By Kimberly De La Cruz
Las Vegas Review-Journal
Charolette Richards has started more love stories than Nicholas Sparks.
But there’s nothing fictional about the couples whose tales begin at the Little White Chapel in downtown Las Vegas.
Frank Sinatra, Judy Garland, Bruce Willis, Demi Moore, Britney Spears and Eva Longoria devote their careers to putting on a show, but they, like so many others, have come to Richards’ chapel to put the seal on their real-life romances.
And when they did, they were greeted by Richards’ sweet and sincere disposition.
The 81-year-old owner of the Little White Chapel turned her blue eyes to the chapel’s ceiling on Monday, trying to recall some of the thousands of weddings she’s ordained during her 60-year career — she lost track somewhere around 100,000.
In a storage unit across the street, those memories are kept. Every certificate since the early-1960s is saved, and at least one more would be added to her collection that day.
At 3:30 in the afternoon, Richards dressed in a black robe, prepared to perform her first nuptial of the week.
In walked a smiling man and woman from Beijing. Bradon Le and Javelin Yau traveled over 6,000 miles to 1301 Las Vegas Boulevard South to say “I do” at the famous chapel.
“Because you are very famous in China,” Le exclaimed, when Richards asked why he and his future bride had chosen the Little White Chapel.
Magazines there have written about the growing chapel and its famous celebrity weddings, Yau said. “They mention here. They say ‘the Little White Chapel.'”
The civil ceremony begins.
“Did they want the traditional, or did they want the Elvis,” the photographer and stereo-operator asks Richards.
There was no “Hunka Hunka” for the then-soon-to-be Les, but their love burned all the same throughout the short, traditional American ceremony.
“I want you to look into each other’s eyes. These are the eyes that you will look into the rest of your life. These are the eyes that will cry. These are the eyes that will laugh. These are the eyes that will wonder sometimes what to do,” Richards says.
“I want to kiss her,” Le interrupts. He did.