LAS VEGAS (KLAS) — For more than 60 years, A Little White Wedding Chapel in Las Vegas has been helping couples seal their love in marriage. From a Chinese couple saying “I do” on a hot August afternoon to A-list celebrities sneaking in under the cover of darkness, chapel owner Charolette Richards cares for each like they are her own family.
A Little White Wedding Chapel has made headlines around the world over the decades for celebrity weddings and its Tunnel of Love drive-thru. Most recently, actor Ben Affleck and singer Jennifer Lopez tied the knot at the chapel on July 17.
The list of celebrities married at the Little White Wedding Chapel includes Bruce Willis and Demi Moore, Michael Jordan, and Brittney Spears.
And while not held at the chapel, Richards has overseen many other weddings across Las Vegas, including Frank Sinatra and Mia Farrow in 1968 and Elvis Presley and Priscilla at the Aladdin in 1967.
“They were shaking,” Richards said about being with Elvis and Pricilla during their private ceremony. “This is Elvis and soon-to-be Mrs. Presely. She was young. She was wondering what was going to happen next. But when they kissed it was beautiful.”
But for Richards, it’s the thousands of couples that have continued to show up to be married that warms her heart every day.
Richards has been known as the ‘Wedding Queen of the West,’ a moniker given to her by Las Vegas WOMAN magazine in 1992. It’s a title she has lived and breathed since the 1950s.
“There are people that come from all over the world to come here just to see this place,” Richards told 8 News Now. “And memories that will never end if you love each other.”
When Richards opened her chapel, there wasn’t the booming wedding industry in Las Vegas like there is today. She said her chapel was the only one like it outside of a couple of casinos. “There are people that were married 50 years ago here and come back with their children and their grandchildren. It’s all about love.”
TUNNEL OF LOVE
Contrary to what many people assume, there is no law that states people must be standing inside to be legally married. This, combined with an especially bad storm, led to the creation of the Little White Wedding Chapel Tunnel of Love drive-thru.
“One day there was a lot of rain and the poor people had to go around the chapel and get wet,” Richards said about why she created the drive-thru. “I said I’m going to have a window put right here at this particular spot, looking outside, and I said ‘I’m going to marry people in their cars.'”
Charolette Richards is also known for handing out cards with her Love Recipe.
- 2 Hearts Full of Love
- 2 Heaping Cups of Kindness
- 4 Armfuls of Gentleness
- 2 Cups of Friendship
- 2 Cups of Joy
- 2 Big Hearts Full of Forgiveness
- 1 Lifetime of Togetherness
- 2 Minds Full of Tenderness
- Stir Daily with Happiness, Humor and Patience.
- Serve with Warmth and Compassion, Respect and Loyalty.
Only once was there a groom who got cold feet while at the altar. Richards said when he was asked if he takes this woman to be his wife, he said no and walked out the door.
But many more are saying ‘yes’ and getting married in Las Vegas this year compared to recent years. The Covid pandemic shutdown didn’t kill the wedding business but did cause it to slow down. Even the local marriage license bureau trimmed back from being open 24 hours a day to be open from 9 a.m. to midnight.
In February, the Clark County Clerk’s office issued its 5-millionth marriage license since the county was founded in 1909.