Photography: George J Rockett / Edit: Zoe London
Well, these words were not something I thought i’d be typing as we stood in the 36 degree heat photographing this set during a hazy Las Vegas early sunset. I’ll come on to the details of everything later on, but first let’s talk about the beauty in the downtrodden beyond overstated ‘glamour’ of Downtown Las Vegas. Often forgotten by tourists, wandering headfirst into the heady excess of the Vegas Strip over exploring the bygone era almost left perfectly to rot Downtown. We first visited Las Vegas in 2015, and fell in love with it almost instantly. It hits you, the minute you step off the plane/drive the car into the Strip, and you’ll never replicate that feeling of sheer overwhelm again, until you visit again the year after. We love and still love everything about the Strip, but last year, in 2016, we accidentally drove into Downtown in our car, and we pulled over to look around almost instantly.
I think at some point we’ve been exposed to the old wedding chapels of Downtown Vegas, whether it was on tv, in movies or re-grammed as an ‘aesthetic’ photograph on tumblr, and nothing really does them justice. There’s one road in particular where neon light signs and wedding chapels are so normal it almost becomes a repetitive block of the same as you drive by. In my opinion, driving roof down alongside them is hardly rivalled for an afternoon in Vegas. Your mind wanders to the stories told, both in the harsh brightness of the desert Sun, or the wild excess of the late nights, both in the 50s and in present day. You see weddings take place almost every day, and the whole area is abuzz with life and love. I love it down there, and as soon as we saw this pink car being unused by Elvis – who was round the corner having a cigarette break – George and I ran into action faster than we ever have before to sneak a sentimental set of photographs there.
Everyone has their own agendas for their holiday trips, and thats fine. But if I could recommend you one thing, don’t for a moment be afraid of Downtown Vegas. Sure, it’s not as glossy or as designer as the Strip, and to the casual onlooker it may seem ‘rough’, but I can assure you it has so many gems it’s worth the wander. And for the record, not one time in the two years we’ve explored, have neither of us ever felt unsafe. If you want a glimpse of real day to day life in Las Vegas, surrounded by the wildest excess on the planet, you won’t get better than Downtown. There’s other bits of Downtown i’m gonna be talking you through as well as some hidden gems, but in terms of the wedding chapels, they’re a souvenir memento you will love taking, and your friends and family will love to see! George and I shot these photographs to which I immediately put one up on Facebook, joking about the wedding chapel. I now in hindsight feel a smidge sorry for George, who unbeknownst to me was carrying an engagement ring in his pocket the entire time.
He didn’t even do it in Vegas. Poor man carried around the ring in his pocket for days waiting for what he felt was the truly perfect moment. The whole time he was trembling inside and I was blissfully unaware. I think he relaxed as soon as we got to our Airbnb in the desert, and truly then he knew within his heart here was the time and moment. I don’t think I was massively shocked, I think i’ve known since about three months into our relationship that George and I had something special together, but to say I was surprised he had gone to the effort to make our annual visit to my happy place the best it could possibly be was true. He knew that nothing would mean more to me, and that in no other part of the world does my face glow and shine with happiness, a smile that radiates across the room, as it does on the West Coast of the USA. Why? I couldn’t tell you, but I know now for sure it holds even more of a special place in my heart.
I don’t for a minute think wedding planning is easy, and nor do I think it is hard. I believe it is what you make it, and when you bear your soul to the world in that 24 hours of your special day, you’re showing and sharing a true part of you, and putting your relationship out there for others to get to know. I know exactly what our relationship means, what it stands for and I know how to express that. I know right down to the colour of flowers on the table. Because I know George inside out, and I know what we have grown to become together, we have flourished in the face of adversity and grown in the heart of hope and wonder. We have created our own paths and built bricks for foundations that will last forever, and we’ve done this next to each other the entire time. Not everyone in our family or friends group knows fully what we are about, but i’m ready to show them, and as with everything I do, the creativity within my heart and brain will be expressed on a different canvas this time round. I’m prepared for the stress and the last minute cancellations and most of all I can’t wait to share this journey with you all.
I don’t want to overwhelm the blog and YouTube channel with wedding stuff, because i’d like a lot of it to be kept a surprise for when we show you our final video reminiscing on everything, and I also know it will be taking place next year, which seems like a long time to be harping on about a wedding. What I do want to do however, is share little parts of the journey – if anything for my own selfish benefit to look back on when i’m older. But also to connect with you who are also taking this journey with me at this same part of my life, and to listen to others who have also already taken it. George is the most carefree soul I know, that’s one of the reasons why I love him, he doesn’t not care enough to be disinterested, but is happy when I am happy. (His words, not mine.) So I know while we will plan together, the majority will be done by me, and i’d love to share that with you.
So really, we’re engaged, we feel the same – the spark of togetherness is a little brighter than before – but we’re preparing to drive the road toward our wedding day.