How Getting Married in Las Vegas Began the End of my Relationship

The Signs I Ignored, What I Should’ve Done, and Stuff You Must Consider Before Getting Hitched in Sin City

These things are certain: The sky is blue. Grass is green. And getting married in Las Vegas is a less than good idea.

Duh!?

Despite this hard-learned lesson in common sense, 120,000 folks flock there every year to jump in head first into (what they hope will be) wedded bliss.

Rarely is it that. More often than not, the union doesn’t last long after the couple leaves what happened in Vegas back behind them in Vegas.

My Las Vegas Wedding Story

It rained on that day in July. Of all the times we could’ve gone to the desert to get married, we inadvertently picked the Mojave Desert’s monsoon season! Still, we enjoyed our time there. That was us. We were that kind of couple.

We’d just celebrated our 10th year together, and thought we were sure about what we were getting into – one sure hopes so after a solid decade of living in sin. I thought we knew each other well enough. Then again, how much do you ever really know a person?

It was a cold, rainy day in July in Las Vegas, Nevada. Hell had literally frozen over (well, at least Sin City had).

And despite all of the universe’s efforts to change my mind and head home, I walked through the doors of The Little White Wedding Chapel wearing a huge white poof of a wedding dress and blue Manolos I’d ordered specifically for that day. My groom wore a black pinstriped zoot suit.

Three Factors to Consider Ahead of Your Big Day

1. Use the 60/20 Method for Detecting Weak Areas in Your Relationship

You want my advice? Stop whatever you’re doing right now! Think of all the reasons you not to marry your partner. You have 60 seconds to do so. Go!

Oh, good! You’re back!

In 60 seconds, did you come up with 20 good reasons (and I don’t mean anything like you wish she was shorter, had red hair, etc.) not to get married?

Good reasons include but are not limited to:

  • One of you has massive unpaid debts
  • One of you is a tightwad and the other spends it like there’s a money tree on steroids growing in the backyard
  • You haven’t yet laid out a financial plan for the marriage
  • There are children involved, and you aren’t sure how they’ll feel about becoming a blended family
  • You haven’t worked out permanent living arrangements
  • Whether only once or a hundred times, you’ve been unfaithful
  • You suspect she might have been unfaithful
  • You’re waiting until after the wedding to introduce her to your friends/family
  • You’re marrying in secret

If you came up with 20 reasons (consider 18 reasons to be a lot) in 60 seconds, sit her down. Give her the rundown, and wait for her to do the same.

If she does, you’ll have to work on repairing the relationship before getting married in Las Vegas or anywhere else for that matter.

If she doesn’t, ask her about your concerns. If she doesn’t offer up answers or if a fight ensues, give it time. Talk it out later. But whatever you do, don’t say your I Dos until you get all of it out and you both feel good about the aftermath.

You might not ever get there, but trust me, ending a relationship before walking down the aisle is much easier than dealing with the mind fuckery of divorce.

2. Pay Attention to Ominous Signs and Omens

I’m not someone who believes in superstition. Once upon a time, I was following my dreams of becoming a cardiothoracic surgeon. In short, I love science. I trust what I see, what I can prove.

While I’m not someone who avoids walking under ladders or kicking gently nudging a black cat out of my way with my Chuck Taylors to get where I gotta go, I would swear to you that when I think back on it, I distinctly remember signs, omens maybe, telling me the whole thing was a bad idea.

Although subtle, they were clear enough for me to notice in the moment. Instead of thinking about what these strange (perhaps coincidental) occurrences meant, I explained them away as regular happenings in causality. Here are a few:

  • I found my first gray hair ever the morning of my wedding day. Crazy, eh?
  • He and I forgot our wedding rings when we left the house. We realized it several hours into the trip. We thought about doing it without them but instead headed back home to pick them up before heading out again.
  • It poured down rain and hail the entire time we were there. Mind you, it’s literally…a desert, the Mojave Desert!
  • My shoes didn’t fit well and every step I took hurt like hell. If that’s not an obvious Hello! Maybe you should think this one through, ol’girl!! I don’t know what is!

Challenges happen. Ish happens. It’s inevitable. And weddings are the perfect breeding ground for ish to happen. If your Las Vegas wedding is met with a challenge or two, don’t take it to heart.

