Belinda Jones drives the desert from Los Angeles to Las Vegas to say those two little words.
Ten years before I got married in Las Vegas I cruised down The Strip pulling in for a snoop at every chapel from the quickie drive-thrus to the garden gazebos festooned with chubby cupids and pulsing pink hearts. (Not to mention a few places that made me want to get out the Pledge and give their faux bridal bouquets a good dusting.) I was doing research for a novel about two English girls who decided that The Wedding Capital of the World would be the best place to find a husband – with an average of 315 vows exchanged a day the air is practically 70% oxygen, 30% confetti.
In the story Izzy opts for the Graceland Chapel and a congregation of ‘Elvi’ in every incarnation from gold lamé jacket to Jailhouse Rock stripes whereas Jamie favours Excalibur’s Canterbury chapel, on account of her groom being a knight from the hotel’s medieval jousting attraction, thus entitling them to a staff discount. But for my own ceremony I needed something a little more dignified…
My husband-to-be was an electronics technician in the US Navy, pretty much the antithesis of all things kitsch and rhinestone. My first impression of him was of a ‘Baby Obama’ – disarming manners and classily cool. Which rather begs the question: Why a Vegas wedding at all?
But out here, surrounded by an eternity of blue sky, I can more than exhale, I can fling my arms wide, revel in awe at the vastness of it all and release my inner ‘Woohooo!’
It was the logistics more than anything. Back then Jonathan’s ‘liberty’ days were scarce and required paperwork to rival an Italian legal bureau. I’d barely seen him the past year – first he was relocated to world’s largest Navy base in Virginia (3,000 miles from my pad in Los Angeles) and then he spent six months fighting pirates in Somalia, like you do. So when he called and said he had a ‘wedding window’ just over a week away I knew the only place we could be assured of a timely turnaround was Vegas.
Which doesn’t sound very romantic but that was actually quite a plus for me. Despite writing chick lit for a living anything relating to princess fantasies makes me queasy. The other plus was the drive…
I have this theory that Brits get an extra kick out of cruising through the desert because it is so unlike anything on our home terrain. I grew up hemmed in by the high hedgerows and winding lanes of Devon, feeling like I had to breath in every time I passed another car. But out here, surrounded by an eternity of blue sky, I can more than exhale, I can fling my arms wide, revel in awe at the vastness of it all and release my inner ‘Woohooo!’