June 26, 2022

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Las Vegas company urges churches to end Elvis-themed weddings

Las Vegas company urges churches to end Elvis-themed weddings

Las Vegas love churches that look like Elvis Presley may find themselves turning into heartbreak hotels.

The licensing company that controls the name and image of “The King” is asking the operators of Sin City Church to stop using the Elvis for themed ceremonies, The Las Vegas Review-Journal reported on Monday. The Authentic Brands Group sent cease and desist letters in early May to several churches, which are now expected to be compliant.

With Elvis so closely associated with the Vegas wedding industry, some say the move could ruin their business.

“We’re a family run business, and right now we’re hanging out with the big dogs,” said Kayla Collins, who runs LasVegasElvisWeddingChapel.com and Little Chapel of Hearts with her husband. “This is our bread and butter. I didn’t get it. We were just taking our steps back through COVID, and then this happens.”

Clark County Clerk Lynn Goya, who has led a marketing campaign to promote Las Vegas as a wedding destination, said a request that chapels stop using Elvis could not come at a worse time for the sector.

The Original Brand Group sent cease and desist letters in early May to a number of small churches.

The city’s wedding industry brings in $2 billion annually, and officials say Elvis-themed weddings account for a large number of ceremonies that take place.

“It could destroy a part of our wedding industry. A number of people could lose their livelihood,” Joya said.

A small church last weekend changed its Elvis costume into a leather jacket, jeans, and fedora for a “rock ‘n’ roll” themed party, the Review Journal reported.

No warning has yet been sent to Graceland Wedding Chapel, which performs 6,400 Elvis-style weddings annually, according to its manager Rod Musum.

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Authentic Brands Group did not immediately respond Tuesday to an emailed request for comment.

The licensing firm oversees the properties of big names such as movie star Marilyn Monroe, boxer Muhammad Ali and 50 consumer brands.

In its cease and desist letter, the company said it would stop the unauthorized use of “Presley’s name, likeness, voice image and other elements of Elvis Presley’s personality in advertising, merchandise, and more.” The letter also stated that “Elvis”, “Elvis Presley” and “The King of Rock and Roll” are protected trademarks.

It shouldn’t translate into legal action against Elvis-themed Las Vegas theater shows like “All Shook Up” because impersonating someone on live shows like shows is an exception under Nevada’s advertising law, according to Mark Tratus, a local attorney who helped in writing the law.

“An Elvis show is basically an artist who amuses others by recreating that person on stage,” Tratus said.

Kent Ripley, whose work is called Elvis Weddings, said he had never had this problem in his 25 years as Elvis.

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