There's no question that Las Vegas is the wedding capital of the world. More people say "I do" in Sin City every year than in any other city — or state, for that matter.
But who are these people who gamble on love in Las Vegas? To find out, ABC News spent 24 consecutive hours in the most popular wedding chapel on the Strip: the Little White Wedding Chapel, where Britney Spears got married in January. During those 24 hours, ABC News witnessed the weddings of 70 couples — 140 people.
The chapel offers matrimony 24 hours a day, seven days a week, in six different languages, a choice of nine different chapels, and even a drive-through window.
But the one thing many of the ceremonies had in common was that the couples were married by Charlotte Richards, a 44-year veteran of the business. She works in the state with the highest divorce rate in the country — but she says she just marries them.
"I don't know what the divorce rate is, truthfully," she told ABC News. "Our responsibility is to make sure that they walk out of there happy."
The Power of the King
The first couple was Jim and Lisa from Omaha, Neb., who arrived at the chapel on a late Saturday afternoon. They had just decided to get married three days before.
Jim and Lisa (many of the couples didn't want their last names used) had both been married before, so they were hoping something extra in Las Vegas to keep their relationship going. "I thought, you know, the church thing didn't work, so maybe Elvis could help us," Jim said.
"Elvis is fun," said Lisa. "He lightens the situation a little bit."
In the ‘Tunnel of Vows’
Couple No. 7 was George and Jamie, who chose the "Drive Thru Wedding" — at $40, the most economical choice at the Little White Wedding Chapel.
Richards says the idea came to her after she noticed a handicapped couple having difficulty getting out of their car and into her chapel. "The first day that it opened, it was a success," she said.
The "Tunnel of Vows" is no Sistine Chapel, but it's decorated with a few winged cherubs that give it a certain matrimonial atmosphere. But Richards is circumspect about the situation.
"It really doesn't matter how you get married," she said. "It matters that you marry each other. And that you love each other. And that you're bonded together."
Fifth Time the Charm?
Las Vegas resident Gary's wedding to Dahlia was wedding No. 11 of the day. For Gary himself, it would be wedding No. 5. For Dahlia, it was wedding No. 2.
They met on the road, and Dahlia was planning to move from Miami. Gary proposed to her by U.S. mail. And Dahlia responded by e-mail. Lisa said about the wedding: "This will be his last one for sure."
Quick and Easy
No. 21: Phil and Sharon from Colorado. Phil was enthusiastic about their wedding in Vegas: "It's the way to go … a $200 wedding versus when people spend $20,000, you know?"
The couple said they were building a new house, and such a ceremony allowed them to both save money and have a good time in Las Vegas.
In Las Vegas, Richards said, "You can buy things à la carte, like a wedding gown for a couple of hundred dollars, or a tuxedo for a hundred. But you get everything from the veil to the shoes."
It's quick and easy, said Chelsea, who was marrying Wallace. "You show up and you just get it done. They do your hair, they do everything."