I officiate Vegas weddings. Lots of people think they're impulsive or trashy — but most are the opposite.
- Rev. Carlos Vallesillas has officiated weddings since 2006.
- He currently works at the Chapel of Love wedding chapel in Las Vegas.
This as-told-to essay is based on a conversation with Rev. Carlos Vallesillas, the officiant at the Chapel of Love wedding chapel in Las Vegas. The conversation has been edited for length and clarity.
I've been officiating weddings since 2006, and I've been working at Chapel of Love in Las Vegas since about 2011. I previously worked at the venue when it was called Garden of Love, before a change in ownership led to the new name.
I do weddings all over town — at the Wynn, Caesar's Palace, and Paris Paris — and it's not uncommon to see celebrities getting married or renewing their vows, though it seems like recently they've been more public about their ceremonies. We recently had the teams for a few A-listers reach out to us about ceremonies, but they didn't happen due to logistical issues.
To get married in Vegas, you just need to get a license from the marriage-license bureau
It's open every night until midnight, including weekends and holidays. The whole process, from when you leave your hotel to get the license to getting married, can be done within an hour or an hour and a half. However, most ceremonies aren't as spontaneous as they seem.
The walk-in business used to be very popular. That used to be how you got married in Vegas back in the 1990s and early 2000s. You would just go to Vegas, get to your hotel, ask for recommendations from a bellman or concierge, or just drive around and pick a place.
Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, our business was about 30% walk-ins. Now, it's about 10% walk-ins and 90% reservations. A lot of places are now only open for reservations. Chapels want the ceremony times spread apart so there's time to sanitize and clean in between.
I've done weddings where the clients met each other the day before or even the day of the wedding
Although, out of the thousands of weddings I've done, I think that's only happened twice.
We're also not allowed to marry people who are intoxicated or under any influence, because a marriage proceeding is a legal act. If we have anyone who verbally states they're intoxicated or even appears intoxicated, we immediately put them through a waiting period. We'll ask them to come back 24 hours later. The Clark County Clerk also won't issue a marriage license to anyone who appears intoxicated or seems to be acting against their will.
In the last 15 to 20 years, there's been a stigma that people get married impulsively in Las Vegas
But before that, a lot of celebrities came and got married in white dresses and tuxedos. There were a lot of respectable people.
When Vegas picked up this stigma, it made getting married in Vegas seem trashy and tacky. We felt the impact of that, but thankfully we've worked against that stigma and we're seeing that pride being taken back. That's why in the past celebrities kept their marriages here private, but now they're starting to be more open about it.
During COVID-19, a lot of wedding venues around the country and around the world got backed up or closed. So people were coming to Vegas to get legally married instead, because there's a lot of ease in getting married in Las Vegas. The marriages here are legally recognized all over the world, which a lot of people don't know.
Las Vegas is more than just wedding chapels, too
We have beautiful scenery all around us where people can get married. We also get clients from all over the world — France, Germany, Brazil, Australia — who plan their Vegas trip just so they can get married here, which is amazing.
I love being a part of it; it's fun every day. We've done all kinds of special weddings, like ceremonies for people who were high school sweethearts, lost touch, and found each other again through social media.
This is probably the only job I know of where you get the privilege of celebrating love every day. There's so much happiness and lots of smiles every day when I walk into work.
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