Cupid takes aim at Las Vegas

Feb 13, 2001 6:49 AM

Nothing says romance like Valentine’s Day, and in Las Vegas the spoken words are usually "I do."

Weddings are already big business in Las Vegas, but on Valentine’s Day they take on blockbuster proportions. Thousands of couples line up each year — often literally — to tie the knot, either at the County Courthouse or in one of about 100 wedding chapels in town.

Wedding ceremonies in Las Vegas can range from a simple civil affair to a full-blown extravaganza. The city, known for its themed resorts and outrageous behavior, carries its unique brand of excess over to its wedding emporiums.

For instance, the Little White Chapel will send a "Minister on Wheels" to administer the ceremony, but if you’re in a huge hurry, you can use its Drive-Up Wedding Window, where you can exchange vows without leaving the front seat of your car or truck.

In true Las Vegas fashion, a number of chapels have Elvis on staff to croon a few tunes to the newlyweds. Selected hotels have chapels that charge $300 and up for special themes. The Excalibur, for example, will outfit you in medieval costumes for a ceremony reminiscent of Merry Olde England.

The Venetian will conduct wedding ceremonies on the gondola, and a couple of them on the bridge. At Treasure Island, adventurous couples can tie the knot on the deck of one of the pirate ships in the lagoon (presumably, without the raging battle).

The only requirements to get married in Nevada are that you must be at least 18 (though 16-year-olds can be married with parental consent). It’s so easy, no wonder more than 100,000 couples wed here each year.

Casinos, candy and cupid

If you’re already blissfully wed, or simply a die-hard romantic, there are plenty of Valentine activities around town to pique your fancy. Many of the casinos offer Valentine’s Day-related promotions, including contests, giveaways and special menus in the dining rooms.

The Grand Canal Shoppes at The Venetian has a special Valentine’s Day program, "Cupids on the Canal," through Wednesday, with prizes from its merchants and romantic cupids throughout the mall to help shoppers.

If you’re a traditionalist who believes that candy is indeed dandy, there are sweet treats all over town. The Ethel M’s stores, which sell a variety of chocolate products at about $36 a pound, are located in most of the malls and several hotel shopping arcades.

Table for two

Surveys show that Valentine’s Day is one of the top three days of the year for going to a restaurant (birthdays and Mother’s day are the other two), and there is no shortage of great dining choices in Las Vegas.

The Station Casinos will offer a variety of choices throughout the valley. Boulder Station will offer a dinner combination at three restaurants. The Guadalajara Bar & Grille will have a Lovers’ Combo dinner, a Latin Lover Brazilian lobster tail and a Mexican combination special. The Pasta Palace offers filet mignon paired with lobster tail, a New Zealand rack of lamb, or a split-roasted Cornish game hen. The Broiler will serve a choice of crab-stuffed mushroom caps or shrimp Fra Diavolo as an appetizer, and a choice of filet mignon with a petite lobster tail or a loin of lamb filled with Creole stuffing. You’ll also find sweet deals at Palace, Texas and Sunset Stations.

Another great restaurant for a romantic getaway is Ferraro’s, especially the one on West Flamingo. In addition to superb Italian cuisine, Ferraro’s features candle-light dinners accompanied by piano music.

Fly the ‘loving’ skies

  Las Vegas’ hometown airlines, National Airlines, is offering "Sweetheart of a Deal" airfare bargains throughout its entire route system from now through April 11. The sale includes fares as low as $78 roundtrip between Los Angeles and Las Vegas, $198 roundtrip between Chicago Midway and Los Angeles, $188 between Dallas/Ft. Worth and Las Vegas, and $228 roundtrip between the East Coast and the carrier’s Las Vegas-hub. The tickets must be purchased by February 16.

"These ‘sweetheart’ deals are perfect to kick-off Valentine’s Day when Las Vegas once again becomes a favorite romantic rendezvous," said Mark S. Suman, senior vice president of strategic planning. "Combined with National’s high quality service, our ‘Sweetheart of a Deal’ fares make for an unbeatable combination."

Suman noted that National Airlines was ranked above all U.S. major airlines for quality service in Conde Nast Traveler magazine’s most recent "Reader’s Choice Awards".