NEW YORK • It was the stuff of a great pop song: On a sunny afternoon last Saturday, Taylor Swift, one of music's biggest stars and a notorious romantic, joined an unsuspecting couple's wedding at the Brant Beach Yacht Club on Long Beach Island, New Jersey.
"I apologise for wedding crashing," she said to the couple, Mr Max Singer and Ms Kenya Smith, and about 100 guests, before sitting down at a piano and performing her hit song Blank Space.
Though the surprise appearance made headlines and spurred breathless tweets and Instagram posts, Swift was not the couple's first choice for guest of honour. That distinction had been reserved for the groom's mother, Ms Janey Singer, who died in November at 62, two months after being diagnosed with lung cancer.
The groom's sister, Ms Ali Singer, said in an interview that the couple decided to marry quietly last year in a hospice care centre with Mr Singer's mother. There were no rings exchanged and no walk down the aisle, but there was music. The groom and his mother danced to Blank Space, one of his favourite songs. His mother died days later.
Ms Singer said of her new sister- in-law: "Her selflessness, to take a day where it's all about you, and drop it all to get married in a room so my mom could be there, was incredible, and really showed their true partnership together."
It was not the wedding the couple had envisioned, and they wondered if they should keep their original plans for a June wedding as well.
Ms Singer, who works in advertising at Facebook, helped take over the planning from her mother.
The plans for the surprise began when a family friend heard that Mr Singer, 29, had read his graduate school application essay to his mother weeks before she died. An Army captain who had served in Iraq and Afghanistan - and an unapologetic fan of Swift's - Mr Singer decided to break up his essay into themes, each related to song titles from Swift's album 1989. The family friend asked Mr Singer for a copy and, unbeknown to anyone, sent a batch of letters to people she hoped could help reach Swift.
Swift was a last-minute RSVP, approving the request days before the wedding. But her appearance, which included a handmade picture for the couple, "restored everyone's faith in humanity", Ms Singer said.
In a video of the surprise performance, Swift paused briefly to say she never thought she would be singing the song, about many loves gone sour, at a wedding. But, she said, "what Max and Kenya want, they get".
NEW YORK TIMES