Danny Vernon, Illusion of Elvis Presley tribute impersonator, performs as a younger version of Elvis at the state fair, Aug. 30, 2021 in Monroe, Washington. Photo: Andy Bronson

Danny Vernon, Illusion of Elvis Presley tribute impersonator, performs as a younger version of Elvis at the state fair, Aug. 30, 2021 in Monroe, Washington. Photo: Andy Bronson

How much money will entice Elvis back into the building?

Editorial by Carolyn Grant, editor for the Kimberley Bulletin

Elvis has left the building. But if you cough up the appropriate amount of funds, he may come back.

At least that appears to be the message that Las Vegas wedding chapels have received.

Let me give you a little background. Last week some wedding chapels in Las Vegas received cease and desist letters to stop using Elvis’ image and likeness, from a company called Authentic Brands Group (ABG), who bought the rights to all intellectual property related to the King in 2013.

And ABG has apparently been horrified to learn that some weddings in Vegas use Elvis impersonators to add to the ambience. Imagine!

These newly discovered weddings, ABG says, give “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.”

“As the guardians of the Elvis Presley estate, it is our responsibility to safeguard his legacy,” the letter went on to say.

Although further investigation revealed that it wasn’t so much concern over that shiny legacy but concern that someone may be eating a big slice of Elvis pie without giving ABG a cut of the action, rumoured to be in the $20,000 per year area.

In other words, they want to “partner” with these chapels.

Lest you think this is small potatoes, it is estimated that the Vegas wedding industry brings in about $2 billion a year, and a whole lot of people, not just the Elvis impersonators, but chapel owners and staff, depend upon it.

And lest you think that journalists all over the world, from small community papers such as the Bulletin, wherein I used an Elvis cliche in the lede, to the lofty heights of national news networks, are immune to immediately going for said cliche, I give you the headlines.

Heartbreak hotels? Las Vegas chapels told to stop using Elvis for weddings – The Guardian

Elvis wedding crackdown leaves Las Vegas all shook up – Raw Story

Now or Never: Elvis-themed weddings no longer permitted in Las Vegas, licensing company tells chapel owners – Global News

Anyhoo, after the initial news of the letters broke, there was great kerfuffle. Even the mayor of Vegas waded in, lamenting that this was the last thing the city needed after just emerging from the great costs of the pandemic.

And ABG began the great walk back.

The next day, they issued a statement saying they were sorry that recent communication with a small number of Las Vegas based chapels caused confusion and concern. “That was never our intention,” they said. Notice they don’t say they are going to entirely back off, but they do recognize a public relations problem in the making and are trying to come up with better words.

For now at least, Elvis themed weddings are still available, and at the Viva Las Vegas chapel, they are on sale!

For only $777 (US) , you get Elvis as the Minister, who will sing three songs and escort you down the aisle. He will also drive you into the chapel in a pink Cadillac. It seems like a deal you don’t want to miss.

So if you Can’t Help Falling in Love, and wish to cement your Burning Love, not In The Ghetto, but in Las Vegas, It’s Now or Never. These sales won’t last forever, and maybe, neither will Elvis-themed weddings.

Carolyn Grant is editor for the Kimberley Bulletin.

Opinion