Under the pretense of an engagement party, a birthday party, your parents' anniversary party, pre-planned holiday party or vacation, or just a fancy get-together...a surprise wedding can truly catch your guests off-guard! You have to come up with a fabulous party idea to make EVERYONE want to come. If you select a birthday...make sure it's actually you or your fiancee's birthday. The toughest part about a secret wedding is keeping it secret! Limit the number of people that have to know...your fiancee, parents, officiant, planner, and, of course, your vendors and their staff must all be sworn to secrecy!
The biggest advantage to a surprise wedding is the elimination of interference of family members, all of the stress of long planning, and you can really save a lot of money! You get to skip all of the questions your family and friends ask along the way because they think it's 'just a party'! Also, the photographs that are captured from the faces of your attendees will be priceless! The thing to remember is to make sure your reason for the party makes sense...if you are party people, no problem! And hopefully, all the important people that you want to attend will show up for 'just a party'! Make a few personal calls to let your special people know you really want them there for your 'just a party'.
Don't forget that some of the formalities are still required. The officiant and the marriage license must be present...lol! This works best for couples who don't want all the formalities but want a very special affair! If you want to keep expenses down, then keep the number of guests intimate also.
Even though it's a surprise to your guests, you still have to do some planning...after all, it's still a PARTY! Invitations should not be sent out too early...four to six weeks before the party is just fine!
Be sure to have a videographer or two and photographers in strategic locations to record those special facial reactions when the guests are told why they are there! Take lots of pictures...candid and formal family pictures after the announcement!
Be sure to set a nice enough dress code for your party because, after all, these are going to be your official wedding pictures! People will be upset if they are not looking their best after they find out it's a wedding!
Best technique: Let the party go on for awhile before telling the guests that it's a wedding! Make sure all the guests are there before making the announcement.
You can still give favors. Either put them out after the announcement of the surprise wedding or give your guests favors that are not personalized.
You and your fiancee disappear and do a wardrobe change just before the announcement.
You have a wedding dress under your party dress that can be easily revealed.
You have someone to release covered balloons from the ceilings...with the words printed on the balloons saying 'Welcome to Our Wedding' or your names and wedding date.
You had a friend with an NBA announcer-like voice, who is set to make the announcement for you just before you walk through the crowd to the central wedding spot.
Once you make the announcement, you have a hostess or two walking around with a dish. Pass the dish around your guests and let them draw names to be flowergirl, ringbearer, best man/woman, maid/man of honor...it could be comical and lots of fun! It could be hilarious seeing Uncle Joe being a flowergirl!!!
You go with a themed party to hide the fact that there is no wedding decor.
You ask everyone to wear a specific color to fancy things up! They will feel more a part of everything once they find out.
You camouflage the wedding altar location to be exposed during the announcement...people will wonder how they missed it if you do a good job!
You had an 'all white' attire party...the bride and groom could mix in without suspicion!
When everyone else is asked to sit down for dinner the couple remain standing with the officiant...and the ceremony begins.
Be prepared for the fact that some family or friends may be upset that they were not told...some things can not be avoided. Be sure to apologize during your announcement and explain that you didn't want the whole shebang of a big wedding but you still wanted everyone there with you.
If you have international or out-of-state guests that you really want there, you may have to ask them to keep your secret safe.
Don't forget that traditional wedding gifts, bridal showers, and bachelorette parties will be missing in action! And you will have to forego the church ceremony. Make sure those are things that are okay with you and your fiancee! This is for the couple who don't want to deal with all the planning, attire fittings, and hassle of a formal wedding.
But 'a party is a party'...you can still have your first dance, cut the cake (hide it away beforehand or just don't have a traditional wedding topper), and your toasts. Most couples have those friends who are ready on any occasion to give a spontaneous speech for a toast.
You will never forget this special day and special way it was done! Now, ENJOY YOUR SURPRISE WEDDING!