"Destiny definitely stood out amongst other photographers because we absolutely loved how involved she was from the very beginning. She really wants to get to know you- which makes for really intimate photos! She asks tons of questions, which is awesome because you feel like you know her before even meeting her! And once you finally do, she is so so sweet!!! Destiny is so great at communicating and being really involved in every detail! She captured every emotion and detail perfectly, whenever I look at our wedding pictures, it brings back every feeling on our special day. TEARS!"
“How To Plan Your Destination Vegas Elopement” by Las Vegas Elopement Photographer Black Salt Photography
Planning your elopement is hard enough, but when you add in the destination factor, things get even more sticky. Luckily enough, for places like Las Vegas that are common tourist destinations, planning your own intimate wedding might not be as hard as you think. Another bonus for Las Vegas: it’s the literal wedding capital of THE WORLD. All of the wedding vendors here are well-versed in destination planning for you and your loved ones. However, because of Vegas’s booming popularity, your options are priced in the thousands. Choosing which locations, chapels, florists, photographers, hotels, etc. can quickly add up.
This blog is all about helping you find and plan your perfect elopement or intimate wedding in Las Vegas. Even if you don’t live here, there are many ways to plan from afar. I’ll explain the two sides to Vegas weddings, rules and permits, the allure of downtown, and how to access it all.
For a detailed explanation on how to get your Vegas Marriage License, you can check out this blog post. I explain all the different options, costs, and hours of business in one spot, just for you.
Las Vegas Elopements & Intimate Weddings
Las Vegas is a really unique bubble of crazy and serene. You’ve heard of the Strip and probably a few wild party stories, but there’s also a completely different side. Often enjoyed by locals, the desert is a popular activity to enjoy. The nature surrounding Las Vegas has so many different options (including easy day trips). From moody forests with occasional snow to massive art installations in the middle of the desert, sand dunes, and hot springs, Vegas is booming with landscapes just waiting to be discovered.
It’s important to do your research when deciding which parks to explore depending on the time of year. For example, Valley of Fire is closed during summer as the temperatures make it unsafe to hike. The Dry Lake Bed is pretty much always super windy. It’s important to know that if you want extremely pristine photos, that’s probably not your place. Hiring the right wedding photographer in Vegas can help you with these more “insider knowledge” tips and tricks.
Las Vegas is located about 2.5 hours from Death Valley. It’s 4 hours from L.A. with plenty of great stops in between. And anywhere between 2 to 6 hours from the Grand Canyon, Salt Flats, or other places in Utah and Arizona. People often tell me that Vegas seems like the perfect middle ground to visiting all of these amazing places. (It totally is, I just really like my couch.) What’s fun about getting married in Las Vegas is that you can have a late morning wedding at one of the chapels downtown and then take a helicopter tour of the Grand Canyon. Can you imagine what a great adventure day that would be?
Despite being a desert, there are still some wildlife that could be spotted on your travels. There are signs at every major hiking spot to watch for snakes or scorpions. I wouldn’t be too afraid, though, as I’ve still NEVER encountered a single one in my entire three years here. Not that I’m mad about that fact.
A Vegas Wedding Chapel
The wedding chapels in Las Vegas really are a staple of this town. To me, they’re such a weird and unique piece of history. I don’t know if I will ever fully grasp their meaning to the people who have worked and owned them for decades. Picking a wedding chapel can be hard because the city is inundated with them. I tend to only recommend the tried and true chapels, knowing their reputations. These chapels have done it all and know what really works to keep the cogs running well.
Viva Las Vegas Wedding Chapel
This will always be my favorite chapel because I worked there when we first moved to Vegas. It’s the only themed wedding chapel in Las Vegas! They perform weddings as Elvis, Darth Vader, Yoda, Dracula, Phantom of the Opera, Elvira, 70’s, Santa Claus, and SO MUCH MORE. It’s a wonderfully happy chapel to go to and they have many different packages for all sorts of budgets.
Little White Wedding Chapel
Just down the street is the world-famous Little White Wedding Chapel. This chapel is really popular for its name and also has many weddings at different price points. They do allow outside photographers at their outdoor pink caddy weddings in the tunnel. You can also opt for an indoor wedding in one of their rooms.
Downtown Vegas Wedding Chapels
Chapel of the Flowers
This is another steadfast chapel in Las Vegas. Like many chapels, they have several over-the-top decadent rooms. There is a Victorian theme, a garden theme, or more of a modern white-on-white room. Their packages do start at a higher price point than some of the other chapels. If you really want the elegant feel without the casino price tag, this would be it.
