The art of pulling off a surprise wedding
The art of pulling off a surprise wedding

The art of pulling off a surprise wedding

Photo: Tess Follett


Boy oh boy are surprise weddings fun! There’s nothing quite like a room full of shrieking people who are none the wiser that you are about to get married.

Surprise weddings are the perfect option for couples that are looking for something completely non-traditional, who perhaps want to rein in the budget of planning a full blown wedding, or simply want to be married sooner rather than later.

Before the fun and frivolity that comes with springing this grand news on your guests, a little bit of work needs to take place. So, how do you successfully pull of a wedding that will take everyone by surprise? Keep reading…


It sounds simple, but the art of pulling off the best surprise wedding is keeping those lips absolutely zipped. Loose lips sink ships, and there is nothing worse than an announcement being made to a crowd that all knew exactly what was going on. Yes it will be tough, but when you see the sea of happy and surprised faces, it will be well worth it.



Yes, we know we said to keep your lips zipped, but sometimes there are some people you should let know – for instance, your parents. Remembering that they might be really shocked by the event (it does, after all, buck tradition), and it may take them some time to get their heads around it. If you think your mother might struggle with the concept of a surprise wedding, advance warning is probably best. This will give her time to process the information, share in the excitement with you and be able to fully enjoy the surprise. And let’s face it, you will be busting to tell someone! Further to this, sometimes parents or siblings will have been so excited about the prospect of planning for your big day, that the idea of changing course can feel somewhat disappointing. Letting them in on the surprise ahead of time will allow for any grievances to be aired and hopefully, well and truly cleared up by the time the magic moment arrives.


Photo: Eric Ronald



If you’re looking to pull off an impressive surprise, you’ll need to ensure you get your guests there in the first place! Create a decoy event to get your favourite people there and ready to celebrate. Be it a faux engagement party, a 30th birthday celebration or a house warming – you will need to create some kind of cover. Allowing enough lead time with sending invitations to said event will also be crucial. People might not feel so guilty opting out of a birthday party, but given enough notice, you can rest assured they will try their best to be in attendance.  Though also remember to try and make your cover authentic – a sudden engagement party six years after you got engaged will have people suss.



You will need a celebrant to make it legal – so make sure you plan with them what role they will play on the day (with enough notice to prepare the necessary paperwork required). Your chosen celebrant is likely to be there slightly earlier than the announcement to get a handle on the location and how the party is panning out. Remember, they’re also likely to know no-one and no doubt one of your friendly guests will try and make them feel welcome. Be sure you have worked out a cover story with them that adds up. Whether they say they’re a work colleague or a childhood friend, be prepared so there are no awkward moments.


Photo: Lost In Love Photography



At some point during the party the surprise needs to be announced! Now this part needs to be mapped out clearly and concisely to those involved. Appoint who will make the announcement, ensuring they have the guest’s full attention and have rehearsed what they will say – you don’t want them hit with a case of nerves or stage fright at what is the most crucial part of the celebration. Ask your celebrant for guidance on wording that can be used as no doubt they’ve had experience with surprise weddings before and know what works. Also consider where you will be standing at this point? Will you and your partner be amongst the crowd? Will you both be hidden away and enter into your ceremony together? Will you be standing at the front? Once the cat is out of the bag, your guests will likely want to swarm you with excited congratulations, and if that messes with your run sheet – plan your placement accordingly!



You have no doubt chosen the surprise wedding path because it feels right for you and your partner, keep this in mind and try not to worry about unexpected judgment or less than thrilled reactions. If guests haven’t been able to attend, only to later find out that they missed your wedding, they may be disappointed, but that’s the risk you take. Ensuring you have a photographer and or videographer there to capture the moments before, during and after your big reveal, is a great way to ensure even those who cannot be present, can feel the love in the room.




Good luck in pulling off the surprise of a lifetime and if you need any help when it comes to selecting a celebrant that will rock the socks off your surprise party, pop over here to check out Ivory Tribe’s very own magic makers.


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