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On January 24, 2015, I married my best friend, Ryan. And by January 27, 2015, the wedding in our sleepy hometown had been featured in several news outlets including USA Today, ABC News, E! Online, Cosmopolitan, and The Huffington Post.
Let’s rewind. Back in the summer of 2014, before the media whirlwind, there was just an idea. A crazy one, to be honest. When you get engaged, many people ask the same question: "How did you meet?"
“Mutual friends and mutual love of the Backstreet Boys,” we’d say.
After reiterating this fact for the umpteenth time, it got me thinking: What if we invited the Backstreet Boys to our big day? They had a substantial presence in our relationship, so why not? As a marketing professional, I knew we couldn't just send a pretty invitation to their fan-mail address (even if it did have an awesome bow). We needed to do something bigger. We needed to put ourselves out there. We needed a video.
This is the usually the point where my creative ideas fizzle out. Lots of initial forethought, but no follow through. But after months of teasing the idea and convincing Ryan to embarrass himself on the Internet, I wrote the script and we filmed the video.
Sharing your personal story with the world can be a scary thing. Especially if there’s a seemingly impossible call-to-action as the focus. What if we get laughed at? What if we spend all this time on these resources and we fail? Nevertheless, it was now or never. We would never get this kind of opportunity again. After starting the self-promotion campaign on my Facebook page, I received a message from my friend Rob Landers. Rob is a reporter for our local news source, Florida Today, and he wanted to write a story about our video. Awesome, we thought. Rob composed a fantastic article with a perfect placement in the Sunday edition of the newspaper. After the story broke and dozens of family members and friends shared it, our video received a huge bump in views. It was a great feeling. And then the momentum stopped. For over two months. The story died out, as one usually does over time. Rob and I kept to our Twitter rounds, tweeting at every Backstreet Boy– and wedding-related handle we could find. But no response from the Boys. Not even a "thanks, but no thanks" mention.
A week before the wedding, we publicly admitted defeat. Even if BSB happened to scramble to get to the wedding last minute, the information they could gather from the video was limited (we left out specific times and venues). Disappointment set in, but we had so many other aspects of the wedding to be excited about. The truth is, as long as my groom showed up, it would still be the best day of my life. The rest, as they say, is icing on the cake.
So we carried on. The rehearsal dinner was fabulous and the wedding ceremony was absolutely beautiful. I managed to keep my emotions in check until it was time to recite our vows. Committing your life to your soul mate in front of loved ones is such a marvelous thing.
After our photographer took a thousand photos, the bridal party entered the reception venue for introductions. Ryan and I took our first dance as a married couple to the tune of Lucky by Jason Mraz and Colbie Caillat. A little nerve-wracking, but awesome. Time to sit down for the toasts.
All of a sudden DJ Shane announces Rob Landers of Florida Today. My first reaction is "Oh hey, Rob's here!" Ryan asks, "Wait, what is he doing here?" What was he doing there?
This is when things start getting a little fuzzy. Rob says something about the Backstreet Boys loving our video and reads aloud a letter from them. Whoa, they actually know who we are! The Backstreet Boys acknowledged our video and gave us a memento. We had succeeded!
But that's not all. One name was missing from the signatures. "What about Howie?" "Well, Howie actually wanted to tell you this in person." "Ladies and gentleman, please welcome Howie D. of the Backstreet Boys!"
Then I fainted. Well, not exactly, but I felt a little lightheaded and my legs turned to goo. Ryan and I were holding each other up when Howie entered the venue. Half of me was intently watching and listening to Howie's every word, while the other half was just in a constant state of shock.
Then, well, you know what happened next: the serenade. It was everything we could have wished for and more. After the song and some marriage advice, he left the building.
The rest of the night felt like a dream. Our friends Keira and Sam gave epic wedding speeches. Lots of dancing and party games ensued. We closed out the party with a stellar rendition of what else: Everybody by the Backstreet Boys. It was the perfect evening.
The next morning, our faces were splattered all over the Florida Today Sunday paper (Thanks, Rob!). From there our story blew up. After breakfast, we completed an interview at Orlando's Fox 35 studios. Throughout the next few days, our friends and family kept sending us messages: "Wow, Cosmo wrote an article about you!" "Did you see E!'s video on the wedding?" "USA Today has you as a trending story!"
Our two-day honeymoon became a real-life media blitz. It kept building and building until we were spotlighted on ABC News and on The Huffington Post, as well as their respective social media pages. It was the height of our "15 minutes of fame."
What many people do not realize is the emotional aspect of being a top story. You look at all of these heartwarming tales in the news or on social media and think, "Wow, that's great, but that could never happen to someone like me." But it did. We were those special people, if only for a brief moment in time. That fact is still unbelievable, even three weeks after the fact.
While Ryan definitely had his "wow" moments, I think it hit me the hardest. In my life, I had never been someone with a good deal of self-confidence. I loved writing, making videos, performing, and marketing, but I never felt like I was good enough to truly make something of myself.
But my little ol' video was the catalyst to this incredible story and it made an impact. Since that day, there has been a major shift in my thinking. I really can do anything I want to do. I have the potential. Now, to figure out where I go from here. Luckily, I have an amazing new life partner to help me along the way.
If we could say anything to Howie today, we would thank him profusely for his appearance at our celebration. To him, it may have been just a short afternoon stop, but to us, it was a game-changer. We're happy the timing worked out and that he received much-deserved recognition for his kind gift.
Love is all we have to give.