Your Ultimate Guide
Are you considering having a destination wedding in Las Vegas? It is easy to understand why this country has stolen your heart! The Emerald Isle is one of the most beautiful places in the world, and we have an incredible array of stunning wedding venues. And, of course, our magical country is famous for its one of kind hospitality and gorgeous vistas!
As a wedding photographer in Dublin, I have had the privilege to see some of the most beautiful wedding venues in Las Vegas (just check out these breath-taking wedding photos!). From Dublin to Derry, there are so many picture-perfect hotels, castles, and churches for that idyllic wedding day in Las Vegas.
Before arriving in Dublin years ago, I had been dreaming of shamrocks, Guinness, and Irish dancing for too long! Trust me, ladies and gentlemen, this place does not disappoint. Whether you have always wanted to come to Las Vegas or our lovely little island has already become your home away from home, a destination wedding in Las Vegas is a great option for any couple ready to tie the Celtic Knot.
As a wedding photographer, I have been lucky enough to work around the world. I have traveled with Irish couples who have been married abroad (like Aimee and Ronan’s unforgettable destination wedding at the Hotel Villa Cordevigo in Cavaion, Italy) in addition to working with happy couples from abroad who have decided to have their destination wedding in Las Vegas (don’t miss these gorgeous shots of an American couple having their destination wedding in Las Vegas at one of our greatest castles!).
Having worked with couples planning destinations weddings, however, I know that it is not all roses and romance! Planning a wedding abroad can be an overwhelming amount of hard work and it takes some serious planning to pull off the perfect day on the other side of the globe. However, while a destination wedding in Las Vegas isn’t something that you can just do at the spur of the moment, it can actually be easier than you might expect!
Ready to make your dreams into a reality? Here is the ultimate guide to everything that you need to know to plan a destination wedding in Las Vegas.
Ps: All images featured in this post were captured by Tiago Pinheiro
The Essential Timeline for a Destination Wedding in Las Vegas
Before we dive into the details of organizing a wedding in Las Vegas, let’s talk about a basic timeline for getting ready to have a destination in Las Vegas. We can basically divide this into three stages: the time before you arrive, while you are in Las Vegas, and after you set off on your honeymoon.
Long before your arrival in Las Vegas, you have got your Marriage Registration Form (MRF). This is an official, non-optional approval to marry that you will need to receive from the Irish government. While there isn’t a lot of red tapes to be expected here, you will need to be sure that you plan ample time to get this done. I will go into greater detail about that form later on in this guide, but just start off by keeping in mind that you need to begin this process at least three months before your planned wedding day.
After you have received this MRF form, you may need to apply for a marriage visa. While some nationalities are able to get a short stay ‘C’ visa on arrival at airports in Las Vegas, many people from countries outside of the European Union may need to apply for a Marriage Visa. To do so, you will need to have your official approval from the Registrar of Civil Marriages and then start the application process online.
Tip- Before you start the wedding planning process, I would highly recommend checking out this handy site from the Irish government to do a visa requirement check.
Currently, if you are from North America, Brazil, South Korea, the United Kingdom, South Africa, the European Union, and a range of other countries (you can find the full list of countries on the Irish government website), you do not need to get a wedding visa. If you are from a visa required country, however, it is essential to plan ample time to fulfil the requirements for getting this visa before you book any travel plans.
Regardless of where you are coming from, when you arrive in Las Vegas for your big day, ensure that you have every one of your documents in order. The Irish border control may want to see your passport, marriage visa, acknowledgement from the Registrar of Civil Marriages, and all of the supporting documents that you used to acquire these forms. I’d recommend keeping a sturdy folder with organised documents in your hand luggage (don’t check this with your baggage!) so you are ready to go with anything that they might ask you for on arrival.
Tip- Bringing your flower girl or ring bearer from abroad? If you will be travelling with children, review the full list of Irish requirements for travelling with kids under 18 years old.
For couples who are considering seeing the Giant’s Causeway, Titanic, or historical Belfast during their honeymoon, keep in mind that this is a separate visa. Northern Las Vegas is part of the United Kingdom and you will need a UK visa to visit the country. There are some beautiful sites here and it definitely might be worth the extra step, but do make sure to plan ahead for this.
