Can you picture this?! Your nearest and dearest friends and family arrive for (what they think is) your engagement party and, surprise! They are really there to be a guest at your wedding! Whatever your reasons, a surprise wedding can be an appealing alternative to a more traditional wedding ceremony and reception. Maybe you’re looking to avoid the drama (or expectations) of a traditional wedding, maybe you and your fiancé are unconventional by nature and want a wedding that celebrates that, or maybe you are simply working with a smaller budget and want to generate the very biggest bang for your buck!

We see more and more couples these days that wish to avoid a drawn out affair but still want something special. Many are forgoing more traditional nuptials for a surprise party that they spring on their guests with a clever ruse! And, really, what could be easier than inviting all your nearest and dearest to another big party, to keep up pretenses?! While all of that is amazing, it will still require quite a bit of work behind the scenes! You might even still want to enlist the services of a wedding planner to make sure that everything goes off without any hiccups!

Be Sure a Surprise Wedding Is Right for You

First things first! Before you and your fiancé start drafting your secret wedding plans, take some time brainstorming about your wedding day expectations. That will give you time to see if you and your partner are (really) both okay with giving up some of the more traditional pre-wedding festivities and gifts. Also, deciding to bypass a conventional wedding an often means missing out on some of the pre-wedding fun that goes along with it, like having a bridal shower, bachelorette or bachelor party, or wedding rehearsal dinner!

But, if you do decide that you’re the type of couple that really doesn’t want all the fuss, attention or pressure of planning a huge wedding, then you may just hit the jackpot with your sneaky plan!

Keep Everyone On a Need To Know Basis

The whole goal of your plan is to keep things under wraps until the big moment by only telling the people you absolutely must, such as your wedding vendors and their staff, and possibly your maid of honor and best man. This is where hiring a great team of professional wedding vendors could really work in your favor! After all, you won’t really be able to ask a lot of friends or family to help with the plan, but you’re definitely going to need help! 

Another consideration… In our opinion, sharing the secret with both sets of parents could be a good idea! Even if you just break the news the day before! This might be especially relevant if you’re worried about how they might react on your wedding day. Plus, they might be really excited and thrilled to be part of the planning, and in on the big secret.

Getting Your Guests There

To give credence to your ruse, you’ll need a big party-worthy occasion, to draw attention away from your secret upcoming wedding! Events such as milestone birthdays or maybe even your engagement would work! This will drive home the importance of your guests’ attendance at your party without showing your hand. 

Also, your cover story and invitation style should match your actual event in both kind and formality. For example, don’t use a casual barbecue as your ruse if you’re planning on hosting a formal cocktail party.  Another tip when planning your secret wedding is sending out the invites 4-6 weeks, and well in advance of your shindig. That invite timeline will seem more in keeping with a Birthday, Anniversary or Engagement party, rather than a wedding invitation. This will serve as another deflection, because who sends out their wedding invitation 4 weeks before a party?!

Logistics Are Still Important!

Even with a surprise wedding, you’ll still need to take care of all the traditional wedding basics,  like getting your marriage license and hiring your officiant, and taking care of any permits you might require. You’ll also need to hire your caterer and (very important… wink, wink) your entertainment. Also, think about the style of ceremony and reception you want, what kind of changes will you need to make to keep it concealed?! And, even though you’re sending invites out fairly late, you will need to have an approximate guest count when you meet with your caterer. That way they can work with you to create a delicious menu that will complement your party size and vibe, and be able to give you a more accurate quote in the first place.