Charolette Richards, founder of Little White Church in Vegas, has died


Published on: January 4, 2024 at 09:22 pm.

Last updated on: January 4, 2024 at 09:22 h.

Charolette Richards, the “Wedding Queen of the West,” has died, according to a statement from the Little White Wedding Church. Richards, 89, founded Las Vegas’ most famous wedding factory and ran it for 71 years.

Charolette Richards was known as the Wedding Queen of the West. (Photo: Little White Wedding Church)

“Focused on love, she wanted couples to be able to enjoy an affordable wedding in a location that was as beautiful and simple as possible,” a statement from the church said.

Richards, who died on December 13, officiated at the wedding of Britney Spears, Joan Collins and Bruce Willis to Demi Moore. She also envisioned a drive-through wedding chapel, after one of her clients couldn’t fit a wheelchair through the front door.

Altar plans

Richards arrived in Las Vegas in the late 1950s as a jilted bride. She drove with her three young children from Kentucky to meet the man she married when she was 17. He told her that he was a recent employee at Stardust.

It wasn’t. But a man who owned a flower shop nearby noticed that Richards walked every day from the Stardust Hotel, where she repeatedly inquired about her husband, and back to the hotel she rented across the street. The stranger in question struck up a conversation. Richards has reached her last $4. He offered her a job.

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

The little white wedding chapel is located where Richards founded it in 1951: at 1301 S Las Vegas Blvd. (Photo: Little White Wedding Church)

Permanent love

Since opening her church, Richards believes she has officiated at nearly a million weddings. Some very familiar names include:

  • Joan Collins and Peter Holm (November 3, 1985)
  • Bruce Willis and Demi Moore (November 21, 1987)
  • Michael Jordan and Juanita Vanoy (September 2, 1989)
  • Britney Spears and Jason Alexander (January 3, 2004)
  • Pamela Anderson and Rick Salomon (October 6, 2007)

Richards once told this reporter that her favorite wedding was Bruce and Demi.

“I’ve never felt another person’s love so strong,” she said. “And I didn’t even know who they were. I don’t follow movie stars.

Although most of the church’s celebrity clients have dissolved their contracts, Jennifer Lopez and Ben Affleck joined the roster on July 16, 2022 and are still going strong more than a year later. (That totally beats Britney Spear’s 55 hours of marital bliss with Jason Alexander – no, no Which Jason Alexander.)

according to TMZ, Bennifer wanted to do this as an Elvis impersonator. But they arrived at the church too late – as the church was closing its doors – and no one was available. (The couple intended to marry in September 2003, but ended up separating.)

Richards sold the church to Cliff Evarts, owner of competing downtown wedding chapels Viva Las Vegas and Vegas Weddings, in late 2022.

The chapel’s “Tunnel of Love” chapel was actually renamed Charolet Road upon its retirement.

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