Throw a Surprise Wedding and Totally Nail It


November 20, 2018

Surprise Wedding… But Why?

Does the idea of having a big wedding interest you but the idea of planning one overwhelming? Planning a Surprise Wedding in secret is a sure way to keep things calm and simple. The best part about it, your guests will arrive on the big day with no wedding expectations so you’re guaranteed to blow them away! After reading this article I’m sure any doubts you have on the subject will be erased. These tips and facts are from my own personal experience after throwing our incredible and memorable wedding, ‘Completely hassle free!’ -Said no bride ever, right? Until now.

Our Background..

We never really wanted to get married. My husband and I were together for 17 years before finally saying ‘I do’. We knew our lives were about to get a whole lot different with our traveling plans and wanted to get married before starting that journey.

So how do you get married after dating for so long and after convincing everyone that marriage is not for you? Everyone’s made peace with the fact that you’re NEVER going to tie the knot and stop asking when, and THEN you decide to get married. I knew that had I broken the news about planning a wedding, my family and friends would’ve been all over it like white on rice. 

A Surprise Wedding Eliminates Outside Pressure

The thought of planning the event, with everyone getting involved and giving their tips and suggestions was overwhelming. The next thing you know you have a wedding three times the planned size with its budget being a distant memory. I was not looking forward to experiencing panic, frustration, tears and arguments all along the way.

No. Thank. You.

We needed to come up with a better plan. We also didn’t want to get married in court or elope because we still had visions of a beautiful wedding day, shared with our loved ones. As a couple, we enjoy big parties and regularly plan them ourselves but this was going to be a far bigger deal with much more to consider. For us it was a question of how do you get to have your ‘prefect day’ without all the pressure and planning? The answer is this, don’t tell anyone it’s happening and keep the planning very simple. It’s often all the outside pressure that makes it bigger than it has to be.

Bridget and Shaughan on their surprise wedding day
Bridget and Shaughan on their surprise wedding day

1. Is Outside Help Really Helpful?

Deep down you already know how you want your day to be and you have a pretty good idea of what you deem important and what you’d like to spend a bit more time and money on. The problem comes in when your closest friends and family also have there own ideas or opinions, and even though some helpful, it’s also very confusing. You often take on these ideas even though you may not want to.

What’s that saying again? “Always the bridesmaid never the bride”, that was me for years! I was the bridesmaid with the shoulder to cry on, so I know how complicated and stressful wedding planning is. I’ve been there for others and learnt from their experiences. One of the most valuable lessons being to cut out the small stuff altogether and only concentrate on what really matters.

Scrap the Small Stuff,

It’s All About the Atmosphere

I wouldn’t really bother with huge flower arrangements or expensive DJ’s, in fact, I didn’t! No one truly appreciates the little gifts made for the tables, and how expensive and time consuming that exercise is. Who really cares about well thought-out color schemes or flowers that have to be put everywhere that cost a fortune and die straight afterwards? Let’s not even get into the matching bridesmaids outfits that are always a bit of a compromise and never worn again.

I promise you, these are not the things that in the years to come people will remember your wedding day by, and unfortunately no ones even going to remember what designer dress you had on or how you did your hair.

The thing that really matters is the actual atmosphere, the being there in the moment and taking it all in. It’s all about laughter with loved ones. You want people to remember how great that day was for them, and for you, truly the best day of your life. Expensive table settings and over-priced wedding decor doesn’t contribute to the love and passion of your special day.

Do you know what does?…….. Love and Passion!!

If you get your head around all that you could have an amazing but cost effective wedding, as I did. Agreed everyone is different and some would love spending time on these intricate details but if you’re trying to cut back on costs (and stress levels), then surprise wedding planning is for you.

Bridget and Shaughan on their surprise wedding day

How to Actually Plan a Surprise Wedding, The Steps:

Keep It On The Low Down

The first rule of surprise wedding planning is: Do not talk about throwing a surprise wedding, to anyone! This is the hardest, and most important tip. If this isn’t followed through with, it will not work!

The second rule is: Still do not tell anyone about the wedding, as tempted as you are, except to an incredibly small list of people that need to know. This list includes the priest, photographer, venue staff, overseas guests and only if absolutely necessary – one trusted friend /family member who won’t say a word. Telling one close person is purely if you need help housing guests from overseas or need to be in 2 places at the same time.

Come Up With A Cover Event

i.e. A reason for a big event that people will need to come to because you can’t simply tell people you’re having drinks at the house and hope that everyone will pitch. It needs to be a fairly important soiree for full attendance. We were going to go with a farewell cover story and invite everyone to our ‘last big bash’ before we go traveling but in the end we settled on something even better. My partner told everyone he’s proposing to me in front of them all and this would be followed by our engagement party. This way we were guaranteed everyone would make an effort to attend and arrive on time, so no late comers would miss out on the big reveal.

Send Out Invites-Sticking To Your Cover Story & Request RSVP’s

 This will give you an idea of how big your wedding will be. There was some kind of beauty in this process because we quickly realised we were weeding out the people that would’ve only attended our wedding because its our wedding. Keep in mind the people contributing positively to your day are the ones that really want to be there and that you actually want there. A huge plus for Surprise wedding planning is having full control over your guest list.

