Las Vegas wedding chapels have been ordered to stop using Elvis Presley’s likeness by the company that controls his image – in a move which many say will decimate their business.
Authentic Brands Group sent cease-and-desist letters in early May to multiple chapels, which are expected to be compliant by now.
With Elvis so closely tied to Vegas’ wedding industry, some say the move could decimate their businesses.
‘We are a family-run business, and now we’re hanging with the big dogs,’ said Kayla Collins, who operates LasVegasElvisWeddingChapel.com and the Little Chapel of Hearts with her husband.
‘That’s our bread and butter. I don’t get it. We were just hitting our stride again through COVID, then this happens.’
The Vegas Wedding Chamber said: ‘It is especially concerning that Las Vegas chapels and impersonators are being targeted as so many people’s livelihood depends on these weddings using their image.’
An Elvis impersonator is pictured at the Graceland Chapel in Las Vegas. All venues promoting Elvis have been ordered by the company that controls his likeness to stop
Elvis-themed weddings are a large part of the Las Vegas marriage industry
Elvis impersonator Brendan Paul, right, walks down the aisle during a wedding ceremony for Katie Salvatore, center, and Eric Wheeler at the Graceland Wedding Chapel in Las Vegas. Authentic Brands Group (ABG) sent cease-and-desist letters earlier this month to multiple chapels, saying they had to comply by the end of May
Elvis impersonator Charles King sings on May 12, 2020 as he marries Alicia Funk, center right, and Vaughan Chambers at A Little Wedding Chapel
Clark County Clerk Lynn Goya, who led a marketing campaign promoting Las Vegas as a wedding destination, said the order for chapels to stop using Elvis couldn’t have come at a worse time for the sector.
The city’s wedding industry generates $2 billion a year, officials and say Elvis-themed weddings represent a significant number of the performed.
‘It might destroy a portion of our wedding industry. A number of people might lose their livelihood,’ Goya said.
One chapel last weekend had its Elvis impersonator change instead into a leather jacket, jeans and a fedora for a ‘rock’n’roll’ themed ceremony, the Las Vegas Review-Journal reported.
The wedding industry in Vegas generates $2 billion a year, officials say – with a large percentage coming from Elvis-themed ceremonies
An Elvis impersonator sings as a couple leave the Graceland Wedding Chapel
Those who make their living as Elvis impersonators in Vegas have been angered by the announcement
Graceland Wedding Chapel, which performs 6,400 Elvis-themed weddings per year, has not been served a warning yet, according to manager Rod Musum.
The licensing company oversees the estates of big names like movie star Marilyn Monroe and boxer Muhammad Ali and 50 consumer brands.
In the cease-and-desist letter, the company said it will halt unauthorized use of ‘Presley’s name, likeness, voice image, and other elements of Elvis Presley’s persona in advertisements, merchandise and otherwise.’
The letter also said ‘Elvis,’ ‘Elvis Presley,’ ‘and ‘The King of Rock and Roll’ are protected trademarks.
The order should not translate into legal action against Elvis-themed stage shows in Las Vegas such as ‘All Shook Up’ because impersonating someone for a live performances like shows is considered an exception under Nevada’s right of publicity law, according to Mark Tratos, a local attorney who helped write the statute.
‘An Elvis show is a performer essentially entertaining others by re-creating that person onstage,’ Tratos said.
Kent Ripley, whose business is called Elvis Weddings, said he has never run into this issue in 25 years of performing as Elvis.
‘They want to protect the Elvis brand. But what are they protecting by taking Elvis away from the public?’ Ripley asked.
Jesse Garon, a full time Elvis impersonator in Las Vegas for more than 30 years, said he was devastated by the move.
‘You would see one more person in the unemployment line,’ Garon told 8 News Now.
‘I have the best job in the world. We marry people and are part of their best day of their life.’
Event planners say they are ready to take legal action.
‘We have started a legal process to see what we can do,’ said Melody Willis-Williams, president of Vegas Weddings.
She told 8 News Now: ‘It’s my hope to join the chapels together and be a united front for this because I know how important this is for them as well.’