100°F
weather icon Clear

Couple helps county set milestone for same-sex marriage licenses

 

Jennifer Dickerson’s divorce from her husband of seven years was finalized on Thursday. The next morning, Dickerson’s ex-husband drove her and fiancée Amanda Falzone, 34, to the airport.

The women flew from Colorado Springs to Las Vegas, where they became the 10,000th same-sex couple to obtain a marriage license in Clark County.

“Being in love is awesome,” Dickerson gushed to gathered media on Friday afternoon. “And being able to share it with everybody, and now, all of Las Vegas, is awesome!”

Local wedding tourism industry experts hope many, many others will share her sentiment this year.

Friday may have marked a historic milestone for the “wedding capital of the world,” but the number of marriage licenses issued annually in Clark County has dropped substantially over the last decade.

Only about 81,000 were issued in 2016, down from a peak of 128,000 in 2004.

While the annual number of licenses issued has stabilized over the last four years, the fall has been a wake-up call to those working in the wedding tourism industry. Close to 80 percent of marriage licenses issued in the county are for tourists, according to the County Clerk’s office.

It has become apparent that professionals can no longer rely on Las Vegas’s international reputation to sell itself, said Kristen LaBuda, president of the Las Vegas Wedding Chamber of Commerce, an organization that formed last year to unite the industry and give it a collective voice.

“Las Vegas had been dominant on the destination wedding scene, but we never really managed it. We didn’t promote it,” Labuda said. “We were just given this gift, and we didn’t protect it.”

The wedding tourism industry’s economic impact in Las Vegas is about $2 billion a year and extends far beyond the altar to a web of professionals ranging from jewelers to hair stylists, DJs to photographers, and limo drivers to web designers.

“What happens in Las Vegas, lasts forever”

This week the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority launched a weddings promotion campaign aimed at attracting more visitors to tie the knot here.

The efforts are funded by a new $14 marriage license fee enacted by the Nevada Legislature in 2015. It raised about $1.14 million last year, all of which will be used to promote wedding tourism. In addition to advertising, the campaign will focus on centralizing online resources for those considering destination weddings.

“Part of our goal is to generate awareness for the breadth of wedding experiences you can have in Las Vegas,” said Kevin Bagger, executive director of the LVCVA Research Center. “We can have very large scale, elaborate weddings on the Strip, outdoor weddings at Red Rock and everything in between.”

Labuda said the industry is trying to do away with the stigma that getting married in Sin City is a sign of flippancy to the commitment of marriage.

“For us, ‘What happens in Las Vegas, lasts forever,’” she said.

The Wedding Chamber of Commerce aims to restore the annual number of wedding licenses issued to 100,000 in 2019.

County Clerk Lynn Goya called the goal’s timeline “ambitious,” but said she believed it was obtainable sometime in the near future.

“Now that we’ve recognized that there’s something we need to do, I think we’ll pull together and be able to get up to 100,000 again, or more,” she said.

Cliff Evarts, founder and CEO of the 15-year-old Vegas Weddings chapel company, said re-branding the city is the way to go.

“If Vegas were to create an image that it was a romance capital of the world, a place for both weddings and vow renewals,” he said. “It would give a reason for people to come to Vegas that wouldn’t normally come here.”

Contact Brooke Wanser at bwanser@reviewjournal.com. Follow @Bwanser_LVRJ on Twitter. Contact Michael Scott Davidson at sdavidson@reviewjournal.com or 702-477- 3861. Follow @davidsonlvrj on Twitter.

Don't miss the big stories. Like us on Facebook.
Politics Videos
Media's Double Standard On Incitement And Trump - Video
Over the weekend, an Elizabeth Warren-supporting socialist who opposed gun violence used a rifle to commit a mass murder in Dayton, Ohio. The media has downplayed that aspect of the tragedy.
Project Our Care Tour Kicks Off In Las Vegas
U.S. Rep. Dina Titus joined health care advocates and local residents as part of Protect Our Care’s nationwide bus tour kick off in Las Vegas on Monday, August 5, 2019. (Mat Luschek / Review-Journal)
Bernie Sanders talks about guns, response to El Paso shooting
Sen. Bernie Sanders spoke about his response and continued policy ideas about guns and gun control to the Review-Journal after a panel of other topics. (Rachel Aston/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Pete Buttigieg On Gun Control And Climate Change - Video
Pete Buttigieg talks about his campaign for the 2020 election and how Nevada is a vision of what the future can be.
Beto O'Rourke speaks in Las Vegas
Presidential candidate Beto O'Rourke spoke to supporters at the East Las Vegas Community Center in Las Vegas, Thursday, Aug. 2, 2019. (Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Former Nevada Senate leader Kelvin Atkinson sentenced to prison
Former Nevada Senate Majority Leader Kelvin Atkinson, who pleaded guilty to misusing campaign funds, was sentenced to 27 months in prison on Thursday, July 18, 2019. (Mat Luschek/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Trumps Strength is also a Weakness - Video
One of Donald Trump’s greatest strengths — his ability to shape national narratives — is also a great weakness.
Tax the Rich Bus Tour makes a stop in Las Vegas - Video
The Tax the Rich Bus has stopped in Las Vegas as part of its summer tour. (Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Assemblywoman Daniele Monroe-Moreno hosts BBQ - Video
Assembly Woman Daniele Monroe-Moreno hosts BBQ to bring the community together to hear about the candidates up for election and for people to gather and have fun.
Democrat Virtual Caucus - Video
Elizabeth Warren visits Las Vegas
Senator Elizabeth Warren made a campaign stop at the East Las Vegas Community Center on Tuesday July 2, 2019. (Mat Luschek / Review-Journal)
Aaron Ford Speaks About Bill AB431
AB431 is a bill sponsored by Nevada Assembly Speaker Jason Frierson to restore the right to vote for formerly incarcerated individuals. Attorney General Aaron Ford spoke at the AM&E Church in North Las Vegas about the bill, on Monday, July 1, 2019. (Mat Luschek/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
The Right Take: Biden's Racially Questionable Comments
Joe Biden has uttered racially charged statements for years. Now that he’s the frontrunner for the Democrat presidential nomination, he may finally face prolonged scrutiny for them.
Christopher Rufo Discusses Homelessness In The USA - VIDEO
Christopher Rufo discusses homelessness in the United States and how politicians can work to improve conditions for those with drug addictions.
Clark County 2019 Election Results - Video
The 2019 Elections wrap up in Clark County including an upset in the Boulder City Mayor race.
Olivia Diaz talks about her win in Ward 3 - VIDEO
Las Vegas City Councilwoman-elect Olivia Diaz talks about her election win in Ward 3 and what lies ahead for her.
Greene discusses Read by 3 and Opportunity Scholarships - VIDEO
The Nevada Legislative Session is over and the results are mixed for Nevada students, according to Tom Greene, Senior regional legislative director, Excel in Ed in Action.
Bernie Sanders visits Las Vegas
Sen. Bernie Sanders made a stop at Roy W. Martin middle school on Thursday, during his campaign trail.
THE LATEST