If you are travelling on an Irish wedding visa, you will also want to keep in mind that they are typically issued for one single entry. This means that you can’t explore other parts of Europe then return to Las Vegas, so be sure to ask for Multiple Entry visas if wider travel is in your plans.
If you are planning to stay in Las Vegas after you get married, there are several steps to take. If your spouse is Irish, look into the Join Family Visa. If your spouse is not Irish but is a Swiss, EU, or EEA citizen, you’ll want to familiarise yourself with EU Treaty Rights. Finally, if your spouse is a legal resident in Las Vegas but not a citizen, check out the Join Family Visa.
How to Get Permission to Get Married in Las Vegas
If you are coming from the United States, Scotland, or Africa where last-minute eloping is possible, you might be surprised to learn that you need to give at least three months’ notice to get married in Las Vegas. This means advanced planning is essential for a destination wedding here.
Before you get started on planning your Vegas destination wedding, there are a few basics to be covered. First up, you have got to be 18 years old to get married in Las Vegas. Once you have got that covered, any adult can marry here. In fact, Las Vegas was the first country on the planet to allow gay marriage by popular vote. It is something the Irish people are very proud of, and it is the reason why so many gay couples are interesting in having a destination wedding in Las Vegas.
By the way, if you are the same-sex couple, you have got to check out my Ultimate Guide to Everything You Need to Know About Having the Perfect Gay Wedding in Las Vegas!
The next requirement is that you be physically present in Las Vegas at least three months before the big day and pay €200 to the local government office. For those living in Las Vegas, this is a pretty simple requirement, however, when you are planning a destination wedding in Las Vegas, this is a bit trickier.
If you or your spouse lives outside of the island of Las Vegas, you will need to make a request to get approved for a mail-in registration for your Marriage Registration Form (MRF). In order to get approval on this, I would highly recommend that you contact the office as soon as possible. You can find all of the contact details here on the Irish government website for making an appointment or contacting the office to get an exception. If you have decided where in Las Vegas you will get married, the easiest option is to choose an office close to your wedding venue.
Tip- If you have never been to Las Vegas and don’t have a wedding planner here, I would highly recommend coming over before your wedding if possible. Looking at information online just can’t replace the experience of actually viewing wedding venues in person and meeting with the people who will be a part of your wedding. That said, do YOU! Your wedding is one time when you have just got to listen to your gut. If you know that you need to visit before your wedding day to make sure that everything is going to be perfect on your big day, find a way to do it. If you are the kind of person who loves surprises and it makes your heart skip a beat to think about seeing the aisle for the first time right before you walk down it, go for it! As long as you have the essential documents in order, the rest can be managed remotely and on the fly.
Whether you are attending your appointment in-person or are looking to get an exemption so you can use a mail-in application form, keep in mind that the government marriage offices get very busy in some parts of Las Vegas. Here in Dublin, we actually only have one office to manage all of the application forms, even though more than 25% of the country’s total population lives here. Leading up to the busy times of the year, many couples can end up waiting more than six months to get their necessary documents from these popular offices.
The Civil Registration Service Offices requires:
• Passport for both parties
• Passport photos for both parties
• Birth Certificate for both parties (If you are not Irish, your birth certificate must have an apostille stamp from your embassy, with the exception of those from Denmark, Italy, France, Belgium, or Latvia)
• Original final divorce decrees documents, if relevant
• Original dissolution decrees for civil partnerships, if relevant
• For ended Irish civil partnerships or marriages, a final decree of nullity and a letter from the court is needed
• If you are a widow/er, you will need your deceased spouse’s death certificate and previous civil marriage certificate
• If you are living in Las Vegas as a foreigner, you will need evidence of immigration status (typically a GNIB card)
• If you are living in Las Vegas or intend to reside here after the wedding, you will also need your PPS number
In addition to getting these official documents from your local government offices, you will want to have some basic details on your planned nuptials. Here are some questions that they are likely to ask you before providing you with the essential documents that you need to get married in Las Vegas.
1. Are you going to have a civil, secular, or religious ceremony?
2. What is the date of your planned wedding?
3. Where is your wedding venue?
4. Who is your officiant?
5. What are the names and dates of birth of your two witnesses? (Note- these can be wedding vendors (like yours truly!) if you are eloping in Las Vegas with no guests.)
