Travel: Long Haul - Oh for a little heart-shaped bureaucracy

So, the Balinese marriage formalities were too complicated for Jerry Hall and Mick Jagger. If only they'd gone to Nevada

JERRY DARLING, you just chose the wrong place. It seems you and Mick didn't properly tie the knot because of a bureaucratic tangle. When you should have been trudging the streets of Jakarta getting the right pieces of paper to allow you legally to marry in Indonesia, you were no doubt enjoying some prenuptial nookie on the beach in Bali.

The prospect of a wedding abroad sounds divine, but in many places you have to jump through all manner of legalistic hoops to make sure the marriage certificate is worth the paper it's lovingly inscribed upon. One place you don't is the heart-shaped, lavender-scented city of pink neon: Las Vegas.

We made a point of flying United - when you're getting married little things like the name of an airline seem important to you. We knew we'd landed at the right airport because we could see the outline of a pyramid glinting in the sunshine, close to the runway. We were in Las Vegas; the Egyptian architecture belonged to the Luxor Hotel, and we had 24 hours in which to organise our wedding.

Getting married in Nevada is fun, different - and, most importantly, easy. The wedding breakfast is a full-on American affair - pancakes, waffles, maple syrup, creamy butter and revoltingly weak filter coffee. Las Vegas Boulevard, universally known as The Strip, is where you find almost all of Las Vegas's wedding chapels. At its top are many of the fantastical hotels (where you'll probably be staying) and at its bottom you'll find the County Court, where you buy your marriage licence.

After breakfast we walked its length, checking out the Little Chapel of the West, the Hitching Post, the Little Chapel of Love and many others on both sides of the road. To be truthful, Jerry, the more we saw the less inclined we felt to entrust them with the happiest day of our lives. Many were pretty tacky, full of plastic flowers, fake stained-glass windows and doll's-house pews. But, worst of all, we didn't really take to the people who were running them. Some we wouldn't have bought a second-hand Elvis impersonator from.

About the one activity in America's glitz capital for which you don't need a photo ID is marriage. You just go and buy a licence.

The queue at the County Court wasn't long; with opening hours of 8.30am to midnight, I doubt it ever is. At the counter we paid $35 (about pounds 20, and that was for both of us, Jerry, if you're counting the pennies), and filled in a form. We both ticked the box marked "One" for the question "Number of this marriage". I wonder, what would you put, Jerry?

Our details were typed on to a State of Nevada marriage licence. We were still hotly debating the venue dilemma when our typist suggested we try the register office across the road. Las Vegas seems a long way to come to be married in a register office, but local advice is usually worth heeding and so we took a look.

The building was nothing to write home about; in fact its grey, angular drabness, reminiscent of British civic architecture of the Sixties, was positively off-putting. We were won over, though, by Flora, a friendly, heavily made-up, grandmotherly type who, for another $35, would perform the ceremony - no appointment necessary. Can we get a witness, we wondered? A lady was summoned from the typing pool to perform as both witness and official photographer.

Twenty minutes and a lot of laughter later, we emerged newly wed and headed straight for Binion's Horseshoe Casino - not for a gamble but for a tipple. The place was dimly lit, packed with punters and buzzing with atmosphere. Its claim to fame - an illuminated horseshoe shape stacked with a million dollars' worth of real paper bills - was in the corner. You can get your photo taken in front of it for free; we got two.

By luck, the Moscow State Circus was in town and performing a number of free shows in the covered shopping-arcade outside the casino. As we ooed and aahed with the crowd I fingered my new Russian wedding ring, trying not to attach too much significance to this post-Soviet coincidence.

Come sunset, we strolled back up The Strip. Outside Treasure Island Hotel, we jostled with parents and children to witness the life-size sea battle that takes place at regular intervals from late afternoon to late evening. Among the fireworks, the flames, the screams, the canon-fire and the thickening smoke, we slurped champagne straight from the bottle, and eventually walked on. Next door at the Mirage Hotel the show continued. The waters around its fake volcano simmered, the rocks shuddered, and a deep rumbling noise crescendoed into a highly convincing volcanic eruption complete with polystyrene tectonics. The lava ran, the sky lit up, and we looked at each other. In a Las Vegas sort of way, the earth was moving for both of us.

