The instant insanity approach

(Unsplash / Kirstyn Paynter)

"I go to the buffet every day. Free of charge! Yes, free. My husband and I play the slot machines for an hour or so daily, so we take advantage of the buffet at lunchtime only. We go for free because we play the slots faithfully. Then I go home and cook dinner!"

The conversation in the airport shuttlebus was interesting. The speaker, an older Filipino lady, sat next to me, and her daughter accompanied her. I learned that home for them was in the suburbs of Las Vegas. Since I had visited Las Vegas a few times but many years ago, I had a teensy knowledge of Fremont Street, the strip, and a few particular casinos.

One of my trips had included a stay at the now-no-more Riviera Hotel. I told my seatmates that back then there was a TV monitor in the elevator lobby that broadcast live from the hotel's wedding chapel. "Would you want your wedding broadcast to any stranger who happened to walk by?" I asked.

"No, I wouldn't," responded the daughter, "but that's the culture of Las Vegas. It's easy and convenient to get married there. Weddings are done 24 hours a day. If you decide, say at 2:15 a.m., that you want to get married, you can readily find an all-night wedding chapel complete with justice-of-the-peace and persons who will witness your ceremony. You just rent those persons if you aren't accompanied by your own friends. You rent the witnesses just like you rent bride-and-groom attire, flowers, a photographer, and transportation. The service includes the marriage certificate plus a video, if you want to include that. So it's a one-stop-wedding-shop, 24 hours a day."

The mother chimed in, "But you have to be really careful. Photographers can charge as much as $3,000. Newlyweds, beware!"

"I got married six years ago in Las Vegas," continued the daughter, "but we didn't do any of that. My husband and I planned out everything for an entire year, so we had all the arrangements made long in advance for everything we wanted, including friends who served as best man and maid of honor. You really can do a normal wedding in Las Vegas if you don't choose the instant insanity approach."

[Nancy Linenkugel is a Sylvania Franciscan sister and chair of the department of Health Services Administration at Xavier University, Cincinnati.]

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