Elopements are all the rage now. There are countless numbers of tiktok videos that show the classic Vegas experience - the limo the wedding chapel - a photoshoot on the Strip and downtown Las Vegas. A trip to the Neon Boneyard.; night time shoot along Las Vegas boulevard, grabbing a drink at a dive bar on Main Street. It can be the adventure you've always dreamed about.
As a veteran photographer in Las Vegas, I've seen so much evolve. One special place that's close to my heart is The Little White Chapel. If you are looking for peak Vegas - there's nothing that comes close. The old chapel that has been standing in the same location for almost 100 years have been serving up weddings way before the Bellagio or Ceasars Palace we're household names in the Vegas Zeitgeist.
As the image of elopements evolved through the times, photography has changed with it. I started in the industry as a photographer at the Little White. I was with a team of a half a dozen photographers who provided ceremony and 10 minute photoshoots of couples who are there for a less expensive, super quick ceremony. For the longest time, drive through weddings, gazebo weddings and hotel room suites were the wedding packages that the chapel sold.. Nowadays, its not unusual to see multiple Convertible Pink Cadillac weddings in one hour, If you hang out long enough at the Little White, especially on a Saturday, you'll see how busy the place gets. As limo after limo, party bus after party bus unload wedding parties to get checked in and married, you'll see photographers of all persuasions running alongside them.
Together with a handful of other professional photographers who are still in business, I have had a unique view of the recent history of the Little White Chapel. We have shot as in house photographers at the chapel under Ms Charlotte Richards (the legendary queen of Vegas Weddings), some of has have truly lived through the Vegas wedding scene. A few of us have moved on to other chapels and companies, and some of us have kept on keeping on as independent photographers! Some have become amazingly successful! Look up my friend Gabby J Photography when you get the chance. We all have created our own different styles, flavor, look - whatever you may call it.
The main thing that's important for me, as a photographer, before how the photos look, is the experience of my couple. I have to admit, being a 40+ year old Filipino, I do not look like the typical vegas photographer you see on social media (petite female with a unique hat). I can, however, put my experience up against anyone at this point. I am pretty confident that my years in service and my portfolio can help a couple not second guess why they should have me shoot for them.
Once my couple has gotten over the part where their photographer isn't the text book photog for their elopement, they soon realize that having fun, and being comfortable during the shoot is as important as the photography itself. I would normally find time to go over my philosophy through a spiel that explains the basics of what my couples needs to do as a baseline and how we can build on that through the shoot. This makes the whole time unique and not feel canned at all.
Elopements, as much it has evolved has some aspects to it that has not changed. The couples want to have an experience all their own. Without the hassle of a big production number of a giant wedding, but with the excitement that rivals the feeling of seeing the Vegas lights as you land that first time into town. As photographers, we are not just guides for the couple during the time they have us. We are also the ones who's brains they can pick while their planning their Vegas wedding..
I tell all my couples: I want you to have fun and enjoy every single moment. This is selfish for my part, because I know that if you are having fun and are relaxed and are enjoying the company of your partner, the photos will always look great - and you will want to always look at those images, not just because it looks like a great photos, but because they remind you of a feeling from a moment, from that day you elopend in Vegas.