As a follow up to the post earlier this week of advice from real brides and grooms on the things they would have done differently at their Las Vegas weddings, I thought I might share some more of the common pitfalls when planning a wedding in Vegas.
These 15 nuggets of Vegas wedding planning advice are especially true if you are planning a destination wedding but have never visited the city before, but I think even local brides and grooms will find some pearls of wisdom in this post.
SCHEDULING TOO MANY WEDDING EVENTS
Yes, Las Vegas is exciting and if you are getting married there, you are probably already a convert. And sure it’s great that you have planned an event every day for your wedding guests to enjoy while they are in Sin City — but give them some personal time, too! Overplanning not only leads to your exhaustion, but your guests’, too, and just creates a more demanding, less relaxing wedding.
CHOOSING VENUES THAT ARE TOO FAR APART
I know, it’s hard not to want to have it all. The retro downtown vibe, the beautiful desert scenery and those amazing lights and restaurants on the Strip. And most are all within a half hour of each other. But instead of trying to do it all, limit the number of venues you choose and how far from each other they are. Even better, choose your ceremony and reception to be in the same place. If you must host in a few different locations, try to provide transportation for your guests to keep them on schedule and from getting confused. Do you really want your guests to remember how long they sat on a bus on your wedding day instead of the amazing events you put together?
PICKING THE WRONG SEASON
May through August is traditionally the big wedding season in North America … except Las Vegas. It’s hot and many vendors take some time off because of that and … did I mention it’s hot? It can be less expensive to hold your wedding during these months which is attractive, but try for an early evening wedding, keep it indoors and try to make yourself and your guests as comfortable as you can. Here are some more summer wedding tips.
NOT HOSTING A RECEPTION
Yes, weddings are expensive. But if you have asked guests to come with you to your destination wedding, please, PLEASE, provide even a small cocktail reception for them. It’s only courteous. Even a couple of pizzas from Secret Pizza and cases of beer from Walgreens served up in your suite will likely only run you $25 a person. It may not be classy, but neither is providing nothing at all. You might seriously consider eloping if you can’t even give your invited guests a small celebration.
BOOKING TOO SMALL OF A VENUE
The Wraparound Suites at Cosmopolitan are beautiful, I agree. But really, they are best for groups of up to 15. Standing shoulder to shoulder and being barely able to move should be reserved for college parties, not your wedding ceremony. Pick a suite or venue that is well-sized for your wedding, not just because you like the view or decor.
MIS-ESTIMATING THE GUESTLIST
It’s really easy to over or underestimate the number of guests that will come to your wedding. For most destination weddings, just 40-50% of invited guests will actually attend, with the number being a little higher for Las Vegas. Leave a lot of time for RSVPs and let people know as far in advance you are planning a destination wedding. Vacation time and travel budgets must be accommodated.
GOING HARD WITH PRE-WEDDING PARTYING
Avoid the siren song of the casino bar the night before your wedding. Rest up, relax and enjoy a nightcap in your room if you must, but avoid the smoke-filled casino floors and nightclubs. Before you know it, it may be 5am and you haven’t gotten a wink of sleep.
NOT STAYING HYDRATED
Every time I come home from Las Vegas, I always wonder if I should buy stock in my favorite skin moisturizer’s company as I deplete yet another bottle. The desert is dry, so keep your skin (body and face), lips and hair well moisturized and drink more water than you need. The wedding aisle is no place for dehydration or flaky skin. While you’re at it, consider a refreshment station for guests at your outdoor ceremony.
GETTING THAT POOL TIME IN
If you come from a very wintery place like I do, it’s tough to avoid wanting to “catch up on the sun” and sit by the pool. Save the cabana rentals for after the wedding, get an umbrella, slather on that sunscreen and limit your time in the sun. Go for an airbrush tan if you must. Sunburns do not look very timeless in wedding photos.
BEING TOO SHY TO UPGRADE
Las Vegas loves weddings. Tell anyone you can that you are in the city to get married, from the airline check-in agent and hotel clerk to restaurant hostesses and spa attendants. And if that fails, you can always try the $20 trick for a suite upgrade. Don’t be shy! There’s no shame in asking and you receive a real bonus perk.
LETTING LOOSE WITH THE BUDGET
Budgets are a slippery slope. If you keep close track of your budget and remain aware of it even up until the morning of the wedding, it is less likely to happen. It’s easy to spend more than you anticipated in Las Vegas on non-wedding events, be it on a meal, a round of cocktails or pre-wedding gambling.
INSISTING ON A TRADITIONAL REGISTRY
When I think of carrying delicate things home on an airplane I always think of the episode of Seinfeld where Jerry is burdened by a wedding gift he thinks is fragile but is actually just a welcome mat. Either have guests ship gifts to your home, have a gift opening back home or set up an alternative registry like these modern recommendations from Zola.
