Lots of people decide to have a surprise wedding. You might wonder why, but it’s not a bad idea because it cuts out the drama of choosing the chief bridesmaid, what the mother of the bride should wear, agonising over seating arrangements and so on.
You can’t just say you’re having a bash at a local community hall for a laugh, though. You have to create a convincing cover story so that enough people will turn up.
Come up with a good decoy
If your family and friends are planning to go away for a special holiday, or one of you has a big milestone birthday, then you can use this gathering as a cover. Alternatively, you could say it’s an engagement party instead and then surprise everyone by being a couple of steps ahead!
Don’t have a church venue
This is a huge give-away, as you can imagine. Choose something affordable and make sure your venue can hold all the guests you want, so it could be a spacious restaurant, a botanical garden or even a beach.
Avoid wedding-y decor
You can choose any theme you want, as long as it doesn’t shout “Wedding!” Your vendors will have some good ideas about how you can make a special ceremony area without giving the game away.
You need to tell a few people…
A very select few people can be in on it, like your closest friends, as you’ll need some logistical help. Of course, your vendors will know all about it too, but make sure they know it’s all under cover.
How to entice guests
If you’re trying to get people in from a long distance, then you need to encourage them with the promise of a big announcement of some kind. If your hints aren’t being picked up on by people you really want to be there, then you can let them in on the secret. You’ll have to be prepared for some people not to make it, though – that’s part of the deal, unfortunately.
The big reveal
This is up to you, really. You can let people know as soon as they arrive or you can spin out the pretence for a bit longer. Talk to your vendors and inner circle to drum up some ideas.
Make sure everyone gets there on time
If you’re planning to have the ceremony at the start then you’ll need everyone there on time. If this might be a bit of a clue, then have the ceremony a bit later on. The same goes for dress code; if you’re on the beach, then devise a theme that’ll need everyone to be beach-smart. If you’re using your 30th birthday as a cover, say you want to be formal or semi-formal for the day.
Have a logistics team
You and your SO will have to disappear shortly before the ceremony begins to get changed or so that you can make a big entrance, so you’ll need people on the ground to halt the music and the flow of drinks and usher everyone into the ceremony space. If you’re using a celebrant then he or she can keep things moving and then can make the big announcement and kick things off.
You might have to let some things go
Unless you have some great raconteurs in your circle, you might have to do without speeches and maybe the cake. You can always serve a dessert or some cocktails that are more like traditional wedding fare or ask one or two members of your secret squad to prepare speeches.
Finally – keep schtum!
It’s hard to keep a secret like this, which is why you have your inner circle. Confide in them and don’t give in to the temptation to let your mum in on it if she isn’t. Just imagine the looks on everyone’s faces at the big reveal…