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July 24, 2009

Wedding procession at ELCA church a YouTube sensation

A couple married at Christ Lutheran Church, St. Paul, Minn., has turned into instant wedding celebrities thanks to their unconventional waltz down the aisle they posted on YouTube .

By Friday afternoon there were more than 1.5 million views of the five minute aisle dance, and nearly 10,000 comments. The video was posted earlier in the week, Margery Peterson, mother of the bride, told The Lutheran on Friday.

Jill Peterson and Kevin Heinz, both 28, wowed their wedding guests June 20 when they and their seven bridesmaids, five groomsmen and four ushers boogied down the aisle to Chris Brown’s “Forever.”

The couple never intended for their loosely-choreographed processional to be a YouTube sensation, but posted it for friends and family. Said Heinz on Friday’s Today Show, “I put it up because her dad had been really harassing me to get it out to some of  his other family members, and it exploded.”

Margery Peterson said she had lost track of how many media folks she’d talked to, but that many were in their 20s and said they’d gladly join a church where dancing down the aisle was affirmed. “I told my daughter it was just a nudge toward world peace,” she said, adding that she's watched it at least once a day since. “It just makes me happy."

Christ Lutheran's church office has also been swamped with phone calls and emails today, said Matthew Maas, pastoral intern.

“People are responding because the spiritual and physical are compatible. Watching the video pulls both of these together,” Maas said.

On Saturday, the wedding party will do an encore of the now-famous aisle dance on the Today Show.

Matt Lauer was clearly amused, “If you can have that much fun at the wedding, that much fun will carry over also into your marriage. What a great sign and what a great gift.”

It was Jill Peterson’s idea, and she swore both sets of parents to secrecy: “I danced growing up and as a dancer through college and loved dance as a way to express yourself and share joy. So it was something I always thought about doing.” Heinz agreed to Jill Peterson’s idea. It was “the first thing we really decided about the wedding that he wanted to do,” she told the Today Show.

Margery Peterson said she’d only let on that the wedding would be creative. “I trusted my daughter so I knew it would be OK.”

The mother of the bride said she walked, not danced, in, but that she and others — including Heinz’s 92-year-old grandmother who walks with a cane — danced out. As did Jeannine Leonard, a pastor in the Church of the Brethren, who officiated.

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