This chapel’s claim to fame is being the very first chapel to perform weddings with Elvis impersonators. It’s a very tiny chapel often overlooked by larger parties but is still one of the original chapels here in Vegas. Like many other chapels, they also offer adventure ceremony packages like helicopter tours and the Valley of Fire.
Downtown Las Vegas & Fremont Experience
To see some of the vintage Las Vegas and walk along the original strip, you’ll want to check out downtown Vegas and the Fremont area. When Vegas was first built, this is where the casinos and gambling all took place. Now, many of the buildings have been modernized. A zipline tour has been added in for extra entertainment, but you can still see enchanting neon displays.
The Fremont Experience is a great place to spend a couple of hours in your evening checking out the shops and yummy milkshakes. There are also tons of street performers who pose in costume for photos, sing, dance, and do other talents for a quick buck. To get the quick Vegas experience, this is the perfect place to go after your ceremony. You can even bring your photographer and get some great images while you’re there!
Why You Should Have A Las Vegas Wedding
You should get married in Las Vegas if you love the vivacity of the city. If having a combo of nature and nightlife is your thing. If getting honked at by every passing car when you’re wearing your wedding attire will make you smile, prepare to be flashing those pearly whites. Even if you just want to enjoy some cool landscapes, and all you have to do is walk, you’ll be set. This city has its ups and downs, just like any other metropolitan area, but we all love weddings here.
Before I completely win you over on getting married in Las Vegas, please be aware that it’s hot here. It gets really hot in the summer months. I know you might be thinking, “Well, I’m from such-and-such place, I can handle it.” Believe me, I thought the same thing. I came here from the Midwest so I thought, “It’s a dry heat; that’s better than the humidity of the Midwest.” Let me tell you, it is a whole other animal. You will feel like you’re in an oven when you walk outside.
Just keep the temperature in mind when you’re trying to decide what month you want to get married. If you want to get married outside, plan for an early morning or later at night ceremony. If you’re interested in a Las Vegas wedding, I will make sure you are completely aware of all the best places to beat the heat and still enjoy a very Vegas experience.
Getting Married in Las Vegas
Pick your date or range of dates
Many people come to Vegas on vacation and just decide to elope that week. Others know around the time they want to come. The chapels churn out weddings every 30 minutes so you’ll likely be able to pick whatever date you want. If you’re going for more of an adventure elopement or professional intimate wedding, those dates can fill up faster.
Book your venue or location
Making your reservation with the chapel should be one of the first things you do (after booking your lodging). After that, you can plan the rest of your trip around that day. If you’re eloping or choosing a photographer who helps you with all of the planning and logistics, then you’ll want to make sure you book them first, as they are your priority.
Have a blast! You can plan an entire Vegas wedding in less than a week or take your time and plan months in advance. Either way, Vegas is ready for you.
Las Vegas Permit Information
Not every place in Las Vegas requires a permit. Some of the most popular places do such as the Neon Graveyard, Red Rock, Valley of Fire, Lake Mead, etc. Permit fees can vary anywhere from $50 up to even as high as $350 just to be allowed to photograph. Permit applications should be submitted as soon as you know where you would like to have your wedding. They take time to process and are completed on a case-by-case basis. If you are choosing the chapel route, then you shouldn’t have to worry about permit fees as much. Most chapels charge a fee if you want to bring an outside photographer. I HIGHLY recommend you do, as most of the photographers in chapels aren’t professionals and take extremely low-quality images.
Permit fees can also change at any time so it’s best to speak directly with the location director you wish to use instead of relying on a local blogger’s post from a couple of years ago.
What Does It Cost To Have A Vegas Elopement or Wedding?
- Chapel Fee: $50-$2,000
- Marriage License: $77
- Minister Fee: $65-$100
Everything in Vegas is variable depending on which route you want to go. This can be helpful in a more DIY approach to wedding planning. However, it can also be overwhelming if you are trying to plan everything yourself.
Ready to plan your Las Vegas Wedding or Elopement? I can’t wait to help you plan your dream adventure!
Click here to book me as your Las Vegas Wedding Photographer.
Black Salt Photography is an elopement photographer and intimate wedding photographer based in Las Vegas, Nevada. Photographing in the surrounding West Coast areas and traveling often for destination love stories. Specializing in intimate candids and editorial portraits to craft a one-of-a-kind wedding day for every couple. Her moody photography style plays with natural light and shadow, laced with raw emotional moments, to create an authentic narrative experience. She photographs you as you so you’ll love your photos authentically.