Downtown Las Vegas is, without a doubt, one of my favorite places to hang out these days. Awesome bars, affordable restaurants and the mix of history and cool new stories being written make it irresistible. The same goes for Kerry and Manny, two Vegas locals who had their first date downtown, were engaged downtown and (spoiler alert:) got married there, too!
Favorite books, bands, music and even postcards reigned at Manny and Kerry’s wedding, which was held at the Historic 5th Street School. All of these details, plus beloved friends and family, helped make the wedding downtown fab-u-lous! Sometimes a couple finds the venue that fits them best, and I think Kerry and Manny succeeded here. They were able to involve music, art and the city they love in a venue they made their own.
Photographed by Doug of Mindy Bean Photography, you’re going to love this one. Get ready to be inspired, from the first look all the way through to the rockstar reception (that’s not hyperbole, an actual band played their wedding!) Kerry says she doesn’t think their wedding had any particular theme, but I would respectfully argue that it does, and that theme is how awesome Kerry and Manny are. Read on for more details from the bride…
Why Downtown Las Vegas?
I am a Las Vegas native and Manny has lived most of his life here. Our families and friends are all here so there was no question that we would get married in our beloved hometown. Manny and I enjoy the downtown Las Vegas revitalization that has been happening for the past several years. We had our first date downtown, he proposed to me downtown, and we do most of our socializing downtown, so we knew we wanted to get married there too.
That being said, we didn’t want a casino or chapel wedding. We wanted something more authentic and unique to us. I had been to many cultural events at the Historic Fifth Street School such as the Vegas Valley Book Festival, the Django Reinhardt Jazz Festival, and various art shows, but I had no idea you could have your wedding there until I discovered it on Google! It was PERFECT. It’s right smack in the middle of downtown but once you’re there you’d never know it! Its vintage feel and beautiful grounds was exactly what we wanted for our wedding.
The Ceremony – Courtyard at Historic 5th Street School
We had our ceremony in the beautiful outdoor courtyard in front of the fountain in the late afternoon of a perfect 75 degree autumn day. The courtyard was so pretty with the simple white chairs we set out that we didn’t feel the need for any other decor besides the two stands of daisies we placed near the fountain. As guests walked in they came to a table with ribbon wands. We made these wands ourselves using Star Wars lightsaber colors. Guests read these instructions: “Choose a ribbon wand. It is yours to keep! When down the aisle we walk as husband and wife united, wave your wands and ring your bells to show us you’re excited! Once inside, if a kiss from us you want, don’t clink your glasses. Wave your wands and ring your bells and we’ll pucker up for the masses.”
We chose the Vitamin String Quartet version of The White Stripes’ “We’re Going to Be Friends” for our processional. We did not have a traditional wedding party. My two sisters acted as my bridesmaids and Manny had a best man and that was it. My dad walked me down the aisle being really sweet and making us laugh, and then when I saw all our friends and family standing and gazing at me with so much love in their eyes, I started bawling and cried all the way to Manny’s side.
Our officiant, Reverend Dan, is a childhood friend of mine and also a Las Vegas native. He wrote us a beautiful ceremony with many loving references to our mutual desert home. Our friends Raymond and Jen gave a reading from the children’s book “Rosie and Michael” by Judith Viorst. Manny and I agreed to write our own vows. I carefully crafted what I wanted to say following online templates but Manny? HE MADE HIS UP ON THE SPOT.
Our vows remained very true to ourselves. I mentioned my favorite author Jane Austen, he mentioned his favorite hockey team the Pittsburgh Penguins. We both spoke about our love and lack of fear as we face our future together. Our recessional music was the “Star Wars End Titles” which went along with everyone waving their lightsaber colored ribbon wands!
The Reception – Art Gallery at Historic 5th Street School
We had our reception inside the art gallery of the Historic Fifth Street School. They change the art every six weeks so we didn’t know what “our” art would be until the week before the wedding. Luckily, the Vegas Valley Book Festival was the weekend before and they left up the children’s book illustrations from that event. Considering we had a children’s book reading in our ceremony and our centerpieces were made of books, it was very fitting.
