Ban on Elvis weddings could hinder our plans

While planning our July 1993 wedding, stressed by my full-time graduate studies and Dan's full-time job and living in two different cities and juggling family input, we briefly considered running off to Vegas and getting married by an Elvis impersonator.

Both lifelong church-goers, we decided against it, agreeing that it wouldn't feel like we were really married. But we promised each other that we would go to Vegas for our 10th anniversary and renew our vows in front of an Elvis impersonator.

And that's exactly what we did. Our guest list included my dad's cousin Pete (then chairman of the Gaming Commission of Nevada) and his wife, Susie; their daughter (my second cousin), Blythe; and BJ and Norm Chimenti, who were in town for a shoe show at the Venetian (BJ owned Biondi in downtown Hinsdale at the time).

We couldn't have planned a more perfect night if we had been in charge of every detail. A limo picked us up at the Mirage, where we were staying, and took us to the Shalimar Wedding Chapel, located inside a HoJo's. We walked into the lobby to see families in flip flops heading to the swimming pool, couples waiting to be married and even another Elvis impersonator, this one young and thin, clad in black pants and a gold lamé jacket.

A hand-held bouquet was included in our package, so I picked an arrangement of dusty blue silk flowers off the plastic fencing nailed to the wall and into the chapel we headed. Our Elvis - Eddie Powers - was perfect in his bejeweled white polyester pantsuit.

Susie, who has lived in Las Vegas her entire life, said she had never seen anything like it. Blythe took 36 photos in 30 minutes, many of featuring a version of Elvis' prolific smirks. I was laughing so hard my face hurt at the end of the ceremony. It was everything we had hoped for and more.

We had planned to return in 2018 for our a 25th wedding anniversary celebration, but life circumstances intervened. We decided to move the party to 2023. Since then, my best friend's daughter got engaged and plans to marry next summer. So our new date is July 2024. (Who cares if it's 30 years or 30 plus one?)

Last week we discovered yet another problem with our plans. The firm that controls Presley's name and image has ordered chapels to stop using Elvis impersonators in themed weddings. They want a cut - in the form of licensing fees - of Las Vegas' $2 billion a year wedding industry.

Fortunately, we weren't planning on going to a chapel this time around. Why mess with perfection? Instead, we plan to hire a party bus and have a progressive dinner of sorts, stopping at various iconic locations for cocktails, dinner and dessert. Our hope is to have Eddie Powers meet us at one of our stops and serenade the group with a few songs.

According to one article I read, impersonating someone for a live performance is considered an exception under Nevada's right of publicity law. Fingers crossed, our plan will work.

I can't help but wonder what Elvis - who married Priscilla in Vegas in 1967 - would make of all of this. I think the King would be all shook up to know people who couldn't help falling in love were left crying in the chapel. And he'd have one message for the licensing lawyers: Don't be cruel.

- Pamela Lannom is editor of The Hinsdalean. Readers

can email her at

[email protected].

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Pamela Lannom is editor of The Hinsdalean