BOOK: "Las Vegas Weddings," by Susan Marg (Perennial Currents, $13.95)
TARGET AUDIENCE: Couples who hear "Viva Las Vegas" and say, "They're playing our song."
QUICK TAKE: In 1912 California imposed a three-day waiting period between the issuance of a marriage license and the wedding. So, Californians hot to trot down the aisle crossed the Mojave to the states of Nevada and matrimony. Today 5 percent of America's weddings happen in Las Vegas, which has only .5 percent of its population.
It's logical that Las Vegas would develop such a unique role: Getting hitched on impulse at the Wee Kirk o' the Heather or the Little Church of the West doesn't seem so odd in a city where people routinely risk their 401Ks and bet their mortgages. Marg takes us through the history of this now billion-dollar industry, from Hopalong Cassidy (his fourth of four) to Britney Spears (her first of, well, stay tuned), weaving in colorful swatches of the city's outrageous history. She also gives us a day in the life of a wedding chapel, complete with tardy grooms, tipsy guests and, of course, an Elvis impersonator (excuse me: "tribute artist").
RANT: Marg's collection of celebrity couple vignettes (about a third of the book) seems rushed, like random factoids from a pile of old fanzines.
RAVE: Elvis may have left the building, but he's still in the chapel.
-- Jerry V. Haines