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I love Red Rock Canyon. The year I turned 29 in Las Vegas, I drove out to visit the blazing red faces of the canyon on my birthday. I was feeling so melancholy, and a bit nostalgic, I guess. I always thought it might be cool to get married in Red Rock. There are many companies that do it: they bring you in a car, limo, helicopter or horse; however you please. As much as I love nature, it just didn’t seem like it would work. It was hot, far from the Strip and god: the red dust! Can you imagine? It just wasn’t for us.

Luckily, I heard about the Springs Preserve. It struck a balance. It was close to the Strip, recognized Las Vegas history (the preserve marks the spot where a natural spring water source was found. It was the thing that originally drew people to Vegas before gambling did.) and has beautiful xeric gardens of desert plants. Historical, ecological and affordable. The holy grail for me!

I visited in July 2009 for a site visit, and was impressed by what I saw. I also melted under the sun, even though it was just 10am. That could have been the tequila from the night before winding it’s way out of my body, though.

"cactus alley"

"cactus alley" My tour guide said they held a wine tasting there once.

garden path

garden path leading to the arboretum

The Springs Preserve is 180 acres of natural landscape, trails, gardens and educational buildings that came into being a few years ago. It’s just a few miles off the Strip, on historic land. The vision was to preserve some of Las Vegas history, but also to move towards a sustainable future. Although the land has been recognized as a historical site for 30 years, it was only recently that it was shaped into a museum of sorts. There is an actual natural spring on the land, and it was the reason people started living in Las Vegas to begin with. Because what does a desert need more than water?

main rotunda

main rotunda. oh, the photo potentials!

I can’t say enough about the place. I would revisit it again in a heartbeat to fully explore the trails and exhibits. I only got a forty-five minute tour from one of the party planners, but she was so luminous and exuberant (as were all the other staff we met) I can only imagine what fun it is to work there or have an event there.

They hold lectures and classes on desert landscaping and xeric gardening, yoga classes, bird watching tour, outdoor movies, as well as huge (Cirque du Soleil launch parties) and small events (a four person vow renewal). There is Wolfgang Puck catering on site, and an array of gardens and indoor spaces to hold an event. All guests get access to all of the displays and gardens when they attend events as well.

Oh, and the thing that I thought was the coolest? The desert organism exhibits which displayed tarantulas, scorpions and other desert lifeforms. I happen to collect such creepy crawlers. If that isn’t Kelly, I don’t know what is.

Gardens Ampitheatre

Gardens Arboretum

Gardens Arboretum

Sky through the Desert Living Centre Rotunda

Entrance to the ORIGEN

Inside the ORIGEN rotunda

Museum in the ORIGEN. The exhibit rotates.

Inside the ORIGEN.

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The wedding is in Las Vegas. That much is clear at this point. With a sh!tstorm of other things going on at the same time, I am finding it hard to think of small details that will Vegas-ify our wedding which is starting to feel less Vegas-y.

But last night, I thought it would be good to look up interesting entertainers to accompany us into our reception venue. Because what is Vegas if not a home to impersonators, entertainers, magicians, singers, dancers, and…Elvis?

I used gigmasters to look up different Elvis impersonators in the Las Vegas area. There are many. Like, over 50. They all have different eras, song catalogues and of course, fees. Some have been doing this for years, others are new to the business. Many have received accolades in Elvis impersonation contests, some have starred as Elvis in commercials.

Anyhow, last night at 11pm I put out for quotes on gigmasters for a few Elvii. At 8 am this morning – VALENTINES DAY, MIND YOU – I got a call back from a booking agent. Half groggy, I listened to the manager’s sales pitch on how great this particular Elvis was, how it was miraculous he was free etc etc.

After 10 minutes of listening, I promptly fell back to sleep, and dreamt. Of Elvis.

♫ Taaaaake myyyyyy haaaaaandddddd….. ♫

In front of the Neon Boneyard

Title: "In front of the Neon Boneyard" (ed note: and infront of an amazing car)

Welcome to Danske‘s wedding vow renewal, done on her third anniversary…at a drive thru wedding chapel, in the front seat of a Volkswagen Jetta in Las Vegas.

Aforementioned Jetta, with groom and drive-thru window

Aforementioned Jetta, with groom and drive-thru window

I found Danske’s photos on Flickr, and they are lovely. To top it off, all of these photos are Polaroids. Man, screw proposing to my boyfriend, how can I propose to and marry this girl?

