Las Vegas Elvis wedding: Love us tender

With a southern drawl that would melt butter, Elvis croons Love Me Tender, and we settle into our Elvis wedding vows.

The man from Memphis is walking me down the aisle. At 5'9  I'm tall, and in the glitter heels I'm wearing today I'm clearing six foot. But the King next to me is a giant, a hulk of myth and chest hair looking as good as a man can look in a flared, sequined rhinestone jumpsuit. 

With a southern drawl that would melt butter, Elvis croons Love Me Tender, and we settle into our Elvis wedding vows.  My husband promises to never be a hound dog. I pledge never to leave him at the heartbreak hotel. He vows to never have a suspicious mind, and I swear to never, ever step on his blue suede shoes. 

Elvis declares us husband and wife: my husband seals the deal with a dip and kiss and then Elvis tosses his microphone, catches it, and breaks out into a riotous version of Viva Las Vegas. We dance, Elvis brings down the roof, and the chorus ends with the three of us strutting down the aisle, arm in arm. 

A Vegas wedding (or in our case, a vow renewal) might not be everyone's cup of tea, but for us it was the perfect way to blow off steam and celebrate our wedding anniversary after a week at a Las Vegas conference. 

The day before we'd swapped our run-down room at the Excalibur for a sexy suite at The Cromwell, an upmarket hotel in the thick of things on the Strip, and right on schedule, a white stretch limo from Graceland Chapel had arrived to collect us. 

I'd been slightly worried that the sequined gold beaded mini-dress I'd selected for the occasion would be too trashy even for an Elvis-officiated wedding ceremony set for 11am, but a few nights out on the town had taught me that in comparison to a lot of ladies on the strip, I was a conservative dresser. 

And standing next to Elvis and his rhinestones, I'm practically a wallflower. When the king enters the building, all eyes are on him, and while Elvis might perform four or more ceremonies like this each hour, by golly he's on form today, a rapid-moving riot of singing and dancing and lame jokes that have us bent over double with laughter and giggling out the door with our souvenir DVD before we know it. As we leave, a double-decker tourist bus drives past, the occupants rushing to pap us. We wave. If you get married in Vegas, there's no point being shy: you've simply got to own it. 

And own it we did. There's only one way to cap off an 11am wedding with the King, and that's in a fog of eating, drinking and gambling, pushing Sin City's limits in the ultimate Vegas anniversary blowout. 

Forget your fancy high-end restaurants and champagne toasts; in honour of Elvis, we head to Yardbird Southern Bar and Grill at The Venetian casino, a black and white slideshow of a teenage Elvis with his guitar flickering on the white-tied walls as we feast on southern fried chicken, watermelon and waffles. 

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Back at the Cromwell, we hit the floor, my bouquet of red roses tossed next to the poker machine, the odds strangely in our favour as the numbers on the sensory-assaulting machines go up and up as the free gin and tonics keep going down. 

Despite our previous declaration not to gamble, we fritter away our greenbacks, the machines in front of us a hysterical whir of lights and sound and then suddenly we need cake. 

Cashing out, we set out into the heat in search of baked goodness. On the way, my husband says no to matching tattoos (a brief moment of reason trumping our lack of sobriety), yes to a picture with some folk in town for NASCAR that weekend (the fascination with each other's attire was mutual), and then there's a small public disagreement about the need to purchase a 'lucky seven' of cupcakes from the Sprinkles cupcake ATM to ensure our future happiness.  

Then we get distracted by the nearest shiny thing we see: the High Roller, Vegas's giant observation wheel. Entombed in the capsule and high on vanilla frosting, we sprout lines from Swingers and The Hangover as the wheel slowly spins us through the scorch of a sunset sky: by the time we finish our revolution the lights of Vegas spark and flicker as Sin City wakes up for the weekend. 

Of course, no Vegas anniversary weekend would be complete without seeing a show. We've missed Santana by a week and Elton John by a month, so instead we see Britney Spears, a coup for me and a gag prize for my husband.  

From there, it gets blurry. There are lost hours of gambling, dancing, and drinking, the only evidence a timeshare brochure and a wallet mysteriously filled with more cash than we left the hotel with. 

True love however takes many forms, and at 3am, my husband shows his devotion by heading out to Jimmy Buffett's Margaritaville for burgers when I simply can't walk any further in my high heels.

Delighted with our greasy take-away, we settle back in our suite in fluffy bathrobes, a styrofoam container of sweet potato fries to share, a rerun of Shrek on the flat screen TV, and a congratulatory bottle of Moet from the hotel open on the bedside table. 

Sin City might not be everyone's choice of a perfect, romantic destination, but it was unapologetically ours, and while we never thought of ourselves as Vegas people, we'd found our own little slice of anniversary bliss in Paradise, Nevada. 

TRIP NOTES:

MORE INFORMATION 

lasvegas.com 

GETTING THERE

Qantas connect to Las Vegas via Los Angeles with flights from $1539 See www.qantas.com.au or phone 13 13 13.

STAYING THERE

The Cromwell offers 188 boutique hotel rooms with online bookings from $104USD ($135AUD). See www.caesars.com/cromwell 

SAYING "I-DO" THERE 

Graceland Wedding Chapel has traditional and Elvis-officiated wedding packages from $199USD ($260AUD). 

See gracelandchapel.com for further information

EATING THERE:

Yardbird Southern Bar and Grill: The Venetian, 3355 S Las Vegas Boulevard www.runchickenrun.com

Sprinkles Cupcake ATM: The Linq, 3545 S Las Vegas Boulevard www.sprinkles.com

Jimmy Buffett's Margaritaville The Flamingo 3555 Las Vegas Boulevard www.margaritavillelasvegas.com

The writer travelled with the assistance of the Las Vegas Convention and Visitor's Authority, Graceland Chapel and Caesar's Entertainment

See also: How to travel solo in Las Vegas (without gambling)

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