Fans wishing to get married at Elvis-themed chapels might have to return empty-handed soon.
Authentic Brands Group (ABG), the company that looks after Elvis Presley-related merchandise, has issued a cease-and-desist letter to several Las Vegas chapels.
The letter was sent around May 19 and was meant to be compliant by now.
LasVegasElvisWeddingChapel.com and the Little Chapel of Hearts were among the many establishments to receive the notice. Kayla Collins, the owner of both the establishments, told a news portal:
“My husband built the website by himself. That’s our bread and butter. I don’t get it. We were just hitting our stride again through COVID, then this happens. I’m just trying not to be freaked out by it."
She and her attorneys are trying to find a way to continue their family business.
Elvis-themed chapels are a big part of the Las Vegas wedding industry
ABG manages many other brands like Marilyn Monroe and Muhammad Ali. The company is aiming to stop all kinds of unauthorized use of the singer's name, likeness, voice, image, and "other elements of Presley’s persona in advertisements, merchandise, and otherwise."
The company specified that “Elvis, “Elvis Presley,” “and “The King of Rock and Roll” are all its protected trademarks.
The C&D sent by ABG stated that it will take legal action against all the chapels that do not comply with their terms by May 27. However, they are yet to contact the chapels.
The chapels that received the C&D, offered Presley ceremonies or had his image as a part of their name or logo. Most of these establishments were shut down during COVID and have recently reemerged in business.
The warning shook the entire Las Vegas chapel community and tourism. Presley impersonators are a big part of the community and are sought after by celebrities like Travis Barker and Kourtney Kardashian.
Melody Willis-Williams, president of Vegas Weddings and Viva Las Vegas Weddings, shared their plight in an interview on Monday, May 30:
"This could be very damaging to our industry, most of us are small businesses, and we’re up against a superpower with a lot of money. It could kill us in lawyer fees to fight this."
Clark County Clerk Lynn Goya shared a similar sentiment by saying:
"This couldn’t hit at a worse time. It’s not a good thing. It might destroy a portion of our wedding industry. A number of people might lose their livelihood.”
Various chapels have already started to remove the star's image from their websites and businesses. A couple that booked an Elvis ceremony several months ago had to settle for an impressionist dressed in a leather jacket, jeans, and a fedora for a “rock ‘n’ roll”-themed experience.
However, the C&D cannot stop people from performing as the "Rock and Roll" star because impersonating someone for live performances is considered an exception under Nevada's "right of publicity" law. The law safeguards people from performing as an artist to pay tribute.
Graceland Wedding Chapel General Manager Rod Musum shared that his business performs about 6,400 Presley-themed weddings annually. He also revealed that Graceland did not receive any warning from ABG.
With such high numbers, Presley-themed ceremonies make up a big part of the state's tourism revenue. The amount is calculated to be around $2 billion per year.
The chapels might end up getting a financial licensing arrangement with ABG to keep running their business legally. However, ABG officials have not made any comment on the issue.