Nothing says ‘elegant’ like a wedding with Elvis

Make no mistake: I am a classy, elegant guy, and nothing says “classy” and “elegant” like having an Elvis impersonator renew your marriage at a wedding chapel in Las Vegas that has a 24-hour, drive-up wedding window. That’s precisely what my wife and I did the other day — though we did not use the drive-up window. We used the chapel. And why not? We were in Las Vegas and we had recently celebrated our wedding anniversary.

So, at 10 o’clock on Tuesday night, there we were with Elvis at the world famous “Little White Wedding Chapel.” There are lots of wedding chapels in Vegas, and we chose this one because, according to its marquee, Michael Jordan and Joan Collins had married there — though, alas, not to each other. Those two would have had awesome kids. My point? Any Vegas wedding chapel that’s good enough for Michael Jordan and Joan Collins is good enough for my wife and me.

Further making this renewal a natural was the fact that our great friend Adam Turteltaub was in town from Los Angeles. I was speaking at a conference Adam had helped to organize.

My wife and I have known Adam since college. When we were married, he was a groomsman at our wedding. He was also, just for the record, the only sober groomsman the night before our wedding, which was really important after the rehearsal dinner and spontaneous bachelor party that followed. He was the one who poured me into a cab in Manhattan and had the foresight to tie the plastic suit bag with my wedding attire to the collar of my shirt, so I would not forget it in the backseat of the taxi when I got home to my apartment in Brooklyn.

At our marriage renewal this week, Adam did double-duty: He walked my lovely bride down the aisle and then served as my best man to handle the rings.

And joining the three of us was Elvis — and not the morbidly obese Elvis-in-a-white-leisure suit we usually associate with Vegas. Our Elvis was the heartthrob Elvis who had not yet discovered the Trans Fat Café. As Adam walked my wife down the aisle, Elvis sang “Love Me Tender,” his band a pretty tight, pretty gifted karaoke machine. (Nothing says Vegas wedding like a gifted and tight karaoke machine.) Trust me, everyone on this planet, at least once, should get to watch the love of their lives walk down the aisle while Elvis sings “Love Me Tender.”

Then, after our renewal vows, Elvis serenaded us with “Can’t Help Falling in Love,” and our dance together was as affecting as our first dance at our wedding. Moreover, unlike at our nuptials, we knew what song we were dancing to. No one did at our wedding. Our first dance that day had been to the Rickie Lee Jones song, “We Belong Together,” but it wasn’t Rickie singing. It was no one singing. It was played by a New York society band my mother-in-law liked, Lester Lanin, and I’m not sure they had any idea how to make a Rickie Lee Jones torch song work at a wedding. Also, I’m not sure even winners on “So You Think You Can Dance?” would have known how to move gracefully to that tune. Heaven knows, I couldn’t.

At our Vegas renewal, my wife carried a bouquet of antique ivory roses and was dressed in a slinky black dress. (Note to self: Do not forget your wife now loves antique ivory roses. Second note to self: Always remind your wife to pack that slinky black dress when you are traveling together.)

But perhaps the most surprising part of the ceremony? Elvis was wise. I’m not kidding. He spoke of commitment and forgiveness and patience. He spoke of laughter. He kept the hunka-hunka-burning-love jokes to a minimum, which might have disappointed me if I hadn’t so completely fallen under the spell of the moment.

I know, what happens in Vegas is supposed to stay in Vegas. But our sin city renewal? It was too much fun not to share the ceremony.

Viva Las Vegas — and happy anniversary to my lovely bride.

(This column appeared originally in the Burlington Free Press on October 21, 2012. Chris’s most recent novel, ‘The Sandcastle Girls,’ was published in July.)

Chris Bohjalian

Chris Bohjalian is the author of nineteen books, including his forthcoming novel, The Sleepwalker. His other novels include the New York Times bestsellers Midwives, The Sandcastle Girls, The Guest Room, and The Double Bind.