Las Vegas Weddings : A Brief History, Celebrity Gossip, Everything Elvis, and the Complete Chapel Guide

  • ISBN13:


  • ISBN10:


  • Edition: 1st
  • Format: Paperback
  • Copyright: 2004-01-01
  • Publisher: HarperCollins Publications
  • Purchase Benefits
  • Free Shipping On Orders Over $35!
    Your order must be $35 or more to qualify for free economy shipping. Bulk sales, PO's, Marketplace items, eBooks and apparel do not qualify for this offer.
  • Get Rewarded for Ordering Your Textbooks! Enroll Now
List Price: $15.99 Save up to $2.52
  • Buy New


Supplemental Materials

What is included with this book?

  • The New copy of this book will include any supplemental materials advertised. Please check the title of the book to determine if it should include any access cards, study guides, lab manuals, CDs, etc.


The only book dedicated to the creation, rise, myth, and lore of Las Vegas weddings is published to coincide with the city's 100th anniversary celebrations. Includes a complete chapel guide.


Las Vegas Weddings
A Brief History, Celebrity Gossip, Everything Elvis, and the Complete Chapel Guide

Chapter One

From Cow Town to Mobster Central

In the Beginning

"Lucky at love, unlucky at cards" goes the saying, andthe history of the Las Vegas wedding industry is inextricablylinked to the history of Las Vegas itself. The mob hasmolded it, the movies have shaped it, and celebrities whohave played on its stage have glamorized it until its past ismired in myth. Like the stories in the Bible, the history of LasVegas takes place in the desert. Chronicles of fire and floods,tales of good battling temptation, and accounts of weaknessgiving in to the pleasures of vice have been told and retold,the town's notoriety for rowdy bars and bawdy broads goingback to its beginnings.

Las Vegas is the site of life-sustaining artesian springs.When in 1826 Spanish-speaking traders came across the unexpectedoasis the springs produced, they named the area"the meadows." About seventy-five years later, the San PedroRailroad decided the watering hole was a logical railroadstop, given that it was the midpoint between Salt LakeCity and Los Angeles. When the last tie in the track was putdown, the railroad auctioned off the parcels of land aroundthe station. Hyped by publicity and bolstered by inexpensivetrain tickets to bring in speculators, the properties soldquickly, some going for as much as $1,750. This was May 15,1905, a day the temperature reached 110 degrees in theshade, if there was any shade, and the day that Las Vegaswas officially founded.

That same year the town's first newspaper, first bank, and even its first hotel, the Hotel Las Vegas, a thirty-room buildingwith a canvas roof, opened. The tent town of saloons, stores,and boardinghouses for railroad construction workers, miners,and cowboys was slowly being replaced with somewhatmore permanent fixtures, ones with at least a wooden façade.The Las Vegas Ranch also opened. Constructed on the site ofthe first working ranch in the area, it was fashioned as a retreat,with a swimming pool and billiard hall, and was a forerunnerof things to come. Las Vegas also experienced its first fire, oneof unknown and, therefore, suspicious origins. It started inChop House Bill's kitchen and quickly spread through fivenearby buildings, destroying everything in its path.

Not everyone getting offthe train was impressed withLas Vegas, and many choseto turn around or head onrather than stay and dealwith the dust and wind. Aflood in 1906 washed outpart of the railroad, discouragingothers from staying,although the line was repaired.Still, another hotel, the Nevada, was soon ready for business,followed by the MacDonaldHotel on Fifth Street shortly after.

In keeping with a boisterous frontiertown, a rough-and-tumble red-light district grew up wherewhiskey cost a dime a shot and burros bellying up to the bardid not bother anyone. The parcel of land, known as Block16, was bounded by First and Second streets, and Ogden andStewart avenues, immediately north of Fremont. It was theonly place where liquor could legally be sold, except for hotelsand restaurants, because of an encumbrance the railroadhad included in its deeds. Needless to say, bordellos and gamblingclubs followed the saloons, and the area was a favorite of anyone with a thirst to quench or an itch to scratch. PredatingNevada's reputation for an independent, devil-may-careattitude, the patrons of the Arizona Club and other concernsof Block 16 were quick to ignore the 1910 state law outlawinggambling, passed as part of a national reform movement,and the later 1919 Prohibition Enforcement Act banning alcohol.

In 1907 Fremont Street got electric lights, and the towncontinued to grow. When Clark County was founded July 1,1909, the city of Las Vegas became the county seat. With as fewas 19 residents in 1900, Las Vegas was home to 1,500 peoplewhen it was incorporated as the first city in Nevada in 1911.By the time electricity was available twenty-four hours a dayin 1915, its population had grown to over 3,000 people.

About this time neighboring California first gave youngcouples or those young at heart and madly in love a reason forcrossing the desert, frequently late at night, usually with noforethought and little planning. Wanting to protect its citizensfrom themselves, the state decreed a three-day waiting periodbetween receiving a marriage license and saying the marriagevows. Referred to as the 1912 "gin law," it was enacted to keeppeople waking up with a hangover from adding to their miseryby learning that they had gotten married while drunk. Withoutany effort at all, Vegas's incursion into the wedding businesshad begun, as those too impatient or immature to wait foundtheir way to the other side of the Mojave.

Las Vegas, Be Dammed

The fortunes of Las Vegas were not easily made, however, and thenext decade was a difficult one for the town. In 1917 the LasVegas and Tonopah Railroad went broke, and the San Pedro,Los Angeles and Salt Lake line was sold to the Union PacificRailroad, throwing into jeopardy not only jobs, but the entirecommercial viability of the area. Five years later, when therailroad moved its repair shop out of Las Vegas in retribution for local workers' participation in a strike, things looked dire,indeed. The boom times for the mining towns that Las Vegasserviced were over. Rhyolite, Goldfield, and Bullfrog had becomeghost towns by the end of World War I. Las Vegas, too,could have become a ghost town. "Without air conditioningLas Vegas is almost uninhabitable in the summertime," historianHal Rothman has observed. "And there were relativelyfew people here and relatively little reason for anyone else tocome here."

There was some progress. In 1925 Fremont Street, as partof the state highway, was paved from Main Street to FifthStreet, although only down the middle ...

Las Vegas Weddings
A Brief History, Celebrity Gossip, Everything Elvis, and the Complete Chapel Guide
. Copyright © by Susan Marg. Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. Available now wherever books are sold.

Excerpted from Las Vegas Weddings: A Brief History, Celebrity Gossip, Everything Elvis, and the Complete Chapel Guide by Susan Marg
All rights reserved by the original copyright owners. Excerpts are provided for display purposes only and may not be reproduced, reprinted or distributed without the written permission of the publisher.

Rewards Program

Write a Review