Thursday, January 20, 2005

A wedding story ...

Sorry it's been so long since my last post. We've been quite busy since returning from our New Year's wedding trip to Las Vegas. I promised you, my loyal dozen readers, a rundown on how it all came to pass. I shall attempt to do that now. You can also read the wife's take here.

THE DECISION: We decided to elope early in the fall. Our original plans had us getting married in late July of 2005 at the Elizabethan Gardens in Manteo, N.C. It's a beautiful location, and we were hoping on a small affair -- perhaps 30-50 people, tops. We even put down a deposit on the location when we were visiting the area last July.

However, once family got involved in the wedding planning, it became apparent that our small, intimate ceremony was going to be neither small nor intimate. The guest list kept growing and growing and growing ...

So, come early fall, the fiancee suggested that we postpone until perhaps the spring of 2006. I agreed, but suggested something else:


The idea immediately appealed to both of us, and we bought a book on the subject. (It must be noted that this was the only book on eloping in the massive wedding section of a large, chain-type bookstore.)

After thumbing through the book, we started getting excited about getting married again. So, we went online and booked a trip to Las Vegas for New Year's.

We told our families about our decision during the Thanksgiving holiday, and to our surprise and delight, they were totally OK with it. But they're cool like that.

Now that we've got the background out of the way, on with the particulars:

DEC. 30, 2004: We depart Dulles Airport at 11:15 a.m. on a flight bound for Los Angeles. Five and a half hours later, we land. It's my first view of the Pacific Ocean, and my first-ever visit to California. After a brief wait at LAX (and a couple of beers), we're off to Las Vegas.

One cool moment: As our flight departed L.A., we flew out over the Pacific Ocean, then flipped a U-turn and headed toward Vegas.

We land in Vegas about 45 minutes later. After a couple more beers, we catch a shuttle bus to our hotel, the amazing Venetian Resort Hotel and Casino.

Man, that place is nice. The STANDARD room is a 650-square-foot suite. It was possibly the best accommodations we've ever had, anywhere.

OK, so we've checked in. That means it's time to hit the casino! We played until the wee hours, then hit the sack. We had a big day ahead.

DEC. 31, 2004: We awoke earlier than usual (three hours' time difference, you know) and caught a cab down to the Clark County Marriage License Bureau in downtown Las Vegas. Because New Year's Eve is one of the busiest times of the year for Vegas weddings, there was already a bit of a line when we got there. After we got the license, though, the line was much longer. A nice lady took our picture as we posed underneath the sign for the marriage license bureau.

After that, we walked about a block and explored old downtown Vegas, now cleaned up, blocked off and dubbed the Fremont Street Experience.

It was a blast. We had lunch at the Golden Gate's famous San Francisco Shrimp Bar & Deli, and yes, I had the world-famous 99-cent shrimp cocktail (and a turkey sandwich). Total bill with beverage: $4.50. The fiancee had a hot dog the size of my forearm for, like, $1.75.

With a suitable protective base put down, it was time for more drinking and gambling.

We did the Old Vegas thing for a few hours, then caught a cab back to the hotel to prep for our big New Year's Eve dinner at Bouchon at the Venetian, which foodies say is one of the finest restaurants in the country. It was quite good, though it wasn't the best meal we had in Vegas.

I will say that I don't believe I'll be ordering pate again anytime soon. (We had it as an appetizer, and I told the wife-to-be that it kind of reminded me of Underwood Deviled Ham, only it was about 25 times more expensive.) The dinner bill, which included several glasses of VERY expensive wine, was nearly $400, but it was worth it.

We finished that in time to head back to the room, where Tipsy Boy here nearly fell asleep. The wife-to-be had to order room-service coffee to make sure I woke up in time to see the amazing fireworks display on The Strip. I did, and the pyrotechnics were indeed awesome.

Afterward, we caught our second wind and hit the casino for a while. Later, at about 2 in the morning, we wandered into the small, swanky V Bar, paid the $60 New Year's Eve cover charge, and had a few more cocktails.

We eventually went to bed at about 5 a.m.

JAN. 1, 2005: It's wedding day!

We had to sleep off a hangover, which we helped cure with an awesome room-service pizza, but we made it on time for our 5:30 p.m. limo ride to the Little White Wedding Chapel and our 6 p.m. ceremony. Yes, it's the place where Britney Spears got married. Basketball legend Michael Jordan also was wed there, as were several other drunken celebrities through the years.

