« New Year's Eve Fireworks Return to the Las Vegas Strip | Main | James "Bucky" Buchanan Funeral Details »

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.

PrintView Printer Friendly Version

EmailEmail Article to Friend

Reader Comments (173)

My husband and I got married here on October 31, 2002. We always wanted to get back to Vegas but we haven't made it yet. So glad the chapel lives on! I want our children to see it someday.
March 29, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterAmy
My husband and I were married at Candlelight two days before 9/11. We would have loved to have returned for our 10th anniversary, but its good to know we can still visit and show our son where Mom & Dad were married. A magical place which obviously gave a great start to many happy couples!
March 29, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterTamara
WOW! My (now ex) husband and I were married..he in his shorts and tie-dye and me in my hippie girl dress...at the Candle Light on May 13, 1993 right before a Dead show. The Candle Light was so kind as to let us blast "Not Fade Away" on the speakers as we walked out. Awesome. So glad to hear it still exists.
April 20, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterJulie
My husband and I were married there on May 14/98. It was absolutely the nicest and most affordable chapel on the strip at the time. Rev. Jim Hamilton married us and we later realized that he was on Honeymoon in Vegas and ultimately married Sara Jessica Parker and Nick Cage at the end of the movie. Sad to see it gone but happy it's been restored.
May 6, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterHeather
My husband and I were married at the Candlelight on May 23, 1989. Yesterday was our anniversary!!!! Yay!! Rev. Jim Hamilton performed the ceremony, and there was only the two of us; no friends/family with us. On the way to get our marriage license, the limo driver played "Going to the Chapel" over and over. We were sitting in the back seat cracking up. We have since been back to Vegas several times, but we plan to go back especially to see the chapel. I was saddened to learn it had been moved but am elated it has been restored. It was the perfect "quaint little chapel" that I always said I would get married at. Rev. Hamilton was great too! I hear he has married many celebrities over the years. What memories the Candlelight brings. A big hello to all our fellow Candlelight alumni married couples!!!! :o)
May 24, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterShar
I was married to my Marine on July 25, 1987 at the Candlelight Wedding Chapel. It was such an intimate place and the ceremony was fun and very meaningful. We are still married and would love to renew our vows there next year, on our 25 Anniversary.........especially since it falls on the 25th. We had to go back to Camp Pendleton the next day so we never had a wedding reception or honeymoon. I think coming back to Vegas for a renewal and long overdue honeymoon would be fabulous!
August 1, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterDee Grimes McCuan
My husband and I were married in this chapel on February 15, 2004. After two kids, we're still together. And, for that, that chapel holds a very dear place in my heart. I am in Vegas now and was looking for the chapel hoping to take a picture of it as I promised my husband I would, and was quite upset when I could not find it. I am so glad to find out that it is being restored. Thanks so much to those that cared a lot to do that.
August 2, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterJessica
Hubby and I planned to get married in Vegas back in 1992, we just didn't have a chapel picked out. When we arrived, we rented a red 1964 Mustang convertible and drove all over town. As soon as we found the Candelight Wedding Chapel, we made our decision. We'd found the perfect spot to start our life together. The assistant asked if we wanted to buy the video. Not having any idea of what to expect, other than our marriage would be legal world-wide, we passed as it was $50 we could spend elsewhere. That's the only decision we regretted. The ceremony rivaled weddings of others who took months to plan them and held in the most exotic of locations. We did get a nice photo, though, and I bought the classic tee-shirt commemorating our vows. Still have the tee and the husband. We'll celebrate our 19th anniversary on October 24th. We're planning to visit the museum now that we know where our little chapel has gone. Thanks for keeping this special place around for all to enjoy!
August 4, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterJanet and David
39 years and counting!!!!!! We were married at the Candlelight Wedding Chapel in 1972. We have 3 beatiful children and 7 precious grandchildren.
August 13, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterDave and Trish
With tears in my eyes I just found this site. I was married on March 1st 1994 after a three week courtship. My wife and I have moved 16 times since this event from L.A. to Simi Valley to The Bahamas to Florida to Georgia to Panama and now retired in Malta.
We drove up from L.A. on leap year night 1994, got married the next morning and drove back to L.A. for work.
We will be back. Perhaps on our 50th anniversary.
August 27, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterMichael Owen
I am totally dead if my wife finds out about the mistake I made.
We were married on March 1st 1984 not 1994.
Only a ten year mistake........
August 28, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterMichael Owen
We got married in the Candlelight Wedding Chapel on 31st October 1989 and are still happy after nearly 22 years together. It was a lovely, magical, intimate little place, an oasis on the strip. Sad to hear that it no longer stands on the corner and was left to ruin good to hear that it as been restored.
September 1, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterGill and Steve
Susan and I were married there 25 years ago this November. We see a return trip to Las Vegas, to celebrate, in our future.
Susan and John
September 20, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterSusan and John
My husband and I were married on May 6, 1990 by Rev. Delores at Candlelight. We were lucky enough to have ordered the video and portrait photos, and we were sad to hear about the chapel closing. We were glad to see the news about the restoration. I am sorry we missed the party during the re-opening, would have loved to have shared the stories of the limo driver singing "going to the chapel" and "get me to the church on time"!! We live in Arizona, and plan to visit Clark County museum soon to relive the memories. I wonder if they will do weddings their again?
September 20, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterDonna May
My husband and I are in Las Vegas on a business trip. After all his meetings we decided to walk the mile down the Strip to visit the Chapel where we were married on March 11, 1977. Only those of you who were married there also can imagine our sinking feeling when we discovered it was gone. It is 2am and I woke up about an hour ago wondering about the details that lead to it's destruction and started googling from my phone. I am thrilled to see it was only move. I hope to visit it next time we are here. We were last inside the Candlelight Wedding Chapel on our 26th anniversary. Now that I know it is ok I think I can finally get some sleep.
September 22, 2011 | Unregistered Commenternancy lippert
I was married in this chapel three times. Once on June 21st, 1991. Then again on the 30th of that same month. When my second husband Earl passed, I once again visited my lovely chapel on September 17th, 1993. My current husband Bennet says I'd never go back to the chapel again. ;)
September 28, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterDalene Dale
October 30, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterROBERT & RENEE ELLIOTT
me and my wife came to vegas in nov 2001 and married in this chapel we are still as happy 10 years later.we are so glad the chapel is now restored to its old self .we are returing in 2 weeks so i hope we can look it up.
November 2, 2011 | Unregistered Commenterdavid
We travelled from Hertfordshire in England to Las Vegas to get married on 09/09/03. We had a helicopter flight to the Grand Canyon on our wedding day followed by an official ceremony at the Candelight Chapel, and a wedding dinner at The Venetian. We returned to las Vegas for our 5th anniversary and were extremely sad to see an empty piece of ground where the Candlelight Chapel previously stood. We're so happy to see that the Candlelight Chapel lives on!
November 10, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterAnnette
My parents were married at this chapel in 1975, my husbands brother married his first wife there in 1994, my husband and I were married there on October 22, 1999 (at 11:59 p.m!), and then the brother married his 3rd wife there, too, in 2004. Seems to be a family staple! We were allowed to video tape our wedding, but unfortunately my husband accidentally taped over it Christmas of the same year, all except for the last 90 seconds. We were hoping for a redo on our 15th.... guess it could still be possible.... for a heafty donation to the Clark County Museum! LOL! But at least it's still possible! THANKS!
November 12, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterThe Potter family

PostPost a New Comment

Enter your information below to add a new comment.

My response is on my own website »
Author Email (optional):
Author URL (optional):
All HTML will be escaped. Hyperlinks will be created for URLs automatically.