Thursday, Feb. 11, 2016 | 1:07 a.m.
Nowhere on Earth speaks volumes of love on Valentine’s Day like we do thanks to our plethora of wedding chapels. This year, there’s a double bonus of booked betrothals because of Feb 29. Yes, it’s Leap Year, and just as many “I Do’s” are exchanged as on this Sunday between lovers and significant others.
Love has become big, big business, and a Forbes magazine analysis Wednesday reported that more money is being spent than ever before: The National Retail Federation’s 2016 consumer spending survey estimates that Americans will spend a record-high $19.7 billion this year on Valentine’s Day gifts and experiences. The magazine reports $4.5 billion will be spent just on the “ evening out,” topping all previous net averages since 2010.
Here in Las Vegas, Aimee Stephens of Vegas Weddings told me: “Valentine’s Day is historically the most popular date for weddings in Las Vegas. The city has seen individual dates with higher wedding counts over the years — think 7-07-07 and most recently 12-13-14, but over the course of time, the Wedding Capital of the World can be relied on marrying many Feb. 14 each year.
“From a variety of places to get married to the endless celebrations the city has to offer, Las Vegas is the place to be this Valentine’s Day. Vegas Weddings, one of the premier wedding chapel companies in Las Vegas, will be performing more than 30 weddings Sunday.
“From an intimate party of two in the Fast Lane drive-thru to an elegant wedding with as many as 100 guests in the Wedding Chapel, the celebrations are diverse and endless. One thing is for certain: Romance is in the air.”
Here are some Las Vegas fun facts, according to Document Recording and Retrieval Services: The number of marriage ceremonies performed in Clark County averages nearly 10,000 per month. Las Vegas has more than 50 wedding chapels, most of which are conveniently located in close proximity to other major attractions, including many that are inside casino hotels on the Strip and downtown.
Aimee added: “While it’s Valentine’s Day that historically sees the most weddings, more and more couples still love the allure of the ‘specialty date.’ With no more standard numerical dates hitting for several decades, many are flocking to that special date that comes along every four years, Leap Day on Feb. 29. And it is proving quite popular with another 30-plus ceremonies already scheduled with Vegas Weddings.
“On average, we have 600 people through the door each on Valentine’s Day and Leap Day. We have 70 staff members onsite throughout the day, and all of our seven limos will be out all day from 8 a.m. to 1 a.m. driving couples to and from ceremonies. Nearly 700 roses will be used for photo opportunities, and that doesn’t include non-rose bouquets.”
Vegas Weddings chapel locations are:
555 S. 3rd St. — Wedding Chapel, Terrace Gazebo, Crystal Suite, Fast Lane; 515 S. 3rd Street — Marriage Commission of Las Vegas; 320 S. 3rd St. — Wedding Garden, Casino Wedding Chapel;725 Las Vegas Blvd. South — Pawn Plaza Vow Renewals; and 7830 S. Las Vegas Blvd. — Hawaiian Gardens at Hilton Garden Inn.
Vegas Weddings Executive Director Melody Williams and minister Heidi Walls know everything there is about weddings and romance here, so I put questions to both:
Melody, when it comes to romance, how can someone celebrating 50 years of marriage stay as fresh as someone celebrating one year?
Couples celebrating their first anniversary are still in the honeymoon phase, so we need to re-create that feeling, and the best way to do that is to renew your vows.
It’s a beautiful opportunity to bring your family together, and now that may include your children and grandchildren. And the great thing about vow renewals is that they can take place any time, whether celebrating 50 years or five years of marriage.
Where is the most romantic dining experience to take your date in Las Vegas?
The Eiffel Tower restaurant at Paris — a mini trip to France — yes, please! With views of the Bellagio Fountains and delicious French food, it can’t be beat.
What suggestions would you make so people proposing on Valentine’s Day can stand out in the crowd?
I think the key is to personalize the proposal as much to the two of you as possible. And go all out! Take elements from your first date — first kiss, inside jokes — whatever it is, you can loop that together and really wow your bride to personalize to the two of you, then up that factor with a romantic twist.
What can people do to add romance to their Valentine’s Day celebration?
Let your spouse know you have a special evening planned and that he/she needs to dress up. Then go big and go all out! Arrange for a limo — even an Uber, come with a bouquet of roses (ordered in advance) and reservations at a restaurant your spouse has been longing to try.
When it comes to romance, you’ve seen everything and everybody. Let’s get personal a moment: What was the moment you realized you first loved your own partner?
It was New Year’s Eve. I had a 104-degree fever and walking pneumonia, and he came by to take care of me — and brought me crab legs. There are a million ways to spend your NYE, and he decided to come and take care of me. It’s the special, intimate moments like that that truly enlighten you to your feelings of love.
Heidi: What are three things that are important for a couple to have in common?
Same sense of humor, values and goals. These three things combined are the keys to a successful, long-term marriage.
What’s the most important thing a couple should do once they are married?
Pick your side! Of the bed, that is.
And the most important question of all: Is it important that your significant other is your best friend?
Hard Rock Cafe on the Strip has a special way for couples to declare their unending love. For one day only, 10 themed wedding packages — the Bob Marley Signature Series Wedding — will be available for purchase for $100 and includes the minister, cake, ceremony, reception, photographer and four-day, three-night honeymoon hotel stay at Hard Rock Hotel in Punta Cana, Dominican Republic. More info on Sunday’s 4 p.m. ceremony: HardRock.com/cafes/las-vegas/.
Happy Valentine’s Day, everybody! And if you don’t have a significant other, then go see Dr. Alex Schiller in “Never Sleep Alone” at the “Absinthe” tent for everything you need to know to land the One.
Robin Leach of “Lifestyles of the Rich & Famous” fame has been a journalist for more than 50 years and has spent the past 15 years giving readers the inside scoop on Las Vegas, the world’s premier platinum playground.
Follow Robin Leach on Twitter at Twitter.com/Robin_Leach.
Follow Las Vegas Sun Entertainment + Luxury Senior Editor Don Chareunsy on Twitter at Twitter.com/VDLXEditorDon.