The Elvis wedding

May 17, 2009

I’ve been to quite a few weddings over the past few years and have written about most of them. The one last week in Las Vegas took the cake. As I went through the event, it was a bit shocking, but in retrospect saw it as Performance Art, which may or may not have been intentional.

We flew into Vegas around noon on Friday, in time to get to the Palms to see the Imax showing of the new Star Trek movie (terrific!). Afterwards we went upstairs to their blissfully smoke-free lounges for a light lunch. We were surprised that there wasn’t any gathering of the clan for a dinner and party, the night before the wedding, so we took the opportunity to go to Fleur de Lys for an elegant dinner. We were shocked to see the enormous piece of wall art that features 3500 pink roses in little vials with water, that are kept fresh every day by some dedicated worker. This seemed mind-boggling for being out in the middle of the desert.

We stayed in the Luxor which was fine. The smoky casinos really bugged me this time. The view from the 21st floor was amazing. One takes “inclinators” to traverse the pyramid, not elevators. Daniel referred to the experience as a cross between a subway and an elevator. On the way back to the room we stumbled upon the bride and groom, drinking with friends at one of the many elegant bars. We chatted for a while, and I turned in early.

The next morning we got to spend time in the spa and get deep-tissue massages. Finally, we got some direction as to a group activity: we were to meet near the exit at 4:45 to go to the chapel. The small group took taxis to the Graceland Chapel, where we were let out and led back behind the building to a parking lot, where the groom was already visiting with his family and friends, drinking beer. “Tailgating” is the term they used. Luke warm Coors lite isn’t my idea of a civilized offering, but to go with the flow, I had one.

It was a surreal event: drinking beer in the back of the Graceland Chapel, waiting for the groups ahead of us to finish. It was a warm night. There we were across the street from a bail bonds shop, and a store called WEED, next to a couple of out of business offices. After a half hour, the bride arrived in the white limo with her girl friends. She stayed in the limo, to pump the drama of her exit. And when she finally came out she had a cigarette that she kept dramatically gesturing around, making us feel as though she were going to put a hole in her dress. No, it was just part of the act. The bride is an actress, and a very good one. Her face is quite expressive, and she used those two assets all night long.

Finally, we were whisked into the little chapel. We all took our places with great anticipation. We were warned no photography or recordings could be made, as there were already 3 cameras in various places around the room, for a DVD copy of the service.

The groom walked in and proceeded to the front to wait. Then, a fellow, who turned out to be the officiant, appeared at the back. A chunky pleasant fellow with a gray suit and a book in his hand. Then, the bride walked in. The officiant stood in front of the bride to explain what was about to happen. “Who are you?” We heard her say. “Why are you telling me this?” More mumbling.

Then Elvis walked in. He chatted with the bride. The accompaniment to “Falling in Love Again” kicked in. Elvis offered his arm to the bride and they walked up the very short aisle to the front, while Elvis tried to sing (the arrangement was out of his range, but no matter: the reverb and slapback was effective).

There were some amusing dramatic moments in the exchange of the vows. When asked to be faithful forever, she looked at us with a puzzled expression, then at the officiant, and said “I guess that’s a YES.” And to “…until death do us part?” she responded “How ’bout two years? five years? YES!” The groom later groused that she got more laughs than he did. Well, she did.

The after-wedding party was at the Stratosphere a few miles away on the 103rd floor. A stunning view. Being the snob I seem to be, the libations were wanting in quality, so I drank water until around midnight and then decided that we would return to the Luxor. The bride, and her new sisters-in-law had disappeared into the ladies lounge, and the smell of smoke was coming through the door. Fearless, I walked in to say goodnight to our wild bride who was already three or four sheets to the wind. ROGER BOURLAND! THERE ARE 364 OTHER NIGHTS OF THE YEAR FOR YOU TO SLEEP AND TONIGHT IS NOT ONE OF THEM. YOU ARE NOT LEAVING! I smiled and gestured a little kiss. Was THAT an air kiss? she furiously yelled. I leaned closer and kissed her on the lips. Then, one by one, all the other smoking women, came up and gave me a kiss as well. I heard them all agree that “I only have ever kissed my husband, how cool!” I cut it short after doing the rounds, but then the door flew open and a furious staff member came in yelling that he was going to press charges about their smoking in the girls room. They all put out their butts and fled. A few minutes later, police appeared, went in, started laughing, and then left.

Although we promised to meet up with the bride and groom back at the Luxor, we never found them. The bride was last scene shooting craps in the casino in her wedding dress. What a character and what a weekend!

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