Get ready for a list. Here are the tips I have for planning a surprise wedding. (hint: it’s a lot like a real wedding)
1. Find a venue
Boy did we luck out with this one. We were able to book the Music Hall at Capital Ale House and use them for our catering. It was the perfect venue for our ceremony (the dark wood, exposed brick, large windows) and they were a dream to work with.
2. Send the invites ASAP
We used Paperless Post (love love love them!) to send out our “engagement party" invitations. Because we only had a few months, and we didn’t want to raise any red flags, we collected email addresses from family members, friends and coworkers and sent out invites via Paperless Post. I loved that all I had to do was import a spreadsheet and BAM we were set. Paperless Post collected mailing addresses for us, RSVPs and allowed us to easily keep track of messages and send out reminders and additional event info. Plus it’s free.
3. Delegate, Delegate, Delegate
Making wedding related phone calls at work wasn’t an option. Instead I would have to text Riley and ask him to get in touch with our vendors. My mom was a huge help in making appointments to buy a wedding dress. Thanks to connections we were able to book our entertainment, officiant and photographer within the same week. I kept Amanda in the loop by using Evernote, and weekly emails so that when she came down for the wedding, she would know exactly what needed to be done.
4. Realize what you are doing for yourself vs other people
We got away with not doing a lot of the traditional wedding activities because no one but a few people knew what was going on. From the beginning we knew we just wanted to get married and we based every decision off of that. It made things so much easier.
5. You’ll still fight, get stressed and make up
The stress of planning a surprise wedding without being able to tell everyone is crazy, but worth it. You’ll also still fight with family members about things, and get stressed about vendors not getting back to you, and even doubting if you really should go through with it. For us though, looking back on it now, we have no regrets about what we did.
6. You can plan for everything, & it’ll go out the window the day of
I had spreadsheets upon spreadsheets and folders full of information for Amanda. Contact information, RSVP list, contracts, schedule, all of it. The day of, none of it mattered. We went off schedule, had no idea how to cut the cake, drank more than we ate, and took pictures with sunglasses on top of our heads. I was so stressed out the day before, but the day of, none of it mattered because I was getting married, and it was going to be one big surprise to our friends, coworkers and even some of our family members. I was so excited to see their faces when they realized what was going on, nothing else mattered.
8. Know when you’ll post it on social networks
We didn’t post anything on social media until after phone calls had been made to family members who were invited to the wedding, but didn’t make. The last thing we wanted was for them to see something on social media and get the wrong idea about what we had done. 2 days later, we just posted a simple picture to announce our marriage.
Next Up: How to Pull of a Surprise Wedding: Pictures from the Big Day
After getting engaged in December, the wedding questions hit almost immediately.
"Have you picked a date?"
"Will it be in a church?"
"Are you staying local?"
"Are you going to have a big ceremony?"
I always wanted my response to be “Umm, I’m still processing that I’m engaged….” but went with “Well, we’re still figuring things out….”
I bought the wedding planner, the magazines and even suffered through a bridal expo with my poor mom.
That’s when I knew, a traditional wedding was not for me.
But, a wedding isn’t just about the bride. (SPOILER ALERT)
My fiancè and I talked about the kind of day we wanted. We made the traditional list and ours read:
We wanted our day to be about the commitment we were making to each other, and then to celebrate it.
I showed him this article I found online about a “surprise” wedding. For those who aren’t familiar with that (don’t worry, most aren’t) it’s exactly how it sounds. You surprise your guests with a wedding.
It was everything we wanted. We just had to make it happen. Essentially, our list was a party. How hard is it to plan a party?
So we called our parents, and asked them how they would feel if instead of getting married March 2015, we got married March 2014.
Once they were on board, we picked a date that we would tell people was our engagement party.
To avoid heart attacks, we called grandparents and told them about our plan to ensure that they would be there and that they wouldn’t pass out the day of.
Once all the necessary people knew what was going on. It was time to start planning and committing to it.
I called Amanda (you know her) and told her of my idea. Not only was she on board, but I knew she would be the voice going “you don’t have to do anything you don’t want to do”, and I desperately needed that.
So there we were. It was the end of January, and we were committed to planning a surprise wedding on March 22, 2014.
I am going to be honest here. I was not at all prepared for the emotional roller coaster one goes on during a wedding expo.
I went from “ooohhh pretty” to “did she just say MY wedding date” to “OH MY GOD I HATE STROLLERS” to “MOOOOMMMM” to “ummm that costs how much?” every 5 minutes.
Also all but 1 cake tasted all the same. All the flowers look the same. All the caters made food that no one eats. Cant find the caterer? They are the ones with the line wrapped around for miles cuz people want the free food. And they are always next to the vendor that you want to talk to, but good luck getting to that booth.
Want to talk to someone? Nice try. Everyone is too busy trying to get something for free or there is one person being a vendor hogg.
Also there are about 30 people from David’s Bridal and Mens Wearhouse trying to get you to sign up with them. Everytime you walk by a clipboard will be shoved in your face.
All you’ll want is for a vendor to treat you like a human and not a sale.
I found 5 vendors I loved because they treated me like a person. They asked questions, the talked about what they had done in the past, they were amazing. They made it all worth it.
I don’t regret going to the wedding expo, but I wish someone would have prepared me for it. But there’s no way you can prepare for it other than to just sign up and gag at the brides who have custom made shirts with their names and wedding date on them.