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1-2-3-1-2-3: Vegas chapels prepare for influx of couples on NYE

Updated December 27, 2023 - 7:28 pm

The Las Vegas wedding industry is expecting crowds of couples with wedding plans on New Year’s Eve in what could be the busiest date and holiday in years.

This year’s date of 12/31/23, with its repeating pattern of 1-2-3-1-2-3, is expected to draw in even more ceremonies to the destination.

“Combined with a weekend and all the excitement around New Year’s Eve, what we’re seeing is (that) it may be one of the biggest days of the year and one of the biggest days for a number of years,” Clark County Clerk Lynn Marie Goya said.

That’s the case for Vegas Weddings. President Melody Willis-Williams said the company is expecting “double to triple” the amount of typical demand — including being fully booked at midnight on the holiday.

While the New Year’s fireworks shows are lighting up the sky across the Strip, five couples at Vegas Weddings venues will be calling each other husband and wife for the first time as part of one of the specialty wedding packages — offered at $2,024.

“It’s a double whammy,” Willis-Williams said. “Anytime you get these specialty dates, they’re always hugely popular. But tie that in with New Year’s Eve and it’s a showstopper. It’s huge demand because everyone loves those numbers.”

Vegas Weddings is already expecting to wed more than 120 couples across its three properties – each with multiple venues on site. To prepare, Willis-Williams said it’s a matter of “scheduling, scheduling, scheduling.”

“(It’s) so that we can make sure every photographer is on time for their weddings, all the limo drivers can be able to pick up but also be back for their return,” she said. “It’s a huge amount of those kinds of logistical issues, plus of course the staff for the day – making sure we have plenty of staff so everyone feels really cared for.”

Her staff — made up of more than 100 officiants, wedding planners and coordinators, limo drivers, florists, photographers, tailors and more — are not the only ones ramping up for the day.

Special dates have always drawn couples to wed in Las Vegas. The most popular was July 7, 2007 with 4,492 couples. Second-most popular was Nov. 11, 2011, when 3,125 couples married. Last year’s Feb. 22, 2022 — also dubbed “Twosday” — saw 2,331 weddings, the sixth most on one date in Vegas wedding history, according to the county marriage bureau.

Meanwhile previous New Year’s Eves have drawn about 450 to 550 couples annually since 2018, according to county data.

The marriage bureau doesn’t have to change its operations much to prepare for the holiday events because the office is open 8 a.m. to midnight every day of the year. But the bureau will have a satellite office between Tuesday and Sunday at Harry Reid International Airport this year to capture some of the influx of couples as they arrive.

This is the first time that county officials will be at the airport for the holiday. The bureau has set up a pop-up licensing office in Terminal 1’s baggage claim in February to allow travelers during the Valentine’s Day season to get their marriage license without having to visit the downtown office. (In 2024, they’re expecting a second wave of wedding travelers at the end of the month for Leap Day.)

Couples tell the chapel and bureau staff that these “magic dates” are auspicious ­— and easy to remember. It’s also exciting for many couples to see how many others are going to have the same anniversary date when they get in line for their license, Goya said.

“I think the celebration that has a group dynamic is really appealing,” she said. “When everyone is in line and they’re all getting married and excited about being in love, it just enhances their own experience.”

McKenna Ross is a corps member with Report for America, a national service program that places journalists into local newsrooms. Contact her at mross@reviewjournal.com. Follow @mckenna_ross_ on X.

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