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’It feels good’: Couples celebrate Valentine’s Day in chilly Las Vegas

Updated February 14, 2023 - 7:14 pm

Richard Draper and Laura Brown were greeted by snow flurries as they walked out of the Little Church of the West wedding chapel Tuesday.

“He loves the snow, so this is perfect,” Brown said when asked about the weather.

The couple came from the United Kingdom to get married after being engaged for years. The trip and wedding were a surprise Christmas present from Draper to Brown.

The pair was just one of many couples who planned to tie the knot in town for the holiday despite the cold weather.

Another couple decided to take the big step after getting a phone call

Darius Burkett and Krystal Monroe decided to get married after Burkett received a call from Monroe’s mother while vacationing in Las Vegas.

“(Monroe’s mother) called me and said, ‘Well while you’re down there, y’all might as well get married.’ I was like you know what? Might as well,” Burkett said.

The two have been together for six years after having known each other for “basically (their) whole lives,” according to Burkett.

After getting their marriage license from the Clark County Marriage License Bureau, the couple walked to the One Love Wedding Chapel after being given pamphlets from Nathaniel Frierson outside of the bureau.

“We’ve been talking about it for a little bit, but I think we’ve been kind of married for years, so it feels good,” Monroe said.

Whitney Nelsen and Jamie Albrecht came from their hometown of Philadelphia to get married Tuesday night with their immediate family in attendance.

The couple decided to get married on the holiday after looking for dates in February and March to get married in Las Vegas, which was a childhood dream of Nelsen’s.

“I’ve wanted to get married in Vegas by an Elvis impersonator since I was about 11 years old,” Nelsen said. “And honestly, I never thought anyone was going to agree to it.”

Big day for chapels

Valentine’s Day marks one of the busiest days of the year for chapels, according to Little Church of the West Manager Dan Vallance. This year wasn’t quite as busy as others, thanks to the holiday falling on a weekday.

“If Valentine’s Day falls on a weekend we’re crazy, crazy busy,” he said. “But this is a Tuesday, so we’re just very busy.”

Eighty-five percent of the people who get married at the Little Church of the West are tourists, and the remaining 15 percent are locals, Vallance said. Over the years, he said, he has seen people get married at the church whose parents also got hitched there.

The family-owned One Love Wedding Chapel also was getting plenty of the Valentine’s Day business, Frierson said. It was booked from noon until about three or four in the morning.

His father, Marty Frierson, is the owner of the One Love Wedding Chapel. He said the chapel staying open 24 hours earns it the late-night business because most chapels in town close 8 p.m. to 10 p.m.

Members of the family take on multiple roles in the business. For instance, at Burkett and Monroe’s wedding, Nathaniel Frierson served as photographer and his aunt, Nature Woodall, officiated.

“I’m just honored to spend the first day of the rest of their life with them,” Woodall said.

Heart art

On Tuesday morning, Clark County Clerk Lynn Goya and Las Vegas Councilwoman Olivia Diaz revealed a new art installation in front of the Clark County Marriage License Bureau.

The 10-foot-tall red steel arch shaped like a heart now sits in front of the entrance to the bureau. The piece of “Instagram-able art” was featured at the 2021 and 2022 Life is Beautiful festivals before being installed in Las Vegas, according to a Clark County news release.

It is positioned so couples can take pictures or propose under the arch while also being able to see the entrance to the bureau and the mural near the entrance.

Installing the art piece was part of Goya and Diaz’s mission to keep Las Vegas as the “marriage capital of the world.”

“This is an industry that helped build Las Vegas and helped make it an iconic city,” said Goya. “And we just want to make sure that this is part of who we are from now until the end of time.”

After the sculpture was revealed and the media setup was cleared out, Burkett and Monroe became the first couple to stand inside the heart and have their picture taken before getting their marriage license.

Contact Mark Credico at mcredico@reviewjournal.com. Follow him on Twitter @MarkCredicoII.

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