Surprise! It’s a WEDDING!

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You may be the type of bride who always thought eloping was the way to go. But your spouse-to-be would really like a party with at least some of the trimmings, like music and food and guests.  The compromise is the surprise wedding.

The surprise wedding is just what the term sounds like, especially when it’s exclaimed like this: “Surprise!  You’re at our wedding!”  It’s a surprise to just about everybody except the two of you.

It has been pulled off by some celebrities with big budgets and armed security, but you can do it too, even with the tiniest of budgets and still have a great time. Just remember that there are some drawbacks to your masterplan.

The first one is keeping a secret is really hard. If essentially lying to your parents and your expected wedding party makes you squeamish or if you are just lousy at keeping a confidence (even your own) then this might not be the best option for you. It is suggested that you tell at least one person you trust what is actually happening (other than your intended) to spread the necessary white lies, keep your cover, and help with all the logistics.

The first con ties neatly to the second: the ‘rents not being all that thrilled with your plan. On one hand you are probably saving them a bunch of money but on the other hand, they really had wanted to have that big fat wedding to brag/complain about for years. And, if Dad doesn’t walk you down the aisle, he may never recover. Keep their hearts in mind as you plan for your secret event.

The third negative about the surprise wedding is that there will be no surprises for you, as in gifts. You won’t have the registry for your guests to select their tribute for you on the day of, but they can send along a little something after the fact, if they so desire, so the losses if any, could be small.

Intimate, immediate, and improvised are three good reasons to go for the surprise.

Intimate – A surprise wedding is easiest to manage if you are inviting just the people closest to you. That number could be ten or 100+. Just keep in mind smaller the number of folks on the guest list, the less suspicion is raised about the event, and the fewer questions to be dodged. It also gives you more options for the site of your nuptials.

Immediate – In North Carolina, as soon as the ink is dry on the license you can get married so there is nothing stopping you from arranging an officiant to meet you at the nearest BBQ joint with your 20 best friends to start your married life. Or you can take a little longer and plan to do the deed on a birthday or holiday when everyone is getting together anyway. Saves a bit on the travel and lodging for the guests!

Improvised – You will create the party you (plural) really want. It might be rooftop canapés after a dockside sunset wedding on a Wednesday or a breakfast brunch following a Sunday kayak paddle with your buddies. You also get to wear what you want. If you want the white dress and all the trimmings, go for it! Or if you’d rather tie the knot in your sneakers and paddle shorts, that’s fine too… it’s your wedding.

The surprise wedding will cause a stir with your guests and those who didn’t make the cut. The guests will most likely have mixed emotions; thrilled that you’re married but disappointed that they didn’t figure out what was happening so that they could somehow surprise you.

As for the folks that weren’t there to witness the celebration, they may be a little wounded, but that would happen even if you went with a traditional wedding bash and didn’t invite them. You see, this surprise wedding isn’t for everyone, but it might just be perfect for you (two).


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