We were sitting by the side of the Grand Canal when the gondola drifted by. Seated inside were a bride and groom in full wedding regalia. The gondolier was singing. They were smiling. We went on tucking into our pizza.
The pizza and the wedding were real enough. But the rest was fake. This wasn’t Venice, Italy. This was The Venetian in Las Vegas.
To be honest, my memories of ‘the wedding capital of the world’ are anything but fond. The husband and I were nearing the end of a two-week fly-drive holiday with our teenage son in tow. Nobody was getting on very well with anyone else.
The son was outraged that we had taken him to Vegas but he couldn’t drink, gamble or do anything remotely interesting. The husband was cross that I’d refused to do my share of the driving. And I hated the heat. And motels. And my husband. (Not necessarily in that order.)
So when my daughter suggested getting married in Las Vegas I admit I was underwhelmed. Since then I’ve done some research.
Clark County issued 112,631 marriage licences in 2006. That’s a lot of weddings. In Vegas you can have an Elvis Blue Hawaii wedding package with ‘Elvis’ performing the ceremony and singing his hit songs. Apparently, ‘This Las Vegas wedding ceremony is highlighted by a lush tropical set, hula girls dancing to Elvis' rendition of the Hawaiian Wedding Song, and theatrical fog and lighting effects. Your guests may even want to sport their best luau-wear.’
Or there’s the gangster themed wedding which includes the Godfather as the Minister plus an Italian waiter, theatrical lighting and fog (why fog?). You also get a classic bouquet with five flowers (I assume that’s five kinds of flowers, otherwise it would be more of a posy) and a live webcast during the ceremony. Now there’s an offer you can’t refuse - unless you prefer the helicopter ride to the Grand Canyon. Prices start from $3350 and for this the happy couple, plus two guests, a minister and a photographer fly over Las Vegas and the Hoover Dam, landing in the Grand Canyon on a bluff overlooking the Colorado River. Here you exchange your wedding vows (you can write these yourself if you like), enjoy a champagne picnic and pose for the photographer. Oh, and a Johnny Cash impersonator can sing at no extra charge.
All together now … I keep a close watch on this heart of mine