First, thank you to all who have posted to this forum. It has been a great reference/idea source for me over the last 6 months - so thought I would share how our November 2013 wedding weekend turned out and share some info/tips from the experience. Cheers!
Viva Las Vegas Wedding Chapel - Pink Caddy Wedding (A+/$777)
For those who want to embrace the Vegas theme and do something a little different, this was an absolute blast!
From the grand entrance into the chapel in a 1964 pink Cadillac driven by Elvis to theatrical fog, our names in lights and 3 songs performed - our guests from age 1 to 78 were highly entertained for the ~11 minute duration. There's a ~10 minute posed photo session afterwards - first with family, then the whole group and finally a private session for the bride and groom. The ceremony itself is broadcast live on the internet so anyone who couldn't make it can watch from home.
Our Elvis, Roland, was exceptional and the entire staff were very nice and kept everything flowing like clockwork.
A few things are not included in the package price: Limo tip ($40); Coordinator tip ($20); Photographer tip ($20+); Elvis tip ($40+); Minister fee ($60) Tax (~$65)
I recommend having tip envelopes made ahead of time. Also, the ceremony package includes a VHS tape - upgrading to DVD is ~$50.
Pictures are a tad expensive, but they have an assortment of packages that come with free prints. We will likely do the Digital DVD with all the candid and posed photos which comes with your choice of 6 free 8x10 prints from either candid or posed. ($650). You also get to choose 10 free 4x6 prints from the candid shots, which is part of the ceremony package.
Mandalay Bay - Vista Suite (A+/~$1500 2 nights)
The suite was beautiful and the view was truly exceptional. We booked the Saturday night before the wedding as well so we could host a Meet and Greet cocktail hour with all of our out of town guests. This also ensured we had time to get everything set up Sunday morning for the reception that afternoon as well as a place for my family/friends to help get me dressed before the ceremony. However, our room was not ready at 3pm on Saturday and our Meet and Greet was scheduled at 5pm, so that was a little stressful. Thanks to our friends, we got everything unpacked and set up for the bar in a whirlwind of 30 mins - but I wouldn't recommend having anything start too early on the day of check-in as the room availability is unreliable. (I even called in advance to make sure we could check-in at 3pm.)
We had about 35 guests for the Meet and Greet and Reception and the space accommodated that easily. There isn't quite enough seating for 35 people as the room description states, but it didn't seem to be an issue as many stood and mingled about the room and let our older guests have the chairs. For the reception, we moved the chairs around a bit into groups of two or three and set end tables between them (there are a lot of small end tables in the room).
The bar in the suite is huge and has lots of counter and cabinet space. There are 2 small refrigerators (one empty, one stocked for purchase), and a bar sink. We went to Lee's Liquors A+/$~800 and bought a full assortment of top shelf alcohol and mixers etc. (It turned out to be way too much alcohol overall, but we ran out of beer and vodka - so recommend getting extra of the staples and skipping the liqueurs as they were barely touched.) We had everything packed in boxes and/or shopping bags and the bellhops didn't bat an eye. We tipped them well and they offered to go get ice in our cooler and ice buckets. (I brought a collapsible insulated cooler bag with a handle for ice.) For the reception, we hired a bartender through Masterpiece Cuisine. Jay was amazing! He did such a great job - and I even saw him sweep the room from time to time to clean up glasses and plates. Jay gets an A+++/$160 4 hours + huge tip.
The dining room table is large and can easily accommodate a large appetizer spread buffet style. We had the reception catered by Masterpiece Cuisine (A+/~$900 40 people) with what they call "heavy appetizers". They delivered and setup about 30 mins prior - everything, including the burners for the hot selections were disposable and all black coordinated. We didn't hear of any problems with them getting through the hotel with the food. The six selections we went with were: Spinach Artichoke dip with bread; Citrus Shrimp Skewers; Chesapeake Crab dip on potatoe crisps; Jim Beam BBQ Meatballs; Roadhouse Steak Sliders and an Artisan Cheese display with crackers. We ordered for 40 people to be on the safe side and it was more than enough. We had some leftovers of each, except the shrimp, which was completely devoured. I did manage to get a taste of all 6 and everything was very good.
Retro Bakery - Wedding Cake/Cupcake Tower (A+/$225)
We went with a four tier tower - topped with a small 6 inch round cake decorated in a Las Vegas theme and 9 dozen mini cupcakes (3 flavors - Chocolate Fountain, Coffee & Donuts and Pucker Up - 3 dozen each). The cake art was very well done and the mini cupcakes were delicious! Our guests must have not been huge sweet eaters as we had several dozen leftover, but I could hear guests raving about the flavors. They don't deliver on Sundays, so we had them delivered late Saturday afternoon to the hotel and met them in the lobby for hand off. Everything was packed securely and they kept just fine in the boxes until Sunday afternoon.
So, with all the A's - I guess you can tell we had a fabulous wedding weekend!
There were two things at the Mandalay that I was not so thrilled with, however.
At check-in, while waiting for them to get confirmation on when our room would be ready, a manager type came over and introduced himself. I'm thinking, "Oh how nice, he's going to apologize for the delay." But no, he proceeds to state that since I am a local resident they want to remind me that while I can have guests in my room, I need to be courteous to my neighbors and not let things get out of hand in so many words. Now, I'm 43 - a business professional and very well mannered, but apparently I looked "young" to him with my red hair, no makeup and yoga pant attire (we had to fill two cars with all the stuff, not going to dress up to check-in). I refrained from blowing up at him and was actually quite polite explaining that my average guest age was ~40 and it wasn't that kind of group, but I found it to be quite rude and it left me with a sour impression. I'm not certain if that is a local "flag" or what, but I give that customer service an F.
A few days after I checked out, I noticed an extra charge on my credit card account from Mandalay. I called, waited 45 mins on hold, and found out it was a "Housekeeping" fee. I made sure everything was picked up and in trash bags all piled together in the entry way, did a thorough scan of the suite to make sure there were no spills etc and even brought paper towels and cleaner to wipe down the bar and tables, so I knew there was no reason for it. My guests were older and it was a normal "cocktail" type of event. They reversed it after I explained that the only extra work was to take out the trash bags and I left a generous tip for housekeeping with that in mind. So maybe find the head housekeeper for your floor and personally tip them, too.