But if every. Step. You. Take. Leaves you thinking your feet will soon divorce you for abusing them at the end of a long series of ish going wrong, think about it. Seriously think about what these signs mean.

Worst case, talk to your bride. Put the wedding off and make the most of the VooDoo Zipline at the Rio, ride the Stratosphere roller coaster until your feet forgive you, and avoid the time share dweebs like the plague!

3. THE Question You Have to Ask Her the Night Before

Ideally, you want to ask her this anytime before the day of. Don’t wait any longer than the night before your wedding day.

Here’s the question:

“Is there anything you want to tell me right now before we do this?”

Make it clear that this is the one freebie you’re willing to give away. After that, whatever you find out, whatever comes up is fair game and grounds for ending the marriage if it’s bad enough.

Giving each other a freebie doesn’t mean you’re going to forgive and forget without any hurt feelings or without spewing forth any expletives. It just means, that no matter how bad it is, no matter how much it hurts, you’re ready and willing to work it out having cleared the air.

Be prepared. You could just as easily spend the night fighting like never before. So be it. Get it out. Work it out if you can.

If what gets said damages your relationship beyond what you’re willing to repair, end it.

Having this conversation is the single most important thing you can do for your relationship, for your marriage, for yourself. You can only fix what you acknowledge.

Why Getting Married in Las Vegas Gets Such a Bad Rap

1. Vegas marriages rarely last.

Just ask the 100s of divorced famous people who’ve tried! Examples include:

  • Angelina Jolie and Billy Bob Thornton
  • Britney Spears and What’s-his-face
  • Cindy Crawford and Richard Gere

That’s not to say that your marriage can’t prove ‘em wrong. Some famous couples who legalized their unions in Sin City have stood the test of time.

  • Kelly Ripa and Mark Consuelos (eloped to Las Vegas in 1996)
  • Joanne Woodward and Paul Newman (married in 1958 until his death in 2008)
  • Dorothea Hurley and Jon Bon Jovi (married in 1989 and together as of this publishing)

Getting married is nothing. Anyone can get married. If you want to stay married, you’ll have to work at it!

2. Vegas weddings are more likely to be impulse decisions than honest, well-thought-out life choices.

It’s the rebellious thing to do – the ultimate statement to assert one’s independence.

I equate it to buying the first compound bow you’ve lusted after for months only to realize the morning after that you live on the 10th floor in Manhattan and hunting pigeons from your window is frowned upon.

3. The romance element is almost completely gone from the experience.

Getting into the “wedding spirit” of it all is challenging in a Las Vegas chapel. On my wedding day, there were four couples in the lobby waiting for their numbers to get called when we arrived. It was then I realized the place was more like a feedlot than a chapel.

I’ve been to a few weddings. Even the small, more private affairs (a bride, groom, priest, parents, siblings, and a few friends) are full of energy. It gets you in the right mood and adds to the occasion.

In Vegas, strangers marry you, strangers take your picture, and strangers watch you do it. When they’re done with you, those same strangers shuffle in the next number and repeat the process on a loop.

There isn’t an easy black and white way to compare that to a real wedding.

Final Thoughts

If I had it to do over again, knowing it would all come undone only five months later, would I still have done it?

No.

It’s hard to write that. Even as I sit here typing I’m fighting off the urge to erase that word and a positive spin on the situation. And I can’t. For now, at least, “No,” is the best I can do.

Getting married in Las Vegas isn’t the reason it didn’t work out in my marriage. In fact, it was broken long before we ever set out on the highway. I think we both wanted it back then. We wanted it to be real.

Instead of having the uncomfortable conversations no one wants to have (the kind that either end or strengthen relationships), we pretended. We pretended we didn’t see the signs urging us to drive home. We pretended our relationship was real, tangible, and unbreakable. Our problem wasn’t getting married in Las Vegas. We were our biggest problem.

Time has moved us forward. Today, we’re very different from who we were that day in July. While it could just be that we’ve grown up a bit in the last five years, I tend to believe we’ve finally become acquainted with one another and are the better for it.

Did you get hitched in Las Vegas? We want to hear from you! Tell us about it in the gray comments section below!

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