The licensing company that holds the rights to Elvis’ likeness has advised Las Vegas chapels to stop creating Elvis-themed weddings.
Authentic Brands Group sent cease-and-desist letters to several wedding chapels in Las Vegas. “We are a family-run business, and now we’re hanging with the big dogs,” says Kayla Collins. Her family operates a wedding chapel that offers Elvis-themed weddings for decades. “That’s our bread and butter. I don’t get it. We were just hitting our stride again through COVID, then this happens.”
Nevada Clark County Clerk Lynn Goya says the change in the wedding industry couldn’t have come at a worse time. The city’s wedding industry generates around $2 billion in revenue per year, with Elvis-themed weddings representing a significant number of the ceremonies performed in Sin City. “It might destroy a portion of our wedding industry,” Goya admits. “A number of people might lose their livelihood.”
Some of the chapels sent the cease-and-desist letters have pivoted to offering general rock-n-roll themed weddings. One chapel had its Elvis impersonator change into a leather jacket a la Fonzie. The Graceland Wedding Chapel, which performs around 6,500 Elvis-themed weddings per year, has not been served a warning yet, according to manager Rod Musum.
In the cease-and-desist letter sent to chapels, Authentic Brands Group said it would halt unauthorized use of “Presley’s name, likeness, voice image, and other elements of his persona in advertisements, merchandise, and otherwise.” The letter also asserts that the phrases “Elvis,” “Elvis Presley,” and “The King of Rock and Roll” are protected trademarks.
According to AP News, the order shouldn’t impact Elvis impersonators as a whole in Las Vegas. Impersonating someone for a live performance is considered an exception under Nevada’s right of publicity law. “An Elvis show is a performer essentially entertaining others by re-creating that person onstage,” says Mark Tratos.
Could the crackdown on Elvis wedding chapels have something to do with the upcoming Elvis film? Businesses targeted by the letter include those chapels that offer Elvis ceremonies or used his imagery in their advertisements, name, or logo. Viva Las Vegas, The Elvis Chapel, Elvis Weddings, and Las Vegas Elvis Chapel are among those confirmed to have received letters.