Las Vegas was (and still is) THE place for starry-eyed couples and celebrities to tie the knot, either in an intimate ceremony or a destination wedding with family and friends traveling to Southern Nevada. The locals loved getting married in Las Vegas as well with beautiful country clubs, the magnificence of the houses of worship and outdoor venues such as Mt. Charleston and Red Rock Canyon. People would travel from around the world to come to Las Vegas for their nuptials. It was part of the allure and glamour of the city, bringing in billions of dollars in revenue.
Then something happened. It was very subtle and not even a blip on anyone’s radar. After a peak of 128,000 marriages performed in Clark County in 2004, the numbers started to drop. While the city still holds the highest nuptial numbers of any U.S. county, there has been a 37 percent drop since 2004, and newly elected Clark County Clerk Lynn Goya wants to reverse the trend and market the wedding industry.
“Clark County issues about 80,000 marriage licenses a year. Of those licenses, about 82 percent are issued to tourists, with 75 percent of those for national and 25 percent for international couples. This is a very big business for the county, bringing in about $2 billion dollars a year,” Goya explained.
There are about 100 wedding chapels, but weddings and receptions also include other businesses including venues, photographers, videographers, limos, bridal dresses and tuxedos, caterers, DJs, florists and bakers. According to TheKnot.com, about 70 people come to Nevada for each wedding party. Along with the wedding and reception, guests pay for accommodations, food, beverages, shows, attractions and tours.
“Even with the decline in marriages in the past 60 years, our wedding industry was booming for 50 of those years,” Goya said. She emphasizes that Las Vegas is still the best destination for weddings with its amenities and the fact that the city’s main industry is hospitality.
“When I was running for office, I spoke with wedding vendors who were very concerned about the wedding market,” she said. After uncovering the numbers, Goya reached out to the Las Vegas Visitors and Convention Authority, Commission of Tourism, other agencies and vendors to work with them.
“One can pick from a variety of weddings, including very elegant and traditional ceremonies to themed weddings. We are affordable as well, and we can still offer so much for everyone. With the recent Supreme Court ruling, we are also a great destination for same-sex couples.”
The Clark County Commission also approved an increase in the marriage license fee from $60 to $77. The additional money will be used to promote weddings in Las Vegas to bring back business.
The Clark County Clerk is the chief wedding officiant for the county, managing the marriage bureau and issuing all of the licenses for wedding officiants. The County Clerk’s Office also maintains official documents including County Commission and other county board meeting minutes, agendas, commission voting records and county contracts.
A longtime resident of Clark County, Goya has a journalistic, public relations and nonprofit background, degrees in English and economics and has covered Las Vegas extensively for local, regional and national publications including USA Today, Audubon, Luxury Las Vegas and Nevada Magazine. She has been quoted as a Las Vegas expert in Bankrate.com, CBS Newswatch, CBS News, Travel Magazine and Dog Fancy.