Wow…I don’t quite know where to start writing this post! There are so many little details, emotions and memories that go through my head when I think about our special day that I think I’ll just have to let the photographs do most of the talking as I couldn’t possibly write them all down.
I guess I should start by setting the scene. Ian and I have been together for almost ten years after meeting at university. Two years ago on my birthday, he proposed to me with a beautiful diamond ring next to a lake whilst we were camping and I of course said yes! We decided to elope with close friends and family and tie the knot in Las Vegas. In case you were wondering why we decided to take this slightly untraditional option, I wrote about it here and here.
Anyway, it was my birthday the night before our wedding (28…argh!) but we got to bed at a reasonable time and woke up at about 7 the next morning. Now I know traditionalists will take a sharp intake of breath here as the bride and groom aren’t meant to see each other on the morning of the wedding but we didn’t take any notice of that! Partly because we were staying together in a hotel, but also because I didn’t want to spend the night on my own and actually wanted to wake up next to Ian and spend the morning together.
Luckily our parents and my brother were all staying in the same hotel so we popped along to their rooms and opened some cards and presents with them. Then Ian and I headed downstairs and went for breakfast together, although I don’t think either of us really managed to eat anything!
I have to say it was lovely to have this hour or so together before the events of the day really got started, rather than being kept apart and wondering what the other one was doing and feeling. I think it helped keep us both calmer too.
After some caffeine, it was back up to our room for showers and manicures (me, not Ian!) until there was a knock on the door and my best friend Lu arrived, armed with her ‘Wedding Morning Survival Kit’…
Then it was time for Ian to take his stuff to his parents’ room to get ready while I sat chatting and laughing with Lu and my Mum as we got ready. At this point, we had one of those surreal moments where we couldn’t quite believe that the three of us were in a hotel room together in Vegas getting ready for my wedding!
About 45 minutes before we had to leave, my Mum left to get ready in her room and Lu had a hair straightening emergency when she couldn’t get her GHDs to work so ran down to our hotel’s salon for a quick blow dry, leaving me on my own for about 20 minutes to finish my hair and make-up and put my dress on. Although it wasn’t planned, this little bit of alone time was actually lovely and I could just focus on getting ready and have a moment to myself while people around me were flapping! I actually managed to stay really cool and calm all day which I wasn’t expecting.
The only time I did risk ruining my eye make-up was when I gave Lu her gift, a beautiful bangle set, to say thank you for being there for me on the day and we both got a bit teary so had a quick shot of rum (me) and tequila (Lu) before we left the room!
We met the rest of the wedding party in the lobby and I have to say how handsome all the boys looked and how glamorous us ladies looked! A white stretch limousine was waiting for us so we piled in and it was a short drive to the wedding chapel.
We chose to get married in A Special Memory Wedding Chapel, which is located downtown amongst the other little chapels. I had read lots of positive reviews about this one in particular and was really impressed with the service from start to finish. If you want any more information about it or getting married in Vegas then do drop me an email and I will be more than happy to pass on my tips!
Although there were only the 8 of us for the ceremony, the chapel gave us their biggest and nicest room so people took their seats whilst my Dad and I waited outside the room. I had butterflies in my stomach but I do remember my Dad turning to me and saying not to worry because this marriage wouldn’t count in the UK at which point I had to correct him and inform him that this was in fact the real deal!
We walked down the aisle to Bright Eyes’ ‘First Day of My Life’ which is a sweet acoustic song with really beautiful lyrics and I just remember everyone smiling, the sun streaming in through the stained glass windows and how handsome Ian looked!
The ceremony is now a bit of a blur but I remember how nervous Ian looked and how I just wanted to give him a big hug! We both got through our vows with only a few tears (Ian!) and then the minister said those magic words and I could give my husband a big kiss and hug before walking back down the aisle to Ian’s favourite song, ‘Mr Jones’ by the Counting Crows. The ceremony was everything I wanted it to be – sweet, emotional, romantic and really personal.
