Surprise Wedding Reception


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Produced by Charlie Todd and Matt Adams / music by Tyler Walker

For our latest mission, we picked a random couple getting married at the City Clerk’s Office in Manhattan and threw them a surprise wedding reception. The couple was treated to dancing, toasts, cake, and gifts, all with complete strangers. Enjoy the video first and then check out the mission report and photos below.


Digital Video: Agents Adams, Shafer, Schackman
Digital Photography: Agents Sokoler, Slocum
Mission Inspired By: Matthew Benjamin

We met at 1 PM on a rainy Monday afternoon at Foley Square, a public park just across the street from the Office of the City Clerk (and also coincidentally the meeting point for our annual No Pants Subway Rides.) I was worried that the weather was going to ruin the mission. We had no back up plan.


Agent Briefing

When I arrived at the park I noticed there were four large, white tents by the fountain. They were set up for some type of job fair. I chatted up a woman working for the fair. She told me they were leaving in less than an hour and happily gave me the number for the party company that had set the tents up. I managed to talk the party company into keeping the tents up for another two hours (for a reasonable price, of course.) It was a beautiful moment of serendipity. There is no way we could have secured a permit to set up tents for a wedding reception in the middle of New York City, but since they were already up and permitted for someone else, we slid right in. Not only would the tents keep us dry, they would also make the whole reception much more authentic.


Setting up

While the rest of the agents went to go set everything up in the tents, I headed over alone to the marriage bureau. My task was to select the random couple who we’d offer the reception to. I had visited the building a few times in the weeks leading up to the mission to get a feel for how the system worked. There were probably forty couples waiting in line to either get married or get a license for a marriage on a future date. I quickly spotted a couple that looked perfect for our mission; they were next in line to go into the wedding chapel. The bride was wearing a white dress and had her father with her. The groom was dressed in a suit with a boutonnière and was accompanied by both of his parents and his sister. The family members were taking photos of them, and they all seemed so happy. They stood out from the other couples, most of whom were by themselves and in casual clothes.

As soon as they emerged from the chapel, I rushed outside to prepare to greet them on the front steps of the building. To capture the moment, I wore a wireless microphone and had Agent Schackman film me from about forty feet away.


Greeting the couple

As soon as they got outside, I approached the couple and informed them that I was from the mayor’s office and we were giving a “free wedding reception” to one random couple today. Before I could even finish telling them all of the things we had set up, the bride laughed and said, “Let’s go!” I had been a little nervous that they might turn it down (maybe they already had plans to celebrate somewhere else?) and figured I might have to ask a few couples before we found the right one. Nope. They were immediately down. “Can’t say no to that,” the groom told me and then added, “We’re cynical New Yorkers so this is a little hard to believe.”


The bride and her father on the steps

On the way over I learned their names, Raff and Frank. They were both enthusiastic on the short walk over, though I’m sure they were a little suspicious about the whole thing. When we turned the corner and got to the other side of the fountain, they were met with a huge cheer from their fifty-person wedding reception.


Frank and Raff laugh as Frank’s sister snaps a photo

Our “cater waiter” Agent Silver greeted them with two champagne flutes filled with cider, and our “wedding planner” Agent Reeves introduced herself.


Reception guests form two lines and cheer as the couple walks through

Our DJ, Agent Dunn, cued up Michael Buble’s “Crazy Little Thing Called Love,” and Frank and Raff had their first dance as a married couple.


Frank’s sister and Raff’s dad take photos of the first dance


The wedding party joins the couple on the dance floor

The father of the bride dance was next. DJ Dunn cued up The Temptations’ “My Girl” and Raff danced with her dad. We had Agent Wimpy on hand to play the role of father of the bride in case our bride didn’t have her father with her, but it was all the more awesome that her real dad was there.

After the special dances were over, it was time to party. DJ Dunn had prepared a playlist of wedding favorites for everyone to dance to.


Agent Dunn in his wedding DJ attire


The Electric Slide


The Macarena


A random woman in the park dances along to The Macarena

This mission wasn’t focused on getting reactions from the random New Yorkers who happened to walk by. I hadn’t really thought about how strange it would be to come upon a wedding reception in a public park on a Monday afternoon at 2 PM. Throughout the party, people stopped to smile, take photos, and even dance along to the music.


Agent Lathan gives the Best Man toast

The toasts were next. I instructed the Best Man and Maid of Honor to give the best toasts they could, considering they had never met the couple. Rather than making up specifics, they chose to just say nice (though vague) things about the bride and groom.


The bride and Maid of Honor meet each other for the first time


Raff and Agent Lindquist, fast friends!


“To the couple!”


Agent Lee writes the couple’s names on the cake


Family taking photos of the cake

After everyone had a bite of cake, it was time for the bouquet and garter tosses.


Raff’s sister-in-law catches the bouquet


Agent Purnell catches the garter

Agent Sokoler took some posed photos both with the “fake” wedding party as well as the real family.

Agent Lindquist bought the bridesmaid dresses on the cheap at Old Navy and then spruced them up with pink bows. Agent Fairey bought matching boutonnières for the groomsmen.


Sneaking a kiss


The real family

After the photos, Frank and Raff opened up their gifts. We had around 20 gifts wrapped for them. Most of them were gift cards to a popular store (we didn’t want to give them a bunch of heavy presents to carry unexpectedly.) Agent Gordon had recently gotten married himself, and he wrapped a couple of gifts he received but didn’t want. So it was nice for them to get a couple of non-gift card presents as well.

