The famous Atlantic City, NJ is a few steps closer to getting Vegas style weddings! Both both houses of the New Jersey Legislature passed a bill that would cancel the 72-hour waiting period for a marriage or civil-union license. However the fee for the license will face an increase from $28 to $60 but that’s still much cheaper than eloping to Vegas! The bill is currently waiting for NJ Gov. Chris Christie to approve it. The city is already set to open it’s first strip club, which is going to cost $3 million. Read more after the jump.



New Jersey is hoping to bring a little Las Vegas razzle-dazzle to Atlantic City with a law making it easier to get married on a whim.

And for those with morning regrets, the legislation now on Gov. Chris Christie’s desk would also expedite the process of getting divorced. Passed by both houses of the New Jersey Legislature on Monday, the bill would eliminate a mandatory 72-hour waiting period for a marriage or civil-union license, and increase the fee to $60 from $28. Currently, 29 states have no waiting period for a marriage license, but only two—Connecticut and Rhode Island—are in the Northeast.

Mr. Christie’s position on the bill wasn’t known on Thursday. A spokesman for the Republican governor didn’t respond to a request for comment.

The East Coast’s main casino center since gambling was legalized there in 1976, Atlantic City is trying to turn itself around after years of decline with a rebranding effort modeled after Las Vegas.

Upscale restaurants and nightclubs have been lured to the seaside city, and it is also adding a touch of sin, with a $3 million strip club set to open in the summer at the Trump Taj Mahal Casino Resort. It would be the first strip club to open in an Atlantic City casino.

Under New Jersey law, strippers can’t mimic sexual acts or expose any part of their bodies that would be covered by a bikini, but can perform in thongs and pasties.

Atlantic City casinos and wedding-service providers are watching closely what Mr. Christie does on the wedding bill. Eliminating the waiting period would help cultivate the city as a destination wedding location, they say. They said they don’t necessarily want Las Vegas-style wedding chapels in Atlantic City but admit that it might be a byproduct of the quickie-license turnout.

And that wouldn’t be a bad thing, they said.

About 1.1 million visitors to Las Vegas attended a wedding in 2010, with an estimated economic impact of $722 million, according to the most recent available figures from the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority. Nevada has no waiting period for a license.

“It’s one element that’s critical to the progress of Atlantic City and couples making their wedding plans here,” said Jean Muchanic, executive director of the Absecon Lighthouse, a historic surf-side building that has hosted about 100 weddings since 2007.

Out-of-state couples looking to get married in Atlantic City now must travel to New Jersey in advance to apply for the license, adding additional hurdles, she said.

“It’s a bit of a bummer for them to pay for hotels for that time,” said Ms. Muchanic, a city wedding officiant, who has married couples from as far away as California and Kentucky.

A number of city spaces now offer wedding packages, including One Atlantic, an event space at Caesars and the Il Mulino restaurant in the Taj Mahal. The beach remains a popular place for ceremonies during the peak season between April and October.

“We see this as an avenue of economic development. You can fly out 30 to 40 people to Atlantic City to have a wedding on the beach,” said state Sen. Nicholas Scutari, a Union County democrat, who co-sponsored the legislation.

Weddings can be a boon for the local economy because the money spent on them tends to go to local vendors, said Joseph Seneca, a professor at the Edward J. Bloustein School of Planning and Policy at Rutgers.

The average wedding in the southern New Jersey area that included Atlantic City was $36,000 in 2010, according to a survey contacted by, a site that monitors the industry. Northern and central New Jersey weddings went for $49,000 on average, and Manhattan ones cost $70,700, the survey found.

Atlantic City saw its wedding business peak in 2001, when 549 people got married, according to state Department of Health and Senior Services statistics. The number fell to a low of 320 marriages in 2008, but has been slowly rising since then, the figures show.

“It’s not a huge destination wedding spot,” said Amy Eisinger, editor of

Additionally, New Jersey’s bill would allow couples to annul a marriage within 30 days without going to court.

Details of the annulment process have yet to be determined, but Mr. Scutari said the proceedings could be handled through city administrators.

Currently, those who want an uncontested divorce have to wait at least six months, or at least three months if they can prove that the marriage isn’t working.

The legislation has critics. Assemblyman Jay Webber, a Republican from Morris County, said the state should be boosting the economy by cutting taxes, not sanctioning shotgun weddings.

“It cheapens marriage in our state,” said Mr. Webber, who joined 20 others in the 80-member Assembly in voting against the bill.

“We don’t create jobs in New Jersey by making Las Vegas east,” he said.

Cary Cheifetz, a Summit, N.J., divorce attorney for 32 years, thought the quickie marriages could boost his business but didn’t think marriage should be undertaken at “warp speed.”

“These are very big decisions that should be made with some degree of deliberation,” he said.