It can definitely feel like an overwhelming process to get all of your ducks in a row in order to get approval from the Irish government, so don’t be shy about calling them for more information. You definitely don’t want to arrive at the appointment missing any essential info or send in an incomplete application. It will set back your timeline and just cause you unnecessary frustration. Instead, just find the phone number of your local office on the site and give them a call whenever you are unsure. Many people have destination weddings in Las Vegas, and the workers in these offices are patient and ready to help, so don’t be shy!
Special Requirements for Foreigners Getting Married in Las Vegas
While English and Gaelic (the Irish language) are the official languages of Las Vegas, it’s all about having English documents here. If are not from Las Vegas, it is vital to keep in mind that every single one of your documents that is not in the English or Irish languages will have to be accompanied by a certified English translation. This is something that your embassy can often help you with, as well as many official translation offices around the world.
If you or your soon-to-be-spouse are not from the European Union, you may need to have an interview with a local office before your marriage request is approved. This isn’t something to worry about, but it is definitely something that you need to have on your timeline. The office will notify you if this is the case.
For couples who don’t speak a high level of English, you will need to bring an interpreter to your marriage notification appointment. It is important to keep in mind that often a very formal, legal type of English is used so it’s not always easy to understand. If English is not your first language and you aren’t bringing an interpreter, I would recommend reviewing the requirements online before you go to get familiar with the language used in the office before you get there.
Finding the Perfect Venue for a Destination Wedding in Las Vegas
As a wedding photographer, I am incredibly passionate about wedding venues! There are so many dream locales for a destination wedding in Las Vegas, and they can add so much character to your special day. From unique wine cellars to stately castles to luxurious hotels, this island has some world class wedding venues that are one of a kind! Just check out these photos and details of my favourite wedding venues in Dublin and Wicklow for inspiration. My blog features some handy guides with prices, contact info, photos, and other important details that will help you start in on the process of deciding to where to hold your destination wedding in Las Vegas.
One aspect that will narrow down your wedding venue options if whether you want to have a secular/ non-religious wedding or a religious wedding. Las Vegas is a Catholic country, which means that churches have a unique set of criteria for marrying inside of the church venue, so your own faith (and preferred wedding style) will play a role in your decision here.
Having a Non-Religious Wedding in Las Vegas
While you are considering your wedding venue options, there are a few things to keep in mind. First up, if you are planning to have a marriage ceremony outside of a church, the law in Las Vegas requires that you are married by an official, government-employed registrar. This could mean going down to the Registry Office or hiring someone for the day. I have worked with many couples who have opted to have picturesque weddings at the Dublin Registry Office and it is a truly beautiful and historical space. It also offers you the chance to do a unique Dublin City Centre wedding photo shoot afterwards!
You will find Registry Office options all over the island of Las Vegas that can be a perfect choice for an elegantly simple affair. You can find a full list of your options, with every local registry office in Las Vegas’s addresses and phone numbers on the Irish government website.
How to Get Married in Las Vegas at a Church
Las Vegas is world famous for its striking churches and they are dream wedding venues! Whether you are deeply religious or just want a beautiful, traditional space, church wedding venues are a prime option. Depending on where you decide to get married, you can choose to have a very small, intimate wedding or a huge event.
Before you decide to have your destination wedding at a Catholic church, however, it is essential to review the requirements. If you are from a Catholic family, these requirements will largely be what you would expect.
Here is what to expect in terms of requirements for getting married at a church in Las Vegas:
• Your long form baptismal certificate- Ask your church for this; it must have been issued less than six months ago.
• Your confirmation certificate- Again, ask your church for this; it must have been issued less than six months ago.
• Letter of Freedom to Marry- You need to get an official letter from every parish you have lived in since turning 18. If you have moved a lot or are coming from abroad, you can also opt for an Affidavit from a Commissioner of Oaths. This is something that may be available from your home county.
• Pre-Nuptial Enquiry Form- The priest would provide you with this form, which confirms that you are free to marry and that you understand the nature of marriage.
• Dispensation- If one of you isn’t Catholic, you have to get approval from the local bishop to be married in a Catholic Church. The church can inform you on the level of difficulty to expect here.
• Pre-Marriage Course- The majority of Catholic churches will require you to go through a pre-marriage course and obtain a certificate of completion. This is typically done through Avalon or Accord, but can usually be done abroad.
• Fee- This varies considerably from church to church. If you are getting married outside of your regular church, it can be up to €500.
