All the information you need on locations, paperwork and vendors so you can start planning your Las Vegas wedding
The beauty of eloping in Las Vegas from Canada is that it’s only a short flight away, but looks and feels different to anywhere in Canada. We’re confident the matrimonial history of the Vegas wedding scene is unlike anywhere else in the world. And while we’re not suggesting for a moment that you want a neon-soaked wedding conducted by Elvis, there’s definitely something very retro, cool and special about jetting to Vegas and getting hitched. Couple this with a range of beautiful outdoor venues and a host of options for your reception and honeymoon, and you have everything you need for a beautiful intimate elopement.
If you’re thinking of booking a Vegas wedding, this guide will fill in any informational blanks. You’ll find details on the legal parts of eloping from Canada to Las Vegas, location suggestions, inspiration for your day and an overview of accommodation and honeymoon ideas in and around Sin City.
In this guide
- Planning your wedding remotely
- Sorting the legal stuff
- Your officiant
- Ceremony locations
- Your day
- Where to stay — couple and guests
- Local honeymoon ideas
- Flying from Canada to Las Vegas
- Stress-free elopements from Canada to Las Vegas
Planning your wedding remotely
Thank goodness for the Internet and phones. Without them, planning your elopement from thousands of miles away would be a total nightmare. Luckily, email and phone means you can be anywhere in the world and comfortably plan your Las Vegas wedding. This is how we work with many of our clients.
Although you’re not here in the lead up to your day, experienced wedding vendors do everything in their power to deliver the destination wedding you want. If a catch up is needed then you’re only a phone call or email message away. So really, remote planning a wedding isn’t so daunting. Remember, you have someone on location who’s on your team, and whose job it is to help you fix up the details.
Sorting the legal stuff
Talking about visas and legal paperwork isn’t sexy. But it’s essential. Failure to get visas and a marriage license can mean no wedding at all. Here’s what you need to know.
If you and your partner are both Canadian citizens (you have Canadian passports) then you shouldn’t need a visa to enter the United States. If one of you is Canadian and the other is a foreign citizen (as in not Canadian or American) it’s likely that person needs a visa to enter the US. There are always exceptions to the rule and laws change. You’re responsible for finding out what visas you, your partner and any friends or family need. Do this before booking any part of your wedding or organizing a marriage license.
We’re not visa experts. If you have questions about entering America for your wedding, contact the US embassy or a legal practitioner in your country of residence.
Las Vegas marriage laws
Despite the city’s ‘Sin City’ nickname, there are laws that you must follow to ensure your marriage is legal. These include:
- Both you and your partner must be at least 18 years old
- You should not be related to the person you intend to marry
- You should not already be married to someone else. Polygamy is illegal.
A couple of other useful things to know when getting married in Vegas:
- LGBTIQ marriages are legal
- Blood tests aren’t necessary to get a marriage license.
Getting a Las Vegas wedding license
You need an approved and valid marriage license authorized by the Clark County Marriage License Bureau. A license costs $77 and getting hold of this essential bit of paperwork is quick and easy.
1. Fill out the pre-application online form, which you can find on the Clark County Nevada website.
2. When you arrive in Vegas and before your wedding date, you and your partner must go to the Clark County Marriage Bureau and present a legal form of ID. Accepted ID include: driver’s license, passport, US or foreign county ID card and military ID.
3. As long as you’ve completed the pre-application form online you should head to the Express Lane at the bureau. Your paperwork and ID are checked and upon approval, you’ll get your marriage license. This is given to your officiant before your wedding service.
That’s it. Three steps and you’re all done.
Making sure your marriage is recognized in Canada
According to the Government of Canada website, “marriages that are legally performed in a foreign county are usually valid in Canada.” This means you shouldn’t need to register your marriage once you return to Canada.
The person conducting your ceremony must be registered to officiate weddings in the state of Nevada. Cactus Collective Weddings works with a variety of modern celebrants. They’re warm, welcoming and forward-thinking. They also have a knack for finding the right words.
Most simple elopement services last around 10-minutes and involve a welcome message, the exchange of legal vows and a few closing words. Extra readings and personal flourishes are easily added so you have what we call, ‘a custom wedding ceremony’. Custom ceremonies involve extra organization and more of the celebrant’s time, meaning the cost goes up a bit.
The Vegas wedding scene caters for a huge range of tastes and styles. The most famous are the short services in chapels or casinos on the Strip. Some venues appear to follow the mantra, “anything goes.” While this suits a particular audience, it’s not what we offer. Our alternative is saying “I do” in the great outdoors of the Nevada desert.
