“It really is a magical city.”

By Rebecca Angel Baer
May 31, 2019
Hallmark Channel

Last Christmas, Hallmark Channel took us to Graceland, and we watched single mom Laurel (Kellie Pickler) return to Memphis, her hometown, with her daughter Emma (Claire Elizabeth Green). She reunited with old friends and an old flame, Clay, played by Hallmark favorite, Wes Brown. Of course, sparks flew, and old love became new again for Laurel and Clay. These two just couldn’t help falling in love.

It appears that fans couldn’t help but be all shook up over Laurel and Clay’s burning love either because Christmas at Graceland was the most watched movie on Hallmark Channel of all of 2018. “I give Elvis the credit,” Kellie Pickler said with a laugh when she recently sat down with Southern Living. “I’m happy that the Hallmark fans are pleased with the movie. I hope they enjoy the second movie even more.”

That’s right, thanks to the fans, we get to head back to Elvis’ house with Pickler, Brown, and the entire cast for the sequel, Wedding at Graceland. The second movie will bring back supporting characters played by Tamara Austin, Ryan King Scales, Tommy Cresswell, Madison Alsobrook, and introduce us to several new folks in Laurel and Clay’s lives. There are also a few very familiar faces popping up in this sequel like Lee Brice and Priscilla Presley herself! As the name suggests, Laurel and Clay are getting hitched!

Recently, the cast gathered at Hallmark’s June Weddings Fan Celebration right on the grounds of Graceland and they spoke about reuniting for a second film. Each cast member talked about how much of a family the cast and crew had really become. For the youngest member of the ensemble, Claire Elizabeth Green, her on-screen family is a real dream come true. She couldn’t quite believe that the first acting job she ever booked would have her playing Kellie Pickler’s daughter. “It’s crazy because when I got the call, I was watching her show {Pickler and Ben}. I was watching her show and I got the call that Kellie Pickler was gonna be my mom in a Hallmark movie which is insane! I had dreamed of meeting her once, to say hi to her, but I got to spend almost half my life with her!”

Filming stretched over Easter weekend and co-stars Wes Brown, Tamara Austin, and Ryan King Scales chatted about how they celebrated the Memphis way—with barbeque! “For those who were away from family, we all spent it with our second family,” Tamara Austin said, and Ryan King Scales added “backyard cookout by the pool.” For those who are curious, the BBQ came from Memphis staple, A&R Bar-B-Que.

Over the span of time needed to film two movies in the same location, the cast grew close but, as Pickler explained, she also learned so much more about the legend that once lived in the very home they were using as their set. No other production has been allowed to film inside the Graceland mansion before and for Pickler, a singer as well as an actress, well the experience was impactful, to say the least.

“It’s an honor and I don’t feel worthy. But I am very, very blessed. It’s been a wonderful experience,” she said. Pickler also said that this “behind the velvet rope” access allowed her to learn more about Elvis the human being, instead of what we already know about him as the musical artist.

“I did know about his military experience. I did not realize that he was so involved with the USO, which is another passion of mine.” Pickler and her husband, Kyle Jacobs typically spend the holidays entertaining troops overseas. They are very devoted to the USO and to giving back to our military.

The American Idol alum shared that the cast learned a lot about the city where they were filming. For Pickler, the musical roots of the River City really tugged at her soul. The birthplace of rock and roll and the home of the blues now holds a very special place in her heart.

“I love this town. I mean I really do. It’s in my top favorite cities in the US to go to for sure,” she said. Filming on location in Memphis meant that Pickler was afforded the opportunity to really live like a local. She explored where the locals go and found her way to one of the city’s hidden gems, and a local favorite for sure—the neighborhood of Cooper Young. “There is a bookstore there that is my favorite bookstore. Burke’s Books. There is a red typewriter in there that I want so bad. But it’s not for sale. I go back every year to try and get it. I have a picture of it in my phone,“ she laughed. Other local favorites include Java Cabanna, The Beauty Shop (which is a restaurant, not a hair salon) and Rum Boogie Café on Beale Street.

“My hope for Memphis is {that} I do not want it to lose its character. I do not want it to be over commercialized…There’s nothing wrong with growing but we have to preserve those beautiful treasures that our cities have. And we have to preserve the history of this town…What makes Memphis the soulful, blues, jazz city that it is? You know we have to preserve that and keep it authentic…it really is a magical city.”

WATCH: Hey Y'all Hallmark Movie Marathon

This Memphis-born editor couldn’t agree more.

Be sure to tune in tomorrow, Saturday June 1st for the premiere of Wedding at Graceland on Hallmark Channel at 8pm EST.

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