For the second year in a row, Clark County, in conjunction with the Armed Forces Chamber of Commerce and others, has produced “Las Vegas Marries the Military.” During Veterans Day weekend, 11 couples from around the country came to Nevada to get married or to renew their vows in no-cost ceremonies from the Strip to downtown and other locations around the city. Five of the ceremonies were new weddings, and six were vow renewals. Those participating were veterans, on active duty, in the National Guard, reservists or retired.
Men and women who re-enlist for the service time after time love the military life. But for some, signing up for a “hitch” of another kind involves love and taking vows. According to wedding event spokesperson Aimee Stephens, “Only Las Vegas, the wedding capital of the world, could pull off something so diverse and amazing to honor our military.”
After a day full of wedding ceremonies, there was a group reception at the Bootlegger restaurant in Las Vegas where Sight and Sound Events played dance music. The honored couples, their families and friends danced the night away. All vendor services and products were donated.
At the Lakeside Weddings facility, the outdoor locale hosted the groom, Air Force Reservist Sgt. Andrew Parker, and his bride, Rachael Campos. They have been a couple for the past nine years but focused on repaying their student loans rather than investing cash in a wedding. Now that their debts have been paid, the time had come to become Mr. and Mrs.
“They have been friends since high school in Connecticut,” according to the bride’s aunt and wedding guest Melody Martinez, who flew to Nevada for the occasion. “I figured the marriage would happen eventually. It was good news,” she said. Many friends and relatives attended the ceremony to watch as the couple said its vows.
Across town at the Caesars Palace hotel wedding garden, Army Maj. Adam Bradford and wife Courtney Bradford renewed their vows. Their first wedding was somewhat less celebratory. After the couple’s three-month engagement, the major was notified he was being “engaged” to deploy overseas. Although full details are somewhat sketchy, the major said they just had time for a “quickie wedding” by a judge in a jail house in 2013. A bail bondsman was pressed into service as a witness.
Bradford is currently in the Army Reserve in Marysville, Washington, outside of Seattle. The couple still have issues of sorts pertaining to distance as the bride is completing her college education in North Carolina. But on a bright note, the bride is a huge fan of the popular TV series “Say Yes to the Dress,” where newly engaged women from around the world visit a wedding dress showroom to choose a gown that is perfect for them. Courtney Bradford had her own “Say Yes to the Dress” moment at the city’s Creative Bridal Wear, along with a two-night stay at Caesars. All at no cost.
There was one wedding that joined two service people together. Army Reservist Capt. Rachel Bruno and Army Capt. Robert Coombs renewed their vows at the Graceland Wedding Chapel while an Elvis tribute artist looked on.
Couples can apply to be a part of the program in 2019 by going to https://www.facebook.com/Las VegasMarriesTheMilitary.
It was another side of Nevada that was showcased as the local wedding community came together around Veterans Day to provide pro bono support to veterans and the military. Some of the couples said they tried their luck at casinos and some did not. But as the individuals recited their vows, they surely felt lucky that each of them had won over each other.
Chuck N. Baker is a Purple Heart veteran of the Vietnam War and the host of “That’s America to Me” every Sunday at 7 a.m. on 97.1-FM.