Las Vegas chapels of love have been left all shook up by moves to stop them using Elvis Presley impersonators in themed wedding ceremonies.
The licensing company that controls the name and image of “The King” is demanding operators of chapels in Sin City no longer use his likeness when marrying couples.
Authentic Brands Group sent cease-and-desist letters in early May to a number of chapels, which are expected to be compliant by now, according to the Las Vegas Review-Journal.
The city’s wedding industry generates $2 billion a year, but with Elvis-themed weddings representing a significant number of the ceremonies performed it is feared the demand could devastate businesses.
“We are a family-run business, and now we’re hanging with the big dogs,” said Kayla Collins, who operates the Little Chapel of Hearts and LasVegasElvisWeddingChapel.com 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, who led a marketing campaign promoting Las Vegas as a wedding destination, said the development could not have come at a worse time for the sector.
“It might destroy a portion of our wedding industry. A number of people might lose their livelihood,” Goya said.
One chapel got its Elvis impersonator to change into a leather jacket, jeans and a fedora last weekend for a “rock ‘n’ roll” themed ceremony, the Review-Journal reported.
Graceland Wedding Chapel, which performs 6,400 Elvis-themed weddings per year, said it had not been served a warning yet.
Authentic Brands Group has yet to comment.
The licensing firm oversees the estates of figures including Marilyn Monroe and Muhammad Ali along with 50 consumer brands.
Its cease-and-desist letter says it will halt unauthorised use of “Presley’s name, likeness, voice image, and other elements of Elvis Presley’s persona in advertisements, merchandise and otherwise”.
The letter adds that “Elvis,” “Elvis Presley,” “and “The King of Rock and Roll” are protected trademarks.
The order should not prompt legal action against Elvis-themed stage shows in Las Vegas such as All Shook Up because impersonating someone for live performances is considered an exception under Nevada’s right of publicity law, according to Mark Tratos, a local attorney who helped write the statute.
“An Elvis show is a performer essentially entertaining others by recreating that person onstage,” Mr Tratos said.
Kent Ripley, whose business is called Elvis Weddings, said he had not run into this issue in 25 years of performing as Elvis.
“They want to protect the Elvis brand. But what are they protecting by taking Elvis away from the public?” he asked.