Real Bride: Planning a Wedding at The Venetian – Las Vegas, USA
4 November, 2011
Jennifer and David from Liverpool, U.K married at The Venetain, Las Vegas on the 2nd of June, 2011.
We got engaged in Las Vegas in September 2009; it was unexpected despite us having been together for 8 years. We both love Vegas and have been there 5 times now. It’s just a city dedicated to fun! Up until we got engaged I’d always said I wanted to get married abroad, but it wasn’t until early in 2010 that we decided to definitely do it in Vegas. We worried about whether our friends and family would be able to go, but we had informed everyone as soon as we got engaged that it was very possible our wedding would be there.
In May 2010 we decided to go out to Vegas to spec out some potential wedding locations and to meet with some people. The Internet was our best friend and we’d already decided on The Venetian, but we were looking at having an outdoor location for our ceremony. We had also set up a meeting with the event planner for Canaletto, a restaurant in the Canal Shoppes in the Venetian. We had decided we wanted a suite to have a party in the evening, so we arranged to meet with someone from the MGM and see a Terrace Suite. The MGM is the only hotel on the strip that has suites with a big terrace overlooking the strip, and we’ve stayed in the MGM on each visit to Vegas, so it was a no brainer having our party there.
We met with the Venetian wedding planner and saw the chapels and the outside area. We decided against having an outdoor ceremony because the area is next to the pool and we didn’t want people staring or watching; we wanted a tasteful, private wedding. We went through the different packages that were available and the wedding planner was really helpful, and continued to be really helpful throughout the following months. I took pictures with me of the flowers I wanted and she took a copy, as it was totally different to the options they had available.
We then went to meet with the event planner in Canaletto. Canaletto has several private rooms upstairs, overlooking St Mark’s Square and the canals, and we knew instantly it was perfect for our reception. The menus were brilliant too, very reasonably priced. Again, the event planner was so helpful, nothing was too much trouble.
When we met with the event planner in the MGM and saw a Terrace Suite, it was perfect.
Leaving Vegas in May 2010 we had everything decided in our mind and set a date of June 2nd 2011. A few of our friends and family are teachers, so we had to choose a date during school holidays if we wanted them to attend our wedding. When we got home, I designed a Save the Date card and had them printed to send out to gauge who would be able to come. We were limited to 50 people maximum but knew that not everyone would be able to come. We also decided that no children would be invited, and felt we needed to make it clear that anyone under 21 might find it hard to join in with some things we were planning. This was a hard decision, but we knew that some people might not understand how strict it is in America, and we didn’t want anyone to pay a lot of money to go to Vegas and not have a good time .
We were only allowed to make a booking for our ceremony 12 months before. I made sure I already had everything in place, and on 2nd June 2010 we officially made our booking. It wasn’t an option not to get the time and date we wanted, as we’d already put the details on our Save the Date cards! Everything was done by email and fax.
In our wedding package with the Venetian was an hour of photography, and 12 5×7 prints. I was worried this would not be enough so we toyed with the idea of purchasing the copyright to all the photographs that would be taken. However, we discovered after some research, that it would be more cost effective to hire another photographer to be with us for 5 hours, starting where the Venetian photographer left off. David found Tyler Freear, and included in his fee was copyright to any pictures he took.
When booking the Terrace Suite in the MGM, I paid full price for it, but a week later they had a sale, and I rang up and asked if they could give me the room at the sale price. We ended up paying half of the original price, which saved us quite a bit of money. Some of our guests were staying at the MGM, so we got those rooms at the sale price too. We also booked to have the MGM provide a bar and bar tender for our party in the suite and to have a 3 hour open bar.
We discovered that Virgin Atlantic were starting direct flights from Manchester to Vegas in April 2011, which was perfect as otherwise the journey can take around 16-18 hours or longer. The direct flight would take 10 hours. We booked the flights in July 2010; apparently I was the first person to book a seat on the flight so got the best price!
I also had to arrange to hire linen and arrange a hairdresser; all communication was done by email and fax and the companies we used were found just by using the internet and looking at reviews.
Once everything was booked, we could relax and just look forward to our wedding. Once we found out who was coming, I made proper invitations and sent them out with loads of information about Vegas, and reminding people that they MUST get an ESTA visa (I did all our invitations myself). We were so grateful and felt very lucky that 38 people were able to come to our wedding, which is a lot for such a faraway destination.
Legal / Medical Requirements
The only legal requirement to get married in Vegas is that you get a marriage licence and confirm you aren’t related to each other! We had to go to the marriage bureau and produce our passports and $60 cash. We had previously filled out the online form which saved a lot of time in the bureau. Because our marriage conforms to all the requirements of a UK wedding, there are no problems with our wedding being recognised as legal in the UK. There are no residency requirements either, and the bureau is open until midnight each night. I would recommend getting a taxi there and back.