Valley of Fire State Park
Located around 90 minutes from Downtown Vegas, the Valley of Fire State Park is a sought-after venue. Special permits are needed for each of the four ceremony locations. And only a handful of wedding planners have those permits. Fortunately, we’re one of them. Striking red sandstone rock formations are the backdrop to your special day. Between your officiant, photographer and (if required) on-site host, we’ll make sure you get the absolute most from this naturally stunning location.
Cactus Joe’s Blue Diamond Nursery
You can’t get much more local than saying your “I do” at one of the largest cacti nurseries in Nevada. Book Cactus Joe’s Blue Diamond Nursery and your ceremony is held in a cute, hand-built pink chapel that’s big enough for the two of you, your officiant, and your closest family and friends. After the service stroll the beautifully landscaped desert garden, complete with Western-style cacti and Joshua Trees. Your photographer captures all the special moments. As the exclusive wedding permit holder for this special venue you can be certain we know all the best photo spots.
Red Rock Canyon
The natural colors at this epic desert landscape are stunning across all four seasons. From a professional photography point of view we love how much there is to play with at Red Rock Canyon, so we always get awesome photos during your wedding shoot. Cactus Collective Weddings is one of the 13 wedding companies with a commercial wedding permit to book weddings and photograph here. We’ll help you organize your service at one of the designated sites. Choose from Ash Spring, The Overlook, Red Spring, and the Visitor Center as your backdrop.
Want somewhere truly different? Consider Eldorado Canyon, aka Eldorado Canyon Ghost Town. It’s an eclectic mix of abandoned barns, retro vehicles, rusted gas pumps and the most beautiful cholla cactus field we’ve ever seen. The result is a wedding location that’s unlike anywhere else in Vegas or Nevada. If you want offbeat and irregular, this could be the location for you.
Dry Lake Bed
A flat, beige-colored landscape might not sound like the most romantic wedding venue, but Dry Lake Bed in Boulder City is the perfect blank canvas. Not only does every drop of color in your wedding day outfits, florals or extra decorations pop and look stunning, but it has a unique serenity and intimacy. Have your ceremony here and whether it’s just the two of you or a wedding party up to 50, it’s easy to feel like you and your love are the only people in the world.
Floyd Lamb State Park
A true desert oasis, the vivid green lawns, gardens and lakes in Floyd Lamb State Park are a welcome sanctuary from the Mojave Desert. At this beautiful park venue you exchange your vows at the water’s edge with Sheep and Spring Mountains within viewing distance — a reminder that the desert isn’t far away. Weddings held in the fall are especially beautiful as autumn colors sweep in.
You can find more images and information about each of these venues and any special feature venues we’re currently offering, on the locations page.
Extra touches for your day
Eloping cuts down on the number of extra touches you need to think about. But it doesn’t mean ditching every flourish. It’s still important to personalize your day. Some added extras ensure your elopement runs smoothly while others (from our experience) bring something extra special to the ceremony.
Bouquets and floral decorations
There are a few reasons why you may incorporate flowers into your day.
- Flowers are a simple way to weave your chosen color theme into decorations.
- Native flowers are a nod to your country of residence or a location that’s significant to you and your partner.
- They’re versatile, so can be used for bouquets, corsages, boutonnieres, and large and small arrangements.
- They add extra life and color to your photos.
Flowers at a desert wedding look beautiful. Every flick of color stands out against the desert backdrop, while larger blooms such as roses and proteas make a bold statement. As a little something extra, the florist we work with includes succulents in his arrangements. They wrap them carefully so you can replant them once you get home, which is a sweet memento. Just make sure you declare them as you go through customs in Canada. More information about this can be found on the Canadian Food Inspection Agency website.
Transport is one of those wedding details that’s easy to overlook. It doesn’t matter if it’s just you and your partner, or the two of you and a group of guests, you need transport to get to your venue.
For desert wedding locations like ours, we strongly recommend booking private transport. There are several options you can explore. If it’s just the two of you, you could hire a car and drive yourselves or hire a chauffeured vehicle. If you’re bringing guests, book a minibus, party bus or coach to bring everyone to your wedding venue. This avoids the risk of someone getting lost and delaying the wedding.
Hair and makeup
When you look good, you feel good which is why you might consider booking a professional to help with your hair and makeup. Ladies, you can hire a mobile professional hairdresser and makeup artist to come to your accommodation. Chaps, you may want to visit a barber for a haircut and shave. Just remember to let your service know if it’s just you, or you plus bridesmaids, groomsmen or close family.
Photography and video
One of our core beliefs at Cactus Collective Weddings is that every couple deserves beautiful, high-quality wedding photos. After all, once the celebrations are done the video and photos are what you’ll look back on. When booking this service, think about how much of your day you want your photographer or videographer to capture. You may want just the ceremony being photographed followed by an official wedding day photoshoot. If this doesn’t sound like enough, you can book these services for the whole day, so your photographer is with you from the time you start getting ready all the way through to the reception and party.
