A newly married couple’s first dance is a time-honored tradition that is often one of the emotional highlights of a wedding. As the newlyweds shuffle around the dance floor, you see, reception guests watch as they connect in a deeper way than the legal formalities of marriage. But for one couple, uninvited guests made their moment even more special.
Sara and Brandon McInnis from Watertown, Wisconsin, had a wonderful day planned for their nuptials, of course. It would naturally be a day to remember for the rest of their lives – but friends of the family went above and beyond to make it truly unforgettable. When June 24, 2017, came around, though, the couple had no inkling that they would be welcoming a few extra guests.
The McInnises’ special day was held at Sugar Island Barn, Watertown. The venue measures 4,000 square feet and sits on a plot covering six acres. And on the day of the wedding, the barn itself was transformed into something out of a woodland fairytale. So it probably couldn’t have been more romantic.
The barn in fact featured twinkling lights on almost every bit of exposed wood, Sara and Brandon’s names spelled out in a sparkling font out front and a huge dance floor next to the dining area. To most people, then, it would seem absolutely idyllic and certainly not lacking in the romance factor. But one of Sara’s friends had a way of making their wedding day still more special.
It was all to do with the couple’s first dance. And one thing that the McInnises shared in common was their love of the band Rascal Flatts. Indeed, they had planned as their first dance one of the group’s songs: “Bless the Broken Road.” Everything was organized with the DJ, in fact, and the choice of tune would make their first dance truly personal for them both.
For those of you who aren’t familiar with country music, Rascal Flatts are a country music trio who came together in 1999 and have since become one of the most successful bands in their genre. The group is made up of singer Gary LeVox, guitarist Joe Don Rooney and bassist and vocalist Jay DeMarcus.
Rascal Flatts were actually a success right from the start too. Their debut single, “Prayin’ for Daylight,” was an instant hit, for instance, and another track – “I’m Movin’ On” – from their first record won the Song of the Year at the 2000 ACM Awards. The years since have seen them go from strength to strength as well. So if by chance you decide to go and see them perform live, expect a packed-out stadium.
But let’s get back to the McInnis wedding. So the couple’s family friend Tammy knew how much the newlyweds adored the band and spotted an opportunity. She explained her plan in a video that was later posted to the Rascal Flatts Facebook page. In it, she says, “I knew that Rascal Flatts was up at Country USA, and I thought, ‘You know what, wouldn’t it be really cool if they could stop [by].’”
And figuring that she had nothing to lose, Tammy contacted the band to see if they were available. She says in the video, “I sent them an email and gave them kind of a little background story about Brandon and Sara and who they are.” After that, all she could do was wait and hope for a response.
Then, amazingly, the group agreed to show up! They even filmed a video of their excursion to the McInnis wedding. The clip begins with footage of the band driving there and Gary LeVox speaking to the camera. He says, “What’s up, everybody? It’s Rascal Flatts. Check it out: we’re going wedding crashing today!”
LeVox then goes on to explain to Rascal Flatts fans how the band came up with the plan. “We had a fan write in to us and tell us that her friend was getting married today,” he says. “We’re only like an hour away from that wedding, so we’re going to go over there, crash Sara and Brandon’s wedding.”
Getting into the spirit of the surprise, LeVox goes on to say, “Right now we’re on our way, and they have no clue!” Don Rooney then reveals that the band are going to do more than just crash the wedding. In fact, the band are there on a special mission.
“The cool thing is that we’re going to be playing their wedding song,” Rooney says. “They were going to dance to this song anyway, but now we’re going to play it live for them!” LeVox adds that he feels honored to have been chosen for such a task.
LeVox says, “We get to play their first dance as husband and wife and that’s just… I mean, it’s so special, you know, to be a part of that.” Next, the video focuses on the main event: the big reveal to Sara and Brandon. The actual ceremony is over by the time the country music trio arrive, of course, but still the couple has no idea that big-name stars are in the vicinity.
So, having tuned up outside the venue in the car park, the band are all set to make the day even more special for the newlyweds. Now, then, it’s up to the bridesmaid to create some tension – and she does a wonderful job. The couple know something is going on, of course, but they could never have guessed the truth.
Standing in the center of the dance floor, the bridesmaid addresses the couple. She says, “Okay, I’m not musically inclined at all, so we needed a little extra help for the surprise for you guys. So, I will hand it over to them.” And who should walk in, guitars at the ready, but Rascal Flatts.
Screams erupt from the hall of guests as soon as the band steps through the door. And the couple’s reaction is everything Tammy and the band could have wanted. Sara clearly can’t believe her eyes and puts her hands over her mouth in complete shock. She even brushes away a tear. Next to her, husband Brandon seems just as shell-shocked.
“Hey everybody!” LeVox cries, giving the guests a big wave. “We were in the neighborhood, so we thought we would swing over!” He adds, “Congratulations, you guys! Let us play a little song for you, please!” But the band don’t start until they have greeted the happy couple properly.
LeVox actually gives Sara a close hug while saying his congratulations. Brandon then shakes hands with members of the band while Sara is treated to another hug, this time from Rooney. It’s a fitting warm-up to the couple’s all-important dance, which will be to their favorite song.
As promised, the band sings “Bless the Broken Road” while the couple dances. The footage shows the truly heartwarming moments as Rooney sings into the microphone and the pair are locked in an embrace on the dance floor. It also looks as if the newlyweds still can’t believe it; they repeatedly laugh in shock throughout their dance.
