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. (, 619 Las Vegas Blvd., South, Las Vegas, Nevada, 800-824-5732).
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 (, 306 Elvis Presley Drive, Tupelo, Mississippi, 662-841-1245) with a stop at the Tupelo Hardware Store  where Elvis bought his first guitar (, 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), (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. (, 3734 Elvis Presley Blvd, Memphis, Tennessee, 901-332-3322).


  1. great story.Iam a friend of TRAVEL WITH VAL, Imet her years ago when I was Cooking on WOR Radio,...I grew up in California and played football in Beverly hills park with Elvis. Rick Nelson, Kenny Rodgers and the guys who recorded at Sunset Sound, a popular recording studio in the late 60's. I went to VAN NUYS HIGH SCHOOL and UCLA. ONE OF MY CLASSMATES was one of Mr. Presley's Dancers and my Boyfriend was a Recording Artist for A&M Records. We would go to Elvis's house and swim and what a gracious host. Growing up in Los Angeles you are in some part of the Entertainment Business..,T.V. MOVIE ,Recording, Radio.......a note from a valley girl...Chef Melody

  2. I am so envious, Melody. What amazing memories you have of the young, sexy Elvis. Do you have any photos? If so, can you post one here?

  3. Hey, Meryl. My name is Jennie Bradford Curlee and I am the PR and International Sales director for the Tupelo CVB. I also attended the fabulous PRSA conference in Memphis last week. When you plan your trip to Tupelo, I would love to put you up and personally show you the humble beginnings of the King of Rock N' Roll. You can reach me at or at (800) 533-0611. Thanks for sharing your Elvis story and hope to see you soon in Tupelo!

  4. Hi Jennie. Once I have my dates secure I will reach out to you. This will be my second visit to Tupelo and I can't wait. Will be even more meaningful now that I've seen Graceland as well.


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