Thursday, July 5, 2001

Las Vegas celebrates
3 millionth nuptials

Hawaii ranks third in the
domestic wedding business

By Lisa Snedeker
Associated Press

LAS VEGAS >> The self-proclaimed "Wedding Capital of the World" celebrated its 3 millionth wedding this week with showgirls serving as attendants and Elvis giving away the bride.

The nuptials were performed in the "We've Only Just Begun" wedding chapel in the Imperial Palace hotel-casino on the Las Vegas Strip with Elvis impersonator Graham Patrick crooning "Fools Rush In."

In the pink neon chapel three couples exchanged vows -- for the second time. Their original ceremonies took place Feb. 9.

It wasn't until March that the Clark County Recorder's office discovered the 3 million mark had been passed.

"We knew it was coming," said Jim Edwards, spokesman for the recorder's office. "But when you're doing 450 marriages a day, the first priority is to record those marriages."

The recorder's office and the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority invited the 3 millionth couple and the ones on either side of them to return and celebrate the city's first wedding, which took place July 3, 1909.

The couples received free airfare and were provided complementary suites at the Imperial Palace in exchange for renewing their vows in front of television crews and flashing cameras.

Marlen and Alberto Recio of Miami were the 3 millionth couple to be wed in Las Vegas. Marlen, 33, and Alberto, 56, said through a Spanish translator they chose to get married in Las Vegas because they heard it was an exciting place, filled with love and it was easy to get married.

Lisa and Cory Castillo, of Roy, Utah, were the 299,999,999th couple and Linda and John Henk, of Norwich, Conn., were No. 300,000,001. All three couples exchanged vows at the Imperial Palace wedding chapel in front of the same minister, James Terrell.

"It's very romantic," Linda Henk said. "And they made our special day really special."

The three couples represent what's shaping up to be another record-breaking marriage season. On each of three days so far this year, more than 1,000 marriages were recorded for a total of 64,486 and counting, according to the recorder's office.

One-fourth of the marriages recorded in county's 92-year wedding history were performed since said Recorder Judith Vandever took office six years ago.

The city's two closest wedding competitors are Reno and Hawaii. In 1999, Reno recorded nearly 25,000 marriage certificates and about 10,000 couples tied the knot in Hawaii compared with 114,000 in Clark County, Edwards said.

"We really are the marriage capital of the world," Vandever said.

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