Confessions of a Las Vegas Wedding Chapel Officiant
We always hear stories about people getting married in Las Vegas, but have you ever wondered what it’s like to facilitate these unions? We visited the Graceland Wedding Chapel in downtown Las Vegas and spoke with owner and Elvis impersonator Brendan Paul who shared some outrageous stories from weddings over the years. We also chatted with general manager Brandon Reed, who confirmed that because the chapel’s been around since 1947, there’s no shortage of interesting stories.
Here, they disclose what they’ve seen and what they’re really thinking about all those couples who end up tying the knot, Vegas-style.
Paul aka “Elvis:”
Nothing really surprises me.
I’ve been doing Elvis for twenty years in this town, and the groom or someone is always like, “Thank you very much” (in an Elvis impression). They all laugh, and even though it’s the 20th time I heard it that day, I laugh too.
We see strange
A lady and her husband had a 25th anniversary coming up, but sadly he died right before they could celebrate. She called and said, “Can I come in and do a ceremony even though he’s dead?” I said, “Yes.” She came in with a picture of him and podium with a pedestal. Somehow it was creepy and touching at the same time. Here daughter came along and the two faced his photo and kissed it while she recited her vows. It was strange….and sad.
I like to believe everything we send out lasts. I think it’s a great thing. People think because it’s a Vegas wedding it’s just fun and goofy and not sincere.
They don’t realize I hear the same stuff everyday, they think they’re clever. They dress up and ask are we the craziest group? I say of course!
I’m thinking about groceries
I’m singing sometimes and I’m making a grocery list in my head but I do it with a smile so no one knows! I’m away in the corner just drifting…
Suuuuuure, you’re special.
This is a great business to be in. We’re in the business of making people smile on their special day — even it’s her ninth special day and his twelfth special day, it’s still a special day!
Brendan Paul, General Manager
It’s not The Hangover
I’ve noticed people’s expectations are relatively low. Some think it’s going to be the Las Vegas they see in Hollywood, and we’re constantly fighting a stigma of getting married in a cheesy, not meaningful way. That bothers me because I really want people to remember what they’re saying to each other. Couples are approved by the license bureau and full-fledged ministers. You have to appear to be normal, and cannot be sloppy drunk.
Please wear clothes
Over the phone people will ask if they can get married “naturally,” which is code for naked. It’s not clothing optional. People think Vegas is “anything goes.”
I wonder if I’m being “punked”
Some days I look around and expect Ashton Kutcher to come out. In this business just when you think you’ve seen it all, something surprises you. Some stories are tear-jerking and other stories are off the grid:
● This happened before cell phones were as prevalent as they are now, but there’s the story where the groom and his groomsmen all ended up at another chapel and the bride and all of her bride’s maids showed up at our chapel. Both were waiting for each other, thinking that one had stood the other up.
Graceland counts Jon Bon Jovi as one celebrity who tied the knot and regularly comes back. (Photo: Graceland Wedding Chapel)
● On time a bride and groom arrived at the chapel in swim wear and forgot the last name of his bride. He said they met at the hotel pool and needed to hurry back because her mother wasn’t aware that they had even left.
● There’s always the age disparity stories where the bride is much younger than the groom, but there are also the cases where the groom is much younger than the bride… like much younger. It’s more prevalent here.
● A bride and groom from the UK were married here at the chapel a few years back. Later, we received a request from the groom via email saying that his wife had passed away after a battle with cancer, and wished to have some of her ashes scattered at the chapel.
The bridal party is a pet peeve
The thing that bothers me the most is when you have a bride and groom totally happy, but you’ll have a groomsman or bridesmaid who makes a fuss over something not being right. They’re acting as a protector and trying the score the couple a good deal or a limo ride. They become hyper-involved in the proceeding, and it’s a pain in the you know what.
We try not to judge you
I’ve come to realize it’s not my place. These people have their own idea of what’s sacred to them. It doesn’t matter. I’m not the guy to say this is how to do it. We just realize there’s different strokes to different folks. We will meet any requests… within reason.
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