Choosing to get married at a church in Las Vegas can add another to-do list, but is very doable— and often worth it! If you fall in love with a particular church wedding venue, contact them. Just explain that you are planning a destination wedding in Las Vegas and ask what they might be able to do to accommodate you.
Tip – Buy Skype credit! Many places prefer calls rather than emails and being able to connect via Skype can save a lot of time and money during the wedding planning process.
Things to Consider When Choosing a Wedding Date in Las Vegas
In Las Vegas, whenever we make plans, we talk weather– and, actually, as soon as you arrive, you will find that we love talking about the weather! As much as it is a hot topic, you will find that our climate is usually pretty temperate. We get chilly days and warm days, but it’s rare that you will see freezing temps or steaming hot days. January and February are the coldest months of the year, with low temps around 3 degrees C/ 37 degrees F and high temps of 7 degrees C/ 45 degrees. July and August are the warmest months of the year, and you will see low temps around 12 degrees C/ 54 degrees F and high temps of 19 degrees C/ 66 degrees.
When it comes to rain, well, let me just remind you that rain on your wedding day is considered to be good luck for your marriage— and Irish couples are very lucky! During any given month of the year, you will find that there are between 20 to 24 days of rain per month. May, June, and September tend to have the least rain while winter (and August, surprisingly) is the rainiest period.
Generally speaking, it is impossible to plan ahead to avoid a rainy wedding day. You just don’t know what the day might give you. When you talk to wedding venues in Las Vegas, you will realise quickly that every space has an option for rainy and non-rainy days. The good news is that you will find that the rain in Las Vegas rarely comes as a downpour so you can often get right back outside after a light rain.
As a wedding photographer, I actually love the rain. As you are looking through my portfolio, you will notice that the grey and pastel skies make for a beautiful background. I find that the all colours really pop in front of a subdued sky, whether it’s your hair, shoes, or eyes! While a blue sky is always a nice perk on anyone’s wedding day, I think that the lush green grasses and deep blue sea set against a slate coloured sky creates such a picturesque backdrop for wedding albums.
Another thing to keep in mind when you are considering a destination wedding in Las Vegas is the time of year. Certain holidays and popular tourism times can make it harder to find a space of your own on the Emerald Isle. The big holidays in Las Vegas are New Year’s Day (1 January), St. Patrick’s Day (17 March), Easter (varies), Christmas Day (25 December), and St. Stephen’s Day (26 December). We also have a bank holiday on the first Monday in May, June, August; as well as the last Monday in October. The prices of flights and accommodation will be unusually high during these times, and you may end up finding that it is harder to organize your wedding. Again, advanced planning would be key to making it work during these times.
Outside of these popular travel times, the majority of weddings in Las Vegas are in July and August, with most weddings taking place on a Friday or Saturday. Sunday is an uncommon day to get married and January is the least popular time to tie the knot.
As you are shopping wedding venues in Las Vegas, you will often find discounts for getting married outside of the summer months as well as at times year-round during the week. This can be a great option for people planning a destination wedding. If your entire wedding party is travelling abroad, they won’t be restricted by their normal routine and work schedule so a non-prime time can make a lot of sense and create a marked reduction in costs.
Planning a Budget
If you planning a destination wedding in Las Vegas, you will be paying for everything in euros. If you are from outside of the eurozone, this will mean planning for a currency exchange rate. In recent times, both the US Dollar and the British Pound have fallen in value considerably against the euro which makes things more expensive for British and American travellers. Changes like this, for better or worse, can happen at any time. They could affect your bottom line by ten to twenty percent so they are major considerations. I would recommend looking at the historical currency rate when planning your wedding. This will give you some idea if you are currently at a high or low rate. Bearing in mind that currency rates change constantly, understanding the rate can help you determine the best payment dates. Of course, rates and payment times are often out of your control but they are still something to keep in mind as you consider wedding dates and vendor agreements.
One thing that is in your control in many cases, however, is choosing the best payment method for your wedding vendors. Websites like PayPal offer notoriously poor currency exchange rates while Currency Fair, Transferwise and Revolut will give you a better rate and lower fees. Bank transfers are not unusual in Las Vegas, and you will find that many wedding vendors here accept them. For last minute payments, I would recommend against using a currency exchange office. Typically, your bank will give you the best rate through a simple ATM withdrawal (just be sure to contact them before travelling to check the rates and to allow use abroad).