NOT SOAKING IN THE GLOW
Revel in the attention you get as you walk through the casino, and happily pose for photos by well-wishers. Las Vegas loves love, judging by the reaction newlyweds get when they are spotted in the city. Take a moment to really appreciate and enjoy the attention from strangers and your loved ones, alike.
RELYING ON THE STRIP FOR TRANSPORTATION
If you need to travel around the city because you have a wedding ceremony and reception in two different locations, avoid The Strip. It’s a traffic jam for most of the day and will cause delays, not only for you, but your guests. Also that Vegas bus tour you planned? You might be stuck in traffic for a lot of it, so plan accordingly.
UNDERESTIMATING THE SIZE AND SCALE OF STRIP HOTELS
On Google Maps, the distance between hotels doesn’t look so bad — Bellagio is right next door to Caesars Palace, after all! But getting from your hotel room, down through the lobby, out to The Strip where you wrangle with crowds to the next hotel and then into the deep convention area where the chapels normally are, can take a long time. Longer than you thought. Especially when you’re wearing fancy wedding day shoes.
Was this post eye-opening? Get more Las Vegas wedding tips and advice.
Photo: Nan Palmero/Flickr, used under Creative Commons License
Hindsight is 20/20, so they say. Looking back, I am happy to tell you there would have been many things I would have changed about my wedding day.
I would have reconfirmed the day before with the hairstylist that never showed, I would have made time for breakfast with my dad despite schedule changes and I would have brought water to my Neon Museum shoot. What were we thinking? I’ll tell you that first drink at our Border Grill reception never tasted so good, though!
The exact moment my photographer delivered the news that my husband had lost his pants, just 15 minutes ahead of our wedding
So, what would real Vegas brides and grooms who have gone through a wedding in Sin City have changed about their wedding? Lots of things, it seems. If you are a regular reader of The Knot Las Vegas forum, you will recognize some of the names sharing their wisdom, since these brides and grooms were kind enough to contribute their advice based on their wedding experiences. Added in are a few from LVW’s Facebook page.
A little perspective is a good thing from time to time, and sometimes we can get so stuck on one idea, it’s hard to imagine changing it. Hopefully you find this advice useful, especially if you are struggling with some decisions in your Vegas wedding planning.
PICKED A COOLER DRESS
I would find a simple short dress! I love my dress, but it is heavy and we are getting married in July. What the hell was I thinking with this huge dress?? - ssteele04
I would’ve picked a smaller dress for sure. - missmo14
If I had to do it again I might have picked one of the two-piece convertible gowns. Those look awesome. - KrisLSmiley
AVOIDED TOO MANY VENUES
I would have picked one venue for everything! I wouldn’t have arranged to host so many pre-wedding parties and events. - missmo14
PREPARED FOR A LOT OF WALKING
Shoes! I would have had more comfortable shoes!! - samiam125
GOTTEN A HAIR AND MAKEUP ARTIST ALL TO YOURSELF
Do not book all of your girls with the same makeup and hair artist as you! It’s too many women in one room and you will be late. Book your own and only invite 1-2 others (that can stay calm and help you) to join. Anyone that can’t handle stress should not be allowed in the same room as you the morning of. – Kari P
I wish my husband and I had gone out for breakfast/coffee the morning off, as I was too nervous to eat! - Courtney B.J.
PREPARED FOR THE HEAT
I would not have scheduled my Strip tour for 4:00pm, since it was like 100 degrees in June. - lauraaustin2003
I would not have ordered a cake. It was horrible and, honestly, after all the courses, plus the heat in July, I wouldn’t have had room for it anyway. – spoon1984
MADE TIME FOR PHOTOS
Don’t forget to take pictures with key people and do it early. Just grab your photographer and walk around the room. I missed out on many photos with people that I love. - mistiqnunu
I wish I had taken more casual photos with my sisters while we were getting ready. There’s some great individual shots, but we were rushing to finish everything so we weren’t late! – Courtney B.J.