Try it next time, Jerry.

Suggested Topics
Arts and Entertainment

Film Leonardo DiCaprio hunts Tom Hardy

Arts and Entertainment
And now for something completely different: the ‘Sin City’ episode of ‘Casualty’
TV
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment

ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment

ebooks
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
SPONSORED FEATURES

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    Turkey-Kurdish conflict: Obama's deal with Ankara is a betrayal of Syrian Kurds and may not even weaken Isis

    US betrayal of old ally brings limited reward

    Since the accord, the Turks have only waged war on Kurds while no US bomber has used Incirlik airbase, says Patrick Cockburn
    VIPs gather for opening of second Suez Canal - but doubts linger over security

    'A gift from Egypt to the rest of the world'

    VIPs gather for opening of second Suez Canal - but is it really needed?
    The male menopause and intimations of mortality

    Aches, pains and an inkling of mortality

    So the male menopause is real, they say, but what would the Victorians, 'old' at 30, think of that, asks DJ Taylor
    Blairites be warned, this could be the moment Labour turns into Syriza

    Andrew Grice: Inside Westminster

    Blairites be warned, this could be the moment Labour turns into Syriza
    HMS Victory: The mystery of Britain's worst naval disaster is finally solved - 271 years later

    The mystery of Britain's worst naval disaster is finally solved - 271 years later

    Exclusive: David Keys reveals the research that finally explains why HMS Victory went down with the loss of 1,100 lives
    Survivors of the Nagasaki atomic bomb attack: Japan must not abandon its post-war pacifism

    'I saw people so injured you couldn't tell if they were dead or alive'

    Nagasaki survivors on why Japan must not abandon its post-war pacifism
    Jon Stewart: The voice of Democrats who felt Obama had failed to deliver on his 'Yes We Can' slogan, and the voter he tried hardest to keep onside

    The voter Obama tried hardest to keep onside

    Outgoing The Daily Show host, Jon Stewart, became the voice of Democrats who felt the President had failed to deliver on his ‘Yes We Can’ slogan. Tim Walker charts the ups and downs of their 10-year relationship on screen
    RuPaul interview: The drag star on being inspired by Bowie, never fitting in, and saying the first thing that comes into your head

    RuPaul interview

    The drag star on being inspired by Bowie, never fitting in, and saying the first thing that comes into your head
    Secrets of comedy couples: What's it like when both you and your partner are stand-ups?

    Secrets of comedy couples

    What's it like when both you and your partner are stand-ups?
    Satya Nadella: As Windows 10 is launched can he return Microsoft to its former glory?

    Satya Nadella: The man to clean up for Windows?

    While Microsoft's founders spend their billions, the once-invincible tech company's new boss is trying to save it
    The best swimwear for men: From trunks to shorts, make a splash this summer

    The best swimwear for men

    From trunks to shorts, make a splash this summer
    Mark Hix recipes: Our chef tries his hand at a spot of summer foraging

    Mark Hix goes summer foraging

     A dinner party doesn't have to mean a trip to the supermarket
    Ashes 2015: With an audacious flourish, home hero Ian Bell ends all debate

    With an audacious flourish, the home hero ends all debate

    Ian Bell advances to Trent Bridge next week almost as undroppable as Alastair Cook and Joe Root, a cornerstone of England's new thinking, says Kevin Garside
    Aaron Ramsey interview: Wales midfielder determined to be centre of attention for Arsenal this season

    Aaron Ramsey interview

    Wales midfielder determined to be centre of attention for Arsenal this season
    Community Shield: Arsene Wenger needs to strike first blow in rivalry with Jose Mourinho

    Community Shield gives Wenger chance to strike first blow in rivalry with Mourinho

    As long as the Arsenal manager's run of games without a win over his Chelsea counterpart continues it will continue to dominate the narrative around the two men