Love truly does win!
With the pandemic easing, we are set to see one of the biggest wedding seasons in quite some time. This isn’t to say that couples weren’t getting hitched over the past three years in smaller ceremonies, or otherwise tailoring bigger fetes to fit the times. But, as restrictions ease and people yearn to commune with one another in person again, the masses are likely to do it up. In fact, The Knot anticipates as many as 2.6 million weddings will take place in 2022, up from 2.2 million in 2019. And after being cooped up for so long, what’s better than traveling to do the deed.
Las Vegas is known for many things: its acclaimed hotels and casinos; its many residencies (if you can go see the RuPaul's Drag Race Live! show at the Flamingo Las Vegas, you absolutely should); and undoubtedly, jumping the broom. What’s more, not only is it easy, but the destination has the type of variety that can make just about any dream wedding come true.
Here, we chat with Victoria Hogan, a local queer wedding planner and owner of the drive-through Teardrop Chapel about what makes Vegas the perfect place to have an intimate, life-changing moment, and her favorite tips for couples.
How did you get into wedding planning and organizing?
Well, I first started doing floral arranging. It just sort of grew from there. The wedding industry is a very dynamic one. So, I kind of had my foot in the door through the florals, and I just saw a huge gap in the market for smaller ceremonies. I just started there. Over time, I opened my own chapel and have even developed a business with queer weddings, and work with a lot of women couples.
Where are you generally doing your ceremonies?
In my early days, what really set me apart was that we were inviting the natural landscape to be a part of our weddings. So, it was a much more quiet approach to Vegas. Using the landscape in that way really kind of highlights the couple and there’s really no distractions. Desert weddings are something Vegas can offer that’s truly unique!
But we also love the more kitschy Vegas. We really do! The beauty is that we have the option to play into it if we want and do what we call our “New Vegas Kitsch.” With that, we kind of have something for everyone.
Is there something in particular that you find draws people to Vegas for weddings?
I think that a lot of couples, especially couples that decide to do it on their own, they really want to go somewhere that’s fantastic. Here, I think they can kind of get their honeymoon and their wedding done in one trip, which I think is really cool. There’s just so many things that you can do here outside of getting married and so it just kind of becomes this great honeymoon as well.
Are there any go-to suggestions that you generally have?
I definitely have my favorites! One is the Pinball Hall of Fame. It’s the largest collection of pinball machines in the United States — maybe even the world because I know it’s grown. A lot of the couples that I work with want to see Old Vegas and I think that’s a nice component as far as vintage Vegas gold. I also really love Golden Steer Steakhouse and Hugo’s Cellar at the Four Queens Hotel & Casino because some of the people who work there have so for 40 years. There’s something magical about those hints to the past.
There’s this very special penthouse suite at El Cortez and it’s called the Jackie Gaughn suite. It has two bedrooms, a giant pink quartz bathtub, and it’s one of the only places that still has everything you think of when you think of classic Vegas. Virgin Hotels Las Vegas is a new hotel that has some great restaurants and a unique design that I love.
For you, what’s the biggest draw of a smaller wedding?
I personally find that I work best with small groups. I believe that the couple ends up having a better experience because they don’t get drawn in a bunch of different directions by family members or friends. It can be a more peaceful experience.
But you know Vegas makes it easy to get married in so many ways. There’s just a short wait for a marriage license (open 365 days a year), and you don’t have to do a blood test or anything like that. The culture here is just designed to be convenient. It’s pretty reasonable as well when you’re talking about being cost effective. But even with all that convenience, you can really take your time and plan what you want and be very intentional. Picture yourself in a classic car on a drive down vintage Fremont Street before you head to the desert with your love. That’s something special that Vegas offers!
But, overall, there’s something for everyone and it’s very easy to tailor exactly what you want for your wedding day and not spend a million dollars.
You’ve probably done over 1,000 queer weddings in Vegas. Have you noticed anything in particular about them?
I’ve noticed that queer couples are more prone to come alone and bring just a photographer and no one else. There’s this element of excitement to tell their families they were married but really wanted to do it their way. But I also have noticed that a lot of times they have these sweet, personal vows that they want to say to each other.