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It’s Elvis, an all-star cast, and 300 couples in Vegas’ wedding date

Updated September 20, 2023 - 12:02 pm

Travis Cloer put it all in perspective at the end of an all-star performance and vow-renewal event at Caesars Palace.

“So Vegas,” said the former “Jersey Boys” co-star. “What else would you expect?”

Exactly that. Put the message on a billboard. This was 100 percent, concentrated Las Vegas on a Sunday afternoon at Octavius Ballroom.

In short order, and in no particular order, the event featured:

— Ten Vegas entertainers backed by an orchestra of Vegas musicians.

— An Elvis impressionist.

— A replica (though non-edible) of the wedding cake from Elvis and Priscilla Presley’s wedding at Aladdin in May 1967.

— A Vegas magician as brunch emcee.

— A Vegas singer/musician/loop artist as bunch entertainer.

— Requisite showgirl sashaying.

— And, most pertinent, nearly 300 couples taking part in a vow renewal celebrating the city’s 70th anniversary as the “wedding capital of the world.” This all came about because of a 1953 London Daily Herald article referring to that unofficial title (the article actually stated that Vegas had already made the claim itself, but no matter, time to party).

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Clark County Clerk Lynn Goya has been working for years to re-position Vegas as the world’s premiere wedding destination. The message resonated civically. “We did not pay for the costs of this event,” Goya said afterward. “The community donated a lot of the staging. This room was donated. So the community is behind us, and that is very important.”

The event was married to iconic Las Vegas imagery and personalities.

The co-producers were veteran showman and variety-show host Dennis Bono and his wife, Lorraine Hunt-Bono, former lieutenant governor and also a longtime Vegas singer (The couple owns Bootlegger Bistro); Vegas native Damian Costa, a former Caesars Entertainment exec who co-founded Pompey Entertainment; and Dan Slider, who wrote the original song “Las Vegas Will You Marry Me,” the very theme of the event.

The event played in three parts, a brunch for the 600 or so vow-renewers, a performance in the main ballroom, and a vow renewal presided over by actor Patrick Warburton. The onetime David Puddy from “Seinfeld” and title character in “The Tick” was brought in by Costa, who has booked Warburton’s “Letters From a Nut” show at Jimmy Kimmel’s Comedy Club. Another JKCC headliner, comic magician Farrell Dillon, emceed the brunch, with longtime Vegas performer and loop artist Jeremy Cornwell and veteran Elvis tribute artist Brian Mills performing for the brunch crowd.

From there, the moved, en masse, across to the larger Octavius Ballroom venue, with Bono singing “Las Vegas Will You Mary Me,” with Slider conducting the band. The numbers were a procession of love songs thought the decades.

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The Bronx Wanderers (Dion and the Belmonts’ “I Wonder Why”) and Bob Anderson (Frank Sinatra’s “The Tender Trap”) covered the ’50s, Bill Medley and Bucky Heard of the Righteous Brothers (the Righteous classic “Soul and Inspiration”) and Cloer (Frankie Valli’s “Can’t Take My Eyes off You)” the ’60s, Anne Martinez (Donna Summer’s “Last Dance”) the ’70s, Earl Turner (Tina Turner’s “Simply The Best”) the ’80s, Martinez and Medley (“I’ve Had The Time of My Life,” by Medley and Jennifer Warren) and Clint Holmes (an inspired cover of Celine Dion’s “My Heart Will Go On”) the ’90s, Lorena Peril (“Make You Feel My Love”) the 2000s, and Chris Phillips of Zowie Bowie (Bruno Mars’“Just The Way You Are”).

The banter behind the scenes was a throwback experience.

“I especially, really enjoyed seeing everybody backstage,” Holmes said. “That was a really fun hang.”

Hundreds of attendees dressed in wedding attire renewed their vows. Carlo’s Bake Shop General Manager Christina Nasso, who created the cake, chatted up couples at the frosted prop.

About an hour after the show ended, the Bonos sat with a few friends in the ballroom as the crew stacked tables and chairs. They wanted a place to eat, but it was just about 3 p.m., when many of their favorite restaurants were not yet open for dinner.

Dennis suggested calling his buddy and Italian American Club GM Benny Spano, whose joint opens at 5 p.m. on Sundays.

“Let’s see if Benny will open the kitchen for us, ” Bono said. So IAC moved some things around, as we say. So Vegas.

Cool Hang Alert

Wild West Wednesdays featuring the popular country band Huckleberry Hicks resumes at 10 p.m. Wednesday (of course) at Barbershop Cuts & Cocktails at the Cosmopolitan. It is a boot-stomping time behind the unmarked door though the hair-cutting space No cover (but the glass container at the stage is for tips).

John Katsilometes’ column runs daily in the A section. His “PodKats!” podcast can be found at reviewjournal.com/podcasts. Contact him at jkatsilometes@reviewjournal.com. Follow @johnnykats on X, @JohnnyKats1 on Instagram.

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