When Kyrsten Green married Chris Rowe in September 2018, she might have thought she was the girl who had everything, just like Ariel from her favorite Disney movie, The Little Mermaid. But, knowing his daughter’s obsession with the cartoon, her dad invited a mystery guest to her wedding. And when Green saw who it was, she freaked out.
Kyrsten Green’s story might not entirely reflect that of a Disney princess. But as a child she had certainly been obsessed with The Little Mermaid. And just like the famous animation’s lead character, Ariel, she met her prince and got her very own happily ever after. The couple’s beginnings, however, were pretty low-key.
Green works as a realtor in the Washington, D.C., area. Towards the end of 2014 she met Chris Rowe. But Rowe, rather than dazzling Green with fancy restaurants and flashes of cash, instead offered a much more down to earth setting for their first date. He took her to a bar, in fact.
To be precise, the bar that Rowe took Green to was called The Big Hunt. And although the establishment is low on opulence, it isn’t lacking when it comes to scale. Not only is it one of the oldest pubs in the area, but it also has several bars over three levels – and more than 30 draft beers.
Keeping the vibe real, Rowe opted to take Green to sample The Big Hunt’s wings and beer. While the surroundings might have lacked glamour, though, it seemed that Rowe’s choice of location was a good one. Rowe was blown away by Green, in fact, and quickly realized she was someone he wanted in his life. The feeling, it appears, was mutual.
Green thought Rowe was intelligent and charming. Rowe, meanwhile, found himself attracted to Green’s sense of humor and her affable nature. They bonded over their mutual love of travel and sports, two passions they pursued together when they were dating. And no doubt at some point, Rowe learned of Green’s childhood obsession with The Little Mermaid.
Rowe was all in. So after three years of dating, laughter and making fun of one another, he proposed to Green. Perhaps fittingly, the occasion was apparently just as low key as the couple’s first date had been. Rowe asked Green to marry him while they were at home one day in September 2017 – and she accepted.
Green and Rowe married on September 29, 2018, in Avalon, New Jersey. While not quite “under the sea”, the ceremony at least was a beachfront affair. And, unlike the first date and proposal, the pair made an effort to ensure the occasion was pretty glamorous.
Guests were invited first to a celebration the evening before the wedding ceremony. Food and drinks were served at the beach bar in a luxury resort named Icona Golden Inn. And the soiree was just the aperitif for the weekend-long event that the couple had planned for their union.
The guests who were staying for the entire weekend, as well as those who planned to arrive early, were all invited to relax on the big day itself. Since the ceremony didn’t begin until the early evening, guests were free to explore the nearby towns of Avalon and Stone Harbor, which also gave them a chance to sample the local cuisine.
There was even the opportunity for stragglers to join the bride and groom for brunch on the morning following the wedding. The emphasis, then, seemed to be that Green and Rowe’s guests should relax and enjoy themselves. And it seems that there were plenty of revelers ready to celebrate the couple’s union.
Among the wedding party alone Green had a customary maid of honor and no less than nine bridesmaids. Rowe, too, had eight groomsmen and the obligatory best man. And with plenty of other family members and friends on hand to make the day special, it appears that the couple had thought of everything.
But Green’s dad, Bob, had other ideas. Like many fathers, he wanted the best for his little girl, and so he wanted to plan an extra-special surprise for his daughter on her big day. Remembering her obsession with Disney’s The Little Mermaid when she was a child, he started to hatch a plan.
After the sunset ceremony, guests congregated in a function room for presentations, speeches and, later, dancing and frivolities. It was here that Green’s father laid on a huge surprise for his daughter. And judging by her and her new husband’s reaction, it was one that neither of them had seen coming.
In a YouTube video showing the big reveal, Green’s dad appears to be wearing a pair of oversized novelty Mickey Mouse gloves. It seems the bride isn’t the only Disney geek in the family, then. In fact, growing up, she was surrounded by them, with her whole family professing a love for the animation studio.
As amusing as the comedy gloves appear, however, they don’t seem to be in keeping with the bride and groom’s classy wedding reception. It isn’t a themed or fancy dress affair, after all. So what has possessed Green’s father to don them? And what is it that he has in store for his daughter?
Well, the father of the bride asks her what her favorite Disney movie is. And without shame or hesitation, Green replies emphatically, “The Little Mermaid.” With that, her dad then says, “Okay,” and wanders away. The newlyweds, sitting next to each other and in view of all the guests, don’t appear to have any clue as to what’s about to happen.
Green and Rowe subsequently crane their necks and shift in their seats. They watch on as her dad walks away from the wedding party and seemingly leaves the room altogether. But why would he do such a thing? Where did he go? What’s he up to? The bride and groom look as confused as everyone else.
Moments later, Green’s dad returns – but he isn’t alone. Still wearing the Mickey Mouse hands, he proudly announces, “Guess who I found hanging out.” He then strides into the room and walking alongside him, with their arms interlocked, is a woman wearing a blue dress and sporting striking red, curly hair.
The woman who has walked in on the wedding party may not be immediately recognizable to many people present. That’s because her voice is far more well-known than her face. But there’s one person who instantly knows who this is. And when the bride sees her, her reaction is priceless.