Our wedding was on the Thursday, and we were going to Vegas for a week. On the day we flew out to Vegas, I felt a bit stressed; it was like there was so much to think about that I couldn’t do the most mundane things like print a boarding card! My dress was all packed up in a separate suitcase, and we had to take all our table centres, table names and stands, and our guest name places. Most people, including us, were flying out on Sunday 29th May, some were already there and people were arriving on the Monday, the Tuesday and the Wednesday.
When we arrived in Vegas we had arranged limos to pick us up. I was excited to see the faces of people who had never been to Vegas before. It can be quite overwhelming the first time you go there. Because people were paying a lot of money to come to our wedding, we wanted to treat our guests as much as we could. We had arranged drinks for the Monday night, and we had also arranged a meal and drinks for our guests on the Friday night down in Freemont Street (instead of favours).
I had to arrange for my dress to be steamed and used the company that our wedding planner had recommended. We were staying in the MGM, but I had booked a couple of nights in the Venetian so my bridesmaids and I could get ready there. To make things easier, I arranged for my dress to be picked up from the MGM and delivered to me at the Venetian on the morning of the wedding.
In the few days leading up to the wedding, we just had to attend a wedding rehearsal and had to drop the table centres etc into Canaletto. It was quite stressful worrying that everyone was okay, but everyone had their own things they wanted to do, so we were able to get some relaxation time.
On the Monday night we all got together for drinks in Stripburger in the Fashion Show Mall. This was for everyone to meet each other and get to know each other. We had a 2 hour open bar and it was amazing for David and I to be in Vegas surrounded by our closest friends and family; our favourite city and our favourite people. The next morning some people were going to the Grand Canyon, so they had an early night.
Both David and I wanted stag and hen do nights in Vegas, so we arranged our own nights out for the Tuesday. I can only speak for myself as I’m still not 100% what the men go up to (!) but I’d hired a party bus to take us to the Las Vegas sign, then to drop us off at a restaurant in The Palazzo called Dos Caminos. We had the Bachelorette Party menu, and a drinks package that meant we could drink all we wanted for 2 hours, cocktails included. I’d contacted the host Rocco a few months earlier, and he sorted everything for Dos Caminos out for me. We then got a limo over to Pure in Caesar’s Palace. Again, a few months earlier I’d contacted the hostess at Pure to get the details and there was a package that gave us VIP entrance and 2 drinks each. There were 12 of us, and we ended up with table service!! Vegas clubs love groups of girls…
Something to note if considering a Vegas wedding is that for Canaletto, MGM open bar and Dos Caminos, I had to specify the number of people attending and signed the contract based on that number. This meant that if there were less than the number of people on the contract, we still had to pay for them. To get round this, I underestimated the number of people and made sure it was okay to add them at a later date when final numbers were known.
The wedding rehearsal was on the Wednesday afternoon, and we ran through what would happen in the ceremony and gave our wedding planner the music we had selected. Then one of my bridesmaids and myself checked into the Venetian. We went shopping that evening and had a lovely meal in Tao, perfect way to spend my last night as an unmarried woman.
The morning of the wedding we had a lovely breakfast (couldn’t eat much though!) and then began getting ready. My dress arrived perfectly pressed at 10am and the hairdresser arrived at 11am. My other 2 bridesmaids came too and we all had our hair done. When my mum arrived, a nice chilled bottle of champagne was opened and we were ready at 3pm to go to the bridal room opposite the wedding chapel.
The Venetian limo was picking David and his groomsmen up at 3pm (an hour use of the limo was included in the wedding package), and we had arranged for a coach to pick our guests up.
In the bridal room our flowers were waiting, they were absolutely beautiful. I was so pleased with them, they were better than I expected. The pastor who was performing our ceremony came to meet me and assure me everything was ready.
The ceremony was only 15 minutes and we had 2 readings, one by my mum and one by a good friend, which gave the ceremony a personal touch. We paid homage to our home town by having Beatles music rather than traditional wedding music; I walked down the aisle to All You Need Is Love and we both walked back up the aisle to All My Loving. Our table names in Canaletto were Beatles singles.
