Bringing Elvis Presley into My Life in a Personal Way: Tupelo, Memphis and Las Vegas

Bringing Elvis Presley into My Life in a Personal Way: Tupelo, Memphis and Las Vegas

Elvis Presley is on my mind this week. I just returned from Memphis, visited Graceland twice in three days, and signed up for a return visit to Tupelo, Elvis’s birthplace, in the fall.  It’s only fitting that I describe the Elvis event that my family participated in not too long ago: it truly made Elvis larger than life for us.

Elvis Presley Birthplace, Tupelo

Our plan started innocently enough, with an idea to renew our vows in a way completely contrary to a traditional wedding. And it led us to the Graceland Wedding Chapel in Las Vegas for an experience none of us would ever forget.

Our two sons were our only witnesses, wearing blue suede shoes and humming "Love Me Tender" instead of "Here Comes the Bride." My gown?  A kicky '50s body-conscious sailor dress with a signature Elvis scarf. My husband sported a white silk boutonniere (no real flowers anywhere in sight). And our officiant? A fringe-clad Elvis impersonator, Norm Jones, holding a Liberace-style candelabra instead of a Bible, as a videographer recorded each precious second.

We renewed our vows, but this time the marriage was in the eyes of both the King and God, to a processional of "Viva Las Vegas."

Elvis and the Graceland Wedding Chapel

Elvis, looking more like the exhausted, bloated rock star of his later years than the pelvis-swiveler who partnered with Ann- Margret, led us through an emotional ceremony filled with song and sentiment, Vegas-style. With strains of "Can't Help Falling in Love" filling the air, I promised to take this man, my "hunka hunka burning love," to be mine all over again, and "never return to sender."

In response, my hubby vowed to "never, ever leave me at Heartbreak Hotel" and to "always be my loving teddy bear." The kids handed each of us the rings to seal the pact, and, after a kiss for posterity, the four of us danced arm-in-arm with Elvis down the aisle to our waiting limousine, Elvis's pink Cadillac, to start our journey to the rest of our lives.

If you’re thinking about renewing your vows or even getting married for the first time, with a funky twist, Graceland Wedding Chapel’s for you. Stand in line and join the celebrities who have gotten hitched there (besides us), including Bon Jovi, Billy Ray Cyrus and Aaron Neville. (http://www.gracelandchapel.com, 619 Las Vegas Blvd., South, Las Vegas, Nevada, 800-824-5732).

Graceland
Sun Studio

It’s not a bad idea to immerse yourself in all things Elvis before you go. Begin in Tupelo at Elvis Presley’s family shotgun house (http://www.elvispresleybirthplace.com, 306 Elvis Presley Drive, Tupelo, Mississippi, 662-841-1245) with a stop at the Tupelo Hardware Store  where Elvis bought his first guitar (www.tupelohardware.com, 114 W. Main Street, Tupelo Mississippi, 662-842-4637).  Then drive an hour and a half to Memphis, for a tour of Sun Studio (where Sam Phillips gave Elvis his start), www.sunstudio.com (706 Union Ave., Memphis, Tennessee, 901-421-0664) and ending with the ultimate pilgrimage, a visit to Elvis’s final resting place at his mansion Graceland. (http://www.elvis.com/graceland, 3734 Elvis Presley Blvd, Memphis, Tennessee, 901-332-3322).