When they say you can find anything at Cowboy Christmas and Cowboy FanFest, they really mean it.
Not only can rodeo fans find trailer hitches, but they can also get hitched at Cowboy FanFest for the first time ever thanks to the Rope ‘Em In Wedding Chapel Powered by Zappos.com. The chapel is one of the new additions to Cowboy Christmas and Cowboy FanFest, and I just had to check it out.
So, I moseyed on over to the Las Vegas Convention Center’s North Halls on Friday afternoon before heading to the Thomas & Mack Center for the second performance of the Wrangler National Finals Rodeo to see what the fuss was all about. There are reportedly more than 50 wedding chapels in Las Vegas, which is known as the “Marriage Capital of the World,” and the chapel at Cowboy FanFest is the latest in that line.
Run by the Little Church of the West, the chapel is quaint and cozy, located on “Rodeo Way” in Cowboy FanFest right next to the rodeo arena. Lisa Boeres of Little Church of the West said they perform close to 300 weddings a month and already had more than 20 weddings and vow renewals scheduled for the Wrangler NFR’s 10-day run in Las Vegas.
She was excited to be part of Cowboy Christmas and Cowboy FanFest for the first time.
“We’re going to be here from now on,” Boeres said. “I know every year we’ll get bigger and bigger.”
I tend to agree, especially as people walking by the chapel realize it’s for real and not just a novelty. Sean Cassidy of RFD TV helped kick things off on Thursday morning by exchanging vows with wife, Dianna, and Wrangler NFR steer wrestler K.C. Jones and Round 1 barrel racing winner Fallon Taylor were part of the wedding party.
That got local media interested, and definitely started the festivities in a big way.
Pastor Jerry Withers, a Las Vegas resident for 20 years, is performing the ceremonies at the chapel and helps provide a warm and welcoming atmosphere for couples who may be nervous about exchanging vows. He estimates he has performed more than 1,000 weddings in his five years as a pastor, and he has enjoyed them all.
“I’ve always liked weddings, so I might as well be part of them,” Withers said.
Withers has attended the Wrangler NFR the last 13 or 14 years and is glad he finally relented to pressure from his wife, Sherry, to check out the world’s richest rodeo.
“I joke that I’m a convert,” Withers said of being a rodeo fan. “My wife always wanted to go to the rodeo and I didn’t, but once I did, I was hooked.”
I was able to witness the final wedding of the day at 3 p.m. on Friday, between Fort Scott, Kan., lovebirds Matt Harvey and Hannah Lewellen. A small group of around eight family members tagged along for the ceremony, and people walking by stopped to watch or take photos of the proceedings.
Harvey, a professional bull rider for 20 years, said once they heard the chapel was going to be part of Cowboy FanFest, the idea to tie the knot in Las Vegas during the Wrangler NFR was too good to pass up.
“Just coming to the NFR and getting married in Vegas – I think it’s awesome,” Harvey said about the experience.
The couple met while working at the Max Motors used car dealership – which was profiled in a 2013 reality TV show on History Channel – and have been dating for three years. They were all smiles after the short ceremony as they walked out of the chapel as husband and wife.
“It’s a great idea,” Hannah said of the addition of the chapel.
She has also been pleasantly surprised by how much the Western way of life saturates Las Vegas during the Wrangler NFR.
“It’s nice that the lifestyle is growing, especially for kids, and so it’s nice to see it coming out more here,” said Hannah, who is attending her first Finals.
The couple received a $100 gift card from Zappos.com for having their ceremony at the Rope ‘Em In Chapel, a nice perk for anyone looking to tie the knot.
The Harveys are one of numerous couples who will change their lives at Cowboy FanFest during this year’s Wrangler NFR, and it’s been considered as a welcomed addition to the lineup. After all, rodeo is all about family, and joining families together as part of the spectacle that is Cowboy Christmas and Cowboy FanFest is a pretty neat thing to see.