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Candlelight Wedding Chapel restored!

 

 

 

The Candlelight Wedding Chapel on the Las Vegas Strip

 

From the Las Vegas Sun:

It survived a tricky journey across town, required more than $250,000 in renovation, including a new steeple, scavenged furnishings and electrical rewiring.

But when you’re a 1966 wedding chapel — old by Las Vegas standards — and you have a few stories to tell, somebody’s bound to love you.

That’s pretty much how it unfolded for the Candlelight Wedding Chapel, a quaint, free-standing churchlike structure with steep roof lines that sat four decades on Las Vegas Boulevard.

Originally Little Church of the West Algiers and then All Religions Wedding Chapel, it was the first chapel with an 800 number and limo service. It married so many couples daily that a side door was installed to usher out fresh newlyweds so they wouldn’t bump into wedding parties making their formal procession down the aisle.

When its land was sold to the Fontainebleau project, the chapel sat empty until its former operator, Gordon Gust, scooped it up and gave it to the Clark County Museum.

On Saturday the chapel officially becomes a new exhibit on the museum’s Heritage Street and opens to the public with a party, complete with live music, wedding cake and photo ops for couples who were married at the chapel.

“It’s one of those things you don’t think of as history, but it’s important here,” says Mark Hall-Patton, administrator of the Clark County Museum. “Five percent of all marriages in the United States are held in Clark County. That’s one out of 20 marriages.”

Grants from the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors’ Authority and the Nevada Cultural Affairs Commission paid for the renovation, a project of the county’s 2009 Centennial celebration.

It arrived at the museum in 2007. Renovation began in May.

The Candlelight Wedding Chapel when it arrived at the Clark County Museum

 

The chapel is decorated to its latest incarnation (white), rather than its previous red exterior, paneled walls and red carpet. Its original pews and organ are gone and replaced with a piano and benches rescued from the county courthouse, resized and refinished.

Its large neon sign, which was added later, is across town at the Neon Museum.

Hall-Patton says museum staff had its eyes on the chapel for 10 years, identifying it as a building the museum would like to own if it ever became available. The museum is home to Heritage Street, a tree-lined gravel road hidden from Boulder Highway and flanked with rescued historic homes, a railroad depot and a print shop.

Visitors can sit on the wooden rocking chairs on the porch of the Beckley House and tour homes, each decked out to its era, each with its own nooks and crannies. They’re adorned at Christmastime and welcome trick-or-treaters on Halloween. (For Saturday’s party, the Clark County Museum Guild will serve cookies, with recipes specific to each home’s era.)

The railroad depot, taken to the site in 1976, was the first building to arrive. The oldest home is a railroad cottage (circa 1911-1914) awaiting renovation.

The chapel, inspired in design by the Little Church of the West, is its youngest structure. Celebrities married there include Bette Midler, Michael Caine, Whoopi Goldberg and Barry White.

“When we look at a building, we look at it from a standpoint that we could use it to best teach that part of our history,” he says. “In 1931 Nevada liberated both divorces and weddings. Reno got divorces. We became the wedding capital.”

Candlelight Wedding Chapel being restored

 

Special thanks to Joel Rosales at leavinglv.net and Allen Sandquist for letting us these images.

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Reader Comments (111)

I was married at this wedding chapel on June 30 1990. I'm so glad that it is still in existance! I would love to step foot in there once again to celebrate our 20th. 13 days after our marriage there my husband, a Marine, left for training, then for Desert Storm. 3 war tours to the Middle East later, we are going to celebrate our 20th. Forever in our hearts is the Candle Light Wedding Chapel. Hope to visit soon!
February 18, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterAlison
I just read the response prior, great read. Its nice to see that these wonderful places last the test of time...
March 8, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterJack and Jill Tickets
My husband and I were married at the chapel on June 30th, 1990. Did we bump into you, Allison? We plan on visiting for our 20th this year. Glad to see it's still around.
June 9, 2010 | Unregistered Commenterstephanie
My husband (John) and I had been together 15+ years when we were wed on March 2 2001 in the Candlelight Wedding Chapel. Note the easy to remember date of 3-2-01 for my husband! We were also in Vegas when the chapel was moved.I was watching the news and saw the poor chapel all covered in grafiti being towed away down the street.
Thank you Clark County for restoring that great little piece of Vegas history!
Debbie & John Weygint
June 28, 2010
June 28, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterDebra Weygint
Thank you Clarke County. My wife and I came over from England got married there on Aril 18th 2002. We were shocked to hear that it had been shut down.

We are both delighted that someone cared that much to restore it to its formal glory.

