Picture this: you’re at your wedding, boogying away on the dancefloor with your girlfriends and new hubby. One of your favourite songs – Take That’s A Million Love Songs – starts playing, except something sounds different. It’s being sung live. Someone calls your name, you turn around and who do you see? GARY BARLOW, serenading you. And it’s NOT a dream.
That’s exactly what happened to bride Louise Francis when – after a year-long campaign on social media – the Take That frontman showed up unannounced at her nuptials to childhood sweetheart Mark last March.
The event appears in Monday’s When Corden met Barlow (9pm, BBC1) which sees the comedian take a road trip with the Take That singer. “When I saw him, I didn’t know what to do,” says Louise who was completely in the dark about the surprise. “I was gobsmacked. I bent down and put my head in my hands. What do you do in that situation?”
After Gary’s entrance, warbling his nineties hit, he offered the happy couple a hand-written card – “the first card I put up when I got home” – and took photos with all the guests. “He said to me, ‘It’s a pleasure to be here, I hope you have a lovely day,’ and all I could say was, ‘I love you Gary.'”
And in one final surprise, Barlow produced a microphone and performed Relight My Fire with the bride. “I’m not the greatest singer so I was quite embarrassed,” adds Louise. “I just thought, ‘savour this moment, just keep staring at him and touch him if you can.’ I kept touching his face and I don’t know why. He was so nice and not at all diva-ish.”
Barlow’s appearance was engineered by Louise’s best friend and maid of honour, Emily Alcorn, who tweeted him every day for a year using the hashtag #getgary2louswedding.
Six months into her campaign, she had supporters across the globe tweeting signs of the hashtag, eventually catching Barlow’s attention at a Children in Need concert last year before receiving a message from the singer on Twitter.
“I honestly thought he’d contacted me for a restraining order,” explains Emily. Instead he revealed he was planning to make her best friend’s dreams come true, swearing her to secrecy until the moment he walked onto the dancefloor. “The whole place erupted because no one knew,” she recalls. “Louise was so shocked. She always had the Take That t-shirts, she always went to the concerts and she had all the dolls.”
There’s just one problem… “How do I ever repay her?” jokes Louise.