Although many couples opt for the neon and architecture of The Strip or even classic downtown Las Vegas for their wedding venue, the city is surrounded by the picturesque Mojave desert.
This landscape appeals to those looking for a more natural look and feel, and there are a variety of locations from a half hour to just over an hour’s drive outside the city. These desert wedding venues are a different side to Las Vegas, with majestic geological features, sand covered vistas and desert plant life like cacti and even Joshua trees.
Doing your wedding yourself at these venues requires a little bit of homework, in that you will need to purchase a wedding permit, and arrange for a wedding photographer and wedding officiant to meet you at the venue. The best time of day, for weather and photos, is sunset.
If that seems like a hassle, there are companies such as City Wedding Tours, Las Vegas Luv Bug Weddings and Cactus and Lace who provide packages to these locations that include photographer and minister, amongst other things.
It should be noted that none of these locations is really that well-suited to a full reception (the exception being Eldorado Canyon, and I recommend you use a planner if you do so) but that cake and a little Champagne toast might be in order.
Weddings at Eldorado Canyon at Nelson
This former gold mining town is popular with couples who want to combine rustic vintage buildings and whimsical props (crashed plane or antique trucks, anyone?) with their wedding vows. Eldorado is a great spot for those seeking a rustic, retro wedding style. This “ghost town” has been featured in the movie “3000 Miles from Graceland” and offers indoor and outdoor venues for your wedding ceremony.
Details: Eldorado Canyon Mine Tours
Venues: Say your I Do’s surrounded by the antiques in the barn, or just outside amongst the cholla cacti and antique vehicles
Theme: Whimsical western with a vintage twist
Travel Time: 60 minutes south of Las Vegas
Fee: Starting at $100 for 10 people for up to two hours, $150 for up to 20 guests for up to two hours, $50 an hour after that
Inspiration: real weddings at Eldorado Canyon
Weddings at Red Rock Canyon
Red Rock is a gorgeous area just west of The Strip, boasting amazing views of — you guessed it: incredible red rock formations. The area is popular with adventure seekers and includes a scenic drive loops, 30+ miles of hiking trails, picnic areas, and a variety of outdoor activities including rock climbing, horseback riding and mountain biking. There are two fabulous outdoor spots to get married, including a scenic overlook and Calico Basin. Red Rock Canyon has been featured in the Little Vegas Wedding Venue Spotlight series.
Details: Red Rock National Conservation Area
Venues: Calico Basin offers a boardwalk surrounded by greenery and petroglyphs, while Scenic Overlook is a panoramic vista of the nearby sandstone mountain formations
Theme: Natural mountainous wonder with green details
Travel Time: 30 minutes west of Las Vegas
Fee: Wedding permit is $200, and must be arranged at least two weeks in advance
Inspiration: real weddings at Red Rock Canyon
Weddings at Valley of Fire State Park
A little more remote is the Valley of Fire, Nevada’s oldest state park with vivid red rocks, just north of Las Vegas. The dramatic whorled sandstone formations, natural arches and petrified wood as a wedding backdrop will wow you. The Valley of Fire has been seen in scenes of “Transformers” and “Planet of the Apes.”
Details: Valley of Fire State Park
Venues: There are only four approved venues for weddings at Valley of Fire: Seven Sisters, Rainbow Vista, Visitor’s Center or The Cabins. Some sites host as few 15 people, some up to 100 people
Theme: Mother Nature on fire
Travel Time: 75 minutes north of Las Vegas
Fee: Wedding permit is $100-175 depending on the size of wedding, and must be arranged at least three weeks in advance