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Pick up your bags, rental car, and now marriage license at the airport in Las Vegas

A cardboard cutout of a happy bride and groom advertises the Vegas airport's temporary marriage license bureau as Blake Seddens and Mandy Georgeson of Clovis, Calif., get their license inside.
(David Montero / Los Angeles Times)

They were getting married Sunday at noon, but their Friday morning Spirit Airlines flight to Las Vegas from Tampa Bay, Fla. — with a connector in Detroit — had been canceled. Stormy weather, they were told.

Quickly, they booked a direct flight on Southwest Airlines. Chapel of the Flowers was expecting them, and there was no way Davis Clayton and Ashley Delong were going to let flight complications delay a lifetime of wedded bliss. Or incur the chapel’s rescheduling fee.

Spots were scarce. Middle seats only for the long flight. So they settled into separate rows. Clayton said he figured some good karma had to be coming their way.

When they landed, their friend, Colin Means, spotted good fortune just beyond the Hot Roulette penny slot machine, baggage carousel No. 5 and the currency exchange booth: a pop-up marriage license office. Outside, a pair of floor waxers glided like Zambonis past rows of chairs and loud ads for David Copperfield, Chicago and a Beatles tribute show blared across the airport floor.

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“All credit to me,” Means said. “They can thank me later.”

The couple walked past the cardboard cutout of a happy bride and groom and into the small office. A row of clipboards, pens adorned with roses and glass trays filled with chocolates rested on the counter. Heart-shaped balloons floated inside the office. Bring your own baggage to the marriage, however.

Identifications were checked. Signatures were given. The credit card payment of $79.79 — no cash allowed — made it official. Within 15 minutes, Clayton and Delong were legal to be married. All that was left was the ceremony at Chapel of the Flowers.

Las Vegas and weddings may be one of the city’s strongest marriages of economics and marketing. The Clark County Marriage License Bureau issues about 80,000 marriage licenses a year, and the agency is one of the busiest in the nation. Around Valentine’s Day — on the holiday and a few days leading up to it — the volume of marriage licenses issued doubles, with about 1,500 doled out.

And Vegas doesn’t scrimp on the ways couples can get married, either. Conveniently — and obviously not unaware of this — the pop-up office offered brochures from the Elvis Chapel, Little Church of the West (complete with a coupon for a free bottle of champagne) and the Viva Las Vegas Wedding Chapel.

The licenses are accepted everywhere, however, and are valid for weddings within a year of issuance. So go ahead and take that license to the Cannibis Chapel for one of its “weedings” — if that’s your thing. (Tie the knot in October and you can book weddings with romantic vampire themes.)

County Clerk Lynn Goya said the temporary office, which opened Friday, was looking for a way to help ease the volume of license seekers downtown while also offering convenience for couples during the busy Valentine’s season. It will close Feb. 19, but officials said the office is considering opening it up for other special occasions and holidays, including New Year’s Eve.

The temporary office certainly fed the image of Las Vegas being a place where love, convenience and quirkiness are mashed together like replicas of great world landmarks on the Strip: Hit the Eiffel Tower, the Brooklyn Bridge and the Venetian canals all before grabbing an In-N-Out Burger — all with a drink in your hand.

The licensing office did not go unnoticed by bemused travelers who happened past it Friday morning.

“Want to get married?” a middle-aged woman said to the man walking with her. “Couple of witnesses and there you go.” He laughed. They opted to catch a taxi instead. A few people stopped to take pictures of it with their phones. One man wondered aloud if a divorce kiosk would be coming soon.

Freddie Kelley and Tamika Orr had just flown in from Detroit and were planning to get married Saturday. Orr said she’d seen something about the marriage licensing at the airport and figured it made more sense than going to the clerk’s office downtown.

They had been together for seven years and there was no reason to delay things any longer than necessary. By their feet, their 3-year-old son played with a smartphone. Overhead, a voice was paging someone to a courtesy phone. The floor Zambonis waxed on in the background. The ads for Vegas shows replayed over and over. Copperfield. Chicago. Beatles.

Kelley and Orr paid the fee and signed the forms while a voice from the public address system reminded people not leave bags unattended.

By noon, the office had issued licenses to four couples. Officials said they expected the volume to pick up over the weekend and on Valentine’s Day as word got out.

Blake Seddens, 21, and his fiance, Mandy Georgeson, 24, said they were going to be married on Saturday and had driven in from Clovis, Calif., to exchange vows. Because they had to pick up relatives flying in from Texas for the wedding, they pop-up office was a way to take care of two things at once.

But their relatives weren’t flying in until later in the afternoon, so they had time to kill in the airport. The slot machines — already an airport mainstay — beckoned. Vegas was built by promising a chance at quick wealth. Now it would try its hand at speeding up the road to everlasting love.

david.montero@latimes.com

Twitter: @davemontero


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