Shelly Anderson Photography

I’ve heard of weddings where a grand surprise was revealed to the Bride or Groom as a gift from the other, but I had yet to be a part of such an event – until now.

The journey of helping Sara & Bob plan for their wedding in August 2020. The couple wanted a beautiful, laid-back, and fun wedding. They discussed hiring a local band to play for Cocktail Hour and to supply a playlist for the reception music.

This laid-back approach changed roughly 2 months prior to the wedding when the Groom reached out to me to discuss a surprise that he wanted to pull off for his Bride during their first dance. You see, the Groom had taken a chance and reached out to the lead singer of the band that they were planning to dance their first song to – asking the artist if he would be able to come perform that song LIVE…and the singer agreed! Now this wasn’t just some local band from the down the street – rather the Grammy nominated rock band Needtobreathe.

The Groom’s vision was to have the music for their first dance begin to play through the sound system, then the Groom would stop the dance claiming that it was the wrong version of the song, he wanted the live version – that would then be the cue for a section of the curtain that had been set up across the span of the room to drop revealing Bear” Rinehart (lead singer of Needtobreathe) on stage who would then play the song live for their first dance.

As their event planner, it was my job to figure out a way to execute this plan. Luckily the couple had hired Elite Entertainment to provide the pipe (structure), fabric draping, and lighting for their ceremony backdrop. We discussed how the dropping of the curtain had to happen quickly, so the energy in the room wouldn’t drop. It’s worth noting that at weddings couples often want draping set up to create the perfect ambiance for their event – the taking down of this draping isn’t done until after their event has ended. Yet for this event, as previously mentioned, we needed to have a section of the curtain wall come down quickly. We also didn’t want to take down the full curtain wall because of its beauty; especially because this was of particular importance to the Bride – she wanted to hide the stage since they weren’t planning on using it for their event (or at least she didn’t think they’d be using the stage). Elite Entertainment began testing how they could execute this curtain drop, which would require unplugging a section of string lighting before lowering the fabric. These tests were finalized just a few days prior to the event.

In addition to the dropping of the curtain, I also had to figure out a way get the artist in for a sound check prior to the bride’s arrival so his performance would be perfect. I worked with the Groom and The Rose’s production crew to have all of this done earlier in the day. I moved the 2 guitar stands and bar stools to the back of the stage so they wouldn’t stand out. When the bride arrived, I apologized for the 2 speakers on the front of the stage stating that they would be used for an event the next day, but since they would be setting up a curtain to span the room that I hoped she wouldn’t mind. She agreed that it wasn’t an issue since they wouldn’t be seen during the event. Shortly thereafter I met with the photographer, Shelly with Shelly Anderson Photography, and told her that I would need to meet with her later to discuss a surprise element – I wanted to keep as much as possible a secret for as long as possible to ensure that the bride didn’t find out.

Guests arrived for the ceremony to find The Rose event center classically decorated – Honeycomb & Co adorned the space with white roses tucked in sprawling greenery and scattered white floating candles. The couple didn’t want to have to worry about having the room flipped from Ceremony setup to Reception, so guests were invited to find their seats for the Ceremony at the same tables they would be dining at. Theses tables were draped in white table cloths with formally folded charcoal napkins; black linens dressed the service tables.

The Ceremony was beautiful and incorporated the couple’s 4 children as their wedding party. The couple chose to write their own vows which were both humorous and heartfelt and conveyed their love for one another and their children. Everyone cheered loudly as the couple were pronounced husband and wife.

Having had a majority of their photos taken prior to the Ceremony, the newlyweds joined in Cocktail Hour. Stationed and passed hors d’oeuvres enticed hungry guests and a hosted bar provided a wide variety of beverages. The Lucky Hour band, set up on the Mezzanine level, provided live entertainment for this hour-long component. Guests were then invited back into the reception space for a BBQ buffet dinner and Nothing Bundt Cakes for dessert. I revealed the secret of the upcoming performance to the photographer as guests dined; she was just excited as I was! The couple did sneak out for a few planned photos off-site during dinner for “golden-hour”, which is when I had Elite Entertainment return to help prepare for the curtain drop and when Bear, with Needtobreathe, arrived and took shelter in the Groom’s Lounge so no one would see him until the reveal.

Upon the couples return to the venue, the MC invited the Bride and Groom to the dance floor for their first dance. The MC made an announcement asking all guests to please put away their phones and refrain from taking any photos or video during the couple’s first dance – a requirement by the band since they would be performing at Red Rocks just a few months later. The Bride was confused by this announcement, but I reassured her that it had been my idea because I’d seen too many “bad” photos of people with their phones out during a couple’s first dance; plus they had their own photographer to capture their dance. Luckily, the Bride went with it – she still had no clue what was about to happen. The Sound Engineer was cued to play the recorded version of their first dance song, “Banks”, and the newlyweds began to dance. Roughly 20 seconds into the song, the Groom stopped dancing, raised his hand indicating that there was a problem, which is when the music stopped and the MC stepped in apologize to the newlyweds and guests stating that he had messed up, explaining that the Groom had asked for the live version of the song. It was at that moment that the middle curtain panel went dark and then the front curtain dropped – it appeared that something had happened with the décor at the most inopportune time. Yet, a few seconds later, the back curtain panel was lowered to reveal Bear sitting centerstage holding his guitar – the curtain drop went perfectly! Bear made a quick announcement congratulating the newlyweds and then began playing “Banks” for the couple to continue dancing to. Needless-to-say, the Bride was in complete shock and her reaction to this surprise was my favorite memory from this entire event. Every few seconds the bride would stop danicng, while in the embrace of her husband, to simply stare at the stage in disbelief. Bear played 3 more songs – for the final song, Bear asked the Bride for her song request which ended the already amazing surprise on an extremely positive note. The newlyweds and their children then went backstage to take some quick photos with Bear before his departure.

The rest of the evening was a blur of dancing, laughter, and well-wishes to the newlyweds. Guests raved about the venue, food, and of the Groom’s surprise. This was a truly amazing wedding and one that I will treasure forever. I’m honored to have been a part of this wedding and that the Groom, Bob, entrusted me with helping execute this surprise. Sara – your smile, happiness, and joy were what Bob and I had hoped for all along. May you two look back on this incredible moment at your wedding fondly and may it be the inspiration for many more incredible moments as husband and wife. Thank you and congratulations!

* Full vendor credits below.


Coordination: All Four Seasons Events | Photography: Shelly Anderson Photography | Venue: The Rose, Golden, CO 
 Bridal Attire: Luv Bridal | Hair & Makeup: Cru Studio | Bar Service: The Rose, Golden, CO | Catering: The Rose, Golden, CO  | Draping: Elite Entertainment | Cake: Nothing Bundt Cakes
Cocktail Hour Musicians: Lucky Hour Band  | A big thanks to Ty for Officiating and to Brad for providing the playlist for the entire event and for MC’ing

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