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Las Vegas marriages are on the decline

Throughout its history, Las Vegas has gained a reputation as somewhat of a marriage mecca. The city – more specifically, the Las Vegas strip – is known for its quickie wedding chapels, Elvis impersonator officiants, and drive-through weddings. Celebrities such as Britney Spears, Joan Collins, Demi Moore, Jon Bon Jovi and Angelina Jolie have taken advantage of the lack of required waiting time for marriages, with varying divorce rates.

But now, as Nevada continues to top the lists of states hardest hit by the ongoing economic recession, it seems that Las Vegas marriages have also been on the decline. Since the highest-ever number of marriage licenses – 128,250 – were issued in 2004, weddings have decreased every year. In 2010, they hit a low of just 91,890.

This means a loss of revenue for Clark County, which charges $60 for each marriage license issued ($25 of which goes toward domestic violence programs in the county). Therefore, county officials have begun to focus on vow renewals as a way to increase both tourism and wedding revenues, and are contemplating offering a keepsake certificate reaffirming a couple’s marriage commitment for a $45 fee.

Experts say that the ongoing economic recession has been the biggest contributor toward the decline in Las Vegas weddings. Nationwide, marriage has been on the decline in recent years. According to the United States Census Bureau, 54 percent of adults were married in 2010, as compared to 57 percent in 2000. “Economics have always played a role in people marrying,” said demographer Sharon Sessler. “Because it is harder to attain a stable middle-class status, people are deferring marriage or deciding to live together without marrying.”

Source: Bloomberg, “Las Vegas Woos Wedding-Vow Renewals as Quickie Marriages Decline,” Alison Vekshin, 20 July 2011

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