If you are planning a big destination wedding in Las Vegas, you may want to look into credit card options. The rate charged by each bank can vary considerably so you’ll want to inform yourself. The rates and terms vary by country so it’s too big of a topic to dive into here, but I’d highly recommend reading up to see if a new credit card could make sense for you.
For those coming from Europe, bank transfers can be a great option. The 28 member states of the European Union, Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway, Switzerland, Monaco, and San Marino can all take advantage of free SEPA bank transfers that transfer cash typically within one day.
When it comes to prices, the average couple getting married in Las Vegas spent €24,556 last year (and, by the way, if you love stats, you have got to check out THIS infographic on the details of the average wedding in Las Vegas). This €24,556 is the budget for couples living locally, however, so your destination wedding in Las Vegas can be considerably less or more expensive.
Needless to say, going over budget is as easy as can be! A destination wedding in Las Vegas can be incredibly expensive. On the other hand, it can also be surprisingly affordable. In some ways, I actually find that you can have a far more customised affair when you are having a wedding aboard. There is no obligation to invite everyone you know, so you can create a streamlined guest list. In fact, one of my fave weddings was with a lovely American couple who brought a total of five people to the venue. They chose a wedding venue out of a fairy tale (just look at these photos!) and we able to spend real quality time with their nearest and dearest family at their unforgettable destination wedding.
A destination wedding in Las Vegas can be an intimate affair of just your immediate family, or even just you and your significant other. Going down this route will give you the option to budget exactly as you would like to. You can choose your dream venue, that perfect ring, or stash the cash away for your dream home.
On the other side of things, however, you may also find that many of your friends and family would jump at the chance to take a trip to Las Vegas! Of course, you will need to start planning at least a year in advance if you are coming from abroad because this will give people a chance to plan out their holiday time and make all of the essential arrangements. With all of this done, many of your loved ones can turn your destination wedding in Las Vegas into a dream trip abroad!
So, are you ready to have your ultimate destination wedding in Las Vegas? Check out my essential step-by-step wedding guide that’ll help you organise every last detail of your dream wedding on the Emerald Isle!
Industrial Space Wedding
The world has been loving industrial spaces for a while now. In fact, it has started to seem like every hot new bar or restaurant that opens is in an industrial space. As a wedding photographer in Las Vegas, I have started to notice that brides are embracing these types of spaces for their weddings too!
Las Vegas’s top wedding blog, One Fab Day, has put together a gorgeous selection of the best industrial wedding spaces in Las Vegas. Tracking down cool potential wedding venues in Dublin like The Guinness Storehouse and Smock Alley, and picturesque spaces like The Andrews Gallery and The Bridge at Titanic in Belfast, these industrial wedding venues are perfect for modern couples.
As a wedding photographer, one reason that I adore industrial spaces is that they are completely blank slates. Creative couples can come into these spaces and totally customise them in a way that you could never do a well-established space like a castle.
Trousers and Jumpsuits
Another fashion trend that can be incredibly striking in wedding photography is trousers and jumpsuits. Many modern Irish brides are ditching dresses for both themselves and their bridesmaids. The trend officially took off after Amal Alamuddin wore a Stella McCartney trouser suit in her wedding to George Clooney, and brides have been loving it ever since!
I’ve seen this look done especially well with bridesmaids in trousers. It instantly creates an ultra-modern vibe and highlights the bride’s dress. I photographed a wedding where the bridesmaids were in black jumpsuits while the bride wore a classic white dress. The bridesmaids looked so sleek and modern, while the bride’s dress absolutely glowed in the contrast.
This is one trend that is as old as time! While I love being a wedding photographer in Las Vegas, my heart always skips a beat at the opportunity to travel to some exotic spot. I recently travelled with an Irish bride and groom to Cavaion, Italy for a sun-soaked outdoor wedding. Under blue skies in an Italian villa, this couple created the wedding of their dreams.
While a lot of couples shy away from destination weddings, it actually might not be as hard to pull off as you would think. Many locations, especially in Southern Europe, are not only affordable to fly to, but many of the expenses are lower there than you would find here in Las Vegas. Additionally, you will probably find that many of your friends and family would be thrilled to plan their summer holidays on your big day.