By Sean Golonka/The Nevada Independent

In a small, storefront chapel in downtown Las Vegas, Renato Garcia is surrounded by mask-wearing loved ones snapping cellphone photos, awaiting the person he is about to marry.

Janae Frazier, wearing a floor-length gown and a crown of sunflowers, meets Garcia at the front of the chapel. After exchanging vows, the newlyweds join the nearly 5 million other couples who have tied the knot in Las Vegas.

It’s a joyous moment. But for Arnold Garcia, owner of the Love Story Wedding Chapel where Frazier and Garcia were married, the last year and half has been filled with obstacles as the COVID-19 pandemic upended the wedding industry.

As business closures shut down chapels and capacity restrictions limited large gatherings, many weddings were postponed or cancelled, while other ceremonies were held online or downsized significantly.

“I consider this essential — maybe not the large gatherings and everything else like that — but people are … losing their jobs,” Garcia said. “They need their spouse for insurance and their spouse to be able to make decisions on their behalf.”

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