So, we get there, and we're told that we have to take our wedding pictures before the ceremony. That was messed up. First of all, we were both a little nervous, and believe me, it showed in the pictures. Secondly, the "package" we ordered said we got 12 "poses" for our wedding photos. However, that meant that the photographer was only going to squeeze the shutter 12 times. In other words, there were no re-shoots if a picture turned out bad. So we ended up with some really crappy wedding pictures, including a couple where I've been caught in mid-blink. (We eventually lost the pictures during packing for the trip home. Disappointing, yes, but not a huge loss.)

The ceremony itself was actually quite lovely. (Elvis was not involved, by the way.) Short but sweet, and the minister's words ended up being perfect for us. We even wrapped everything up with a prayer. Very nice.

Afterward, we limoed it back to the hotel, snacked on some chips and salsa, changed into jeans and t-shirts, ate at the Venetian's food court, and -- hit the casino again! (Hey, you gotta have some kind of reception, right?)

JAN. 2: This was kind of a casual day. We went back to Fremont Street and gambled, then hit our hotel's casino and gambled some more. (Notice a pattern here?) Oh yeah, we ate and drank some, too.

JAN. 3: During the day, we had an awesome German meal at the Vegas branch of Munich's famous Hofbrau Haus. We both love German food, and it was nice to finally be able to enjoy it for the first time in a couple of years. (There are no good German places in the D.C. area, apparently.)

That night, we had tickets to see Zumanity at New York New York. It's the latest show from the Cirque du Soleil folks. However, we ran into some trouble, both outside and inside the theater.

First of all, the company we had made reservations with had us booked for a 10:30 p.m. show, but the confirmation e-mail they'd sent me said we were booked for the 7:30 show. The Zumanity folks were going to accommodate us at the 7:30 show, but we would have had worse seats than for the 10:30 show, so we decided to wait.

That gave us a chance to check out New York New York, and that was a good thing. We gambled a bit and hit a couple of bars, including an amazing cocktail lounge where the band plays BEHIND AND ABOVE THE BAR!

We both agreed that next time we go to Vegas, we're going to stay at New York New York. It's just ... cool. There's no other way to describe it.

We gambled some more, and had a lovely Italian dinner. And then, it was showtime.

That's when things got a little weird.

We did, indeed, have great seats for the show. However, they were spoiled by the arrival of Anna Nicole Smith and her entourage of fat security guards, purse-toting lackeys and other hangers-on, sycophants and losers. The whole motley crew plopped down RIGHT IN FRONT OF US, then proceeded to block our view by standing up and moving around a lot. To their enduring credit, the Zumanity staffers apologized profusely and brought us a couple of free beers.

But Anna Nicole... damn, what a trainwreck. She didn't clap for the performers, who were truly amazing, and she spent half the night yakking on the cellphone.

At the end of the night, the Zumanity performers did this kind of grand finale on a spinning portion of the stage. It was supposed to resemble a big orgy. (The show's theme is a celebration of human sexuality, and it features topless -- and bottomless -- performers. No one under 18 was allowed into the show.) Zumanity is big on audience participation, so they brought two people onto the stage to join the "orgy." One was a blond surfer dude from Florida named Tad (I think). He was fairly sedate -- he just peeled out of his shirt and kind of cuddled with one of the hottie female dancers.

The other person selected at random to appear onstage? Why, Anna Nicole Smith, that's who. And -- get this -- SHE WAS MIKED UP! That's right. Apparently, she walks around everywhere with a tiny wireless mike box attached to the small of her back. You know, just in case.

Anna took the stage and proceeded to lewdly dry-hump one of the hottie male dancers. I mean, she jumped on top of him, pinned his arms down, started humping him vigorously, arched her back, and showed the audience her O-face.

We were not amused, and the wife was downright disgusted. But what the heck; we had our Vegas "celebrity" sighting.

JAN. 4: Our next-to-last day. We toured a couple of the other casinos. We checked out Bellagio and its famous water fountains, and returned to New York New York. But the highlight of the day was dinner at Emeril Lagasse's Delmonico Steakhouse at the Venetian. This was by far the best meal we had during our trip, and it was one of the best meals I've had anywhere. I didn't know beef could be that good.

JAN. 5: Leaving Las Vegas. Our flight departed at 3:30 local time, and because of nightmarish delays in Dallas, we didn't arrive back in D.C. until 5 a.m. Very tired, but very happy.

Final tally of the trip: One marriage, a couple of great meals, and about $400 in gambling winnings for the wife. (I lost about $300).

Oh yes, and too many wonderful memories to mention.

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