Las Vegas’ A Little White Wedding Chapel Sold

Posted on: November 14, 2022, 11:38h. 

Last updated on: November 14, 2022, 11:49h.

After 71 happy years together, A Little White Wedding Chapel and the woman who cared for her, Charolette Richards, are going their separate ways. Richards sold her world famous business at 1301 Las Vegas Blvd. South on Monday.

A Little White Chapel
A Little White Wedding Chapel will continue the legacy of founder Charolette Richards. (Image: Getty)

Richards, 89, had listed the chapel on the market for $12 million in 2019, but pulled it off when the pandemic first hit. She relisted it last November. The current sale price was not revealed.

Fortunately for Las Vegas, the chapel will continue serenading intoxicated couples with Elvis Presley songs in its two indoor chapels. The buyer is Cliff Evarts, owner of competing downtown wedding chapels Viva Las Vegas and Vegas Weddings. The sale now makes him one of the biggest wedding merchants in Las Vegas.

Evarts told the Las Vegas Review-Journal that he plans to retain the chapel’s current staff and officiants and continue running the joint as though Richards were still in charge.

“She certainly is the icon of the industry,” Evarts said of Richards, joking that “everyone we ever hired had previously worked for Charolette. She basically has trained everyone in the wedding industry in Las Vegas. We’re really fortunate to be able to step in and try to carry her legend and legacy.”

Wedding Queen of the West

Richards arrived in Las Vegas in the late ‘50s as an abandoned bride herself. She had driven with her three small children from Kentucky to meet the man she married at age 17. He had told her he was newly employed at the Stardust.

He wasn’t. But a gentleman who owned a flower shop nearby noticed Richards walking every day from the Stardust, where she repeatedly inquired about her husband, back to the motel she had rented across the street. The concerned stranger struck up a conversation. Richards was down to her last $4. He offered her a job.

As fate would have it, that job was at The Little Church of the West. Richards booked wedding services there and learned the business.

Never-lasting Love

Since opening her own chapel, Richards guesses she has overseen close to a million weddings. They include some very familiar names:

  • Frank Sinatra and Mia Farrow (July 19, 1966)
  • Joan Collins and Peter Holm (Nov. 3, 1985)
  • Bruce Willis and Demi Moore (Nov. 21, 1987)
  • Michael Jordan and Juanita Vanoy (Sept. 2, 1989)
  • Britney Spears and Jason Alexander (Jan. 3, 2004)
  • Pamela Anderson and Rick Salomon (Oct. 6, 2007)

OK, so pretty much all of the chapel’s celebrity marriages ended in divorce. But just this past July 17, Jennifer Lopez and Ben Affleck joined the list. (And they just have to buck the trend, right?)  According to TMZ, “Bennifer” wanted an Elvis impersonator to perform the deed. But they had arrived at the chapel too late – just as the chapel was closing its doors – and there wasn’t one available. (The couple had intended to marry in Sept. 2003, but ended up breaking up instead.)

According to the R-J , Richards will continue to perform the occasional wedding at her old place, as “honorary minister.” And the chapel’s “Tunnel of Love” drive-thru chapel will be renamed Charolette’s Way.