When your wedding goes viral: Real couples weigh in on YouTube fame

Drake and Terra Otto recently appeared on "Good Morning America" to perform their dance again.
Drake and Terra Otto recently appeared on “Good Morning America” to perform their dance again.
Via YouTube

You’ve likely seen their videos on YouTube; you may have even shared them on your own Facebook page. Perhaps they made you cry — or roll your eyes. You may have scrutinized everything about them and refer to them as “that ‘Dirty Dancing’ couple” or “the epic proposal guy.” You might love them. Or you might hate them. It’s easy to forget that the people in wedding and proposal videos that go viral online are actually just that: people. People who say they had no idea their most intimate moments would spread like wildfire for all the world to see.

It all started with one wedding party in one church dancing down the aisle to one Chris Brown song in 2009. From there, the trend steamrolled the Internet — but the last few months have seemed especially fruitful, thanks in part to two couples you’ll likely recognize.

Drake and Terra Otto (aka the “Dirty Dancing” couple)

These newlyweds from Minneapolis have been happily married since Aug. 24. But their first few months of wedded bliss have been peppered with interviews, a “Good Morning America” appearance and fan mail. It all started from a shared childhood love of the movie “Dirty Dancing.” Their spot-on rendition (yes, lift included) of the film’s famous finale at their wedding reception has been viewed more than 3 million times on YouTube.

“I wanted an element of surprise for [our wedding guests] that would not be on the agenda,” Terra Otto told Metro. “More than anything, it was to make our family smile and it really got the dance party started.”

Drake bought Terra dance lessons for her birthday and with the help of an instructor, they practiced and planned in secret. The couple said they asked their wedding videographer to shoot the footage just so they could easily email it to friends and family. They got such a positive reaction to the clip that they eventually agreed to let the videographer post it on YouTube. It took off from there, though they say they never expected it to spread so far. The couple mostly receives positive feedback from people on the Internet who say their video brightened their day, but they aren’t immune to a handful of haters.

“People say things like, ‘We will see how long this couple lasts,’” Terra said. “It’s laughable because anyone who knows us knows it’s a forever thing.”

Drake added, “I’ve seen a few [accusatory] attention-seeking comments, but it comes down to the people who know and love us, and they don’t think that.”

Justin Baldoni (aka the epic proposal guy) and Emily Baldoni

The Baldonis, of Los Angeles, are also no strangers to criticism. After Justin posted his “lengthy” 27-minute elaborate proposal, the couple, who both work in entertainment, received a rash of negative comments, calling their video over-the-top and staged. The proposal, complete with choreographed dance routines and footage of Justin asking permission at the grave of Emily’s father, has been viewed more than 6 million times.

“I knew I wanted to do something really big because that’s my personality,” Justin said. “I love planning surprises and that’s kind of the way I am built.”

The couple said there was no ulterior motive behind posting the video, and they didn’t even upload it until six months after Justin, a filmmaker by trade, proposed. Acknowledging that the decision to post the video on YouTube thrust them into the public eye, the Baldonis, who married on July 27, said they never imagined it would get this kind of attention.

“It only got difficult when people were writing really mean stuff because it is such a private thing and it can’t be more us,” Emily said. “Then people hated it and that made it difficult to know that people like that would see it.”

Justin said they contemplated removing the video after some particularly harsh media coverage. It was around the same time that a friend of the couple going through a very hard time told them the video made her smile, he said. They decided to keep it on YouTube, saying bringing inspiration or joy to just one person was worth it to them.

“That was our sign,” Justin said. “It just showed me that there are people that just need to not like something and the YouTube community has been built in a way that people feel entitled to say what they want to say. I think people forget that there are human beings behind these videos that feel pain and go through trials like they do.”

To those who criticize the video for being too long, Emily responds that it was her special moment with Justin.

“People automatically think it was made for the public,” she said. “It could have been three hours.”

Worth it

Both the Baldonis and the Ottos agree that the decision to make their videos public was worth it to them. They attribute the “viralness” to peoples’ underlying desire to see something that just makes them feel good.

“Reading the comments from people who thanked us for sharing it, and said they lost hope on love and we gave it back to them, it made it all worth it,” Emily said. “I’d show people even more to make other people happy.”

“You see so much negativity in the media and then you see something positive and relatable and people gravitate towards it,” Terra Otto said.

“Everybody loves weddings,” Drake added. “Well, most people.”

Follow Cassandra Garrison on Twitter: @CassieAtMetro


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