Eriess Davis didn’t want a traditional wedding. No conservative music and rows of unfamiliar guests. She wanted A Little White Chapel, in glitzy Las Vegas.
Wearing a mini-dress, Davis marched with her boyfriend, clad in black jeans, through a set of gold elevator doors and into a waiting room where they could buy garters, memory books and bride and groom baseball caps.
For her, Valentine’s Day 2011 was the perfect date.
“It’s the day of love,” Davis, 23, said as she and Matthew Jacobs, 23, waited for a minister.
It may be. But there’s not much of it going around these days for wedding chapels in a city known for quickie marriages.
Fewer than 92,000 couples married in or around Sin City in 2010. It was 1993 when fewer people were married in the area.
Nevada wedding professionals and officials insist the love recession is not a reflection of Las Vegas’ waning popularity. Instead, they blame the foul economy and the ebbing interest in marriage.
“The volume is down,” said Joni Moss, a longtime Las Vegas wedding planner and founder of the Nevada Wedding Association, a business group. “The number speaks for itself. And people are just spending less.”
Marriages peaked in Clark County in 2004, when 128,250 couples tied the knot. Fewer people said “I do” in each subsequent year.
Local governments, which issue marriage licenses, are feeling the pain.
Clark County made more than $7 million in 2004. Last year, wedding-related revenue fell to roughly $5.5 million. Coupled with declining property taxes, the wedding bust is a real heartache, the county said.
“It is a major part of the tourism,” County Clerk Diana Alba said.
To help offset declining revenue, Alba’s office stopped offering 24-hour wedding licenses in 2006, she said.
“The marriage demographic is aging,” she said. “The baby boomer generation is all getting old. Marriage goes in and out of fashion, and I think right now it is not as fashionable to get married.”