The city has spent $12.3 million to spruce up its Marriage Bureau and move it out of its drab old home in the Municipal Building by City Hall, all in an attempt to compete with Vegas as "the wedding destination of the world." That necessitated hiring designer Jamie Drake, who handled Mayor Bloomberg’s Upper East Side town house, to transform an old DMV office up the street into a peach and lavender connubial oasis.
Between 2005 and 2007, the number of wedding licenses issued in the Vegas area fell by approximately 20,000, so city officials see an opening for New York, where 16,000 weddings were performed at the Manhattan Marriage Bureau last year. At its former location, happy couples were greeted at the entrance with orders to empty their pockets and pass through metal detectors; the new experience promised by the Bloomberg administration is meant to be a bit more romantic.
The dreary DMV bathrooms have been turned into spacious dressing rooms with recessed lighting, and there's a huge photograph of City Hall that couples can use as a backdrop for pictures. You can even hand your iPod to the chapel clerk, who will play the music of your choice during the ceremony. ("Don't Fear the Reaper," anyone?) And for the first time, you can pay the $35 fee for the wedding license with a credit card, so no excuses, fellas. Plastic will also come in handy at the gift shop, where flowers, hairspray, disposable digital cameras and tissues are sold, according to the Times. Your move, Elvis Chapel.