Las Vegas chapels that specialize in Elvis weddings may have to rebrand soon or face legal repercussions. The licensing company that controls the name and image of “The King” Elvis Presley just ordered all Vegas chapels to cease and desist with the kitschy offerings.
Authentic Brands Group sent out letters to the chapels in early May according to NPR, giving them a few weeks to become compliant. Elvis weddings are so closely associated with Las Vegas that many in the business worry that the new rules could end the eloping industry as a whole.
“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 said the order comes at the worst possible time for the sector of businesses. Even the local government has run marketing campaigns promoting Vegas as a unique wedding city in addition to its many other vices.
“It might destroy a portion of our wedding industry. A number of people might lose their livelihood,” Goya said. Goya also said the wedding industry generates around $2 billion per year in the city; and that Elvis weddings represent a majority of that figure.
Some chapels will rebrand their Elvis weddings as “Rock ‘n Roll” weddings
To circumvent the new rule, one chapel apparently had its Elvis impersonator change clothes but keep the spirit of the experience. The impersonator wore a leather jacket, jeans and a fedora for a “rock ‘n’ roll” themed ceremony, instead.
Graceland Wedding Chapel said it performs over 6,000 Elvis-themed weddings per year. It also said it did not receive a cease-and-desist letter, yet. Authentic Brands Group did not offer insight regarding the decision to the Las Vegas Review-Journal when asked for comment. The decision comes on the heels of the new Elvis biopic that has reignited interest in his life and iconography.
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 events. The letter also said “Elvis,” “Elvis Presley,” “and “The King of Rock and Roll” are protected trademarks.
Kent Ripley, who runs a business called Elvis Weddings, said he has never had trademark issues in 25 years of performing as the King. He said he doesn’t understand how taking Elvis away from the public helps grow or protect the brand.
“They want to protect the Elvis brand. But what are they protecting by taking Elvis away from the public?” Ripley asked.