LAS VEGAS (AP) - Sin City's loss is other states' gain as more cities and small businesses get into the elopement business:
-California: Wineries are marketing the world-class scenery and perfect weather of Napa Valley to people who might otherwise consider Las Vegas. Enchanting Elopements offers ceremonies that are "respectful of your beliefs, values and desires" at half a dozen Napa Valley wineries. San Francisco does a brisk business in elopement ceremony near scenic landmarks, including the Golden Gate Bridge. "Couples attempting a quick wedding are seeking something different from Vegas, and Northern California offers an abundance of outdoors settings," advertises Ceremony Way Wedding Services in the San Francisco Bay Area.
- Louisiana: In 2003, lawmakers removed a 72-hour waiting period for marriages in an attempt to attract more tourist dollars to the Big Easy. The change brought in an influx of couples, prompting the New Orleans Vital Records Marriage License Office to extend its hours and hire more workers to handle the increased paperwork. The city has seen a boom in chapels and small businesses, some of which offer elopement packages that include ceremonies in historic mansions and riverboats, and horse-drawn carriages rides through the tourist-friendly French Quarter.
-Florida: From Key West to Clearwater, the sunshine state is filled with small businesses offering quick and easy beach weddings. "Eloping isn't for everyone, yet choosing a simple Florida beach wedding will free you from an immense amount of organizational stress," advertises Tide the Knot Beach Weddings in St Petersburg. With its semi-tropical climate and easy accessibility, Florida is giving Vegas a run for its money, said Lynn Beahan, co-author of Let's Elope. "If we're going to Vegas, we can go to Key West, and people will climb aboard," she said.
-Mississippi: Gov. Phil Bryant signed legislation over the summer to make it easier for couples to get married in a fever at one of Mississippi's white-columned mansions and beachside inns. The new law removes a three-day waiting period for a marriage license and erases the requirement that the bride and groom undergo a premarital blood test for syphilis. Lawmakers had argued about the proposed changes for several years, but were ultimately won over by the caterers, photographers and hotel owners who said same-day licenses would boost tourism.
-New Jersey: Lawmakers are hoping to lure impatient couples to Atlantic City by making it easier to get married on a whim. Earlier this year, the legislature approved a bill to speed up the marriage license process, but Gov. Chris Christie did not act on the legislation. Lawmakers have reintroduced the bill. Though Atlantic City boasts its share of wedding chapels, the state imposes a 72-hour waiting period on couples seeking a marriage license.
(Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)