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Back-to-back weddings took place Tuesday evening in the chapel on the grounds of Elvis Presley's mansion, Graceland.
The first was faux, staged for the cameras, with country singer turned Hallmark Channel star Kellie Pickler and actor Wes Brown enacting the titular connubial climax of "Wedding at Graceland," a sequel to last year's ratings blockbuster, "Christmas at Graceland."
The second splicing was the real thing. It offered evidence that the Hallmark ideal of love and marriage in a novel setting is not restricted to the imaginations of the channel's screenwriters.
At precisely 7:26 p.m., Trey Fox, 31, production coordinator on "Wedding at Graceland," and Julie Lighty, 29, production supervisor on "Wedding at Graceland," were married at Graceland's Chapel in the Woods before an audience of about 70 people, many of whom had just finished working on the fictional movie wedding that had occurred in the same location about a half-hour earlier.
The ceremony took place during the evening "lunch" break of a 12-hour production day that began at 1 p.m.; this explains why it was "short, simple, sweet and to the point," in the words of Dr. Cletus Lynch of Greenville, South Carolina, the presiding minister (also, Julie's uncle).
"Congratulations, y'all got hitched!" said Pickler, who had traded her elaborate movie-scene wedding gown — inspired by the dress Priscilla wore when she married Elvis in 1967 — for black slacks and a pink jacket. (Brown, meanwhile, wore a copy of Elvis' paisley wedding tuxedo jacket, a Lansky Bros. special.)
"The Hallmark movies always have a perfect ending, so this sounded like an excellent place to have a wedding," said Trey's mother, Beverly Fox, surrounded by cloud-like bouquets of colorful flowers — artificial, so the petals wouldn't wilt under the hot movie lights.
Residents of the Nashville suburb of Franklin, Tennessee, and veteran film workers, Julie Lighty and Trey Fox met nine years ago, when they were students at the Watkins College of Art, Design & Film in Nashville.
They've had a lot of jobs since, but lately, Hallmark has been a major presence — and source of income — in their lives.
Trey and Julie both worked in Memphis last summer on the set of "Christmas at Graceland." Trey popped the question to Julie earlier this year in Charlotte, North Carolina, on the set of another Hallmark movie, "Where Angels Land," set to air this Christmas season. They already have jobs lined up for "Christmas at Graceland II," which begins shooting in Memphis in July.
So when Trey's mother suggested, only half-jokingly, that maybe the couple could get married at Graceland during the shooting of "Wedding at Graceland," well, "the stars just aligned," Trey said.
"At first we kind of laughed it off," Julie said. "Then we started thinking about it and decided how brilliant it would be."
When the idea was broached to Hallmark, the company eagerly assented, realizing how well a real-life wedding would complement the happily-ever-after themes of its fictional "Wedding at Graceland," set to debut June 1 as part of the Hallmark Channel's "June Weddings" lineup of original movies. As a result, Trey and Julie's post-wedding duties Tuesday night included not only traditional wedding photographs but video interviews with Hallmark publicists that may be used to promote the movie's TV debut.
"Wedding at Graceland" reunites Pickler and Brown as Laurel and Clay, the former Memphis sweethearts who rekindled their romance during "Christmas at Graceland," the production that was the Hallmark Channel's highest-rated movie of 2018. Many of the movie's supporting characters have returned for the sequel, as has director Eric Close, who also will helm "Christmas at Graceland II" (not another sequel, but a new romance with new characters).
A newcomer to the Hallmarkverse is Knoxville-born actor David Keith, cast as Laurel's father. Keith, 64, who may be best known for his role in 1982's "An Officer and a Gentleman," said he appreciated the "Elvian atmosphere" of the Hallmark movie.
"I love being a part of something else with an Elvis flavor because it's permeated my whole career," Keith said. He said his first professional stage credit was in the role of an Elvis- esque singer in a production that opened on Aug. 16, 1977, the day Elvis died; he portrayed Elvis in the 1988 "Heartbreak Hotel"; and his 17-year-old daughter was born on Elvis' birthday, Jan. 8, which is one reason he and his wife named her "Presley." "So he's kind of always been around in my life."
Production on "Wedding at Graceland" began April 11 and is set to conclude May 2, by which time locations will have included Harbortown, the roof of The Peabody, the Collierville Historic Town Square, a riverboat on the Mississippi and Miramichi golf course. Graceland filming sites include the stables and the trophy building, where lovebirds Laurel and Clay encounter Priscilla Presley, portraying (of course) herself. Another guest star is country singer Lee Brice, who performs "Can't Help Falling in Love" at Laurel and Clay's wedding reception.
"We're very blessed to be back in this place," Brown said. "It's such a team effort, I always get choked up and very grateful when I think that people (viewers) enjoyed what we did together enough that we get to do it again."
Brown said that the people working on a Hallmark production generally "all love each other," but when a couple is "truly in love," such as Julie and Trey, "it's fantastic."
Meanwhile, returning cast member Claire Elizabeth Green, 10, of Franklin, Tennessee, said her time on Hallmark sets around Julie and Trey and "Laurel" and "Clay" has provided her with some real-life inspiration.
Claire — who plays the Kellie Pickler character's daughter — wants to get married at Elvis' home, too. "I want it to be 'Wedding at Graceland, Part 2,'" she said.
Originating Source - The Commercial Appeal
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