24 hours of Valentine's Day weddings in Las Vegas 

click to enlarge A sign outside a wedding chapel on the Vegas strip. - SEAN CAYTON
  • Sean Cayton
  • A sign outside a wedding chapel on the Vegas strip.
I live and work with my photographic feet planted in two different worlds.

I have trained and worked as a news photographer, currently with the Indy shooting local assignments and pursuing my own self-assigned projects. But I also own and operate a photography business focused on weddings. I started this business 17 years ago.

In each of these areas I have learned there's a distinct photographic approach to each of these areas, and usually documentary photography — which is what I’m trained to do — and weddings don’t always mix.

But sometimes they do.

Take Valentine's Day in Las Vegas: Weddings start at midnight and go for 24 hours straight. Unlike many of my commissioned wedding jobs, the scenes in Vegas are unusual, the people are interesting and there's another wedding every 15-20 minutes.

There are plenty of reason why couples come to Vegas to be married. The cost of a wedding ceremony is usually less expensive than a more traditional location, and honeymoon can happen in the same place. And they come from all over the world to tie-the-knot here.

The ceremonies are unique in their own right. There are drive-thru wedding ceremonies and, of course, ceremonies officiated by Elvis. And there are a host of unusual venues, like in a helicopter, for instance.

The Little White Wedding Chapel is one of the well-known wedding venues in the area. Wayne Newton, Ricki Lake, Britney Spears, Sally Jesse Raphael, Bruce Willis, Michael Jordan were all married there - at least once.

Starting at midnight on Valentine's Day the matrimonial flood begins.

Last year, there was the couple from Brownsfield, Texas who spoke only Spanish, followed by a Detroit police officer who met his fiancé during a traffic stop. Then it was a couple, both in their 70’s, who decided to marry after 30 years of knowing one another. Then another, and another, and another...

With a full wedding season ahead of me, it's fun to look back on experiences like Valentine's Day in Las Vegas to renew my passion for wedding photography, and remind remind me of the possibilities of capturing weddings as a documentary experience.

Sean Cayton is a wedding photojournalist of 19 years and operates a successful, award-winning wedding photography studio in Colorado Springs. He's also an award-winning photojournalist. Sean is happily married to the love of his life (also his business partner) and is father to three beautiful children. When he’s not working, Sean can be found outside flying kites with his kids, hitting golf balls or casting a fly rod to hungry trout.


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