It was time to send the couple off, or at least around the block. Agent Simmons distributed bird seed to everyone (bird seed is the new rice, in case you didn’t hear), and we prepared to shower the couple.


Agent Simmons

I rented a pedicab for the occasion to take Frank and Raff for a brief post-reception ride. Agent Toledo decorated it with streamers and a “Just Married” sign.


One last kiss for the crowd

Once they got back from their pedicab ride, Frank and Raff packed up their presents and told their wedding guests goodbye. I took them aside and confessed that I wasn’t actually from the mayor’s office (if that wasn’t completely obvious by now). I explained that we were just a group of people who liked throwing fun events like this. It was a small break of character, but one that didn’t seem too important. This was pretty far from a prank, and the experience wasn’t changed by the confession. I had only told them I was from the mayor’s office to get them on board. It seemed more convincing than, “I’m a complete stranger who wants to throw you a party.” We exchanged contact information so I could arrange to send them the photos and video.


The family leaving the reception

The reception was an incredibly fun time. We had planned to stage the mission for more than one couple, but Frank and Raff were just too perfect. They stayed for over an hour and completely yes-anded everything we threw at them. There were moments where it felt like we actually did all know each other and you sort of forgot you were “acting.”

The day after the reception, I got an email from Frank and Raff:

Whatever becomes of our “scene” we just wanted to say thanks because it was freakin’ hilarious. The most important thing for us is that you gave us just about the best wedding story anyone could have to pass on. Take good care.

Not a bad outcome for a rainy wedding day in Lower Manhattan. Thank God for those tents. Congrats to Frank and Raff!!!!

Mission Accomplished


OTHER RESOURCES:

Many more photos in higher resolution:
Agent Sokoler’s Flickr Set
Agent Slocum’s Flickr Set
Agent Scott’s Flickr Set

Our very talented Agent Adams and Sokoler are available to film and/or photograph weddings in the tri-state area. Contact them at mattadamsapple at gmail _ com

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Comments

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264 Responses to Surprise Wedding Reception

  1. domob17 says:

    This is far the best and the most touchy-feely prank ever! Thanks and nice job again IE!

  2. You guys are my heroes, and I want to grow up to be just like you. I mean it. Thank you for continuing to give random people their Best Day Ever — people need that more than ever in these days of nothing-but-bad-news.

    While I feel like I’m constantly drowning in a community of outdated theatre that’s completely ego-driven, audience-ignorant and self-serving, I’m always encouraged by ImprovEverywhere, because you do it for the audience. That’s it. You do it so that the audience can have an incredible experience. That’s all I want to do. When I’m doing solo street work, that’s what I do. Agents must find it a mind-blow to be a part of a gigantic group that has that as its common goal. Fantastic!

  3. Keren says:

    That was really sweet, you really made their day. Definitely a story they could pass on to their kids and grandchildren.
    Nice job!!!

  4. Norman says:

    Roman
    June 2, 2009 at 12:37 pm

    Someone still hasn’t realized the meaning of April Fools’ Day jokes =) (@Norman)
    ************
    Roman and anyone else. I am well aware that the funeral was an April 1st joke and that it was not a real funeral. That still doesn’t change that I felt it displayed lack of judgment and poor taste on the part of Improv Everywhere.

  5. laura says:

    What a wonderful idea and execution! Looks like everyone had a lovely time, and the recipients of the “pranking” were right – they’re going to have an amazing story for their children, grandchildren, etc. to hear and retell. Good on you!

  6. martin_tf says:

    Nice one, looks like a great day.

  7. Powers says:

    Raff is laughing in every single picture. You think she had a good time?

  8. RobertM says:

    I agree this topped the airport greeting prank and the Little League game fan prank.

    For those who are still miffed about the April Fool funeral prank – It was bogus. All parties were agents. The prank was on us, the fans. Good grief!

  9. Vidman says:

    Much better than the fake funeral :)

    Made me giggle

  10. IE Junkie says:

    I do love this one. I do, I do.

  11. This is amazing, loved it!

  12. Carlos Neto says:

    Charlie, you make me love life. Thank you for it. Can’t wait to be in one of your great ideas. Come to Iowa!!! We could do something related to Gay marriage.
    :]

  13. Excellent! What a happy surprise for a couple….and she’s right, a GREAT story to tell about their wedding day.

    (and, it’s another example of an affordable-yet-fun wedding/reception.)

    Kudos, IE. Best wishes Frank & Raff!

  14. Art says:

    Nice job! Loved the toast!

  15. Kelly Hudson says:

    Brought tears to my eyes too!!! Such a wonderful story for them. Oh god, too much happiness.

  16. Amy says:

    Love it love it love it. What a wonderful thing to do to make so many people so happy.

  17. April says:

    So great. You made their day even more memorable. What a great story.

  18. El Jefe says:

    Bravo. I think I may have a new favorite IE mission.

  19. This was such an awesome gift for that couple! I wish I knew the couple so I can hear their stories of the best wedding gift ever. Speaking of wedding gifts, good move with the gift cards.
    This is one improv I’d love to see happen again.

  20. Becca Smith says:

    No joke, I teared up the whole time I was reading this story…so incredibly perfect! Awesome job, Charlie and agents!