Always wanted a Vegas wedding to remember? Richard Jones gives you the lowdown on how to have the wedding trip of a lifetime!
Las Vegas is second only to Hawaii when it comes to wedding destinations in the US. The Nevada desert oasis has become synonymous with couples getting hitched, whether they have either planned their big day for years or are doing things slightly more ‘spur of the moment’. While the betting capital of the world houses thousands of slot machines (200,000 at the last count), as well as scores of gaming tables and bookies, it is also a popular venue for a different kind of gamble – marriage.
Although the big day itself takes a lot of organising, couples and their loved ones flying out to Sin City should also spend some time planning what to do before, during and after the vows, so a holiday centred around a day to remember can become the trip of a lifetime. Here is a guide of the best things for the happy couple, along with their entourage, to do while in Las Vegas.
Food, glorious food
You can still gorge yourself at the all-you-can eat buffets in many of the Strip’s older casinos, but there is a lot more on the menu in Las Vegas these days, and the city is home to some of the best restaurants on the planet…
Carmine’s at the Forum Shops at Caesar’s Palace
Italians know how to cater for families and large parties, and the New York chain’s restaurant at the Forum Shops is the biggest in Las Vegas, serving up enough pizza, pasta, meatballs and salad to satisfy a Roman Emperor. Celine Dion is a regular diner here after her shows at the nearby Colosseum.
Sugar Factory Bar & Grill at Paris
The American Brasserie has just opened up a new patio area looking out over Las Vegas Boulevard. Devour some of their strangely addictive bacon waffles with buttermilk fried chicken and maple syrup, and wash them down with a few liquid nitrogen-infused cocktail goblets.
Jean George’s Steakhouse at ARIA
Arguably the best steakhouse in the whole of Las Vegas with dishes including Grilled Maine Lobster and Wagyu Filet Mignon. Jean George’s employs the best waiter in the city – Jack from San Francisco – ask him about the times he’s spent hanging out with 49ers quarterback Joe Montana.
Tearing off the Strip
Admittedly, most of the action in Vegas takes place on the Strip, but you’d be a fool to spend your entire holiday exclusively on the four or so miles of Nevada desert that is the famous Las Vegas Boulevard…
On many groom’s (and a few brides’) bucket list is driving a supercar. After a session on a simulator, take a Lamborghini, Ferrari or McLaren for a spin at Las Vegas Motor Speedway under the expert tuition of the DR instructors. Just don’t be tempted to drive off into the sunset before your big day!
Ever fancied firing an AK-47 or an Uzi? What about a Tommy Gun or a grenade launcher? Then head down to the range at Gun Garage on South Dean Martin Drive. Replace the paper target with a souvenir t-shirt and you can show your friends back home just what a good (or bad) shot you are.
Something old and something new at Downtown. The ‘Boneyard’ of old signs is well worth a visit, while new zipline SlotZilla on Fremont Street launches riders from a 12-storey slot machine before soaring a distance of 1,800 feet at speeds of 35mph under the dazzling canopy lights.
Welcome to the club
Billing itself as the new ‘entertainment capital of the world’, Vegas still features amazing shows such as La Reve – The Dream, Blue Man Group and Cirque du Soleil, and residencies from singing stars such as Britney Spears, Elton John, and, err, Donny and Marie. However, Sin City attracts a much a younger crowd these days intent on partying all day and all night…
Hakkasan at MGM Grand
Regularly voted the best nightclub not only in Vegas or America, but in the world. British dance chart star Calvin Harris is a fixture on the turntables – he is reportedly paid a mind-boggling $300,000 per night, so best start coppering up if you want him to DJ at your wedding reception.
Wet Republic at MGM Grand
The popular dayclub is the second home of superstar DJs such as Harris, Hardwell and Tiesto and is cram-packed full of bikini babes and muscle-bound lotharios. Keep an eye out for celebs making a splash – Prince Harry spent an booze-fuelled afternoon at WR during THAT trip in 2012.
LIGHT at Mandalay Bay
Something a little different – a nightclub with some of America’s best-known DJs, accompanied by Cirque du Soleil trapeze artists and dancers swinging from the roof. Certainly a long way from your intoxicated auntie and uncle busting a few moves to Agadoo or The Okey Cokey in the village hall.
Tying the knot
After all the fun leading up to it, let’s not forget that you’re in Vegas for a wedding. Virtually every taste and budget are covered in the city, whether it be a lavish do at one of the many luxury hotels, or even a drive-thru ceremony with Elvis as a witness.
Michael Douglas’ character planned to tie the knot here in the 2013 movie Last Vegas, but don’t let that put you off. Enjoy the luxurious amenities and a cocktail or two with famed mixologist Craig Schoettler at Sage as you countdown to the nuptials at one of the eco-friendly resort’s chapels.
One of Vegas’ oldest hotels has just undergone a $350million renovation. Just don’t be tempted to throw the in-laws to the sharks at award-winning pool The Tank. The groom and his entourage can call next door at The Plaza’s Biergarten for a pint of Dutch (or German) courage.
The home of boxing, but that doesn’t mean there will be any wedding day brawls! The Forever Grand Chapel has everything you need to make the experience one you will never forget while a personal Wedding Planner will ensure bride and groom are exchanging rings and not stepping inside one!
Honeymoon in Vegas
After the stresses of your big day, leave yourself a bit of time to wind down ready for the long flight back home or kick back and enjoy yourself even more.
ESPA at Vdara
After a week of partying and, let’s face it, abusing your body, detox at Las Vegas’ newest and most intimate spa at the smoke-free and gambling-free Vdara resort. Try one of ESPA’s technically advanced signature treatments On the Rocks or Desert Rose. They’re not miracle workers, but it’s a start!
REHAB at Hard Rock
Contrary to its name, REHAB is not the type of place to put your Sin City sinning behind you and tone down your alcohol intake. Instead line your stomach with nachos at Pink Taco, before dancing the afternoon away to pumping house and rock at Las Vegas’ longest-running and best pool party.
The High Roller at The LINQ
A romantic way to end any holiday – a ferris wheel. Dwarfing the London Eye, the 550ft-tall High Roller is the biggest in the world and has changed Las Vegas’ skyline once more. Oh and you can get married in one of the 28 glass bubbles, should you wish.
Seven nights in Las Vegas from £975pp with Virgin Holidays including scheduled flights with Virgin Atlantic from London Gatwick or Manchester direct to Las Vegas and room only accommodation at the 4V Hard Rock Hotel & Casino or 5V Aria Resort & Casino. Price is per person based on 2 adults travelling and sharing a deluxe king double room, including all applicable taxes and fuel surcharges which are subject to change. Price is based on a departure on 2 February 2015. Virgin Holidays is a member of ABTA and is ATOL protected. To book: www.virginholidays.co.uk, 0844 557 3859 or visit one of our 120 stores located in Debenhams, House of Fraser, Tesco and Sainsbury’s stores nationwide. Start your holiday before you’ve even taken off in the v-room at Gatwick or Manchester Airports – adults £22, Kids £12. Prices are correct at the time of writing.