In the past year, I have been lucky enough to celebrant (yes, it's a verb now) at four surprise weddings. That's 4 out of the 34 weddings I performed.
Considering weddings can be quite arduous to plan, and secrets can be hard to keep from prying family members, the surprise wedding is not all that common.
But I can tell you from first hand experience - they're fricken awesome.
By surprise weddings, I don't mean that a bride or groom shows up to their partner standing there with a celebrant, yelling "Surprise! We're getting married!"
That is very much not allowed (remember, you're BOTH required to give at least one month's notice of your getting married, by completing the Notice of Intended Marriage or NOIM).... and it's probably borderline entrapment too :P
The surprises have to stop at the engagement ring (However, you can leave the "date" as a surprise to your partner, as long as you're both consenting and it's within the timeframe on the NOIM).
A surprise wedding is a surprise to some, or all, of your guests.
They may think they're attending an engagement party, a baby shower, or even a family BBQ. Then the big reveal happens, and BAM - IT'S A WEDDING!
There are endless creative ways that you can pull off a surprise wedding - you're really only limited by your imagination.
Here are two examples of surprise weddings I perfomed rather recently. Both captured forever on film by the ever talented and always wonderful, Hunter Valley Video.
These short videos capture the spirit of surprise weddings in a way I would struggle to describe accurately with words. ("Try not to Cry" challenge... ammirite?)
The laughter, the tears, the raw excitement and emotion - it's a unique experience for both the couple and their guests, unmatched by anything else.
First up, we have Sophie and Chelsea...
Guest reactions with Audio, by Hunter Valley Video:
Highlights Reel, by Hunter Valley Video:
The two gorgeous humans pulled off a phenomenal surprise wedding at Murray's Brewery, Bob's Farm, that was entirely true to themselves. Not a single family knew. Sophie and Chelsea organised EVERYTHING as the dynamic duo they are (even more impressive considering they are out-of-town-ers).
Their guests walked into the venue, to see a sign that said "two brides are better than one, come and join us for some fun!" Guests then followed a few more signs to reach the ceremony spot, where Sophie and Chelsea were standing waiting for them, beers in hand.
There was no processional. It was important for Chelsea and Sophie to share this emotional moment with the family before the ceremony began.
Because their father's didn't get the opportunity to walk them down the aisle, we called them up to be witnesses to the wedding (to sign the paperwork). They couldn't have been more chuffed.
You can see their dad's in the video, walking up to the "altar" holding each other's hands.
I finished the ceremony by cracking open a Murray's Brewery cold one, and cheers-ing the girls .
Important to pulling off a surprise wedding, is your choice of vendors. Helping out with the surprise on Sophie and Chelsea's big day, was: Video: Hunter Valley Video
Photographer: Stories With Mel (caught all the special moments).
Flowers: Jade McIntosh Flowers
Arbour & Signs: Crab Apple Vintage
Next, we have Sahlee and Adam
Highlights Reel by Hunter Valley Video (feat. guests reaction)
Now, Sahlee and Adam had planned to get married in the Philippines in 2021. As with all destination weddings, not all of Adam and Sahlee's family members were going to be able to travel to the Philippines to attend their wedding... so they hatched a last minute plan.
(like, literally, last minute... they completed their NOIM on the LAST POSSIBLE DAY THEY COULD. We had one month to pull this off!).
The shindig you see in this video, was their engagement party - at a very classic engagement party venue, The Beach Hotel in Merewether. Engagement party sign, engagement party decorations.... you get the picture.
Plenty of guests were present - these two are amazing humans who are unsurprisingly loved by many - live music was pumping, plenty of dancing, everybody was having a great time.
Two hours into their engagement party, after the first solo artist had finished, another took the stage.
That "solo artist" was me. Supposedly a signer-songwriter who had put together a tribute song, in honour of those who would not be able to make it to the Phillipines in 2021. However, the singer was facing some technical issues....
I announced that the technical issues were due to the fact I wasn't actually a musician... I'm an authorised marriage celebrant.
The crowd. went. wild. You would have thought every single one of them had won the lotto! (not sure if my hearing has been the same since).
The following video is from my Facebook page (definitely not a professional videographer!):
The love they all had, for this beautiful couple, saturated the room. I have not experienced a reaction like it.
Adam and Sahlee's guests were also perhaps the best crowd I have ever had - and that may be because of my comic stylings... or maybe it was because their guests had access to alcohol for two hours before the ceremony... I don't know.
Unfortunately, the only other vendor I am aware of for Sahlee and Adam's shindig, is Hunter Valley Video.
The live musician and DJ also did great work in pulling off this surprise, so I will name them in this post if I find out who they are.
So, to wrap this up. If you've ever humoured the possibility of having a surprise wedding - these examples should convince you.
They're not always easy to plan, but the experience is like no other.
I certainly now have a soft spot for surprise weddings. I feel so lucky that these two couples asked me to help them out with their big days. (Particularly Sahlee, who was SO SET on having me as her celebrant. It was an absolute pleasure my dear!)
I love all four of you... I really do. I can't stop watching these videos.
And on that note - I cannot recommend having a videographer for your big day enough! How special to be able to relive these special moments - again and again.
Hunter Valley Video is a pleasure to work with and as you can see, they'll turn you into movie stars.
Are there any moments in either of the videos that really stand out to you? Let me know in the comments below.
Catch ya's later,