January 10

The Wedding that Almost Was

More than halfway through planning, I’m loving the way our laid-back Southern wedding is shaping up. But the truth is, we first considered something totally different. You’ll hear a lot of married couples look back and say “I wish we’d eloped.” For at least a little while, we considered taking their advice.

Las Vegas Wedding
Issac Wu Photography

Yep, VEGAS.

Mr. Rooster and I love Las Vegas. Between the both of us, we’ve made at least a dozen trips West to visit the land of gambling and neon. Vegas is where we decided to celebrate Mr. Roo’s 30th birthday with most of his family in tow. Being the home to so many personal memories for us and so many weddings for everyone else, we thought that Las Vegas just might be the spot to make our wedding memories happen.

Vegas Wedding
Jessica Marie Photos

So we would elope! Kinda.

What we envisioned for our Vegas Wedding Vacation was something between a blow-out wedding and a quiet elopement. You know how you always see those huge hotel villas in movies like The Hangover and think, “I wish I had $5,000 to blow on a night there”? We thought it too. Almost every time we visited The Strip. And we thought it again when we saw the price tags for some of the local wedding venues in Atlanta. I remember asking Mr. Rooster, “Wouldn’t you rather spend five grand on the Hangover suite instead of a stupid ballroom?”

MGM Grand Skyline Terrace Suite Las Vegas
The Skyline Terrace Suite at MGM Grand

He said yes, obviously. So with that cue, I started furiously planning our almost-elopement Vegas hotel villa wedding.

It’s not as crazy an idea as you might think. There’s tons of resources out there to help plan weddings exactly like what we had in mind. The blog Little Vegas Wedding was especially invaluable to me. Besides the inspiration of seeing how real couples pull off all sorts of Vegas weddings, there was this holy grail of a post: How to Plan a Perfect In-Suite Wedding Reception.

So I planned it, in my head. We’d go all out on a dress and suit and an incredible photographer to capture it all, but save a ton of cash on food and drink considering we’d only get a fraction of the guests to spend out on a trip to Vegas with us. My heart was already all aflutter thinking about desert-inspired details, a retro shift wedding dress and of course Elvis-and-Priscilla style wedding photos. I needed to start booking some vendors immediately.

Elvis Vegas Wedding
Viva Las Vegas Wedding Chapel ceremony, shot by Sonya Yruel via Ruffled
Las Vegas Wedding Invites
Invitation Suite by Yelley Art & Design, shot by Sonya Yruel via Ruffled
Las Vegas Wedding Motel
Gaby J via Ruffled
Vegas Wedding Bridal Party
Gaby J via Ruffled

But it turns out even Las Vegas, the elopement capital of the world, isn’t immune to the Wedding Industrial Complex. The villas and suites we wanted were around the price range we imagined (our first choices were the Skyline Terrace Suite at MGM Grand and the Villas at The Mirage; hello private yard!), but as soon as we said the word “wedding,” costs seemed to creep up. Not the room rate, but for all the little extras. Our hotel cocktails-and-nosh reception suddenly had a sky-high food and beverage minimum. Oh, and we would need to use the hotel photographer. Have you seen some of those photos? No thank you. I want one thing when this whole wedding shindig is said and done, and that’s amazing photos. I wanted a photojournalistic artist behind the camera, not some hotel-hired finger.

So we scrapped it. The whole thing. It wasn’t just about the photographer. We thought this almost-elopement in Las Vegas would cost less money overall and create less stress than planning a more traditional wedding in Atlanta. Wrong. Wrong. Wrong.

But as we turned our sights back down South, it didn’t feel like a second choice. Having a wedding in Atlanta with all of our friends and family just feels right. But I’ll never forget the wedding that almost was. And, hey… when I catch the Vegas wedding bug again in 10 years and want to plan a vow renewal in a villa on the strip, I’ll already know where to look.

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