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September 20, 2017

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Photos: 11/11/11 wedding rush is on; couples booking for 12/12/12


Chapel of the Flowers

Wedding photographs courtesy of Chapel of the Flowers.

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Chapel of the Flowers

Wedding photographs courtesy of Chapel of the Flowers. Launch slideshow »
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Mark Scanlon married his girlfriend Katie at Chapel of the Flowers.

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Dennis Rodman at Club Nikki/Nikki Beach at Tropicana Las Vegas on Aug. 20, 2011. Launch slideshow »

It’s taken an exact year of planning for the staff at Chapel of the Flowers to prepare for the extraordinary onslaught of Friday’s 11/11/11 wedding ceremonies. The first service is set for 8 a.m., and they will run nonstop for 15 hours in three chapels until 11:11 p.m.

Couples at this local marriage Mecca are arriving from as far away as Great Britain, Canada, Hungary, French Polynesia and Singapore. Several made their reservation 12 months ago, and couples have already made reservations for next year’s 12/12/12 binary date, the last of the century. (You could count 10/11/12 or 11/12/13, but 11/11/11 is tough to beat.)

“It is one crazy day for us,” Aimee Stephens, marketing director, told me. “Perhaps the craziest ever. Although we learned on 7/7/07 it was just too difficult to handle the record 113 we booked then. This year we restricted it to 80 so we could make it more personal and intimate, and now 96 hours before the Big Day, we only have one slot left.

“We’re juggling three weddings at exactly 11:11 a.m. and another three at 11:11 p.m. We have five ministers who have been officiating at our chapel for several years and provide our couples with the special Chapel of the Flowers experience. We have a specialty package that was created just for this date -- the 11-11-11 Ceremony Special includes a bouquet that’s a mix of 11 roses and 11 calla lilies. We have a special 11-11-11 logo created to go on the couple’s 11”x14” photo print, 11 additional prints come with the package, and their wedding will be online for Internet viewing for 11 days.

“Even though we will have 80 weddings, our couples will have the same experience that they would have on any other day they were marrying with us. It’s all the months of in-depth preparation in every department that allows for that, and we’re all super excited. Our beautiful outdoor gazebo and glass garden, cobblestone-accented grounds and lush landscaping make it the perfect romantic spot for a memorable marriage. Family and friends unable to get to Vegas for any couple’s ceremony will be able to watch it via an Internet feed.”

Las Vegas is world headquarters for marriage, and more than 4 percent of America’s expected 75,000 weddings will be held here Friday. Wedding photographers have been recruited from as far away as Phoenix and Northern California to deal with the demand. Hair salons are working around the clock with additional staff to meet hair and makeup requests. My pal Michael Boychuck at his Color salon in Caesars Palace and AMP Salon in the Palms told me: “We are slammed like never before. I have never seen it this busy in my entire life.”

Nightlife queen Tiffany Masters, who is throwing the World’s Largest Wedding Reception at the Tropicana nightclub on Friday, told me: “My prediction of 3,500 weddings in Vegas was low. They’ve already passed the 4,000 figure with marriage licenses issued, and although it’s Veterans Day on Friday with the courthouse and Post Office closed, the marriage license bureau will remain open.

“There have been lines every day this week, but they’re predicting pure mayhem tomorrow in the last-minute rush. But we’ll be ready at our Tropicana party for all the newlyweds who have nowhere to go after they say, “I do.”

Vegas DeLuxe has learned that one VIP casino executive will be exchanging wedding vows on Friday. Although no showbiz couples are expected to marry or renew vows here, you never know what famous folks may arrive as part of a wedding party. In the past, Randy Jackson and Roseanne Barr have been surprise attendees at Chapel of the Flowers. The chapel, a fixture on the Strip for nearly 60 years, permitted Billy Gibbons from ZZ Top to once officiate a wedding, and Ronnie Vannucci from the Killers performed wedding photographer duties while he was here recording the group’s debut album “Hot Fuss.”

It also was the site of the weddings of UFC fighter Mark Scanlon to wife Katie and the Dennis Rodman and Carmen Electra nuptials. The then Chicago Bulls superstar and the curvy cutie were married there in November 1998, but it lasted nine days. They split up on their 10th day anniversary and were divorced within a year.

The chapel has been featured in music videos by Rascal Flatts and Carrie Underwood and the TLC series “Happily Ever Faster.” Sir Richard Branson wore a top hat to play best man for a Virgin Airlines publicity stunt when he flew in a British couple for a wedding surrounded by his flight attendants who made up the bridal party. It has been named Best Wedding Chapel by and and Best Chapel from the Las Vegas Wedding Awards.

Robin Leach has been a journalist for more than 50 years and has spent the past decade giving readers the inside scoop on Las Vegas, the world’s premier platinum playground.

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