One of the laws that started making Las Vegas popular sixty years ago was a Nevada divorce law, permitting divorces by petition of one party as long as they were residents for at least one month, which was much less restrictive than the rest of the country. Reno was a bigger city than Las Vegas at the time, and was the first to actively promote application of the new law. Advertisements in California brought people in to stay for a month at local dude ranches, get divorced and go home. It wasn’t long before some large residence ranches were built around Las Vegas to pull in the Southern California crowd, and a number of Hollywood movie stars came to stay, ride horses and be entertained while waiting for their month to roll by. Floyd Lamb State Park is made up of one of these ranches, a bit northeast of town; you can still see most of the buildings, and the small lakes that were put in. It is now a popular fishing spot, and kids like chasing the peacocks.
I don’t know when Vegas shifted from being a divorce spot to becoming a place to get married, but we now have dozens of wedding chapels scattered around. Almost every big casino/resort has it’s own wedding chapel, and now there is a chapel in a truck that will drive to whatever location you want. For $99 they will marry you at any location in town, recent photos show the Welcome to Las Vegas sign is a popular location. The price includes a minister and wedding photos. You still have to go downtown to the clerk’s office and get your own marriage license, but that’s standard for all the chapels.
In June one of Vegas’ biggest weddings was held. Steve Wynn’s last wedding was an impressive affair, but not like the Ackerman wedding, held at the new Smith Center near downtown. Costing over $1,000,000 the food, flowers and entertainment was rather spectacular. So far the marriage has lasted longer than Brittany’s, and no, I wasn’t invited, but I would rather be married by Elvis and save the bucks.