Ellen DeGeneres is well-known for setting up surprises on The Ellen Show, but some of her best surprises have been for people she wanted to lift up for being who they are.
Thanks to a tweet sent by a sweet lesbian couple, addressed to Chrissy Teigen and The Ellen Show, Ellen not only invited the couple to sit in the audience of her next show, but she also had a special surprise waiting for them.
Couple Kate Austin and Sarah Sulsenti arranged a beautiful photo shoot in front of the Eiffel Tower in Paris. During the photo shoot, the photographer asked Sulsenti to turn her back to the camera, during which Austin got down on one knee and proposed.
Unfortunately, Austin and Sulsenti knew they didn't have a particularly welcoming party waiting for them back home, due to Austin's mother's unwillingness to accept Austin being gay.
Knowing that her parents wouldn't be taking part in their special occasion, Austin reached out to someone the couple idolized in their relationship and their openness about their sexuality: Ellen DeGeneres.
In a tweet, Austin explained her situation and asked Ellen if she would be willing to come to their wedding to accompany one of them down the aisle or to assist in a "father/daughter" dance. The tweet was accompanied with three particularly beautiful images of their shared proposal in front of the Eiffel Tower.
"My parents aren't going to attend my wedding because they don't like that i'm gay! i need someone to walk me down the aisle and someone else for a "father/daughter" dance. plz come, my fiancee and i would cry."
hi @chrissyteigen & @TheEllenShow!! my parents aren’t going to attend my wedding because they don’t like that i’m g… https://t.co/e78zRMhEfq— Kate Austin (@Kate Austin)1572965760.0
Not only has the tweet gone viral, boasting more than 29 thousand retweets and more than 184 thousand likes, but it also drew the attention of Ellen DeGeneres herself.
In a quick tweet, Ellen replied:
"See you tomorrow."
See you tomorrow. https://t.co/M8rxmUdlM6— Ellen DeGeneres (@Ellen DeGeneres)1574128586.0
During a segment on the show called "Show Me Your Tweets," Ellen read a few funny tweets that had the audience laughing. She then wrapped up by displaying Austin's tweet on the big screen, announcing that Austin and Sulsenti were her next guests.
Completely unaware that they were going to be anything more than audience members, a surprised Austin and Sulsenti approached the stage and exchanged hugs with Ellen before sitting down.
This was only the first surprise, though. Ellen then broke the news that she would not be able to attend their wedding in-person, but she at least wanted to supply them with a replacement. In this case, it was a cardboard cut-out of herself, sporting some tissues for any passers-by who got a little teary-eyed.
Then Ellen seriously talked to the couple about the proposal, whether or not it was a surprise, and how the couple was dealing with their family's reaction to their relationship and their engagement.
Austin confessed that her mother in particular had been particularly close-minded about her coming out five years prior and about her committed relationship to Sulsenti.
"My mom was really terrible. I've been out for, like, five years ago now, so she said, you know, everything you could think of under the sun, but coming out and owning it and, you know, growing over the last five years has been the greatest gift. I am just so thankful that I came out, because it's taught me, like, courage, and like, owning who I am, and like, it allowed me to be my authentic self."
After the commercial break, Ellen presented them with her actual wedding gift. The show had flown in the couple's closest friends and most supportive family members to witness in-person a very special moment.
Since Austin had proposed to Sulsenti in the Eiffel Tower photos, it seemed only fair for Sulsenti to return a proposal to Austin on The Ellen Show.
You can watch the full exchange here:
A Surprise Proposal and Ellen's BIG Wedding Gift for a Viral Couple youtu.be
The entire experience of being on the show was incredibly important for the couple and the public acceptance of their relationship.
Austin told Ellen on the show:
"If it wasn't for someone like you, I would've never had the courage to just go out there in public and propose to my fiancée. So many people don't accept that, and you paved the way for queer women everywhere."
Fans of The Ellen Show were so moved by the couple's guest appearance and took to Twitter to share their love.
@KateAustin_ @chrissyteigen @TheEllenShow Your parents are making a huge mistake...I hope they realize what they wi… https://t.co/Dvwr6WVQeN— Gwen🆘️🌊🌊😎 (@Gwen🆘️🌊🌊😎)1574131423.0
@KateAustin_ @chrissyteigen @TheEllenShow Beautiful shoot! Life can be cynical and when you find someone that love… https://t.co/FM1wyPvUr8— Joan of Snark & John McCain’s Thumb (@Joan of Snark & John McCain’s Thumb)1574133938.0
@KateAustin_ @chrissyteigen @TheEllenShow Wishing you both all the very best!! I'm sorry your parents are not showi… https://t.co/FaN9r8nPAE— Bobbie Jo (@Bobbie Jo)1574160477.0
@KateAustin_ Gosh, I hope you get recognition at least 😉 I got lucky with my parents but it still took time to adju… https://t.co/03Kje8DeGJ— Elise Ismail (@Elise Ismail)1572987233.0
Austin replied on Twitter, overwhelmed by the love she and Sulsenti received on the show and since.
if i have leaned anything over the last 2days, it’s that the internet can be SO loving &i’m so grateful we can all… https://t.co/MZAU4u0ZYl— Kate Austin (@Kate Austin)1573098816.0
"For Kate and for all the people out there who are not accepted by their family, you are loved by so many people. We love you for who you are exactly. For anybody struggling out there, just be proud of who you are and know that you're going to find a different family. Maybe that family will come around eventually, but for now you have this family."
Already, so soon after the show, many people have come forward to share their support and love for the couple's future marriage and love together, showing just how far a chosen family can go.
Ellen was completely right when she said everyone deserves love, and it's heartening to see others practicing that belief and showing their support.
Looking for a different way to do a wedding, anniversary, family reunion or any special event guest book? This guest frame complete with wooden hearts and box to hold them for your guests is available here.
Guests sign a heart and drop it into the slot at the top of the frame.