Goodbye Seating Charts And Gown Fittings: Go For A Surprise Wedding!

How to plan the perfect secret ceremony!
A man proposing to his girlfriend at a proposal partyGetty

How can you throw a stress-free wedding on a tight budget? Surprise weddings are a trendy answer to an age old problem. But how do you hold one? And how can you keep something this big a surprise? Keep reading! We have lots of useful advice on keeping your plans secret, without compromising on extravagance or meaning!

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What Is A Surprise Wedding?

A surprise wedding is exactly what the phrase means: you invite your chosen guests to an event without them knowing that it’s actually your wedding they’ll be attending!

Some people opt to describe the get-together as an engagement party, or sometimes it’s disguised as a more casual event like a birthday. Whatever it is, the key element is that the ceremony isn’t revealed until the guests have all arrived.

A woman smiling as she's being proposed to in front of friends
(Credit: Getty)

What Are The Pros And Cons Of Surprise Weddings?

Surprise weddings have some major pluses to them. You’ll be saving a lot of money by not springing for a fancy gown, reception, or ceremony, and it does take a lot of pressure off because it’s not as formal. You won’t have to worry about putting together guest lists and menus either, so it also keeps you from getting stressed out.

There are some clear cons though: you need to be more persuasive to convince guests to attend, as they don’t know what the real event is. Even if they do attend, they may not dress up in the attire you’re picturing. To fix this, keep your expectations realistic and provide a relaxed dress code.

You also won’t get any wedding gifts, though some guests may circumvent that by sending them after your surprise wedding.

Friends around a table clapping for a young couple
(Credit: Getty)

How Do You Keep Something Like This A Secret?

Keeping big news like this hush-hush isn’t easy. Here’s how to announce an engagement without having people figure out what’s really going on:

Keep The Engagement Period Short

The longer the time between your engagement and the actual ceremony, the more likely it is that someone will find out. Don’t wait any longer than three to six months to hold the event that will be your surprise wedding – but if you want to be extra stealthy, you can get engaged in secret, then pick another event to stand in as your excuse to invite people.

Friends toasting drinks around a table
(Credit: Getty)

Hot tip: Keep tabs on your guests’ schedules and how reasonable your request will seem on the surface. Inviting your sister who lives across the country to your birthday is too obvious!

Get A Small Support Group To Help You

Just organising with your partner can also make planning stressful, since you’re only a 2-person team.

Consider enlisting some trusted friends or family members to convince people to attend, and to help cover for you until you plan your big reveal!

A man proposing to his girlfriend at a proposal party
(Credit: Getty)

Emphasise The Importance In The Invitations

Worried that a party won’t be enough to gather everyone? Go for a handwritten invite that says how much it would mean to you that they come.

Formal invitations are also a way to show your friends that something significant is about to happen. It’s a nice way to motivate them to go without revealing everything!

A wedding party in a field
(Credit: Getty)

Surprise Wedding Ideas: How To Throw The Perfect Event

These events rely heavily on being sneaky, but that doesn’t mean you can’t plan a few details or two to make this unexpected ceremony a beautiful one! Here are some ideas for your surprise wedding that strike the right balance between traditional and fancy-free.

1. Go For A Shore Thing

A Summer Surprise Wedding That’s Simple And Elegant

An easy way to throw a gorgeous ceremony with minimal effort is to have it by the beach. That end-of-summer barbecue is the perfect relaxed reception after getting married by the water. 

Because it’s a beachside event, guests will show up in chinos or other light clothing, so do suggest a colour scheme if you want to add a little formality.

2. Get Hitched In Your Backyard

If You Have Space, Your Lawn Is All You Need

Whether autumn leaves are falling or the garden’s bursting with spring colours, a good-sized backyard is perfect for an intimate gathering and a surprise wedding! Set up a few picnic tables, string up some fairy lights, and you’re all done.

This venue lends itself to more bohemian weddings that have rustic themes because Mother Nature herself will give all the decor you’re going to need!

3. Dinner Parties Are A Good Cover

Break Out The Bubbly In Your House

Make it seem like a fun evening at home with good food and just a few friends, and no one will be the wiser. This is a great way to keep your wedding small, intimate, private, and lowkey. Perfect for introverts who don’t like being the centre of attention

Manage Your Expectations And Relax!

Surprise weddings are becoming popular with couples that want a relaxed wedding on a small budget. If you’re not into formal ceremonies, this may be the simple wedding plan you need! Just keep in mind that your guests don’t know what they’re actually walking into, so relax tradition and focus on enjoying your day. The best weddings are made not by the ceremony, but by the people who love and support them!

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