SURPRISE WEDDING! WE’RE [GETTING] MARRIED!
Picture this: you’re in a room surrounded by family and friends, full of chatter and laughter. They’ve gathered to celebrate your recent engagement… or milestone birthday… maybe even graduation. Whatever your decoy event, the real reason they’ve come together will be made known as you step up to the microphone to announce, “Surprise, we’re [getting] married!” As realisation dawns, shocked looks become joyous expressions, and guests raise a glass to toast your surprise wedding.
Is it for you?
How do you know if pulling off a surprise wedding is for you? See if you can relate to any of these scenarios:
- Does the thought of planning a traditional wedding induce stress? There can be a lot of pressure in the wedding planning process, especially when questions and opinions come flying from family and friends in the lead up to the big day. A surprise wedding can allow you to bring your vision to fruition without the running commentary.
- Are you the type that likes to create a big moment? If fun and spontaneity are your trademarks, then a surprise wedding certainly fits the bill. No doubt your guests will appreciate that you march to the beat of your own drum, and that sending a shock wave through the crowd makes sense for you as a couple.
- Do you want to get married quickly? Long engagements can be overrated. If you’re prepared to make some quick decisions about attire, venue, catering, music, styling (and the rest!) then tying the knot this way can allow you to move on to the next stage of your journey… enjoying married life together.
- Are you celebrating a covid-secret-marriage? So many wedding plans were interrupted in 2020, however some people didn’t wait to make things official! They went ahead and got married with just the essentials in place. Now, it’s time to make the announcement (if you haven’t already) and celebrate.
- Do you want to save costs? Whilst this isn’t necessarily a given, an engagement party or milestone birthday doubling as a surprise wedding can be a cheaper alternative. It all depends on what arrangements you make of course, however this can be an enticing option for those that don’t want to drop the average $36k on a wedding.
- Are you happy to forego pre-wedding celebrations and gifts? Practically-speaking, surprise weddings mean no prior bridal showers or hens and bucks parties. Gifts may also be optional, depending on the cover story and what event guests think they’re attending. A surprise wedding can be a great solution for those that are low-fuss or would rather avoid receiving gifts.
Are you liking the idea of a surprise wedding? Read on…
What happens next is like one of those books where you can choose your own adventure.
Adventure 1: Guests arrive and are lead down a private laneway to your decoy event. As they enter the room, they’re greeted by a large sign welcoming them to your wedding! Excitement ensues and they take their seat ready for the ceremony.
Adventure 2: You duck away to change into your wedding attire. The familiar Pachelbel’s Canon in D starts wafting through the air as you weave between guests up a makeshift aisle towards your fiancé. Recognition crosses guests’ faces as they realise the event is actually a surprise wedding.
Adventure 3: You step up to the microphone hand-in-hand, bringing a hush to the room. You gleefully announce “Surprise! We got married!” as photographs of your elopement or covid-ceremony are projected behind you. Tears roll and congratulatory hugs commence.
However, you choose to frame your adventure, we’ve put together some practical tips on how to pull off a surprise wedding:
Craft a clever decoy
There are a number of options when it comes to decoy events. We’ve mentioned the engagement party which works if it’s held shortly after the proposal, not so much if it’s several months later. A special birthday (think 21st, 30th, 40th) or a graduation can be another significant milestone that people will do their best to attend. You may even want to let guests think they’re in on the surprise and that you’re planning on proposing in front of everyone. The tables will turn when they realise you’ve already popped the question and are, in fact, getting married.
It’s important to ensure the decoy event meets the level of formality that you’re going for. A backyard BBQ is unlikely to get everyone in attendance nor wearing their Sunday best. With some carefully placed conversations, guests can be told that you’re making much of your [fake] party and that’ll help raise the bar.
Keep those lips zipped!
We all know how wildfires spread. Once you ignite a spark, then you risk the flames fanning and people potentially being offended by being kept in the dark. On the flip side, pulling off a surprise wedding entirely by yourselves can be a mean feat. We recommend confiding in your parents (or whoever holds that special place in your heart). This will ensure they don’t find out the same moment as your gym buddy or work colleague, plus they can offer invaluable organisational help in the lead up.
If there are special out of town guests, then you may need to subtly suggest they don’t miss the decoy event. You could express that the “engagement” will be bigger than the wedding itself, or that you’re considering registry office nuptials so your “milestone birthday” would be better for them to attend. If they don’t take your persuasion onboard, then it may be time to bring them into the fold.
Don’t skip the photographer/videographer/livestream
There is always the chance that certain people will miss your surprise wedding for various reasons. Ensuring you have photos and video footage will mean a lot to those who couldn’t make it. You may even be able to arrange a livestream to be sent out to absentees just before the announcement is made. You’ll be able to look back and relive captured memories for years to come.
Given the timeline of the surprise, you may wish to have a first look or couple photos taken before the event. This can be a really special moment between two people, so chat with your photographer and wedding coordinator to map out a timeline for the day [click here for .
Give your bridal party a gift
If your closest people aren’t in the loop, then it can take a moment for them to adjust to the news. Consider telling them the night before as you ask them to stand by your side or prepare a last-minute speech. Alternatively, presenting them with a bridesmaid dress or best man tie/handkerchief in the minutes before the surprise can be a sweet gesture… and may just help make up for the surprise.
Ultimately, only you know whether a surprise wedding is the right way for you to celebrate as a couple. For some, it’ll be joyous occasion that’ll be remembered for years to come. For others, it may be dampened by guest sensitivities or absences so incorporating one of these Wow Factors may be the way to go instead. If you would like to consider a surprise wedding at Factory51, please contact our Functions Manager who would love to talk you through the various options.