My friend Patty Giovenco (above) rolled into town from Brooklyn on Wednesday to attend the wedding of her brother Carmen, held at the Flamingo yesterday.  Since her husband couldn't get off work for the occasion, I got to be her date.

You see lots of wedding parties sweeping through the casinos here, especially around this time of year, but I'd never actually attended a Las Vegas wedding.  This one, held in the Flamingo's Garden Chapel, off the pool and garden area (where they keep the live flamingos), was very well done, with a presiding minister who was warm and folksy but serious about the serious things.

Father Ed, a young priest and cousin of the bride who'd flown in from St. Louis, gave a fine blessing that put the seal on the sacramental nature of the proceedings.  Besides Patty, I didn't know any of the people involved in this wedding except Carmen, whom I'd attended a Mets game with once, back in New York, but I still got choked up during the service.

Weddings always affect me that way.

There was food and drink afterwards in the newlyweds' suite, where they danced and got wrapped up with toilet paper — a family ritual I had never encountered before.  Then a grand feast at Battista's Hole In the Wall Italian restaurant.

Battista's is a venerable Las Vegas institution, dating back to Rat-Pack days, and apparently unchanged since then — the atmosphere is fun, the food is hearty, and a wedding party is excuse enough for everyone seated within sight of it to raise a toast and a cheer to the bride and groom, loud enough to make the welkin ring.  Of course there is a strolling accordion player who also dates back to the Rat-Pack era.

The most cheerful of occasions was thus well and truly celebrated — and the bride and groom seemed to be having at least as much fun as everybody else, which is only right.

Walking back to to the Flamingo after dinner, Father Ed suddenly broke out into an Italian song, in a great, sweet, soaring tenor voice.  In Las Vegas, this sort of thing just happens in the natural course of events and does not seem strange.  Earlier Father Ed had told me that Las Vegas was his kind of town.  In truth, it's everybody's kind of town, or ought to be.


  1. we stayed in the flamingo on saint valentine's day once upon a time … i recognized the carpets … it was a busy day for weddings in vegas and my abiding impression was of smiling women in wedding dresses playing the machines on their wedding day … although i did wonder later if some were just being paid to brighten the place up

  2. In the wee hours at casinos, the slot machines are programmed to sound their “pay-off” chimes at regular intervals even when no one is playing them. The effect is ghostly. I doubt, though, that casinos would hire “brides” as prop players — they'd probably pick dames who looked more . . . available. But in Las Vegas, you never know . . .

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