Back seat photographer

Back seat photographer

Danske may be better known as one half of the team that designs the headbands at Ban.do. It’s no surprise she has such great taste.

Source: Danske on Flickr

Las Vegas Sun

An overview of the Strip as it was in 2007. This is an interactive map you can use to view casinos from 1930 until today. Credit: Las Vegas Sun

As someone who works in media (newspapers) I like to stay abreast of what other newspapers are doing, especially online. It’s a format all newspapers have embraced and are trying to make their own.

The Las Vegas Sun is leading the field. I could expound on the virtues of their site and how much I want to work for them many times over, but I’ll try to keep it simple. The area they excel in is online breaking news microreporting (ie; they are covering your neighbourhood and all the news that is relevant to you as it happens.) They do this not only in traditional text reporting, but also in video, photos and other online multimedia.

Of course, Las Vegas is, well, VEGAS, and it has a lot of history behind it, which has been documented since the start. The Las Vegas Sun’s site has a whole section that covers the history of the Strip, as well as downtown and valley casinos. They talk about celebrities, construction, even mob ties.

I’ve already professed my love for maps, so you can guess what my favourite feature is; the zoomable, clickable, timelined casino history maps. They even feature non Strip hotels, which are just as important in Las Vegas, but obviously are not seen as much by many visitors.

Las Vegas Sun

You can click on any of the hotels for an info box like this. Credit: Las Vegas Sun

If you are having your wedding in Vegas, or are even considering a trip there, I highly recommend you check this section of their site out. It’s highly informative and very interactive. It would be a great place to link to if you have a wedding website and want to give your guests a bit of background on the city. Even residents and people who have been to Vegas multiple times will probably learn something new about Las Vegas.

Source: Las Vegas Sun Vegas history microsite

Overview and close up view of my favourite area on the Las Vegas Strip

Overview and close up view of my favourite area on the Las Vegas Strip

While the name is odd and confusing, I have to say the product Onion Maps puts out is kind of cool. I’ve seen a few well done wedding websites with detailed maps and directions on them, or even hand drawn maps in invites. I love maps. I actually seriously considered becoming a geographer or cartographer for a long time, but stuck with science.

Onion Maps does detailed drawings of major cities around the world. A few of my favourites on their list; Bangkok, Tokyo, Seattle…and of course, Las Vegas. I thought it would make a nice, different addition to a wedding information website. A little bit different than Google Maps or even Google Earth streetview images.

Source: Onion Maps

I think the general consensus when people think wedding and Las Vegas is an Elvis officiated quickie wedding, attended by a handful of loved ones and witnesses. Hell, I held this viewpoint for a long time, even after having been to Vegas almost a half dozen times. However, I have to admit I’ve long been coveting a Vegas wedding…I love that city.

But, onto my post! What we have here folks, is the most “Vegas” wedding I’ve seen to date. It could also probably be filed in the “things I’ll never have” box, but that’s okay, it’s not quite my style. I usually shrug my shoulders at so-called platinum weddings; I find little inspiration in their over-the-topness and I sometimes find them cold and, well, I can’t stop thinking about the cost. Ugh. But this one was a little different. Sure, it was a production. A complete show. Near spectacle! Oddly, even though it was pretty over the top (even by Vegas standards) everyone seemed so down to earth and authentic in the video clip I watched (link below), and just there to celebrate the couple, the families and life at a huge ass party.

The wedding took place in September 2007, and was held at the Bellagio and Stirling Club. Minnesotans Deepak Nath and Sarah Hlavka wed in an event that is up amongst Vegas’ most expensive at over $1 million (click here for more on the nitty gritty costs on Robin Leach’s Luxe Life blog.) The groom covered the cost.

21 groomsman and 11 bridesmaids. 650 guests were entertained by Bollywood performers, Cirque du Soleil acts, pyrotechnics and an elephant. Yes, ELEPHANT! Plus, I think it was catered by Charlie Palmer.

There was a film crew that shot the event and a photographer that documented the events over two days. What a blast. I hope everyone having a Vegas wedding that’s this fun and party-like, no matter their budget or number of guests.

Oh, and I hope everyone gets an elephant visit, too! 🙂

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Love the criss cross table styles.