Our wedding had no theme or color scheme; we just went with things we like: white daisies, homemade vinyl record dessert stands for our cutting cake and cupcakes, saltwater taffy, books as centerpieces. Manny and I wrote heartfelt thank you notes inside every book and had our guests take them home at the end of the party. I have been collecting postcards since I was a teenager, so instead of a guest book we set up a spinner rack with my postcards and had everyone choose one and write us a note. For fun and for our guests to pass the time between the ceremony and dinner we had wedding Mad Libs which our friends filled out to hilarious results!
Reverend Dan did double duty as our wedding DJ. After dinner we danced and danced. Then Dan arranged a “Tunnel of Love” to our cake cutting. Our guests paired off and formed a “tunnel” that Manny and I had to run through. As we made our way through the tunnel each pair would trap us between their arms and hug and squeeze and kiss us! It was so fun and gave us a nice intimate moment with each guest.
Rusty Maples Rockin’ the Reception
On our first date Manny and I saw local indie rock band Rusty Maples and they are the bee’s knees! They became “our” band and we went to ALL their shows, ultimately developing a friendship with them. Manny proposed to me with the band’s help in the middle of one of their shows. You can see our proposal video here!
After the proposal Rusty Maples immediately told us, “WE ARE PLAYING YOUR WEDDING!” So, to close out our reception, Rusty Maples played an hour long set. They kicked our party up ten notches, playing that little gallery like they were on the biggest stage in the world, holding nothing back. It was truly the most special thing to have them play our wedding since they were so integral to our courtship and love. First date, proposal, wedding: a true hat-trick. (Nice hockey reference, Kerry! -LVW)
Our first look with our amazingly talented photographer was magical. Forty-five minutes alone together before the wedding craziness started was precious time we treasured. It helped calm our nerves and bonded us in an intimacy that lasted throughout the entire day.
My older sister and Manny’s best man both gave moving speeches that had us in tears. I’m 37 years old and Manny is 42. Neither of us has ever been married before and it took us a long time to find each other and the happiness we have now. They touched on that in their speeches in humorous and loving ways.
DIY Decor and Details
Together we handmade the ribbon wands (instructions) and we bought vinyl records at a used record shop and made vinyl dessert stands using this tutorial. We also made our book centerpieces and thrifted the vases for our flowers. I created our wedding Mad Libs, bought pretty yellow cardboard paper and printed them myself.
Manny + Kerry’s #1 tip for other couples planning a Las Vegas wedding
If you are local I would encourage you to think outside the box when it comes to wedding venues. Although there is nothing wrong with a casino or chapel wedding, there are many other interesting, unique, and fun places to get married: Historic Fifth Street School, Springs Preserve, Neon Museum, The Mob Museum, even KISS Monster Mini Golf!
Oh, also? You might not realize it but October is the most popular month to get married in Las Vegas because the weather is so great. This means you need to secure your venue as early as possible if you want to snag one of the prime October weekends. Vendors also get booked up in that month so plan ahead. We originally wanted an October wedding but the Fifth Street School was booked so we ended up getting married on November 9th which was the first available weekend. We didn’t mind and we lucked out with perfect weather.
Manny + Kerry’s Wedding Guest Count + Budget
We had 65 guests and came in just under $11,000 for our budget. I find that most wedding budgets focus on the party only and don’t include wedding clothes and wedding rings. That $11,000 for our budget included my wedding dress, Manny’s suit, and our wedding bands. We also had a two entree buffet dinner and an open bar. Not too shabby.
Vendor and Venue Details:
Photographer: Doug with Mindy Bean Photography / Ceremony + Reception Venue: Historic Fifth Street School / Officiant (and DJ!): Dan “The Reverend” Zavala / Wedding Dress: Bridal and Boutique / Hair: Christopher Lambert at Body Spa Salons / Makeup: Andrea of Coollava Cosmetics / Jewelry: Charming Charlie / Groom’s Suit + Menswear: Mastroianni Fashions / Groom’s Cufflinks + Tie Pin: SouthernLiving26 on Etsy / Floral: Enchanted Florist / Catering: Natalie Littlefield’s Catering Unlimited / Bar Catering: Liquid Courage / Cake + Cupcakes: Andrea Lee Ivey, friend of the couple / Cake Topper: PegBuddies on Etsy / Cake Stand: Records from Record City / Band: Rusty Maples