Going to the chapel — and viral on TikTok — for Metro Detroit newlyweds

It was a typical post-wedding photo shoot on Saturday for Detroit photographer Faith Rowley, owner of Faith Rowley Photos. Then the unexpected happened.

There was the backdrop of Dodge Park in Sterling Heights. The newlyweds’ friends Thomas and Santina Connolly blocked entrances to a bridge so Rowley could get the perfect shot overlooking the Clinton River.

As they finished filming, a group of kayakers on their way to the bridge broke into a song and belted out the Dixie Cups ‘popular’ 60s song “Going To The Chapel of Love.”

“It was a moment you will never forget him for the rest of your life,” Rowley told The Detroit News.

The moment itself, as the photographer and the bride and groom describe it, was incredible and chaotic. Moments earlier, an elderly couple came up to the couple and told them that they were now sharing an anniversary, which made the performance extra emotional.

Rowley said she had never seen a scene like this in her five years as a photographer.

But despite the unique situation, she knew she had to get it on camera. “However, it was also a moment when you knew, ‘If I record this, it’ll be big on TikTok,” she said. “So I quickly opened my bag and grabbed my phone before they went by because it was all going so quickly.”

In fact, it went viral. By Sunday afternoon, Rowley’s TikTok had accumulated more than 2 million views.

In the video, Santina and Thomas looked surprised by the serenade. While Thomas didn’t recognize the song, Santina recognized it – as if it were fate, she had scrolled it through TikTok herself.

Commentators also gave their approval. They called the scene “blessed,” “enchanted,” and “so cute” to name a few of the hundreds of comments that were left on the video.

Rowley places text over the video asking if the couple’s wedding day was actually a romantic comedy. Thomas, similarly impressed, told the group “I should have hired you for the DJ” as they passed by.

“It was a lovely icing on the cake,” he said.

Thomas and Santina, who met four years ago when they were both students at Grand Valley State University, said the whole wedding was full of strangers paying compliments. It was a nice way to start their special day that lasted for a year.

The couple are both from Metro Detroit, which makes it important to them to celebrate their wedding in the area, said Thomas.

And Thomas said he was grateful to be able to hold the wedding without any public health restrictions. But they haven’t booked a honeymoon yet and were too concerned about the state of the pandemic to plan a trip months in advance. They will take the next week off and then have their honeymoon at a later date.

At the moment they are basking in the feeling of being surrounded by friends and family – and some singing strangers.

“The kayakers definitely surprised us, but in a good way,” said Santina. And: “They were really, really good singers.”


Twitter: @alex_harring

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