This entirely true tale of matrimonial mayhem, seemingly ripped from a wedding comedy, is just one of the many reasons why the 64-year-old singer/actress is uniquely suited to star in HBO’s “Father of the Bride” comedy remake.
While George Banks (Steve Martin) dealt with his eldest daughter getting married in 1991’s “Father of the Bride,” the new version follows Andy Garcia’s old-fashioned Cuban immigrant Billy Herrera grappling with daughter Sofia’s (Adria Arjona) surprise engagement while he’s on the verge of divorce with his longtime wife Ingrid (Estefan).
Shockingly, Estefan’s portrayal is the first leading role in her superstar career. Garcia pushed for his longtime Cuban American friend.
“I didn’t have to audition or anything,” says Estefan. “Andy told me that he trusted me and that the casting was a ‘no-brainer.’ ”
Smart move, Garcia. Here are more reasons why the Miami Sound Machine star rocks the “Father of the Bride” (now streaming).
Gloria Estefan’s advice: ‘Be in each and every moment, that’s the only thing you really have that’s guaranteed’
Estefan’s surprise wedding featured a cake-and-dog wardrobe disaster
Due to her father’s illness, Estefan didn’t plan a party for her Sept. 2, 1978, wedding to her “first and only boyfriend” Emilio. But after exchanging vows and visiting her father in the hospital, the newlyweds returned home to find friends had thrown “a surprise wedding” with catering, a DJ and 200 guests.
“It turned into a full-blown party,” says Estefan, who recalls retiring to the bathroom to change out of her cake-smeared wedding dress just as the couple’s wedding song was announced.
“They said, ‘The bride and groom are going to dance’ as I’m in the bathroom with my wedding dress off because there’s cake on the sleeve,” says Estefan. “I opened the window and yelled, ‘I’m naked in here, I’m not ready for that song.’ When I did come out, my cocker spaniel ate the wedding dress sleeve for the cake.”
Unfazed, Gloria and Emilio stayed up late drinking champagne with friends at a nearby airport hotel. “My friends refused to leave, we couldn’t consummate the wedding,” says Estefan. The couple finally boarded a Japan-bound plane for a tour at 6 am the next morning. “It was insane, I remember every second,” says Estefan. “It could have been a movie.”
Gloria and Emilio’s love story started with a wedding, has passed the test of time
Gloria met Emilio cute at a Miami wedding where the musician played the disco hit “Do the Hustle” on an accordion. “I thought it was incredibly brave,” she says. President Barack Obama told that same anecdote when presenting the couple with the 2015 Presidential Medal of Freedom.
From unlikely beginnings, the marriage has lasted nearly 44 years, unlike Ingrid’s “Bride” marriage, which appears headed toward divorce. Estefan finds similarities between Emilio, 69, and Garcia’s Billy.
“They’ve grown up in this culture where it was really important for immigrants to succeed,” says Estefan. “But Emilio is the most open-minded dude.”
Daughter Emily was a clear choice to play Estefan’s younger screen self
“Bride” opens with a throwback look at a younger Ingrid marrying Billy. It was two-for-one casting as young Ingrid is played by Estefan’s musician daughter Emily, 27.
Once again, Garcia urged director Gary Alazraki saying Emily “would kill it” playing a younger version of her real mother.
Emily jumped into the part, adding depth to Ingrid.
“Emily really took control of the character even heading up the conga line at the wedding,” says Estefan. “That says a lot about Ingrid.”
Estefan tried on her character’s screen wedding dress, still has her 1978 original
A key “Bride” moment comes when Ingrid finds her own wedding dress, with puffy shoulders, and is encouraged by her bride-to-be daughter Sofia to try it on again.
Estefan improvised the line, “You’re going to have to grease me up for this.” But she gamely worked into the outfit.
As for her real-life wedding dress, Estefan had the dog-eaten sleeve repaired and stores the precious frock in a warehouse.
“My mom couldn’t afford a really expensive dress, but I found this one I loved – really modern with a hood. All of me covered, no lace,” says Estefan. “The dress is still there, I took it out recently and just looked at it.”
In real life, she’s a supportive mom to her children and their partners
Like her nurturing screen mother, Estefan supports both her grown children’s relationships. Son, Nayib, 41, recently celebrated his 12th wedding anniversary, while Emily, who came out in 2017, has a longtime partner in Gemeny Hernandez.
“All we want for our kids is for them to be happy. It’s their lives, they’re the ones that are going to live it,” Estefan says. “All we can do is be there for them and hopefully be part of that life. To enjoy life with them, that’s our only criteria.”