Elvis Presley passed away in 1977, but in Las Vegas, "The King of Rock 'n' Roll" is still alive and singing his greatest hits. Except, now his audience isn't music fans in large arenas; it's couples getting married or renewing their vows at A Little White Wedding Chapel on Las Vegas Boulevard, a downtown Vegas wedding chapel.
That's right – Elvis would love to serenade you and the rest of your wedding party to the tune of "Love Me Tender," or any other one of his classic hits on your special day.
Okay, so it's not really Elvis. But the guy that plays Elvis – Joey Franklin – will have you fooled. Franklin, a long-time entertainer, shares a striking resemblance to The King in appearance and voice. Stop into A Little White Wedding Chapel the next time you're in the mood to tie the knot with your sweetheart, or a tourist you just met 20 minutes ago, and see for yourself.
Vegas.BUZZ sat down with Franklin following a recent wedding ceremony to discuss his life as an Elvis impersonator and get some information about the iconic Las Vegas wedding chapel.
Walk down the aisle with Elvis
When you book a Tribute to Elvis Package, Elvis sings you two songs (one before and after the 10 to 15-minute ceremony). Franklin also often walks the bride down the aisle after he sings his first song. The three most requested songs might come as a bit of a surprise: "Love Me Tender," "Can't Help Falling in Love" and "Wonder of You."
Were you expecting to see "Blue Suede Shoes" on the list? Franklin says this song is "very seldom" requested. He also says he sometimes wishes customers would request a wider range of songs since he seems to sing the same ole’ songs over and over again.
A Little White Wedding Chapel has been around since 1951 and is a popular place for unique Vegas weddings. Therefore, it shouldn't come as much of a surprise that the Las Vegas chapel has hosted weddings for many celebrities, including Michael Jordan, Britney Spears and Bruce Willis.
Franklin even had the pleasure of renewing Hall of Fame pugilist Oscar De La Hoya and his wife's vows at 2 a.m. following a boxing match.
The man behind the 'Blue Suede Shoes'
Franklin, who speaks with a strong southern accent, grew up in Paducah, Kentucky, which is right in the heart of Elvis country. He was always a huge fan of Elvis and realized at a young age that he "kind of sounded like him" when he sang.
He moved to Las Vegas many years ago to pursue the occupation he was destined for – an Elvis Presley impersonator, and has been working as Elvis at A Little White Wedding Chapel since 2004.
Franklin is not just an ordinary Elvis impersonator. This guy is extremely talented and proud of his job. He's worked hard at channeling Elvis, and it shows. So much so that he's often hit up by random people to sing an Elvis song, even when he isn't dressed in his Elvis attire.
As for his favorite Elvis song, he says, it's hard to pick just one. "He recorded over 750 songs," he explains, adding, "I love 'Don't Be Cruel,' which he recorded in the '50s, 'Suspicious Minds' is a great song and that was his last No. 1 hit while he was alive."
If you're interested in a one-of-a-kind Vegas wedding, and you love Elvis, the Tribute to Elvis Package at A Little White Wedding Chapel just might be a dream come true. Franklin's genuine passion and strong resemblance to Elvis make him perfect for this Vegas job. Once you meet him, you'll agree.
-From Jan Sofen, Vegas.BUZZ