Immediately after the ceremony, the Venetian photographer was taking loads of pictures. I’d previously put together a list of the group photos I wanted, and one of my bridesmaids was tasked with arranging and organising everyone. This was a great help as it meant we used our time with the photographer better. Once the group photos had been taken, David and I went off to have some photos taken of just us two. When we’d finished with the Venetian photographer, we met Tyler. The Venetian security told us he would not be able to take photos on the premises, only in the Canal Shoppes area. This was fine because that’s where Canaletto was. We all headed over to St Mark’s Square for more photos. Because we weren’t buying copyright to the Venetian pictures, we decided to do the group ones again. Our guests then made their way into Canaletto to the private bar area upstairs.
Once David and I were ready, and our guests were seated, we went into our reception room. We were amazed at how good it looked. Everything had to be simple with regards to the table centres because we had to take them with us, but Canaletto had done an amazing job. The room looked fabulous. We had our speeches first so everyone could relax and enjoy the meal. And the meal – it was gorgeous!! The menu was a 4 course meal, and everyone had a choice between 4 main meals. This was one of the main reasons we chose Canaletto because normally at a wedding everyone has the same. And to quote some of our guests, it was the “best wedding food I’ve ever had.”
Arriving back at the MGM (David and I left earlier than our guests, a coach was picking them all up to transport them back to the MGM but we got a taxi) we had to check into the Terrace Suite as we’d not had time to do so earlier. The bar was already set up when we arrived, and our bar man was an absolute star. Although we’d already paid the service charge, I said to our barman to put a tips jar on the bar. He was hesitant but I insisted. Later on when our 3 hours had finished, he left us a litre of vodka and a litre of Jack Daniels with a load of mixers to carry on the party…..!
The day after the wedding we just chilled by the pool, and met everyone later on in the evening at Mickie Finnz on Freemont Street. We treated our guests to a meal and drinks as a Thank You for travelling such a long way to share our wedding.
On the Saturday we had an appointment to view our photographs taken by the Venetian photographer. Within the wedding package we had 12 5×7 photographs, but we upgraded and paid extra for another 18 5×7 photos, plus 2 8×10 photos and 1 A3 size (we didn’t realise it was that big until we received it a week later.)
We had also arranged a party back in Liverpool for 150 people, so I got to wear my dress twice. It was here we had a wedding cake and our first dance. It was 2 weeks after we arrived home, so everyone had time to recover. That was another good party that went on until the early hours. We definitely took advantage of getting married and made the most of it!
Advice for others considering this destination
My advice to anyone arranging a wedding in Vegas is, if possible, to go out there prior to the wedding and meet with people and check places out. You have to be willing to relinquish some control and put your trust in the event and wedding planners. It is their job to make everything run smoothly. Google and Tripadvisor are invaluable and don’t be afraid to harass the planners and ask questions! We were lucky because we already knew Vegas quite well, so we knew where things were and exactly what we wanted. I would also advise arriving in Vegas a few days before the ceremony if travelling from far away, because the jet lag can be horrendous. You just have to keep going to shake it off. It’s worth getting a US SIM for your phone if you have to make a load of phone calls, as it works out much cheaper than using your home SIM. I got one from Ebay for AT&T and you can load money on before leaving home.
With regards to getting married in an outdoor location, if you want a private wedding, having a wedding in a hotel might not be the best option as there might be nothing to stop onlookers watching.
We would not change a single thing about our wedding; it was perfect in every way and there is nothing we would do differently. I would advise to make sure everything is done around a week before you leave, so you are not running around right up until the last minute. The more you plan, the less you will have to do when you arrive at your wedding destination. We had put a lot of effort into the planning and logistics, but it definitely paid off as it made for an easier, more relaxing week.
It would be possible to have an ‘easier’ wedding than we had in Vegas. You could literally turn up, get a marriage licence and get married, but that’s not what we wanted. We wanted something completely different, but something private and classy. Every time we told someone we were getting married in Vegas, they assumed Elvis would be doing the ceremony!
Ceremony Venue: The Venetian Hotel and Casino
Celebrant: Pastor Jack (that’s all I know about him!)
Reception Venue: Canaletto (Canaletto Event Planner is Kelly Mendez)
Hair: James at Glamsquad702
Make Up: my cousin is a makeup artist for Chanel, so she did a trial for me and wrote down everything I needed to know for me to do my own makeup.
Photographer: Organised by Venetian wedding planner but we also used Tyler Freear
Videographer: Organised by Venetian wedding planner
Wedding Co-ordinator: Caroline Yenley @ Venetian.
Flowers: Organised by Venetian wedding planner. There was a budget included in the wedding package, but you can just pay extra if that doesn’t cover what you want.
Decorations: I did all our table centres, ordering the things I needed off the internet.
Music: ipod playlists!
Local Transport: Bell Trans
Dos Caminos Event Planner: Rocco Gonzalez
Wedding Dress Pressing Service: Jennaleigh Bridal