The Chapel of Love described in The Dixie Cups’ biggest hit could well be Arch of Reno, the premier wedding chapel in the Biggest Little City in the World. Owners Vic and Kathy toured me through the place where birds sing, flowers bloom, and the sun shines every day of the year. Thousands of couples marry at Arch of Reno every year. They declare their love for eternity and fulfill the song’s more modest dream that “we’ll never be lonely anymore.”
People come from all over the world to play in Nevada. When that euphoria bubbles into love, Nevada makes it famously easy to tie the knot. Arch of Reno makes weddings even easier by offering one-stop full marriage services to suit any budget. It’s fast, easy, and inexpensive yet still memorable.
Here’s how to get married at Arch of Reno. First, find someone you want to marry. Most of their marriages are folks from out-of-state, on holiday, feeling good.
Second, walk into Arch of Reno’s downtown chapel or their chapel at The Sands Casino. Arch of Reno’s limo will drive the happy couple to the State of Nevada Marriage Bureau. It’s only a three-block ride, but the limo adds a classy touch. Since the bureau is open, by law, from 8 a.m. until midnight 365 days a year, there’s a good chance you won’t have to wait. Show a driver’s license or photo ID, pay $60 and walk away with permission to marry.
Return to Arch of Reno and determine how lavish you want the wedding to be. The basic package, $89, includes a ceremony in their small chapel. The tastefully decorated room accommodates up to 12 people, though you don’t need to provide any guests: Arch of Reno always has two legal witnesses on hand. However, you may want to ante up the basic package with flowers, rings, or a champagne toast. The bride may rent a wedding dress, the groom a tuxedo, or at least a tux T-shirt. If you do have a crowd of guests, you can move up to the larger, 60-person chapel. The add-ons can add up, but compared to a full-blown wedding / reception, Arch of Reno is still a bargain.
The wedding official, usually Vic, asks the couple a few questions. Do you want to have a prayer? Do you wish to make personal statements? Do you want to embellish traditional vows? He covers culturally sensitive issues, like whether public touching or kissing is appropriate. Arch of Reno can also add religious icons to their non-sectarian chapels a cross; a crescent; a Star of David.
After the wedding parameters are established, the bride and groom prepare. Fitting the bride to her dress is often the longest single activity in the process. Kathy reports, “Wedding dress makers are cruel. They label dresses four sizes smaller. The bride insists she’s a twelve, but cannot fit into a twelve.” But getting the dress and hair right is worth the trouble. “For most of our couples, this is the first time they’ve ever seen each other in a long dress or tuxedo.” The bride and groom come together and get married. Dreams are fulfilled. Memories made.
Since Kathy and Vic orchestrate 200 memorable events a month, they are rich in stories. Last weekend they performed a double wedding; a mother got married for the second time with her daughter getting married for the first. One family had all three of their daughters marry at Arch of Reno. “We had one woman, a Bridezilla, on New Year’s Eve. She was so difficult. Kept changing her mind on the dress, the jewelry, the hair. She was so unhappy. A few months later she returned, brought a friend to marry here, and apologized for being such trouble.”
Fortunately, Arch of Reno doesn’t get a lot of repeat business, but they do get lots of referrals. “What we hear all the time is, ‘This is so much better than we thought it would be.’”
I asked Kathy and Vic how the wedding chapel business is changing. “There are always new wrinkles. We do commitment ceremonies for people who don’t want full-blown marriage, and, of course, same sex weddings are an added business. But our total numbers have dropped since California legalized Indian gaming. The casinos in Tahoe changed Reno’s entire economy. Still, all of those changes are secondary to the basic reality that people like to get married. At Arch of Reno, we are inexpensive, yet classy.”
How will we live tomorrow?
“People want simplicity. We meet so many people who regret having a big event. Simplicity is going to rule.” – Kathy
“Save the pageantry for television.” – Vic