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Gary Barlow surprises Oxfordshire wedding

A few weekends ago we received a Tweet from Craig Webb, Manager at The Lambert Arms, with a picture of him and Gary Barlow. Firstly we thought it was a joke, possibly a look-a-like. It turns out it certainly was not! We spoke to Craig and he reveals everything about this very special wedding guest…

You may remember Gary Barlow had been on twitter at the start of the year saying that he would gatecrash 3 weddings this year. All you had to do was stalk him on twitter and he would choose his favourite brides to sing for. Our bride Natalie was desperate for him to come to her wedding. She was a huge fan; Gary Barlow pyjamas and everything.

She really loves him and had her own twitter hashtag #GetGaryToThePurkisWedding

She really did as she was told and stalked him, even sending pictures of her baby scan.

Gary had soon performed at the 3 weddings he had promised.

The groom came to see myself and Mile (the wedding coordinator) about 6 weeks before the wedding to say that Gary’s PA had been in touch via a private twitter message, and it was all confirmed. He would be attending, but the only people who knew were Gary, his PA, the groom, myself and Mile.

If anybody found out then the leak would have come from the hotel, so it was top secret. He did not want to turn up and have other fans or press there spoiling it. So the pressure was on to keep quiet. Mile and I made a promise to just not mention it again until the day. If we spoiled it there was always the chance that he would turn up and just drive away.

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Photo credit: Tammy Carpenter Photography
Gary Barlow Wedding03
Photo credit: Tammy Carpenter Photography

In the meantime Gary had said he would perform at 5 weddings, so the brides hopes were up again. However a week before Natalie’s big day he had completed the 5. Her hopes were dashed and she really felt he would not be coming.

On the run up to the day, Mile sent diagrams of the hotel to the PA so they could decide where to arrive, park and wait before entering.

A backing CD was given to us, for the DJ. Just the backing music was needed of course.

On the night before and the day of the wedding Natalie kept saying ‘we know Gary is not coming now, he has done his last wedding’ and ‘it’s a shame Gary won’t be here.’ We just played dumb. She even talked about Gary Barlow in her speech; and organised a cardboard cut-out to be in the photo booth for the evening reception.

The time was drawing nearer, as the evening reception was starting. We had the cake cutting and the first dance (a Gary Barlow song), I think Natalie was still clinging to the hope that he might come during the first dance. But alas he didn’t, and they started dancing the night away. Happy in the events of the wedding day, but all hope now gone.

Text from the PA *30 minutes away*

By this point, the DJ was now in on the secret. I gave him the backing track, and at about 9.15pm, 15 minutes before Gary was due to arrive, he came looking a bit panicked saying the song would not play on his machine. We couldn’t just download a copy as it was just a special backing version.

Text from the PA *15 minutes away*

But like they say – being a hotel manager is easy, it’s like riding a bike, except you’re on fire, the bike is on fire and you are in hell.

I went to my office and tried it in my laptop, and it played the first time. Panic over. I snuck my laptop to the DJ without the bride seeing and all was good again.

*Text from the PA *5 minutes away*

Mile and I go to the back car park and wait for him to arrive. The brides aunt sees us and says ‘why are you hanging around here, is Gary Barlow coming or something?’. We are just having a quick fag I lied. A non-smoker with no cigarette in hand. I wasn’t sure Id got away with it, but hopefully she would buy it.

Text from PA *took a wrong turn, still 5 minutes away*

I go and give a sly nod to the groom and DJ.

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Gary Barlow Wedding07

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Gary Barlow Wedding12

Then the car pulls up. The PA jumps out, does a little recce of the function entrance, then gets Gary ready by the back door. A quick visit to the DJ confirms there is 1 minute of the current song to play, and then Gary’s song is cued up ready. I go and repeat the information back to Gary, he introduces himself to me and asks my name, we shake hands and I fail to play it cool.

When the music fades and his song starts, he walks in quite slowly singing the first few words of the song ‘Rule The World’. To start with the guests and Natalie thought it was just the DJ playing the song, but Gary made his way to the dance floor, embraced Natalie and sang to her. Her face was an absolute picture and she asked ‘are you real?’.

As you can imagine the guests were all very excited taking videos and photos of the occasion. Gary gave a super performance as if he was singing to Wembley. When the song was over I literally had to push our way out to a side entrance towing Gary by the arm so the bride and groom could have some pictures taken with their idol. The wedding photographer was still there and managed to get some lovely images that made it into the press over the next few days.

After Gary had gone, there was so much excitement, everyone was so shocked saying ‘Gary Barlow was here, Gary Barlow was here’. A feeling of relief from Mile and I were offset by the excitement of the guests.

By the Monday with the help of Natalie’s tweets it was on every major website in the country, including BBC news, ITV news Sky as well as the bride and groom being interviewed on the local radio.

It was a great wedding and a great end to the wedding. My only disappointment was that I could not share the secret with the staff to come and see him perform, but a day I will always remember.


Thank you to Craig Webb for sharing this story! The Lambert Arms is the perfect wedding venue for a countryside wedding, with easy access to and from London. Tap here to visit:

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