This past Sunday I was in Vegas to officiate at a wedding. And no, I wasn’t dressed like Elvis nor did I parachute out of an airplane in order to make a dramatic arrival in front of the bride and groom.
Las Vegas is well-known as a city where you can get married at any hour of the day or night. The county clerk’s office is open 8am-midnight, 7 days a week, in order to make obtaining a marriage license extraordinarily easy. However, as a member of the clergy who resides outside of Nevada, I had to jump through all kinds of legal hoops in order to officiate at a wedding in Vegas. I am not kidding. I had to fill-out paperwork which required a notarized signature from an officer of Temple Beth Torah certifying that I am indeed a duly ordained rabbi. I bet when Verrona Gore was elected president of TBT, she never knew that this would include a mid-afternoon meeting at a local UPS store to have her signature notarized on a legal document from Clark County, Nevada.
When I sent all the legal papers to the county clerk in mid-April, I was a little nervous because it could take 4-6 weeks to process my application and the wedding was scheduled for May 17. So I sent the application forms overnight. I also included an express mail return envelope so once my application was approved, I would receive the certification as soon as possible.
Then I waited. And waited some more. In early May I called the county clerk’s office. They informed me that yes, they had received and processed my application and I was certified to be the legal signatory on the couple’s wedding license.
But here is another oddity about officiating at a wedding in Las Vegas when you are from out-of-state. I was certified to officiate for one day and one day only: Sunday, May 17. I guess all the local fly-by-night Vegas marriage officiants have an agreement with Clark County officials that no out-of-town clergy can muscle in on their territory.
Go figure: in Vegas you can show up at a shooting range, produce your driver’s license, and for $99, fire a machine gun, shotgun, or pistol. But officiate at a wedding when you are from out-of-town? That takes a lot more effort than just showing-up and plunking down cash.
Well, despite the legal maneuvers I had to navigate, it was absolutely worth doing so. It was truly my honor and pleasure to officiate at Heather Klein’s wedding to Eli Segall in her hometown of Las Vegas. Ever since I met Heather five years ago when she became our cantorial soloist for the High Holy Days, I have had great admiration and affection for her, as well as the fine man she has chosen to share her life. Their wedding this past Sunday was a wonderful celebration of their love for one another. Even though I was a “one-off rabbi” in Las Vegas on May 17, sanctifying Eli and Heather as husband and wife was a joyful experience for all of us who shared this simcha with them.