Time could be running out if you’re looking to be married by an Elvis impersonator in Las Vegas. ABG, the licensing company that owns the rights to Elvis Presley’s likeness, served cease and desist orders to several Las Vegas wedding chapels who offer Elvis-themed weddings. The move comes mere weeks before Baz Luhrmann’s Elvis is due to hit theaters on June 24 and chapel owners are all shook up that the move will topple the iconic Vegas tradition.
According to the Las Vegas Review-Journal, ABG owns the rights to "Elvis Presley’s name, likeness, voice image and other elements of Elvis Presley’s persona in advertisements, merchandise and otherwise." They also maintain that "Elvis," "Elvis Presley" and "The King of Rock and Roll" are included in their list of protected trademarks. ABG also oversees the licensing rights to the Marilyn Monroe and Muhammed Ali estates.
ABG’s move comes shortly after Kourtney Kardashian and Travis Barker tied the knot on April 4 with an Elvis impersonator as their officiant. They made the split-second decision to marry following the Grammy Awards but later had to call it a "practice wedding" because they didn’t have a marriage license ahead of the ceremony.
Getting hitched in Vegas with an Elvis impersonator is fairly common among Hollywood A-Listers. Lily Allen and David Harbour (Stranger Things) and Sophie Turner (Game of Thrones) and Joe Jonas join "Kravis" in the Elvis Wedding Club — that we know of, anyway. Lots of celebrities get married in Las Vegas but what happens in Vegas tends to stay in Vegas, unless Diplo live streams your wedding on his Instagram Story the way he did for Sophie and Joe’s nuptials. (Also, thanks, Diplo! We all appreciated that.)
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Elvis Presley has always been synonymous with Sin City. In 1964 he starred with Ann-Margret in Viva Las Vegas and over the years he performed regularly in the city, most notably when he performed 57 shows at the newly opened International Hotel (now the Westgate Las Vegas Resort & Casino) in 1969. But it was his 1967 wedding to Priscilla in a little chapel on the famed Las Vegas Strip that made "Elvis weddings" an inextricable part of the fabric of Las Vegas.
These days, people come from all over the world to have their wedding officiated by Elvis impersonators. Dubbed the "Wedding Capital of the World" with well over 5 million weddings performed to date, getting hitched is a $2 billion dollar per year industry in Sin City.
Chapel owners can’t help having suspicious minds about what’s driving the push to end Elvis-themed weddings. Elvis Weddings’ Kent Ripley believes that the wedding industry is helping to keep the King’s image alive for generations of fans young and old. "We get bookings that have been planned for three, four, five years to have an Elvis wedding. [ABG wants] to protect the Elvis brand. But what are they protecting by taking Elvis away from the public?"
It’s possible that licensing deals could be struck between ABG and wedding chapels to allow for the Elvis weddings to continue. Let’s hope that there’s a little less conversation and a little more action so that a deal can be struck to save Elvis weddings in Las Vegas.
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Sarabeth joined the What to Watch team in May 2022. An avid TV and movie fan, her perennial favorites are The Walking Dead, American Horror Story, true crime documentaries on Netflix and anything from Passionflix. You’ve Got Mail, Ocean's Eleven and Signs are movies that she can watch all day long. She's also a huge baseball fan, and hockey is a new favorite.
When she's not working, Sarabeth hosts the My Nights Are Booked Podcast and a blog dedicated to books and interviews with authors and actors. She also published her first novel, Once Upon an Interview, in 2022.