On Saturday night at Cescaphe’s VIE on Broad Street, a lovely local bride named Lisa White, who had just married Paul Getz, stepped out onto the dance floor to join her father, Dave, for their dance to the song “My Little Girl” by Tim McGraw.
Her father had just ended his speech and invited everyone to get out of their seats and come gather around the dance floor for the moment. The song starts, and Lisa and Dave are dancing and chatting, when Lisa finally faces and focuses on the stage. It’s then that she notices that it’s not Dondi Allen, the lead singer of her wedding band Jellyroll, singing an excellent cover—it’s actually Tim McGraw. Tim McGraw, looking very dapper in a tux and tux-appropriate cowboy hat. Her face says it all:
Now, I don’t know about you, but I always wonder how these things get pulled off—and here I found myself in a position to find out! Laura and Paul used some seriously awesome Philadelphia vendors, and I chatted with them this week about their very exciting gig this past weekend.
Turns out that by the time Mr. McGraw took the stage, only about five people in the world (minus the singer’s stage crew and band) knew this was happening. The first vendor looped into the plan was Jellyroll bandleader (and BVTLive! owner) Kurt Titchenell, who received a call from the bride’s father early this month, cluing him into the superstar’s cameo. He was sworn to secrecy—not even telling his own band!—and immediately began coordinating with McGraw’s production team.
They wanted to bring along some of their own sound gear and lighting, so Titchenell worked with them to seamlessly incorporate their equipment with his, ensuring that they could switch back and forth between systems before and after the country singer’s performance. “The funniest thing is that Jellyroll performs at Vie often—but we showed up much earlier than usual, and the system we were setting up was so much larger than our regular sound system that generators had to be brought in, and so the staff was asking us about the really cool new sound system we had,” says Titchenell. “Fortunately, I was able to explain it away by attributing it to the larger than normal guest count at this wedding, as there were 500 guests.”
Luckily, everyone bought the explanation—except CinemaCake videographer Dave Williams, who figured there had to be some sort of surprise about to happen, and wanted to be sure he was poised and ready with his camera. Knowing it’d be best for Williams to be prepared, Titchenell whispered “Tim McGraw” and swore him to secrecy, but that was enough—Williams was ready.
Cescaphe’s Rose Olivieri was the only other vendor who knew about the surprise—the bride’s father had explained that he had always wanted to do something extra special for their father/daughter dance, and so after they chose Tim’s song, decided to reach out and see if he could get him to perform—which meant that husband and wife photographers Alison and Geoff Conklin were in the dark, too—until the moment before the dance began. “The father of the bride asked me to stand in the middle of the dance floor and shoot the father/daughter dance with the band in the background, and to shoot as many photos as possible,” says Geoff Conklin. “I thought this was kind of strange, because we typically like to shoot friends and families in the background of first dances—so then we knew something exciting was going to happen. Not until he came out and the place started going nuts did we know what was happening, though. Alison and I think it’s one of the most amazing things we’ve ever seen at a wedding. We figured he’d sing the song and then leave, but he ended up staying and singing about 10 songs”
“The hardest part was keeping it a secret,” says Titchenell, “but if this was going to work, no one could know. The best thing, though, was knowing what was about to happen, and watching the reactions of not only the bride and groom, but of my Jellyroll musicians and the VIE staff when Tim walked on stage.” Titchenell says he received a very happy thank-you note from the bride’s father, and that that’s what really makes it all worth it.
“This was really a top-quality, wonderful wedding to begin with,” says Geoff Conklin. “They had wonderful vendors and the couple was so sweet and fun to work with … but obviously this took the night to a whole other level.”
Congrats to Lisa and Paul, all of these fabulous vendors—and our star FOB, Dave White. We have a feeling Lisa won’t forget a moment of this night for the rest of her life.