seen in my life. I can’t say enough!
The Bellagio Fountain Show – Don’t leave Vegas without catching the fountain show at the Bellagio. The towering fountains “dance” to music by day and night, and it is a surprisingly breathtaking event.
$1 Black Jack at the Sahara – It’s cheap and fun, and you’re sure to meet a few folks while you play.
Cruising the strip by motorized wheelchair– A half hour before the wedding, Nick snapped his knee while we were taking photos (we were jumping on the couches in our hotel room). The next day, we decided that he needed a wheelchair. After hours of wheeling him around myself, we rented a motorized wheelchair from the hotel, which costs $40 dollars for the day (plus $15 insurance). Once he started scooting around, we realized we could save a lot of time walking if I just sat on his lap! It may look funny, but exploring Vegas by a motorized wheelchair allows you to see twice as many places, and saves hours of walking along the strip.