Las Vegas Elvis-Themed Weddings Under Seige As Chapels Are Put on Blast

“These obviously are not people or a company that give a hoot about this community or its people,” Las Vegas Mayor Carolyn G. Goodman tells LAMag

Wedding chapels across Las Vegas are receiving cease-and-desist letters demanding that they stop using Elvis Presley’s image and likeness to conduct ceremonies.

Two chapels—Vegas Weddings and Viva Las Vegas—spoke with CNN about the letters they received from an attorney for Authentic Brands Group (ABG), who currently owns the Elvis Estate. The chapels were accused of creating “the false impression that Elvis Presley Enterprises has approved, endorsed, or sponsored the Infringing Chapel. The Infringing Chapel is clearly trading off the Elvis Presley intellectual property rights, image, name and likeness without the consent of Elvis Presley Enterprises.”

ABG initially acquired the rights to the intellectual property associated with the ‘King of Rock and Roll’ in 2013, to which they previously said “We are honored to welcome Elvis into the ABG brand portfolio and look forward to working alongside the Presley family and the team at Elvis Presley Enterprises (EPE) to increase Elvis’ popularity and fan base worldwide.”

In a statement Wednesday, ABG insisted it was their “responsibility to safeguard his [Elvis’] legacy.”

“The estate has strong relationships with official Elvis tribute artists, fan clubs, and festivals, as well as a robust global network of licensed merchandise partners. There is no intention to shut down chapels that offer Elvis packages 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 are officially licensed and authorized by the estate, so they can continue their operations,” ABG added.

Las Vegas Mayor Carolyn G. Goodman has since weighed in on the issue facing many Las Vegas Elvis-themed chapels.

“Our wedding industry has been struggling through the pandemic and the economic devastation it has caused,” Goodman told LAMag. “These obviously are not people or a company that give a hoot about this community or its people.”

Jesse Garon, otherwise known as “The Vegas Elvis,” or as he says, The Elvis impersonator, has been working wedding ceremonies for 35 years. In his time as an impersonator, he has officiated a laundry list of celebrity weddings, including Sophie Turner and Joe Jonas’ in 2019.

(From L to R) Jesse Garon, Joe Jonas, Sophie Turner, Nick Jonas, and Kevin Jonas pose for a photo at Sophie and Joe’s wedding. (Photo courtesy of ETonline)

Garon is stunned by the ABG’s decision to issue cease-and-desist letters to the chapels, saying “I could have been a lawyer, I could have been an airplane pilot, but I chose to do this and now they’re taking it away from me.”

“I already had quite a few phone calls from people worrying about their ceremonies,” Garon continued. “Not only are we going to be picketing the movie but if they do this, I am going to change my name to Elvis Presley and call it a day.”

One of the biggest providers of Elvis-themed weddings in Las Vegas is Graceland Wedding Chapel. They hold the title of conducting the world’s first Elvis-themed wedding back in 1977 and have seen the likes of Jon Bon Jovi, Billy Ray Cyrus, and Aaron Neville tie the knot at their chapel.

Claire-Dee Lim married her husband with an impersonator in attendance at Graceland in 2008, which she described as a “very spontaneous decision” but she and her husband “both grew up with our parents playing lots of Elvis music and watching his movies, so I think somewhere in our subconscious it just made sense if marrying in Vegas, Elvis had to be involved.”

“It’s hard to say if the Elvis Estate wants to reshape the wedding industry in some way or shut it down entirely. In any case, it would be a shame if they did the latter. If couples no longer had the opportunity to have an Elvis-themed wedding in Vegas, they’d be missing out on a unique, memorable, and lively experience,” Lim added.

Authentic Brands Group did not respond to LAMag’s request for comment.

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