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CHAROLETTE RICHARDS is 86 now, and her Little White Chapel, 1301 Las Vegas Boulevard, is up for sale with an asking price of $12 million. Cassidy George asks, “Why Won’t Anyone Buy the Most Famous Wedding Chapel in Las Vegas?,” The New York Times, October 12, 2019.
Here are tidbits gleaned from Cassidy George’s article, together with some nuptial memories of Wife Dottie and me.
No-Big-Deal Hitchings. The only requirements to get hitched in Las Vegas are photo IDs, $77 between you and your intended, and proof that you’re both at least 18 years old.
George notes, “Great-Depression legislation allowed for hasty lovers to bypass the usual blood tests and waiting periods, and marry within a matter of hours.”
Famous Nuptials. According to Charolette Richards, her chapel has hosted Frank Sinatra, Joan Collins, Bruce Willis, Michael Jordan, and Britney Spears. Not altogether, note, though the sign out front seems to imply that Collins and Jordan might have used the 24 Hr Drive Up Wedding Window.
Drive a Little, Save a Lot. George says that Richards is the originator of the 10-minute wedding ceremony and that “she had a hand in more than 50,000 weddings, in the drive-through window alone, since 1991.”
A Ritual of Your Choice. Reverend Ron DeCar owns and (as theme-attired officiate) operates Viva Las Vegas. George notes, “At Viva Las Vegas, bells chime as you enter. A smiling face will soon inquire about your theme preference. Egyptian? Hawaiian? Harley? Camelot? Intergalactic?”
“How many chapels do you know that fly vampires from the ceiling?,” Reverend DeCar asks.
Santa Ana Courthouse, 1990. Wife Dottie and I know of one here in California. We were married at the Orange County Courthouse, Santa Ana, California, in early February 1990. The officiating clerk’s office was festooned with St. Valentine’s decor, and we remarked how sweet this made our special day.
“Oh,” she said, “you should get married around Halloween here. We have it decorated with ghosts, goblins, vampires, and all.”
Las Vegas’s Special Day. Charolette Richards told George about Blackjack Day, July 7, 2007—7/7/07 and considered so propitious that her chapel performed 547 weddings That day.
However, George observes, it’s no secret “that marriage rites in the United States have dwindled significantly in the wake of the 2008 financial crises, and that shifting social values coupled with the burdens of student debt have made tying the knot for millennials unfeasible or unappealing, and sometimes both.”
The Renewal Trade. There’s still the vow renewal trade, though. Wife Dottie and I renewed ours at the 24 Hour Church of Elvis in Portland, Oregon. Artist Stephanie G. Pierce officiated in part of her museum and gallery called “Where’s the ART!!”
At her locations (there have been four), she constructed installations, many coin-operated, of an artitorium, a hall of art horrors, and a parody of a Catholic confessional booth called “sex or money.”
According to Wikipedia, Stephanie “offered legal weddings for $25 and ‘cheap, not legal’ weddings for $5.”
Given we were already married, Wife Dottie and I opted for a $5 renewal of vows. We celebrated the occasion through purchase of artifacts made by Stephanie. These included a miraculous image of Elvis on a tea towel and official Elvis identification cards.
I carry mine in my wallet to this day. And the renewal worked. We are still married. ds
© Dennis Simanaitis, SimanaitisSays.com, 2019