Around The Rim Country

Out-sleazing Vegas wedding chapels

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With its quickie wedding chapels complete with Elvis impersonators, Las Vegas is easily the sleazy marriage capital of the world.

At the Viva Las Vegas Wedding Chapel, you can choose between fairy tale, traditional, themed and Elvis weddings. And just imagine what kind of shenanigans go on at San Francisco Sally's Victorian Chapel, Cupid's Wedding Chapel, the Drive-Up Wedding Window, China Town Wedding Chapel, and Long Fung Wedding Chapel.

Of course it wouldn't be Vegas without a genuine Chapel of Love, and to make it extra sleazy there's even an operation called Weddings on Wheels. Next to gambling, unholy matrimony just might be the number two revenue generator in this town of way too many lights.

Since tourism is an important economic engine here in the Rim country, we need to be on the alert for new opportunities to get people up here and separate them from their bucks. While we're waiting for Main Street to give our efforts a boost, I'm thinking maybe we could get into the wedding business ourselves.

What made me start thinking in this direction was a recent article in the Dallas Morning News about a couple in Murphy, Texas who got married in their local Wal-Mart Neighborhood Market. Erick Koop and Misty Rains (yes, Misty Rains), both of whom work at their local Neighborhood Market (which is, I'm told, several cuts below a Supercenter) decided to say "I do" where they spend most of their time anyway.

So, the paper sentimentally reported, "Amid bins piled high with fruit, and the clatter and crashing of shopping carts, Eric Koop and Misty Rains became husband and wife." Yes folks, the happy couple got married in the produce section, which Koop manages.

To bring this joyous event to a close, the ceremony was attended by "100 guests, including family, friends and shoppers," and the couple's daughter Cheyenne, which I'll bet doesn't surprise you at all.

Anyway, here's my plan for the Rim country.

Since we all know it's just a matter of time before Main Street is a humming tourist mecca, we don't want to build a bunch of sleazy wedding chapels that will just become eyesores. And we do happen to have the ultimate Wal-Mart a bona fide Supercenter right here in our beloved burg.

I say let's add a wedding chapel to the many services already available at our Supercenter. Allow me to tell you how it might work.

On the outside the only physical changes are the words "Wedding Chapel" on the wall right up there alongside "Vision Center," "Pharmacy," and "1-Hr. Photo," and perhaps special parking spots at opposite ends of the building marked "Reserved for Bride" and "Reserved for Groom."

They're at opposite ends because brides and grooms are not supposed to see each other on their wedding day until the ceremony. Just because we're marrying people at a Supercenter doesn't mean we can't maintain some of the romantic traditions of holy matrimony.

Inside the store I'm thinking we want to have a designated wedding chapel area, unlike the Murphy Wal-Mart where the Koops simply stood amidst the squash, radishes and rutabaga. Ours will be a first-class operation complete with portrait studio-type pull-down backdrops so, in effect, you can get married anywhere.

Hawaii? Just pull down the background with the hula girls on the beach and you're there. Heck, there can even be a Vegas wedding chapel backdrop for those who want to really sleaze up the ceremony.

Another option would be a selection of those sets where you stick you're head through a hole and become whoever is painted below it. That way, you can one-up those people who get married by Elvis. You can get married AS Elvis. And your spouse can be Elvis, too.

But what's really nifty about getting married at the Supercenter is that the whole shooting match can take place there. The bride and groom can pre-register, so you can buy a wedding gift on your way to the chapel area. I'm guessing fishing rods would be a hot item up here in the Rim country.

And the reception can be held right here as well. The bakery can develop a line of pre-made wedding cakes, so you simply grab one off the rack. And there's plenty of other options for party food.

But what really will make the reception are the items Wal-Mart carries that the more boorish guests the ones who drink way too much and stay until the bitter end can use to enhance their boorishness.

To help them be the life of the party, the Supercenter has an ample supply of lamp shades they can wear on their heads. And if that doesn't register high enough on the obnoxious meter, it's an easy walk to the pet department for a little goldfish swallowing.

And when at last it's time to call it a reception, designated drivers won't be necessary. Simply unroll some sleeping bags in the camping department and the stragglers can sleep it off.

So down comes the curtain on yet another joyous wedding.

But why would Wal-Mart be a party to such carryings-on? The same reason Vegas got into the wedding biz: for the bucks.

Besides the gift registry profits and catering the reception, each and every reveler who spends the night will file through a checkout the next morning with a new sleeping bag, lamp shade and a generous helping of goldfish.

Oh yeah, and Alka Seltzer sales will go through the roof.

But just to be sure, I called our local Supercenter to see what upper management thinks of my idea. So happens the manager, the assistant manager and the associate manager were all having coffee and doughnuts at the Radio Grille, probably with half of the Payson Police Department (just kidding, officers).

So I got the next in command, one Terry Hill, assistant manager of soft lines. Since a proposal of marriage could fall into the category of a soft line, I popped the question: Would Wal-Mart allow people to get married in their store?

"I don't see why not," Terry said.

Gentlemen, start your weddings.

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