BOOKED A VIDEOGRAPHER
We had an Elvis officiant and he was so funny and entertaining, I wish we had a recording to remember everything by! – kellamity
USED A HASHTAG
We asked guests post photos of everything and use a hashtag! From their travels to Vegas, to events on The Strip and anything from the wedding. I loved how connected our guest felt using the hashtag because we could all see each other’s fun photos! - Kari P
REALIZED VEGAS WEDDINGS = HANGOVERS
We should not have booked a day after brunch. Worst idea ever. Not just for us, but pretty much all of our guests. I DO not recommend one if you think your reception is going to get wild, and especially if you are going the DIY route and have to do things like return rental cars, glassware and clean up the party suite the next morning. - Kelly, Little Vegas Wedding
NOT CONSIDER THE DAY’S TIMELINE
Would have liked to do more pictures but due to our ceremony being between 4pm and 4:30pm, the sun ended up going down at 5:30pm. – connor1975
I would not recommend having your wedding before 4pm. We had an 11am wedding with a lunch buffet, but most of our guest were hungover, tired or not ready to drink. Around 1, some people started to dance and get in the mood, but it was tough getting the energy out of people that were partying in Vegas the previous night. – Kari P
ROCK OUT WITH YOUR FROCK OUT
I wish I had not changed out of my dress before we hit the hotel bar, since let’s be serious: when am I ever going to wear it again?! - Courtney B.J.
I also want to point out this post on the Scheme Events blog that details some of the mishaps and problems they successfully navigated at Las Vegas weddings they planned. Funny in retrospect, but probably really stressful at the time!
Photo: Ryan Jackson
Have you seen the movie Up? It’s one of my favorite animated films, and although it makes me cry at times, it’s also so sweet. The couple in today’s engagement shoot, Chris and Michelle, also love the film and decided to theme their photos around it. After finding 40 balloons, the perfect venue and an adventurous photographer, these fantastic photos were the result. Too cute! Be sure to read the story behind the photos from the photographer, Cassidy Zellmann, at the bottom of the post!
More from the photographer:
Chris, who found me via Yelp, and I exchanged emails and phone conversations for almost two months before the shoot going over details, locations, propping, styling, and anything else that was going to help us make the most of their time for this engagement session. We settled on a location with a more vintage feel to it: The Clark County Heritage Museum! I adore shooting at this place because it has so many wonderful and different aspects to it. I have yet to have one session even resemble another.
Chris and Michelle gathered propping on their own end: suspenders, printables, and a helium balloon kit (oh that was fun lol!) And those glasses? They are actually Chris’ regular glasses which I must say were pretty awesome. I made sure to load up my car with any other vintage inspired propping me might use: luggage, a vintage 1940′s picnic basket (yes it’s that old, it was my great-grandmother’s) plus a picnic blanket to help pull this shoot off.
When we had finished with the shoot, Michelle had the thought to take them back to a child who was in a photo session with another photographer there that day. Little moments like that made this a beautiful session.
VENUE DETAILS :
PHOTOGRAPHER . Cassidy Zellmann Photography
PHOTO SHOOT VENUE . Clark County Museum
If you have been reading Little Vegas Wedding for even a short time, you know I go nuts for a certain things: namely weddings with rock ‘n’ roll flair and a palette of red and black, for example. That’s why I did a little dance in my office when Michelle, the bride, contacted me to have her wedding featured. (I always feel SO lucky when brides and grooms contact me to share their wedding days!) And that was BEFORE she told me about her awesome idea.
Being that Michelle and Adam’s first anniversary is in just a few days, Michelle thought it would be fun to get their celebration posted on a wedding blog, then print the post out and give it as a first anniversary present to Adam (the suggested gift is paper, you see!)
Readers, you are going to love the punk rock theme that Michelle and Adam had going on. Red petticoats and retro ‘dos for the bridesmaids, a palette of black and white stripes with bold red accents and Michelle’s killer skull-detailed heels all add up to one glam, retro-style wedding. The touches of Halloween and goth-inspired goodness are also amazing. Happy anniversary, Michelle and Adam!
WHY DID YOU GO WITH CANYON GATE?
We were looking for a country club that had a great outdoor space for ceremony and a ballroom with a few vintage touches for around 150 guests. We fell in love with the patio set up overlooking the picturesque golf course and quaint water feature for the ceremony at Canyon Gate. Inside we saw the cocktail room was located directly indoors from the ceremony site, and that the ballroom was separate for the “Grand Reveal” of the reception space when it was ready for guests to find their seats. Add to that a great chandelier with panoramic windows displaying the Spring Mountains and golf course in the ballroom and Canyon Gate seemed too good to be true! We actually looked at many different venues (at least 10 more) after that in Las Vegas but nothing seemed to give us the same feeling that Canyon Gate did.
THE CEREMONY — Patio at Canyon Gate Country Club
Our ceremony was on the patio before sunset on a beautiful October day. I’m Catholic and Adam is Jewish, but we’re not very religious and wanted to showcase parts of our religions with our personalities intertwined into the ceremony. You could tell walking in it definitely wasn’t a traditional ceremony. The space was decorated with a black and white stripe aisle runner with candle-filled vases lining the aisle. At the end of the aisle was the traditional Jewish chuppah flanked by two black manzanita trees with crystals and clear orbs with red roses hanging from the branches.
