LAS VEGAS — Las Vegas, land of the quickie wedding, is in the midst of a serious love recession, and chapels in a city accustomed to playing the numbers aren't about to let the latest money-making opportunity pass — Dec. 12, 2012.
They are hoping the lure of a wedding license stamped with a once-in-a-century 12-12-12 will help boost revenue. Sin City's share of the weddings business has fallen by a third since 2004 as cities from New Orleans to New York have gotten into the elopement industry.
"From a marketing perspective, it's a very big deal. Numbers are associated with Vegas," said Ann Parsons, marketing director for Vegas Weddings, which runs four chapels in town. "Unfortunately, it's the last date like that we'll have."
Chapels from the rundown courthouse area to the ritzy Strip are jumping at the chance to sell 12-12-12 packages at three times the normal price for weekday ceremonies during the wedding offseason, from November to April.
In the absence of any obvious symbolism — like 7-7-07, which gamblers will recognize as the numbers for a lucky slot machine winner— chapels are turning to Chinese numerology.
"One is considered a yang number, while two is considered a yin number. Combining the two can offer new couples balance," the marketing firm Back Bar USA said in a press release announcing its $1,212,120 wedding package that includes the use of a private jet, watches and earrings for the wedding party, and dinner at a Michelin-rated restaurant.
Triple digit wedding dates have become a lifeline for struggling chapels, said Joni Moss, a longtime Las Vegas wedding planner and founder of the Nevada Wedding Association.
"Everything has declined," she said. "The small facilities here are really worried and figuring out how to market themselves."
Over the years, the city has become known for such nuptial innovations as drive-thru weddings, over the top themes, and Elvis look-alikes playing minister.