Download a free venue comparison spreadsheet
Wedspiration > Advice > How to completely nail a surprise wedding
Advice
How to completely nail a surprise wedding
Hell to the f-yes for surprise weddings. We’ve always wanted to attend one – they just look so damn delightful. And for the couples that decide to go down this path, we’ve heard it helped them alleviate the stress and pressure of planning a full-on traditional big day. If this sounds like your bag, we’ve got some tips to share to plan a surprise wedding that a) remains a surprise, and b) is full of joy.
how to plan a surprise wedding
ABOUT
heart
Words by Amy Parfett
date
26 September 2017
SHARE
Pinterest

Oh, the joy (and envy) we get when we see pics from surprise weddings. You can always feel the pure, unmasked, holy-shit-happiness of the guests when they realise that the “engagement party” they thought they were attending was just the warm-up act for the real deal.

If you’re thinking about heading down this path, we’re completely behind you. Not only do surprise weddings completely delight all in attendance, they can be a fantastic option for couples that want to avoid the stress and pressure of organising a traditional wedding.

We thought we’d put together our recommendations on how to plan and pull off surprise nuptials. Read on – and congrats in advance.

MAKE SURE YOUR DECOY EVENT MAKES SENSE

Often, we see engagement parties turn into surprise weddings – which makes total sense, since it’s an event to celebrate the two of you and the impending wedding ahead. But timing is of the essence here –  we’d be raising a couple of eyebrows if you decided to have an engagement party out of the blue more than a year after first getting engaged.

If you’ve already had an engagement party and are still keen on doing a surprise wedding, then try and time it with another convincing event, for example a birthday party. Just be aware though, that there are hardly any events outside of the ‘big birthdays’ (e.g. 18ths, 21sts, 40ths), engagement parties and weddings (oh, and funerals) that have the same ability to pull all the important people in your life together. So you might need to make a special effort to contact people to let them know you reeaaallllyyy hope they can make it… in a subtle way.

VIDEO IS PRETTY MUCH A MUST

We reckon a videographer has to be high on the vendor priority list. The photo reactions from everyone when they clue in to what’s happening will be amazing but the sound and excitement probably has to be watched to be fully appreciated. If you’re going to let a few people in on the secret, you could even ask that they whip out their iPhones at the announcement moment just so you can get some ‘in-the-crowd’ reactions to watch later.

WHEN TO MAKE THE ANNOUNCEMENT 

We’ve seen a couple of surprise weddings where the surprise is pretty much busted right at the beginning – there was one where people arrived and there was a sign out the front announcing that it was a wedding. We didn’t think it was as impactful as having the entire party there enjoying their evening and then it’s suddenly revealed that you’re getting hitched. So, making sure all your guests are there before the reveal happens is a big one.

TIMING

… which leads us into this. It’s tricky – people are always on time to a wedding but there’s less pressure to be punctual for an engagement party. So you kind of need to give people an incentive to arrive before a certain time. Maybe you could offer cocktails until 7pm? Or say you you’ve got special entertainment until X o’clock so you need to be at the party by then? Or kick off super early to give guests a couple of hours to get there before say, a 7pm announcement? Or say you’ve got a special dinner starting at X o’clock for everyone? Just some ideas.

THE ACTUAL ANNOUNCEMENT ITSELF

We love the idea of making a super, OTT grand moment of that wedding announcement. Imagine if you had an arbour covered with drapes that have been there the whole time  and then suddenly they open to amazing florals and a celebrant!? And you whip off an outer layer to reveal a wedding dress beneath? Ba-na-nas. Or confetti falls from the ceiling, Price Is Right-style?

If a big display isn’t quite your style, decide whether you’ll be making the announcement or if someone else will be making it on your behalf. You could have a charismatic friend call on everyone’s attention for a moment, drop the bombshell and then you and your partner begin walking down an impromptu aisle.

MAKING IT OFFICIAL

In order to make all of this actually stick according to law, you’ll need a celebrant on hand to officiate the marriage. And they’ve got to a bit of legwork in the lead-up too, so make sure you engage a celebrant with at least six weeks before the surprise (celebrants are required to submit a ‘Notice of Intended Marriage’ a minimum of one month prior to the wedding).

DRESS CODE

Give people a good dress code. Because they’ll want to have worn something amazing as soon as they realise it’s a wedding and will be wishing they’d gone the extra mile.

GET YOUR GUESTS INVOLVED

Have all your guest’s names in a hat and get them involved in the ceremony to make it more novel – e.g. you could pull a name out of a hat and that guest has to do a reading. And another guest is suddenly nominated as the flower girl and has to ceremoniously scatter some petals around you. It could be really interactive.

After more wedding planning advice? You’ll find practical, no BS tips and suggestions right here

Other Advice articles
View all articles arrow right
the-rising-trend-of-wedding-content-creators

Advice

The Rising Trend of Wedding Content Creators

Wedding content creators - who are these mysterious new, iPhone wielding wedding vendors? What exactly do they do? Do you need one? What are the costs involved? Recently married writer Sophie Jay Nelson explains this fast emerging 2024 wedding trend.
wedding wines

Advice

The Ultimate Wine Guide For Every Wedding Season: What Wines To Serve (And How Much)

Sure, weddings are first and foremost about love but they’re also about showing guests a good time and there’s a fair assumption that there will be wine served – and plenty of it. Hence we’ve put together our ultimate wine guide that covers what wines are most suited to the season you’re getting married in and how to calculate how much wine you will need to ensure no one is left feeling thirsty.
wedding tax my debunked

Advice

OPINION: Does The ‘Wedding Tax’ Actually Exist? Yes (And No)

Something you should know about the wedding industry: it’s full of legends. Not people who want to skim off the top of their couples. Here we shed light on why the wedding tax is a myth.
outdoor wedding

Advice

Planning An Outdoor Wedding? Read This.

What could be more romantic and magical than an open-air soiree with your loved ones? Outdoor weddings are hard to top – if the conditions are right. Read on to learn how to choose the location and timing of your alfresco wedding, along with a host of other top tips.
Articles you might like

Real Weddings

REAL WEDDING: Sarah + Jason – Seacliff House

From now on, whenever we talk about kicking wedding goals, we’ll be pointing at Sarah and Jason. This couple (alongside some very gifted vendors) created a south coast wedding that was a total vibe. Cocktails, a cake the size of a small bath, a killer venue and an epic surprise for all their guests, this day had it all.
styled-shoot-domaine-de-binet-hunter-valley-wedding-venue

Inspiration

STYLED SHOOT: Domaine De Binet

Can we all please take a moment to stop and admire this styled shoot at Chapel Mon Coeur - a new(ish) Hunter Valley wedding venue with looks to kill (specifically, the enormous open-air chapel). Come take a peek.
what-to-do-if-youre-second-guessing-your-wedding-dress

Advice

What To Do If You’re Second-Guessing Your Wedding Dress

We love pizza but if we were to eat it everyday, the infatuation we have for this classic culinary delight would fade pretty fast. It’s the same with wedding dresses – you look at the same garment every day for months and it eventually becomes less palatable. If you’re second-guessing your wedding dress, you must read this.
romantic getaways in NSW

Honeymoons

16 of the Most Romantic Getaways in NSW

Some say love is better than wine (including the bible). We’re not sure that’s entirely true (sorry, God) but we do know that romance is the best kind of feeling – and that we could all use more of it. With that in mind, we’ve pulled together the best honeymoon spots and most romantic getaways in NSW.
Looking for more ideas?
We’ve brought together advice, articles, and inspiration on our Wedspiration to help you find your feet.