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Las Vegas Wedding Services Warned Against Unapproved Use of Elvis’ Name


Elvis impersonator Brendan Paul, right, walks down the aisle during a wedding ceremony for Katie Salvatore, center, and Eric Wheeler at the Graceland Wedding Chapel in Las Vegas. (AP Photo/John Locher, File)
Las Vegas Wedding Services Warned Against Unapproved Use of Elvis’ Name
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A company that controls the name and image of Elvis Presley has warned wedding service companies in Las Vegas not to hold ceremonies centered around the singer.

The licensing company, Authentic Brands Group, has sent cease-and-desist letters to several wedding chapels, the Las Vegas Review-Journal reports. A cease-and-desist order is a legally enforceable order from a court or government agency that directs a person or organization to stop an activity.

The letter states that the company will no longer permit unapproved use of Presley’s name, likeness, voice image or other materials related to the music star. The letter also said that “Elvis,” “Elvis Presley,” and “The King of Rock and Roll” are legally protected names.

Las Vegas, Nevada is a popular place for people to get married. And many wedding service companies in the city offer Elvis-themed ceremonies. Some companies say removing Elvis elements from their offerings will greatly harm their business.

Charles King sings as Elvis as he marries Alicia Funk, center right, and Vaughan Chambers at A Little Wedding Chapel on May 12, 2020, in Las Vegas. (AP Photo/John Locher, File)
Charles King sings as Elvis as he marries Alicia Funk, center right, and Vaughan Chambers at A Little Wedding Chapel on May 12, 2020, in Las Vegas. (AP Photo/John Locher, File)

Kayla Collins operates LasVegasElvisWeddingChapel.com and the Little Chapel of Hearts with her husband. “That’s our bread and butter,” she told The Associated Press. “I don’t get it. We were just hitting our stride again through COVID, then this happens." To “hit one’s stride” means to begin doing something effectively again after a slow start.

Lynn Goya is a local official who has led marketing campaigns that sought to position Las Vegas as a wedding center. She said the order for chapels to stop using Elvis elements could not have come at a worse time. The city has suffered from a lack of visitors during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The city's wedding industry brings in about $2 billion a year. Officials say many wedding ceremonies have Elvis themes. “It might destroy a portion of our wedding industry, Goya said. “A number of people might lose their livelihood.”

In a recent statement, Authentic Brands Group said it has strong relationships with Elvis performing artists and fan festivals. The company added that it does not want to close all chapels offering Elvis-themed ceremonies in Las Vegas.

Brian Mills, right, as Elvis marries Richard Johnson and Cheryl Bell of Peoria, Ariz. at the Viva Las Vegas wedding chapel Wednesday, Sept. 9, 2009 in Las Vegas. (AP Photo/Isaac Brekken)
Brian Mills, right, as Elvis marries Richard Johnson and Cheryl Bell of Peoria, Ariz. at the Viva Las Vegas wedding chapel Wednesday, Sept. 9, 2009 in Las Vegas. (AP Photo/Isaac Brekken)

“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…” Authentic Brands Group said.

The company also oversees licensing issues for big names like movie star Marilyn Monroe and boxer Muhammad Ali.

Presley has longstanding ties to Las Vegas. His 1964 movie, Viva Las Vegas, led to a music hit of the same name that became the city’s unofficial theme.

In July of 1969, the star redefined Las Vegas residency shows with live performances at the Las Vegas International Hotel. The show was supposed to last only four weeks. But it ended up continuing for more than 600 shows. It ended in December 1976.

In this May 1, 1967, file photo, singer Elvis Presley and his bride, the former Priscilla Beaulieu, appear at the Aladdin Hotel in Las Vegas, after their wedding. (AP Photo/File)
In this May 1, 1967, file photo, singer Elvis Presley and his bride, the former Priscilla Beaulieu, appear at the Aladdin Hotel in Las Vegas, after their wedding. (AP Photo/File)

Presley himself got married in Las Vegas in 1967 to his wife Priscilla.

Kent Ripley owns a business called Elvis Weddings. He said he has never had to deal with this kind of issue during his 25 years performing as Elvis. “They want to protect the Elvis brand,” Ripley said. “But what are they protecting by taking Elvis away from the public?”

I’m Bryan Lynn.

The Associated Press reported this story. Bryan Lynn adapted the report for VOA Learning English.

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Words in This Story

license – v. to give someone official permission to do or have something

chapel – n. a small church or room used as a church in a building

theme – n. the subject of a book, film, event, etc.

bread and butter – n. a job or activity that provides a person with enough money to live on

livelihood – n. the way someone earns their money

authorize – v. to give permission for something to happen

residency – n. a long period of time when an artist performs in one place instead of touring from place to place

brand – n. a kind of product made by a particular company and sold under a particular name

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