When they heard the wedding video had been erased, the newly married Gottfrieds were distraught. Kayla cried as she told her mom the news.
The day of the ceremony had been beautiful. Drew and Kayla exchanged vows in the gazebo of a friend’s house that had recently been turned into a wedding venue. As they walked away from the altar, just having been presented as Mr. and Mrs. Drew Gottfried, balloons soared into the sky. The couple hadn’t yet finished college, and Drew was just old enough to legally drink.
But they would have to rely on photos and good old fashioned memories to relive the day. They had taken the wedding tape to a local video editing store to be burned to a disc, but the shop called a day or two later and said the tape was blank.
There was nothing to do but move on and try to hold the day in the mind’s eye.
But 14 years later, after the couple had established their life together in Pleasant Hill, Ore., raised two children and tried to give up wondering what the video might have been like, Drew got a message from a friend who had been going through old boxes at their church.
The message was nonchalant, but Drew found it almost unbelievable. He didn’t know it yet, but millions of people on TikTok would soon help him celebrate his 14th wedding anniversary with Kayla.
She was forbidden as a young woman from trying on her dream wedding gown because she’s Black. Now, at 94, she finally did it.
On Tuesday, their anniversary, the couple went out for dinner at the ramen spot where they had their first date. Over the meal, Kayla reminisced about the wedding and how much she wished they had a video — just like the two did on any other anniversary, she said. Drew chuckled to himself internally, mindful of maintaining his poker face.
A copy of the Gottfrieds’ video had survived, somehow. Or maybe it was the original, and the tapes had gotten switched in the post-wedding bustle.
The supposedly erased tape had been sitting in a box for all those years. And the box the tape sat in was at their church, which they attended every week.
So Drew did what any good, surprise-loving husband would do. He kept it from Kayla for two months and waited for their anniversary for the big reveal.
Kayla didn’t know what the plan for the rest of the night was after dinner. They headed toward a local movie theater in downtown Eugene, Ore., where Drew had set up some kind of private viewing. Kayla wracked her brains trying to think of what movie they could possibly be watching. They liked “Galaxy Quest,” so maybe it was that? “Top Gun?” Neither guess seemed meaningful enough to call for this level of suspense, she thought.
After the previews, which the theater played to allow the mystery to dangle for a bit longer, Drew told Kayla he was going to record her reaction to the film.
“I was like, okay? I could not think of anything that would be so exciting,” Kayla said.
The first voice Kayla heard was her mother’s.
But then the motion picture sprang on to the screen, and the venue where they had exchanged vows more than a decade ago came into view.
Laughter and the excitement of pre-wedding chit chat faded in.
“Make sure that they have programs!” some dutiful wedding guest or bridesmaid or family member said as Kayla dabbed at her eyes, 14 years in the future. Frank Sinatra crooned in the background.
Kayla spotted her aunt, who had died about a year earlier, sitting in the crowd. The video unleashed a cascade of memories.
Three women discovered they were dating the same man. They dumped him and went on a months-long road trip together.
The couple had met during college, on a muddy soccer field. They started dating in 2006 and were married a year later. They had been babies, Kayla said. But time raced by. They racked up anniversaries and other milestones, remembering their wedding day but never again watching it unfold.
Now, thanks to the unexpected discovery, the time capsule of the day has been digitized and lives safely on a thumb drive.
Initially, Drew had planned to record Kayla’s reaction to the video just to show her mom. But Tuesday, he decided to make the clip his first post on TikTok so other family and friends could watch it easily.
“We woke up the next morning and it already had like 30,000 views or something,” Drew said. “I was like, ‘Oh, that escalated quickly.’ ”
By Thursday evening, it had been liked more than a million times and viewed more than 4 million.
As the world learned about their love story, Kayla and Drew reflected on their years together.
“I just feel like we were really able to grow up together,” Kayla said. “Even though 14 years have gone by, I still feel that young, giddy love.” Drew said they never had to merge two separate lives — theirs were joined from the start.
Drew said he’s glad they could share the joy of watching the thought-to-be-lost video with others. Comments on the TikTok poured in, with viewers chastising Drew for making them cry so early in the morning and sharing their own wedding video mishap stories.
Drew has set the bar astronomically high for future anniversaries, Kayla said. Maybe it’s time to start hiding sentimental items to recover years later.
Have a story for Inspired Life? Here’s how to submit.