Julie Allen - a 34-year-old writer - side-stepped the expense and stress of a regular wedding by tying the knot at legendary Las Vegas venue, The Little White Chapel (and yes, an Elvis impersonator officiated the whole thing). She tells Eimear O'Hagan all the details about her big day
"When Nick, a 39-year-old journalist, proposed to me in December 2012, I didn't for one second contemplate having a traditional wedding, which cost thousands of pounds and was incredibly stressful to plan."That's just not me. I wanted a relaxed, intimate day full of fun, not fuss.
"We started planning a small wedding to be held at a beach house in Santa Monica in September 2013, for 60 close family and friends. We booked the venue discovered I was pregnant.
"When we realised I would be eight months gone and waddling up the aisle by the September, neither of us wanted that.
"I'd daydreamed in the past about tying the knot in Vegas because I thought it would be really fun, and as we now wanted to get married quickly, and keep it a small affair, my daydream became a reality.
"Our friends and family were very understanding when we told them about the change of plan and our decision not to have any guests at the Vegas wedding. They agreed we should have the day we wanted.
"A couple of years ago I spent a day at The Little White Wedding Chapel in Vegas, writing an article about the people marrying there.
"It's the most famous chapel in the city and has hosted many celebrity marriages including Bruce Willis and Demi Moore, and Britney Spears and Jason Alexander (a marriage which only lasted 55 hours!). We decided to say our 'I Do's' there with the chapel's resident Elvis impersonator officiating the ceremony.
"We married in July 2013 and opted for the 'drive in' ceremony, which meant we got hitched in the back of a convertible pink Cadillac in the chapel's tunnel of love - it has a roof painted with cherubs and angels!
"I wore a cream maternity dress with a satin sash above my bump, cream high heels and a pearl necklace I bought from a charity shop. I had my hair and make-up done at one of the big Vegas hotels earlier on in the day.
"Nick wore a tux and a pair of shades channelling the James Bond look.
"Elvis sang 'Love Me Tender' at the beginning of the ten minute service then we said our vows. One of them was 'I promise to never ever leave you at the Heartbreak Hotel', and after he declared us husband and wife he serenaded us with 'Burning Love' and we sang along!
"I wasn't nervous at all, it was such a relaxed affair and so fun; just what I'd wanted. Our friend John Chappelle, a photographer, was our witness and took our wedding photos which are amazing, and of course feature Elvis.
"People have asked did I feel our wedding lacked the gravitas of a traditional ceremony? It definitely wasn't a serious affair but it was very romantic and intimate with just the two of us there.
"Afterwards, we drove out to the desert and the famous Vegas sign, to have some more photos taken, then had a lovely meal at our hotel.
"My advice to anyone contemplating a Vegas wedding is absolutely do it but be realistic too. If you've never been to Vegas before it might not be quite what you expect.
"Many of the wedding chapels are in a run-down area of town and they are full of plastic flowers and cheap carpet. They are neither sophisticated nor stylish.
"So you need to really get into the spirit of Vegas and just go with it.
"Our son Zachary was born last October and I can't wait to show him our wedding photos when he's older. Hopefully he'll think his mum and dad tied the knot in a very cool way."
To get in touch with Julie's wedding photographer, visit his website www.JohnChappelle.com
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