As guests took their seats, they may have heard a classically arranged string quartet version of their favorite punk rock or classic rock song over the speakers by Vitamin String Quartet. As the ceremony started, the bridesmaids descended down the aisle to the Game of Thrones theme song, and when I walked down the aisle, the DJ switched the music to A Thousand Years by Christina Perri from the Twilight Soundtrack. I was so full of emotion as I walked down the aisle with my dad! Adam: “The anticipation of seeing my future wife walk down the aisle was overwhelming. I had heard whispers about the dress but it was hush, hush. When I finally saw her, she looked even more beautiful than I could ever imagine.”
We had two non-traditional readings one from Game of Thrones and another from Nightmare Before Christmas. We wrote our own vows; Adam’s were funny, clever and rhymed and I cried but made it through! Our recessional was walking hand-in-hand to Everlong by the Foo Fighters.
THE RECEPTION — Grand Ballroom at Canyon Gate Country Club
The room was decorated with black table linens with tables alternating black and white stripe table runners and damask table runners, and the tables were named for Bad Religion songs. There were three different centerpieces; a black manzanita tree with crystals and crystal orbs with red roses draped in the branches, a lantern with blinged-out skull and small white and black pumpkins, and a black and white pumpkin with a tea light skull candle holder. The sweetheart table had Victorian thrones with the damask letters spelling out “LOVE” with my brooch bouquet as the centerpiece. The reception started off with each member of the bridal party walking in to a different theme song from a TV shows that described them. We walked out to a Bad Religion song waving terrible towels: a Pittsburgh Steelers tradition. Our first dance was to Rise Against’s Swing Life Away.
DIY DETAILS + DECOR
We met at a Bad Religion concert four years prior to the wedding. I always wanted a wedding with a black and white color scheme with punches of red accents, so we tied in punk music with all of our other favorite things (movies, HBO shows like Game of Thrones and True Blood, pirates, Pittsburgh sports teams, and vampires) throughout the wedding to make it fun and full of our personality. The majority of the budget went to the venue and catering and we did as much DIY as we could, from invitations and stationery to jewelry, tablescape details. There was lots of time spent in Michael’s, Hobby Lobby, dollar stores and Ross! Even the cookie favors were baked by family and friends.
MICHELLE: I joked with my friends that my wedding will look like my home “gave birth” to a child. I used a lot of décor that I already had and if I didn’t have it, I bought it because I knew I would use the décor in my home. I wanted to make sure I had a lot of fun planning the wedding, make sure that our wedding screamed with our personality and have a kick-ass party. Mission accomplished.
ADAM: Seeing all our personal touches that went into the décor was worth all the time and effort we put in. It wasn’t your average cookie cutter wedding. People kept coming up and complimenting how cool the room and tables looked, and that it was definitely our style.
LAS VEGAS WEDDING TIPS FROM ADAM AND MICHELLE
Don’t sweat the small stuff while planning and be realistic. Nothing is worth fighting over and hating each other while planning your wedding. Most couples fight about how much everything is costing. When we planned our wedding, we set the budget, but we were realistic that it might go over. Know that the budget is there, but it isn’t the end of the world if you go over. Make the planning process as fun as possible for both of you.
VENDOR + VENUE DETAILS :
PHOTOGRAPHER . Red Velvet Weddings
CEREMONY VENUE . Patio, Canyon Gate Country Club
RECEPTION VENUE . Grand Ballroom, Canyon Gate Country Club
OFFICIANT . Elegant Vegas Weddings / FLORAL . Enchanted Florist / CAKE . Cravin’ Cake Bakery / BRIDAL FASHION . dress – Maggie Sottero from Bowties Bridal Boutique, shoes – Iron Fist, jewelry + accessories – DIY / HAIR + MAKEUP . Stevee Danielle / BROOCH BOUQUET + BOUTONNIERES . Bouquet Couture / BRIDESMAIDS . / GROOMSWEAR . Tuxedo Junction, Ties – Rok Gear / STATIONERY + PAPER GOODS . DIY / PHOTOBOOTH . Shutterbooth / VIDEOGRAPHY . Red Art Studios / CANDY + COOKIE TABLE . Cindy Ashley
Exciting breaking news! Nevada was one of the states that did not issue marriage licenses to gay couples. However, today that ban was overturned. The state will begin issuing licenses to all applicants tomorrow (Wednesday, October 8 at 2 pm) and become of the 35 states where same-sex marriage is legal. Thrilling news for all people who wish to tie the knot Vegas style. Can’t wait to feature some in future months. Full details in this Review-Journal article.