Couples line up three nines for wedding jackpot

By Calvin Palmer

Anyone who plays slot machines knows the importance of getting the same numbers to line up. So it comes as no surprise that couples were rushing to wedding chapels today to tie the knot on 9-9-09.

Jessica Skrutvold of Las Vegas said she and her husband-to-be Chad Lyons were expecting nine guests for their 9:00 p.m. wedding. By sheer coincidence, nine is her favorite number.

“The easiest day for my poor memory to remember was 9-9-09, and we’ve been doing everything last-minute ever since,” said the 31-year-old who works for a local insurance agency. “It was easy, and both of us can remember it and never forget.”

Skrutvold called to book a chapel in March and found the only open slots were for 8:30 or 9 that night.

“We took the most obvious choice,” she said.

Tony Thompson and his new wife Lisa of New York exchanged vows before life-sized figurines of Justin Timberlake and Jennifer Lopez during a short ceremony at 9:09 a.m. at the Madame Tussauds wax museum on the Las Vegas Strip. They were joined near a small stage by four couples renewing vows and an officiant – the magical number nine again.

“It seems like the whole town is celebrating, like we walked into this big celebration,” Tony Thompson, 53, said. “It’s like totally out of the ordinary, everybody’s getting married.”

Chapels were steadily booked throughout the day from the Strip to downtown. Las Vegas Mayor Oscar Goodman planned to renew vows with his wife Carolyn in an evening ceremony conducted by an Elvis Presley impersonator at the Fremont Street Experience.

Another 99 couples were waiting until 9:09 p.m. for a shared ceremony in the observation deck at the Stratosphere Tower. Each paid $99 for their wedding package.

Spokeswoman Whitney Lloyd said Chapel of the Flowers booked 70 ceremonies for Wednesday, compared with 12 on September 9 last year. She said three 9:00 a.m. slots were booked at least a year ago.

“Grooms love it, because they’ll definitely remember their wedding day,” Lloyd said.

Employees normally off on Tuesdays and Wednesdays in the marriage services division of the Clark County clerk’s office were called in to help quickly distribute licenses.

Marriage Services Supervisor Mariah Consiglieri said 637 licenses were issued on Tuesday, a boost from the average of 262 per day but far from the 1,623 issued on August 6, 2007, in anticipation of 7-7-07. Another 975 licenses were issued on August 7 that year, which fell on a Saturday.

Weddings have declined steadily in Las Vegas since 2004, when roughly 128,000 couples were married. About 96,000 couples were married in Las Vegas last year, and officials expect fewer than that for 2009.

[Based on a report by the Associated Press.]

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