Belfast Telegraph

Wednesday 17 September 2014

How celebrities from John Bishop to Chris O'Dowd made guest appearance at Banbridge couple's wedding

The man behind a wedding video featuring star-studded messages of good luck for the bride and groom has said he was "absolutely gobsmacked" by the generosity of the celebrities who took part.

Golfer Graeme McDowell, actor Chris O'Dowd, television presenters Eamonn Holmes, Clare Balding and Colin Murray and rock band Ash were among the well-known faces who passed on their best wishes to newly-weds Michael (28) and Victoria Henning (26) at their reception in the Galgorm Hotel on Friday.

The video montage, organised by Michael's younger brother and best man Stephen, has since gone viral, notching up over 23,000 hits on YouTube.

Other celebrities who offered words of advice to the happy Banbridge couple were Neighbours actor Alan Fletcher, athlete Paula Radcliffe, footballer Jonny Evans, comedians Ed Byrne and John Bishop, Welsh athlete Iwan Thomas, the cast of BBC show Mrs Brown's Boys and members of the Ulster rugby squad.

Stephen came up with the idea at the start of the year, when he began approaching celebrities via social networking site Twitter. In order to send them private messages with his unusual request, he had to ask them to 'follow' him first.

"I'd say about 90 or 95% of the celebrities who agreed to do it did so through Twitter," he said. "I started off posting on their timelines, asking them to follow me because I had an important question to ask them. To be honest, I only expected to get two or three videos, from local celebrities like Graeme McDowell and Colin Murray.

"I think a lot of the others agreed to follow me out of curiosity, to see what the important question was that I wanted to ask. I was only tweeting so many a night because I was conscious that if they did follow me, they'd think that it wasn't just them I was interested in.

"Once they followed me, I private messaged them and explained that my brother was getting married and that I'd love them to record a message for their wedding. When I'd a few on board I was able to tell them who else was doing it, which made it look more legitimate."

First to respond was Paula Radcliffe. She also roped in athletics hero Steve Cram.

"Paula was so generous and helpful," said Stephen. "And Eamonn Holmes was so lovely. We talked about doing the video as a breaking news piece. He suggested opening and closing the video.

"It's amazing to think that someone like Chris O'Dowd, who is the man of the moment, would do something like this."

He added: "My own personal favourite was from Colin Murray, because he did it in the studio. He'd probed me for information about Michael and his message was very funny. But to be honest, I was absolutely gobsmacked that so many celebrities took the time to do this. I never thought for a minute it would go this far."

The video was such a hit on the day Stephen received a standing ovation from the guests. And the happy couple were delighted.

"I kept looking at Michael during it and his jaw was on the floor. They were both stunned," he said.

But despite teasing from Ed Byrne and John Bishop that he'd taken the easy way out from having to make a speech, Stephen did stick to tradition.

"I made a 10 or 15 minute speech beforehand then said, 'Before I ask you to toast the happy couple, I have one more surprise for them'. So I didn't get out of having to do the speech after all."

- Maureen Coleman

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