Guess who's coming to dinner?
St. Ambrose alumni Katie Kerr and Chris Sabino, both members of the Class of 2006, may have to do just that on Sept. 21.
Sure, as is customary, the suburban Chicago couple included an RSVP postcard in invitations to the 305 guests they hope will attend their wedding on that day.
Problem is, that RSVP card was so amusingly clever, it went viral on the Internet, made worldwide news and, now, many of their would-be guests are choosing to hang on to the famous card as a keepsake.
"We are actually getting calls from our family and friends who say they aren't sending our RSVPs back because they like them too much,'" said Kerr. "It was funny at first, but now we have no idea how many people are planning to attend."
That's the price of fame.
Kerr, who earned her SAU degree in journalism, might have foreseen the potential for the RSVP card to become an Internet sensation. She is the social media manager for PersonalizationMall.com, a Chicago area company that sells gifts online.
But, even for a pro, the relatively new and always fast-changing world of social media is anything but predictable. At most, Kerr said she thought the amusing addendum to their wedding invites might get 30 upvotes - the equal of a Facebook "like" - when she posted it to Reddit in late July.
"Obviously we didn't think we were going to become national news," she said.
First came a call from a reporter for the Huffington Post, a popular website which includes a page devoted to weddings. "She did a quick story and I thought that was going to be our claim to fame," Kerr said.
"The next day, the Chicago Tribune called and their story made it go even bigger," reported the bride-to-be. "By 3 p.m. that day, we were the front page story on MSN.com, before even the royal baby. That's when we were like, ‘Holy heck!'''
Two stories on Chicago television stations and a video on the Tribune website followed, and then the news was picked up and reported on national TV networks Fox and ABC and on more popular websites such as AOL and Yahoo. A Google search for "Kerr-Sabino RSVP" will get 10 pages of results and the fame hasn't receded just yet. An appearance on the nationally syndicated Steve Harvey Show may be in the works, Kerr said.
"We have been told that people saw the story in Singapore, Ghana, Montreal, Mexico, England, Italy and some other countries as well," said Kerr, who subsequently has received wedding gifts from a couple of total strangers in California. "I don't know if I could estimate the number of people who have seen the RSVP, but thanks to being on the front page of MSN and Yahoo, etc., I would think it would have to be in the millions, easily."
It would put a tidy bow on the story to report the two Ambrosians got together via social media, but that wouldn't be accurate. They met instead on their first day of college, became good friends and even dated once near the end of their sophomore year under the oaks.
They remained friends through and beyond graduation, but began dating seriously only two years ago. Interestingly, though, Kerr said she recently rediscovered a teasing Facebook message sent to her by Sabino in 2007, one she didn't take seriously at the time.
"It said, ‘I can't wait for our Medinah wedding,"' she said of the famous suburban Chicago golf club where her father is a member. "And here we are, almost 10 years from the first day we met at St. Ambrose, getting married at Medinah."
Now, if they only knew how many guests might be joining them.