A wedding photo shoot featuring a dire wolf, crowns, a dragon scale-laden cake, chandeliers and a candle-lit feast in Western North Carolina continues to rake in a lot of attention online.
That makes sense this week of all weeks, given that the seventh season of the popular HBO series “Game of Thrones” is set to premiere Sunday.
Smithmore Castle first drew a national spotlight to the small town of Spruce Pine after a styled, “Game of Thrones”-themed wedding shoot at the 12,000-square-foot mansion in February went viral in the spring.
“It was pretty surreal,” said Katie Lee, the Charlotte-based photographer behind the shoot. “When I had the idea to do it, I knew it had the potential to go viral because of the show’s popularity, but I still was shocked at all the emails I was getting from so many outlets. I definitely didn’t expect it to go international.”
Business Insider shared a video about the sample shoot with its 2 million followers on Twitter on Thursday.
The same video had 1.7 million views on the “Game of Thrones” Fans page on Facebook, going viral for the second time. Some commenting on the post argued that the vibe of the shoot wasn’t violent enough for a “Game of Thrones” wedding.
“It seems they haven’t seen the Red Wedding,” Atharva Korde commented, referring to a marriage massacre that takes place in the show’s third season.
Kelly Smidebush was less critical: “If we could do it all over … I’d have a dire wolf and a throne!” she posted about her own wedding.
Lee and several others first began discussing the shoot in December, but rushed to pursue it in February, when it was assumed the seventh season of the show would begin. But the season premiere was pushed back to this Sunday, July 16.
It took about two weeks for planners, bakers, stylists, designers and others to put together and execute the photo shoot.
The stand-in “dire wolf” pictured with a bride and groom was actually a wolf dog named River from Full Moon Farm rescue shelter in Black Mountain, Lee said. On the show, dire wolves are a fantasy breed of giant wolves based on prehistoric creatures.
The shoot became a bragging point for the Mitchell County Chamber of Commerce, which posted to its website information on the shoot and linked to several notable mentions of it.
Among them, the shoot was featured by Cosmopolitan and Carolina Bride magazines, and on time.com and brides.com. It was also popular in Australia, Lee noted, and on BBC Newsbeat.
“Game of Thrones,” based on George R.R. Martin’s fantasy book series, is one of the most popular shows on television and has won 38 Emmy Awards.