‘That’s our bread and butter’: Las Vegas wedding venues panic over warning not to use Elvis impersonators

Elvis has left the building.

As if the world could handle more lunacy, the image of the man more synonymous with Las Vegas than the mafia can no longer be an officiant for elopers wishing to be married by The King.

The licensing firm that governs Elvis Presley’s name and image has issued a cease-and-desist order to all Las Vegas chapels and venues which will prohibit them from using impersonators in any Elvis-themed weddings, the Daily Mail reported.

America’s most popular wedding locale – by an unsurprisingly huge margin – will likely suffer a big hit as the Las Vegas wedding industry accounts for $2 billion in annual revenue for the state of Nevada.

(Video: WHAS11/YouTube)

“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.”

Clark County Clerk Lynn Goya recently led a marketing campaign to reignite Las Vegas as a wedding destination in the wake of the COVID pandemic. She said the move by Authentic Brands Group could not have come at a worse time.

“It might destroy a portion of our wedding industry. A number of people might lose their livelihood,” Goya said.

The cease-and-desist letter said the firm intends to immediately halt the 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 sought to remind business owners that “‘Elvis,’ ‘Elvis Presley,’ ‘and ‘The King of Rock and Roll'” are trademark protected.

Manager Rod Musum of the Graceland Wedding Chapel said he has not been served a warning yet. His venue hosts 6,400 Elvis-themed weddings a year.

Authentic Brands Group issued a statement Wednesday seeking to clarify their decision.

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

The licensing company also manages the estates of such American icons as Marylin Monroe and Muhammad Ali in addition to at least 50 consumer brands.

The order – as it is for now – will not restrict the impersonation of Elvis for live performances as there is an exception under Nevada’s Right of Publicity law, according to local attorney Mark Tratos.

“An Elvis show is a performer essentially entertaining others by re-creating that person onstage,” Tratos said.

Kent Ripley, whose wedding business is named Elvis Weddings, said in 25 years no concerns have ever been raised by outside entities.

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

Presley himself was married in Las Vegas to Priscilla Beaulieu in 1967, forever cementing him in Vegas wedding lore. Moreover, the 1964 film “Viva Las Vegas” – regarded by fans and critics as one of Presley’s best movies – spawned the up-tempo tune of the same name and has become the unofficial anthem of Sin City.

In the comments for the above video, one YouTube user described the licensing firm’s decision rather bluntly:

“Let’s squeeze every ounce of fun out of life.”

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