Have Pure Intentions

It’s not really a rule but make sure you’re planning a surprise wedding for the right reasons. If you’re doing it because you’re avoiding people’s concerns about your marriage maybe that’s not the best reasons for doing it. We were both adopted into each other’s families long before the wedding so we hopefully didn’t offend anyone.

photographer at surprise wedding
guests at surprise wedding
Bridget and Shaughan on their surprise wedding day

1. Budget Friendly Tips:

Important Things To Focus On

1. Drinks and Food

You’ve managed to save almost everywhere else, so don’t skimp in this department. People will enjoy the wedding more if the food is worth talking about and the drinks are always flowing. This doesn’t mean you have to spend a fortune but do your homework. If you’re not having a traditional wedding, at a traditional wedding venue, why should your catering be specially for weddings? That’s when the prices go right up. For our wedding, we let people order from the venues menu, picking up the tab at the end of the day. We also had a cheese and meat mezze as pre-snacks, which we organised ourselves. Wine and beer we bought beforehand at wholesale prices and hard tack was paid for at the bar.

2. Photographer or Videographer

This is a definite. You don’t want to regret not having this. The exact moments the photographer will capture will be the number one reason why you had a surprise wedding. Just make sure they completely understand what’s going on and know the order of events. You don’t want him/her or them to miss the crucial moments.

3. Location or Venue

You need to consider a venue that won’t draw too much attention to the idea that this could, in fact, be a wedding. If possible, stay away from official wedding venues. Not only is it too obvious but it’ll cost more. We used a friends pub in the city where we could fit 100 guests, he was more than happy to accommodate us for the exposure of his new spot. A garden party is another great idea.

4. Music

Ditch the DJ. Even though some good ones exist, how often is it the biggest complaint at a wedding? With iTunes or other great music apps, you can create awesome playlists beforehand. Make sure the venue has a sound system and you’ve downloaded all the music already. The groom will need to liaise with someone on the timing of specific songs.

5. Wedding Attire

Beg, borrow and buy for cheap. I borrowed my cousins wedding dress and it was so beautiful. Most wedding dresses cost a fortune and are worn once, after which, they simply take up hanging space and collect dust. For my husband we purchased a suit at a mens retail clothing store, so you really don’t need to spend a fortune.

6. Make up and hair

We all have that friend/sister with mad make-up skills. Rope her in on the morning of the wedding by throwing a pre-surprise surprise with her and tell her what’s going. It’ll be nice to chat to someone just before the ceremony begins and guaranteed she’ll be more than willing to help out. I did just that with both my sisters and it was great walking in with them for the reveal.

7. Flowers and decor

Get creative by using old mason jars or greenery from your garden. Cheap hanging fairy lights are a great way to add some sparkle, or balloons for a smash of colour but whatever you do, don’t get carried away!

food at surprise wedding
Bridget and Shaughan on their surprise wedding day
Bridget and Shaughan on their surprise wedding day
Bridget wedding dress for the surprise wedding day
getting ready for the surprise wedding
decor at the surprise wedding

Why You’ll Love Your Surprise Wedding:

During the planning stages you don’t have to talk about wedding everything, non-stop. You even get to forget about it from time to time!

The first time we spoke about planning this wedding was a whole year before we actually had it. We wanted to give our oversees friends and family sufficient time for planning a trip out, had they accepted. I know that seems like a long time to keep the secret going for, but with so few people knowing about it, we just stored the whole event in the back of our minds for a while.

There’s that amazing moment when the bride is trying on wedding dresses and comes out wearing “the dress” and all her bridesmaids rejoice. Okay, so you may not experience that by having a surprise wedding and therefore absenteeism of wedding dress shopping but what’s coming is an even better version of that. When you reveal the surprise and you’re wearing your wedding dress for all to see, truly for the first time, the look on your closest friends faces will be a replica of that moment, as it was for me.

To Conclude

The moments you’ll capture on the day are truly unforgettable with unexpected joy and pure happiness being the order of the day. Perhaps one of the biggest reasons for this is attributed to the fact that there are no big expectations for the day. No one arrived expecting a wedding so they will almost definitely leave being blown away by the surprise.

I’m sure you’ll agree when looking through our pictures that we captured the very essence of a wedding. Wether it be a surprise one or not. Our friends and family talk about this great day with such admiration. Does it really matter if some of the guests were wearing jeans and t-shirts? You decide.

I’d love to help or hear from you if this is the route you want to go for your big day, leave a comment and I’ll get back to you.


  1. Vikki Baker-Grunnill

    I love this. It is absolutely the reason we are planning ours as a surprise. Noone stressing (and spending) on outfits, gifts etc.

    Logistically I am having a slight mare as ours is actually at a Registry Office followed by a low key buffet meal at a local pub. I am planning on inviting everyone to a ‘Thank you luncheon’… I then want to sent a 2nd invite nearer the time for those invited to the wedding, but trying to hatch a plan to get them to a nearby alternative venue first is tricky!

    The ceremony is early in the day (we couldn’t get later) so that is tricky too!

    Wish me luck!

    • Bridget Beguin

      Congrats Vikki. Oooooh I love your idea! Maybe a bus could arrive and pick up everyone? Gosh good luck, half the fun is hatching the plan though! Enjoy it and be sure to take lots of pics or video. Thanks for reading.

  2. Karin

    Hey! I made your blog 🙂 some of the happiest tears I’ve ever shared. Love you xxx

    • Bridget Beguin

      All the better with you there, thanks for being you!


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