By Rebecca Jones

Imagine loading a snippet from a wedding video to social media giant TikTok. And imagine that 30-second video “going viral” – with one million views within the first 12 hours of posting said video. But then you see a video you posted about six months prior quickly beating the views and likes of the other? Now, imagine that video being featured on the “Today” show with talks of it being featured on another nationally syndicated show? That’s exactly what is happening to a Seaford wedding videographer right now. 

Following graduation from film school, TJ Dukes, of Dukes Films sporadically videographed weddings until 2015. However, in March of 2021, Dukes reinvested his money for all new gear and relaunched his business in earnest. In June, he filmed a very touching moment at a wedding in Lancaster, Pa. The bride’s 12-year-old girl said how old she was in days – the number of days she wanted a father. The girl presented the groom with adoption papers and asked him if he would be her father. With tears glistening in his eyes, the groom said “yes,” straight-away. As they embraced, the wedding guests clapped.

Shown are TJ and Rachel Dukes of Seaford-based Dukes Films. Photo by Jonathan Allen of Dukes Films

When TJ Dukes loaded that section of video onto his newly-formed TikTok page, DukesFilms, the video sat… and sat some more with slightly over 200 views by January of 2022. But then Dukes posted a hilarious section of a wedding speech from a different wedding he filmed. Within 12 hours’ time, that “speech” video “went viral.” As of this date, that video has six million views, and 1.8 million “likes.” Then, Dukes noticed the “adoption” wedding video gaining traction, leaping from only 200 views to 50,000 views within 12 hours. He decided to reword some sections of the video and repost it.

What happened next, no one involved with the small wedding at a small town in Lancaster, filmed by a husband-and-wife business in the small city of Seaford, would expect. Dukes Films leaped from just 21 followers on TikTok in January, to over 50,000 followers by press time. The “adoption” wedding video has acquired 16.3 million views, 2.8 million “likes,” over 22,000 comments, over 38,000 “shares” – and the attention of national media outlets.  

The bride in this video, Tia Tyson, said, “We actually didn’t know we were going to be on the ‘Today’ show. His (Tia’s husband Frank) aunt just happened to see us in a tease for ‘up next on the show,’ but it was so exciting and so crazy to think how far this has gone.” Regarding “The Kelly Clarkson Show,” she continued: “We actually haven’t had anything confirmed yet for Kelly Clarkson, but they did reach out to us and we submitted a video for this editor to take to the other editors. If that happens, it would be super cool. So many firsts for Aryanna (Tia’s daughter).”

Dukes reiterated Tyson’s statement, “This is completely new to us. We’re shocked. You get to read the emotion of those telling you how important their dads were, and the stories of those who were adopted; it’s cool.” He said the “why” behind what he and his wife Rachel do is wrapped up in these sentiments: “Weddings are such a big part of peoples’ lives. They celebrate love, family, and unity, which is something this world needs a whole lot more of these days. Our videos have performed so well on social media because… people connect with beauty and emotion. It happens organically; we just try our best to share it.” 

T and T Creative asked for raw footage of the event; they edited what was seen on “The Today Show.” When asked about the status of the adoption, Tyson said they are moving forward with it; they are currently awaiting a court date for the adoption to become final.