After we had hugged and kissed everyone, it was time for the photos. Now, I love taking photos but don’t particularly like being in them so I found the instructions to ‘look lovingly into Ian’s eyes’ and the constant kissing photos to be a bit cringe worthy and we both got the giggles at one point but I guess it was worth it as we have some lovely pictures to remember the day! Here are some of our favourites from the professional photographer:
And a few iPhone ones for good measure!
I should have mentioned that it was over 40°C in Las Vegas that day so in the outside photos we were literally melting! After our faces started to ache from smiling, we decided it was time to eat so it was back into our limo, up the Las Vegas Strip and to the Bellagio for lunch. Completely by coincidence (although I like to think maybe Ian planned it for me!), the Bellagio fountains were mid-performance when we drove up which was stunning…look how excited I was!
We met a couple more friends outside the hotel then walked through the casino to the Bellagio Buffet. There were several reasons behind choosing this place to eat. Firstly, it is probably the best buffet in Las Vegas and most of the reviews and every person I have spoken who has eaten there has said it is amazing. Secondly, between our families, we are a bunch of very fussy eaters so I felt that a buffet would be the perfect solution to ensure people could just choose exactly what they wanted and if someone just wanted to eat a plate of puddings then that would be fine too!
As it turns out the food was INCREDIBLE! When you think of buffets, you may think of huge trays that have been sat underneath hot lights for ages slowly drying out and mass catered food that has not had a lot of love or thought put into it. Well, the Bellagio couldn’t be more different and the quality is like that of a high-end restaurant with different food stations dotted around offering different cuisines.
There were Japanese chefs making fresh prawn, salmon, tuna and crab sushi and two different types of seaweed salad (my favourite!), 5 different types of mini sliders made with top grade beef, huge racks of ribs and different cuts of roasted meat being carved up on request by chefs, salads, cheese, meats, antipasti and several soups with different varieties of breads. There was home-cooked style food which included creamy, buttery mashed potato, bacon and great fried chicken. There was an Italian-inspired area where you could get a variety of pastas in different sauces or a slice of one of their pizzas and a huge carved ice block which was bursting with king prawns…I think I counted at least 20 of these on my Dad’s plate alone!
Then it was time for the puddings and they certainly did not disappoint. I purposely made sure I left a good amount of room for these as I knew I wouldn’t be able to choose just one and I am ashamed to say I had 5! Although in my defence they were mini-puddings and if you can’t splurge on your wedding day then when can you?! I had baked cheesecake with a salted caramel sauce, a pecan pie, cream puff, hazelnut chocolate brownie and a mini éclair filled with the most delicious creamy lemon filling.
We washed all of this food down with a never-ending supply of margaritas and had the best couple of hours there eating and drinking with our nearest and dearest. The laid-back buffet style suited us perfectly and it meant we could have a leisurely lunch with a little break in between plates to make room for some more!
After lunch, we headed back to our hotel and crashed out for a couple of hours with plans to meet up again that night to visit Fremont Street. I was quite sad to take off my wedding dress as I felt absolutely gorgeous in it but I did bring a second dress to wear that evening which I called ‘Wedding Dress Number 2’!
We all caught the bus downtown to Fremont Street and arrived just in time to catch their light show. Fremont Street is effectively a mall in the downtown area of Las Vegas and is where all the casinos and bright lights started. As the newer and bigger casinos moved up to The Strip, Fremont Street became rather run down until the area was completely revamped and now it comes alive at night!
Despite the claim that the Las Vegas lights never go out, on the hour the shops in Fremont Street dim their lights ready for the light show that is shown on an overhanging roof canopy in the main street. This is loud, fun and bright and really captivating. The casinos down here don’t tend to have a theme like the ones on The Strip do and they are very much old-school Vegas with lots of neon and bright lights.
One other reason that Fremont Street is now so popular is the free concerts that are held. There are two main outdoor stages and most nights there are bands playing. We saw the most amazing live band the night we went down who played a collection of covers from the 1990s and 2000s. We danced and drank beer for hours and if you go to Las Vegas I definitely recommend making the trip down here!
We caught the bus back up The Strip to our hotel and decided to get off at The Bellagio to watch the fountains at night. Each performance is set to a different piece of music, from opera and classical pieces to modern rock songs.
The fountains are truly stunning and watching them with my new husband stood next to me was the perfect end to our day.