Thanks again.
July 15, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterStef Garczynski
My husband and I were married at this chapel 30 years ago last month, by Rev. Dolores Gilster. We're still happy, two children and two moves later. Visiting Las Vegas in November, and plan to visit the chapel!
October 31, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterRenee
My husband and I were married 1982 in the Candle Light Chapel, Las Vegas, Nevada. My daughter age 26 visited Las Vegas hoping to see where her mother and father were married. She found out the Candle Light Chapel had been moved to Henderson, Nevada. When she arrived at Henderson, I received a call from her cell phone letting me know she had found the Candle Light Chapel. We were all excited and glad the Candle Light Chapel is still standing. My husband and I plan to visit the Candle Light Chapel in 2012 our 30 year wedding anniversary.
November 3, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterMary Diana Henson Sutton
me and my wife were married at the chapel in nov 2001. we were shocked to see it gone when we were in vegas 2 years ago .we did not know were it ended up going now we know we will look it up next year when we celebrate 10 years of wedded bliss.
December 5, 2010 | Unregistered Commenterdavid scully
We travelled from England and married there in September 2002. It was just the two of us and we have very fond memories of how special they made our own little service for us. It was a shame that it wss closed but good to know that it's been restored. My husband and I now have two children who want to see where mummy and daddy got married! So maybe they will be able to some day.
December 6, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterA Goldsborough
Great blog and great content. Wedding is one of the most important events of a couple.
Wedding should be romantic, intimate and simple. The place should be unforgettable for when they grow old they
could reminisce and cherish those times. I also had a nice outdoor location for a wedding.
December 20, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterKaira
We were married at the Candlelight Wedding Chapel September 1991. We were very happy that this building has been restored and preserved. Thank you to all involved for saving this Las Vegas gem. We'll be visiting next year!
December 24, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterLucy Myers
My husband and I exchanged our wedding vows at this chapel December 31st, 1990. We will be celebrating 20 years together this New Year's Eve. Wish they still offered the t-shirt that says "We Were Married at Candlelight Wedding Chapel" mine is getting a little bit worn out. Glad to see it is being restored and hope to return to Vegas for our 25th.
December 29, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterDiann
My Wife and I were married by Rev. Delores 26 years ago as of Feb 6, 2010. It's been an amazing time with her through the good times and the tough one and I'm glad we started it all off with such historical ceremonies. I wish we could have gone back and renewed our vows there. I was planning it for our 25th but alas, it was gone...or so I thought. At least we can take our 2 kids back to show them and get some pictures. Thanks to Rev. Delores and The Gusts for sending us to our new life in style!!!!
December 30, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterCraig Sandzimier
My wife and I were married in the Candlelight Wedding Chapel in August of 2003. When we saw the chapel closed down and covered in graffiti, it broke our hearts. To see it restored and part of a museum is amazing.
January 1, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterPhil
This explains why I have had trouble finding the Candlelight Chapel on Google Earth. I was married there in July 1980 by Chuck Gust (Chaplain to the Stars) after a torrential thunderstorm which flooded Vegas. Subsequently divorced but I will never forget the experience of being married in Vegas. It's a long way from England to pop back for a visit although one day I do intend to visit the city once more.
January 7, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterTrevor May
My husband and I were married on July 1st, 1998 @ Candlelight Chapel. There were lots of doubters who said we wouldn't make it, but here we are and still kicking ;) We'd also hoped to have renewed our vows on our 25 the anniversary with our children present. Guess we'll have to find a new location, but we can still visit the old. I'm glad it's in good hands.
February 10, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterAmanda
My husband and I were married at Candlelight on Sept 19, 1980. It was a spur of the moment marriage...as many are in Vegas. None of our friends knew nor believed we did it! We renewed our vows 20 years later at the same chapel. We would've loved to renew our vows at the chapel for our 30th. It's sad that we will not be able to, but I am so glad the chapel is now part of a museum. Someone should do a history piece about the chapel and the marriages performed there.
February 12, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterThe Wards
Hi, Christiane and me (Victor) were maried in 1991 in this nice Chapel, oh yes we are still together and happy. In all these years we came lot´s of time to Vegas , we have 2 nice girls , they also appreciate Vegas (16 and 18 years) Now we will be back in april and of course we will visit "our" chapel Thanks to all to let live on the candlelight.
greettings from Luxembourg Europe
February 17, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterVictor
We're so happy to find out that the Candlelight Chapel has survived to tell many tales. We were married there by the Rev Delores Gilster in Sept 1993 and were so sad to hear it had gone. So there are tears in my eyes now to find out that it has been restored. Our story: two English twentysomethings who met working at Disneyworld in Florida and the Candlelight Chapel was the perfect place for our wedding. We intended to return for our 10th anniversary but it didn't happen however it's not long until our 20th so there are plans afoot.......
March 10, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterAlison & Steve
My husband and I got married at Candlelight 20 years ago. It was a spontaneus decision during a trip to the South West. We havn't regretted it since! We have two wonderful kids and now live in Switzerland. We are planning to take them to Las Vegas and show them the place where we got married - so happy that Candlelight has been restored.
March 22, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterSusan

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