Love Me Tender

Getting hitched by the King himself makes for a memorable marriage.

Crooning the somehow strangely appropriate line “Wise men say, only fools rush in…” into his wireless mike, a chunky Elvis impersonator in a black sequined jumpsuit and oversize shades escorts my beaming bride down the aisle to meet me. As the King steps up onto the modest altar it’s clear by the look on our faces that, even though this Elvis is an imitation, the emotions here are very real.

In a city built on pimping a never-ending parade of over-the-top spectacles, Las Vegas’ Graceland Wedding Chapel is equal parts quaint and kitsch. And it’s precisely this decidedly old-school Vegas vibe that brings thousands of fun-loving couples like us here to get hitched every year.

Located amid pawn shops and bail bond joints on a less-than-glamorous stretch of Las Vegas Boulevard north of the Strip, this humble building with the tall steeple and white picket fence has been turning out newlyweds for more than 50 years. But while the Graceland Wedding Chapel was the first to offer wedding ceremonies performed by an Elvis impersonator, it’s now far from the only game in town.

That said, I’m convinced the original is still the best because the Elvis who performed our vow renewal ceremony—a.k.a. Norm Jones—is more than just a guy with a glitzy wardrobe and a serious set of muttonchop sideburns. Jones also happens to be this town’s only Elvis impersonator who’s also a fully-ordained minister, giving him the unique distinction of being the only faux Elvis that can both perform at your ceremony and perform the ceremony itself.

You might expect a wedding officiated over by a guy in full King of Rock-‘n-Roll regalia to be nothing but nonstop silly. But while this is definitely a fun experience, Jones also brings a heartfelt touch to every ceremony that recognizes marriage as the momentous decision it is.

An average day will see 10 couples tying the knot here, and that number can grow tenfold on busy weekends or holidays like New Years’ or Valentine’s Day. While most of these newlyweds are just average folks looking for a memorable way to tie the knot or reaffirm their vows, the chapel has also played host to a long list of celebrity nuptials including Jon Bon Jovi and Aaron Neville.

Like those more famous entertainers, Jones knows every show needs a big finale. After our “I Do’s” were done, my wife and I linked arms with the King and strutted back down the aisle to a rousing rendition of Viva Las Vegas! Even many years and countless Vegas visits later, we both agree it was the most fun thing we’ve ever done here in this over-the-top oasis. Long live the King!

The Facts
Name: Graceland Wedding Chapel
Location: 619 Las Vegas Blvd. South, Las Vegas NV
Phone: 800-824-5732
Website: www.gracelandchapel.com

My Advice

  • If you’re offered a choice of Elvis at your ceremony, in my book the older, more substantial King in the full sequined jumpsuit beats the younger swivel-hipped version every time.
  • Weddings here are strictly come-as-you-are affairs, meaning everything from jeans and baseball caps to full-on costume dress is acceptable. Heck, you can even come in a tux and wedding gown if you’re feeling really wild.
  • Like most Vegas wedding chapels, everything from flowers to photos and videos are available for an extra fee. You can also request your favorite Elvis songs for the ceremony.
  • Vow renewal ceremonies like ours are relatively straightforward. If you’re looking to get hitched for real, however, you’ll need to visit the Clark County Courthouse (200 South Third Street, 702-455-4415) beforehand to pick up a wedding license.