You may think the ‘cutting of the cake’ is a wedding tradition you can do without, but we think it’s a fun way to add a little personality to the day. Decadent chocolate cakes, pretty cupcakes, and even a cake made of donuts. We’ve seen it all! This extra touch is a great way to start the celebrations after your ceremony.
Live music during a ceremony creates the perfect vibe and environment for an intimate elopement. It provides entertainment for your guests as they gather and await your arrival and during the signing of the marriage register. Your musician may also take requests, giving you a chance to hear a piece of music that’s significant to you and your partner.
Find more inspiration on how to personalize your day on our Extra Touches page.
Where to stay — for couples and guests
Las Vegas has a range of accommodation styles that suits all destination wedding budgets. If it’s your first time here search for accommodation on The Strip, Fremont Street and Downtown. These areas put the bright lights, shows, restaurants, bars, clubs and casinos on your doorstep.
If the Strip isn’t your scene consider nearby areas such as Summerlin, Henderson and Spring Valley. Here you’ll find comfortable, quality hotels such as Red Rock Casino and Resort, the JW Marriott and Green Valley Ranch. All of these suburbs are a short distance from Red Rock Canyon (perfect if you plan on getting out amongst nature during your trip) and are residential, so they’re quiet and relaxed. Quiet doesn’t mean dull. No matter what season you’re here, you’ll still find modern dining experiences, plenty of shopping opportunities, outdoor activities and local events.
Consider a hire car or check public transport links if you do choose to stay in one of these suburbs. Especially if you plan on visiting The Strip.
Local and nearby honeymoon ideas
Planning to honeymoon in Las Vegas city, the wider Nevada region, or hop across a state? Here are some big attractions and a few offbeat ideas on what to do and see if you’re sticking around after your wedding.
The 18b Arts District is a collection of galleries, street art, bars and theaters that stretch more than 18 blocks (hence its name). The defining feature is The Arts Factory. This converted warehouse is home to more than 20 galleries and art studios, along with small gift stores and spaces for poetry and music readings. Visit 18b.org to see what fairs, markets, shows and events are on during your visit.
Museums – Vegas style
Vegas is home to weird and wonderful museums such as the Mob Museum — the only museum in America dedicated to the history of organized crime. You’ll also find The Neon Museum in Vegas (where retired Vegas Strip neon signs RIP), Zak Bagans’ The Haunted Museum, and the Erotic Heritage Museum. This last one is home to the world’s largest sex bike. Only in Vegas, right?
State and National Parks
You may have just got married in one of the Nevada state and national parks. But exploring the various trails isn’t ideal when dressed and prepped for your wedding day.
Both Red Rock Canyon and the Valley of Fire have hiking and bike tour trails that vary in length and difficulty. Don’t fancy being that active? Enjoy one of the picnic areas for lunch and a stroll, or camp there for a few nights.
For boating, swimming or fishing try Cave Rock or Echo Canyon. Or get a glimpse of pioneer life at Buckland Station, Ward Charcoal, Ovens and Spring Mountain Ranch state parks.
Got a little more time on your hands? You’re also close to Zion National Park in Utah (around 2.5 hours drive) and Joshua Tree National Park, where the Mojave and Colorado deserts join (around 4 hours drive). Of course you must see The Grand Canyon while you’re here. It’s well-worth booking a helicopter tour from Vegas over the Grand Canyon.
Travel a little further afield to the Nevada-California border and you’ll find the stunning Lake Tahoe. The crystal clear lake, surrounding snow-capped mountains and pine forests are a recipe for romance. Driving takes around 8 hours from Vegas or you could catch a flight to Reno-Tahoe International Airport.
Some other honeymoon hotspots you’re close to while you’re near Southern California include Disneyland, Los Angeles and world famous beaches along the Pacific coastline. Well, it would be rude not to check some of these out while you’re here.
Flying from Canada to Las Vegas
There are daily flights from each of Canada’s cities to Las Vegas, making it a very accessible wedding destination. Here’s a rough idea of the flight times from each of Canada’s airports to McCarran International Airport, Las Vegas.
|Depart from||Estimated travel time|
|Ottawa||7 – 9 hours|
|Quebec City||8 – 11 hours|
|Vancouver||2.5 – 3 hours|
|Calgary||2.5 – 3 hours|
Stress-free elopements from Canada to Las Vegas
Hopefully this guide has given you a starting point as you work out whether Vegas is the right elopement destination for you. Our Ultimate Guide to Eloping in Vegas is another great resource and goes into greater detail on what it feels like to get married in Vegas, how the ceremony works, and more.
Of course, if there’s anything we can do to help you plan your Vegas elopement, contact the Cactus Collective Team.