Elvis wedding

Company to Chapels in Las Vegas: No More Elvis-themed Weddings

LAS VEGAS (AP) — Las Vegas churches of love that look like Elvis Presley may find themselves turning into heartbreak hotels.

The Las Vegas Review-Journal reported Monday that the licensing company that controls the name and image of “The King” has ordered the operators of Sin City Church to stop using Elvis for themed ceremonies. The Authentic Brands Group sent cease and desist letters in early May to several small churches, which are expected to be compliant so far.

With Elvis so closely associated with the Vegas wedding industry, some say the move could ruin their business.

“We’re a family run business, and right now we’re hanging out with the big dogs,” said Kayla Collins, who runs LasVegasElvisWeddingChapel.com and Little Chapel of Hearts with her husband. “This is our bread and butter. I didn’t get it. We were just taking our steps back through COVID, and then this happens.”

Clark County Clerk Lynn Goya, who has led a marketing campaign to promote Las Vegas as a wedding destination, said the request that chapels stop using Elvis could not come at a worse time for the sector.

The city’s wedding industry brings in $2 billion annually, and officials say Elvis-themed weddings account for a large number of ceremonies that take place.

“It could destroy a part of our wedding industry. A number of people could lose their livelihood,” Joya said.

A small church last weekend changed its Elvis costume into a leather jacket, jeans, and fedora for a “rock ‘n’ roll” themed party, the Review Journal reported.

No warning has yet been sent to Graceland Wedding Chapel, which performs 6,400 Elvis-style weddings annually, according to its manager Rod Musum.

In its cease and desist letter, the company said it would stop the unauthorized use of “Presley’s name, likeness, voice image and other elements of Elvis Presley’s personality in advertising, merchandise, and more.” The letter also stated that “Elvis”, “Elvis Presley” and “The King of Rock and Roll” are protected trademarks.

In a statement on Wednesday, Authentic Brands said it has strong relationships with Elvis artists and fan festivals. There is no intention of closing the chapels that offer Elvis shows in Las Vegas.

“We are seeking to partner with each of these small businesses to ensure that their use of Elvis’ name, image and likeness is officially licensed and authorized by the estate, so that they can continue their operations,” the Authentic Brands Group said. “Elvis is an integral part of the fabric of Las Vegas history.”

The licensing firm oversees the properties of big names such as movie star Marilyn Monroe, boxer Muhammad Ali and 50 consumer brands.

It shouldn’t translate into legal action against Elvis-themed Las Vegas theater shows like “All Shook Up” because impersonating someone on live shows like shows is an exception under Nevada’s publicity law, according to Mark Tratus, a local attorney who helped in writing the law.

“An Elvis show is basically an artist who amuses others by recreating that person on stage,” Tratus said.

Presley became indelibly associated with Sin City in the 1960s and 1970s. His 1964 film Viva Las Vegas resulted in a major track that became the city’s unofficial theme. In July 1969, Presley redefined his famous Vegas residence with his live theatrical comeback at the Las Vegas International Hotel. What started as a four-week concert turned into over 600 performances and ran until December 1976.

Presley himself married his wife Priscilla in Las Vegas in 1967, cementing his relationship with Vegas weddings.

Kent Ripley, whose work is called Elvis Weddings, said he had never had this problem in his 25 years as Elvis.

“They want to protect the Elvis brand. But what are they protecting by keeping Elvis away from the public?” asked Ripley.

2022-06-01 20:24:48

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