It wasn’t just the couple who were shocked at Rascal Flatts’ appearance, though. In fact, people working at the venue weren’t even told. Co-owner of Sugar Island Barn Brady Robus recalled, “We looked out the window here, and we see three more black SUVs, and they open the door to talk to them, and my bartender was like, ‘That’s Rascal Flatts.’ I’m like, ‘Shut up.’”
It seems that only Sara’s sister knew about the surprise, and her secrecy paid off. “When they started walking in, we knew immediately who they were. I started bawling; [Brandon] started crying,” Sara later told TV station News Channel 5. Once they had recovered some composure, though, the couple were interviewed for the Facebook video, and they were seemingly happy to explain their choice of song.
“It’s kind of a song that explains everything for us,” Brandon muses. Sara adds that the song reflected how their relationship was “the real deal” and that God had blessed them with what they have together. They certainly seemed loved up on the dance floor, nestled into each other and swaying to the gentle melodies of their wedding song.
Yet although they’d never expected to see Rascal Flatts in their wildest dreams, the couple knew that there would be a revelation at some point during the day. “We had some clue there would be a surprise. We didn’t know what it was and that was awesome!” Brandon says.
But the couple later told News Channel 5 that although they were overwhelmed by the gesture, their attention had solely been on their partner when the time had come to dance. They’d apparently found that they forgot who was playing and lost themselves in the moment of being a happy couple dancing together.
The band and the couple also wished one another good fortune. “One of the best things was that they said they were going to be praying for us,” Sara recalled. “Because obviously marriage isn’t an easy thing; it’s kinda difficult. So we’ll be praying for them, they’ll be praying for us, and it was a great, great, great experience.”
The happy couple couldn’t express enough gratitude towards their surprise guests, in fact. “Thank you so much for making our wedding day literally unforgettable,” Sara said. “I mean, it was already unforgettable, but I can’t even talk!” Brandon added, “This is a blessing, it really is a blessing.”
And it wasn’t just the newly married Sara and Brandon who made the most of the band being there, either. Countless guests also had their pictures taken with the stars, who were seemingly only too happy to oblige. As seen in the Facebook video, the band didn’t rush off once their job was done and enjoyed making small talk with friends and family.
Rascal Flatts were just as thrilled to be part of the big day, in fact. In the clip, LeVox says, “Brandon and Sara were amazing. The people were great. They were surprised. It was awesome.” He then looks straight into the camera and says with a cheeky smile, “Hey, wedding crashing, maybe in a town near you!”
The video was later shared on Rascal Flatts’ official Facebook page with the caption, “Wedding crashing… Coming to a city near you! ? Sending a lifetime of love and happiness to Brandon and Sara. It was an honor to be part of your special day.” And needless to say, the clip proved a big hit with their fanbase.
In fact, the video has been viewed more than 2.3 million times, has received 42,000-plus reactions and has been shared over 13,000 times. It has also raked in thousands of positive comments from loyal Rascal Flatts fans who were overjoyed to see their act of kindness.
“We can’t thank you all enough for your kindness and class. You and your crew are a phenomenal, selfless group,” one user wrote. Another wrote, “I would have fell over! That was always my childhood dream to have Rascal Flatts sing at my wedding… How blessed is this couple!”
Others wondered if they might take the opportunity to get Rascal Flatts at their own weddings too. One hopeful wrote, “We are getting married 07/17/17 in Las Vegas, in beautiful Chapel of the Flowers. We love many of your songs, and ‘Why Wait?’ is actually one of the reasons why we decided on getting married on our vacation from Norway to USA :D It would be super awesome if you crashed our wedding :D Getting married with three 7’s in the date just has to be a love jackpot!”
Of course, this isn’t the only time that celebrities have crashed weddings. Yet not all of these situations are planned in advance. In 2016, for instance, Elisabeth and Ryan’s wedding photos in New York’s Central Park went viral because they were graced by a certain Mr. Tom Hanks. It seems that the Academy Award-winning actor had been out on a jog when he cheekily poked his head into a snap.
Yes, the newly married pair were getting some idyllic wedding snaps taken in the park before the superstar literally ran into them. The photographer, Meg Miller, later had a few words to say about what happened after the online community went crazy for the story.
Miller told the BBC, “We were photographing the bride and groom in Central Park, and a guy on a jog started to slow down near the couple. He leaned in close as he took off his hat and sunglasses and said, ‘Hi, I am Tom Hanks’ while reaching out to shake the groom’s hand.”
For Ryan, it was an unbelievable moment. He said, “A man tapped us on the shoulder and introduced himself as Tom Hanks. It was pretty surreal. I didn’t register for a split second. I was shell-shocked.” He also added, “He was so nice and kind. He could have just kept running, but he posed for photos with us and my family.”
The couple then invited Hanks to attend the reception, but he was otherwise engaged. As a compromise, though, he offered them something far better. Ryan said, “He actually offered to perform our ceremony as he’s ordained, but we’d only just taken our vows. Maybe he can help us renew them one day.”
Hanks himself also shared the adorable moment on Twitter with the caption, “Elisabeth and Ryan! Congrats and blessings! Hanx.” Needless to say, the episode only served to enhance Tom Hank’s all-round-nice-guy reputation.
For Sara and Brandon and Elisabeth and Ryan, then, their special days were made even more wonderful by some very unexpected guests. And whether it is Rascal Flatts or Tom Hanks, it looks like this celebrity wedding crashing craze is catching on! So the question is, who would be your dream mystery guest? You never know… it could just come true!