When Green sees the mystery guest whom her dad has arranged as a wedding surprise, her jaw hits the floor. Her father had clearly wanted to do something extra special for his daughter on her big day. And judging by her response, he had nailed it. Moreover, his inspiration came from her childhood obsession.
Though the mystery woman’s face wasn’t necessarily famous, she nevertheless had a distinctly familiar look about her. Her red hair had an uncanny resemblance to a lead character from a certain Disney cartoon from 1989, in fact. And it’s her vibrant tresses that might give a clue as to her identity.
The woman’s name is Jodi Benson. She’s a 57-year-old actress who, in the 1980s, appeared in the Broadway musical Smile. According to Revolvy, at a 2014 reunion of the production the actress described her turn in the musical as “the first piece of the puzzle of my life, the first step of the journey, so to speak.”
Indeed, Benson’s most famous role was still to come. It did, however, have a connection to her appearance in Smile. She would once again work alongside that show’s wordsmith, Howard Ashman. And as it happened, Ashman went on to pen the lyrics to a certain Disney animation that Green fell in love with.
Though Benson herself may not be instantly recognizable to many, her voice is perhaps close to unmistakable. She is best described as a voice actress, and in 1989 she provided the voice of Ariel, the central character in The Little Mermaid. And there she was as a surprise guest at the Green-Rowe wedding.
The look on Green’s face when she sees who has joined the reception is priceless. Mouth agape, her eyes widen; she obviously didn’t have a clue what her dad had planned for her. She then clasps her hands to her open mouth as if to contain the emotions that she’s clearly overcome with.
Rowe, perhaps not as big a The Little Mermaid fan as his bride, might well be counted as one of those who don’t instantly recognize their unexpected guest. But when his father in law announces that he found the woman in question “by the sea,” the penny finally drops. And Rowe appears just as shocked as his new wife.
“So, for anybody that doesn’t know, Jodi Benson is the voice of Ariel from The Little Mermaid,” Mr Green explains, giving the surprise guest a formal introduction. The crowd cheers wildly. But even after hearing these words and seeing Benson in front of her, Green still doesn’t seem to quite believe her eyes.
Green continues looking on, mouth agape, in complete disbelief. Only this time, she gets up from her seat, scurries over to Benson and they gave each other a big, welcoming hug. Proof, then, if it were still needed, that Ariel really was at the wedding. The surprises didn’t end there, however.
“She’s here to sing for you,” Green’s dad proudly reveals. And with that, Benson takes her position at the front of the room. “Thank you so much for having me,” she says. “It is incredible to be here this evening.” And there’s a surprising reason why the opportunity seems to be so exciting for the actress.
“This is my first time to ever sing at a wedding that isn’t my family,” Benson goes on to reveal. The crowd cheer at the revelation, although there’s a good explanation for why the actress’ career never took the wedding-singer path. You see, The Little Mermaid may be her best known role, but it’s by no means her only one.
Not only did Benson again lend her voice to Ariel in The Little Mermaid’s sequel, prequel and TV spinoff, but she also landed other prominent voice roles, too. Among the most notable were perhaps her performances as Barbie in the hugely successful Toy Story 2 and its follow up Toy Story 3.
And Benson’s success didn’t end there. Other significant roles include Weebo in Flubber alongside comedy legend Robin Williams. She also gave Thumbelina her voice in 1994 and performed as Helen of Troy in Hercules in the late 1990s. Moreover, she even had a live-action role in the Disney fantasy Enchanted.
And with a reprisal of her role as Barbie still to come in Toy Story 4, there has undoubtedly been little space in Benson’s timetable for wedding appearances. That Green’s dad was able to convince her to come and sing at his daughter’s reception, then, was quite an achievement.
Benson offers her congratulations to Green and Rowe. She then takes to the stage and sings “Part of Your World” from The Little Mermaid. The song, which includes the lyric “Wouldn’t you think I’m the girl, the girl who has everything?”, is one of the standout tracks from the movie.
“Part of Your World” is a song in which Ariel touches upon her wish to become human. She’s prepared to sacrifice her life under the sea as a mermaid princess for one as a human on dry land. And throughout the rendition at the wedding reception, Green can be seen enthusiastically singing along to every word.
Benson’s rare wedding performance was captured by videographers Carlisle Films, who in fact had documented the entire day for newlyweds Green and Rowe. And when the media company posted the video to their Facebook page, it went viral. To date, the footage has been viewed more than 17 million times.
At the end of the scene, TV screens show an old photo of the Green family. There’s a young-looking dad and a happy mom gazing lovingly at her daughter. Between the pair of them stands a very young Kyrsten, staring adoringly at her father. She was, of course, wearing a The Little Mermaid top.
In The Little Mermaid, Ariel of course meets and falls in love with a prince. And although Rowe may not have a royal title, Green found her very own prince charming when she met him in the fall of 2014. As their wedding page states, Rowe still finds it hard to believe that he’s with her.
Disney movies are meant to capture the hearts and imaginations of kids, and often of adults as well. The Little Mermaid certainly worked its magic on the young Green, and the little girl was smitten. It’s something her dad has never forgotten, and at her wedding he created an extraordinary moment that will last a lifetime.