What Happens In Vegas Does NOT Stay in Vegas

By Catherine Brackett

Last Christmas, on December 26th, I got married in Vegas. Okay, I’ve bVegas weddingseen married for nearly 22 years. My first wedding was a painfully tasteful affair. I was 25: bleached out hair stuffed up into a white pillbox, all orchids and calla lilies, a stony old Episcopal church overlooking a now nostalgic Manhattan skyline and a reception in a folk-art filled brownstone on the promenade. I was desperate to appear grown up.

Now, not so much. The kitsch in my soul longs for the midnight buffet on a Caribbean cruise, Dollywood, Euro-Disney and Vegas, baby! Like a lot of people, my family has been in a recession but luckily two minutes before the economy blew up we uncharacteristically paid for a Las Vegas vacation with NO REFUND! Oh joy!

I always wanted to go to Vegas—not for gambling—but for the dazzle! I am in awe of the sheer cheekiness of Vegas sitting out there in the desert—the nerve of that place and the nerviness of the ghosts there—Frank and Dino, Sammy and Jerry. Come on—how can you not want to go? A city built by the mob. My three kids were mystified. “Why do you have to be so weird?” my son asked. Ah, well.

One week before Christmas, with nary a gift bought or a tree decorated, I asked my beloved to marry me and he said no. Ah, excuse me, there’s no sayin’ NO, buddy.

get married in Vegas
I went right upstairs and made my dream come true: I booked myself the “Hound Dog Special” at the Viva Las Vegas Wedding Chapel (chosen for the name and that crazy dance Ann-Margaret does in the movie.) I decided the drive-through wedding could only be done on a Harley so we would be in the chapel. Of course I wanted the Elvis Impersonator in a spangled jumpsuit singing us a love song while our family and friends watched via live webcam.

By the time I got back downstairs, I was overjoyed with myself, jumping up and down, throwing myself at an incredulous Phil and scaring the children. Daisy, our youngest, started wailing, “I thought you were already married!”

Four-inch stilettos and bodaciously sequined boobs transformed Christmas for me. Standing a good 6”3 in my heels and veil, Elvis squared his shoulders and sucked in his gut before walking me down the aisle. The bridesmaids, Amelia, my oldest, and Daisy, the child initially horrified about her legitimacy, wore cowboy boots and dresses from our ever-growing Bat Mitzvah collection. Phil wore a fedora, a jacket and a Betty-Boop t-shirt that said “Do you feel lucky?“ and Sam, our son, was the best man in basketball shorts.

It was strangely romantic when we danced to “Love Me Tender,” and I vowed to “always look as Vegas weddingscute and sexy “ as I did that day. We all waved to the webcam for friends and family who were back East experiencing a colossal snowstorm.

And everywhere we go, we still get to say “No, really.”


Catherine Brackett lives in Westport, CT with her family and teaches English at the local community college. She tries never to take the same road home twice and is secretly planning a skydiving wedding for her next go round.


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