The wave of attention that accompanied Taylor Swift’s surprise performance at the Los Angeles engagement party of Alexander Goldschmidt and Ross Girard on Feb. 23 was nothing Mr. Goldschmidt didn’t see coming.
“I knew this was going to be a moment people talked about — I just didn’t think the news cycle would pick it up this hard because it was Oscars weekend,” said Mr. Goldschmidt, who works in social media marketing for TV shows through the company Digital Media Management.
But it’s possible Lady Gaga and Bradley Cooper’s swoony Academy Awards duet only fueled interest in love stories: Since Ms. Swift serenaded Mr. Girard with her song “King of My Heart” at the Sycamore Tavern hours after Mr. Goldschmidt proposed, news of the engagement party crasher reached outlets as far as Germany and Australia.
“I didn’t think about the fact that Taylor had never performed the song acoustically, and that people might have responded because we’re a gay couple,” said Mr. Goldschmidt, 30, who has been dating Mr. Girard, 32, since 2016. “But that may have added to it.”
The series of events that found Ms. Swift, in a ponytail and a blue floral dress, strapping on her guitar for a flabbergasted party of 65 stretches back to 2014, when Mr. Gold met Ms. Swift backstage at an Ed Sheeran concert.
“I had tweeted — and I didn’t even tag either of them — that I wanted an Ed Sheeran and Taylor Swift duets album,” Mr. Goldschmidt said. “Out of nowhere, Ed responded to me. We ended up DM-ing, and he told me he’d get me backstage at his next concert. When I went backstage he grabbed me a beer and said, ‘Have you ever met Taylor?’”
Two weeks and many selfies later, Ms. Swift flew Mr. Goldschmidt to Las Vegas, where he got to dance in her “Shake It Off” video. They kept in touch on social media. In July 2015, when Mr. Goldschmidt was single and miserable, Ms. Swift shared some encouraging words Lady Gaga had sent her via Twitter. “Life is friends, family, and love! We all see that in you, your prince charming will come!” Lady Gaga’s post said.
Mr. Goldschmidt shared the tweet on Instagram. “I have been given my instructions. I leave my love life in Lady Gaga’s magical hands. My Prince Charming will come,” he wrote. He started dating Mr. Girard, who is the head of productions at Campfire, a television and film production company, not long after. In 2018, backstage at Ms. Swift’s “Reputation” show at the Rose Bowl, he was ready to introduce Mr. Girard to his famous friend.
But he didn’t have to. “She came up and said ‘Hey Ross!’,” Mr. Girard said. “She had been reading all of Alex’s posts. She didn’t even need to ask my name.”
Mr. Goldschmidt and Mr. Girard don’t consider “King of My Heart” their song, the one they fell in love to. Instead, “it was a song that had always resonated with me and my own story, because it’s about someone who has become content with being alone and getting to that place of self love, and then suddenly having someone come into their life and rock their world,” Mr. Goldschmidt said.
He didn’t beg, cajole or even ask Ms. Swift to sing it at the surprise engagement party he had been planning for months. Instead, Ms. Swift’s publicist, Tree Paine, reached out to him with the idea.
“I had sent Taylor an email thanking her for all of the years of advice on love and on life and for that song, which had sunk into my heart,” Mr. Goldschmidt said. Two weeks later, Ms. Paine called to say Ms. Swift would like to be part of their engagement day.
It isn’t the first time Ms. Swift has surprised a couple. In June 2016, she crashed the wedding of Max Singer and Kenya Smith, and about 100 guests in Long Beach Island, N.J., before sitting down at a piano and performing her hit song “Blank Space.” Other couples have been sent champagne and she’s shown up at bridal showers.
Mr. Goldschmidt was driving to work in late January when he got the call. “Basically, I lost feeling in my face and I had to pull my car over,” he said. “I cried a little bit, I screamed a little bit, then I tried to restore the feeling to my face.”
He kept the news a secret from almost everyone, including his parents and Mr. Girard’s parents, who were flying in from the East Coast for the party.
The only person he told was a friend who works as an event planner for the restaurant group that owns the Sycamore Tavern. “I had to tell him so we could figure out the service doors so I’d have a place to hide her,” Mr. Goldschmidt said.
Challenges to keeping a poker face presented themselves to the last minute: “I was down on one knee on top of a mountain proposing to Ross, and my phone was going off with calls from her security team about sweeps they needed to do of the venue.”
At the start of the viral video from the party, Mr. Goldschmidt and Mr. Girard stand arm in arm, holding champagne glasses. Mr. Goldschmidt says, “There is one secret I didn’t trust any of you with. I would like to welcome my friend Taylor.” As Ms. Swift makes her way into the room, gasps erupt.
Mr. Girard said he was too preoccupied thinking of how he was going to thank his loved ones for coming to the party for it to register that he was about to be sung to by one of the world’s most popular performers. And Mr. Goldschmidt’s father thought that his son was introducing a drag queen version of Ms. Swift. “I had to explain to him, I live in Hollywood, not West Hollywood, Dad,” he said.
Mr. Goldschmidt and Mr. Girard have not yet picked a wedding date. But they know they’ve set a high bar for reception entertainment. “We’re being told it’s going to be hard to live up to this,” Mr. Goldschmidt said.