A few months ago, I received an email from a bride looking for tips on throwing a surprise wedding, then Amy and Mark got married in Melbourne and I thought, well! (really there was a ‘well’ there) who better to ask on how to throw a surprise wedding then someone who threw a beautiful tying of the knot under secrecy herself?
So today Amy of Eat Drink Chic was lovely enough to join us to to share her tips and tricks to throwing a surprise nuptial bash!
Recently you organised your own surprise wedding. Did you tell any family members or friends? If so, for what reason?
We told our parents and our grandparents. We felt it would be too much of a shock for them to find out on the day! Also, it would have been impossible to pull it off without our parents’ help in organising the event.
Mark’s welcome speech turns into a “surprise, we’re getting married!” speech
How long did it take to organise your surprise wedding?
It took about 3 months solid to organise the wedding. I specifically didn’t want a cookie cutter wedding and wanted to style the event in a unique and very specific way.
Were the invitations worded in a particular way?
Originally we were just going say that it was a combined 30th birthday bash as we were both turning 30 that year. We then decided to add the words ‘engagement party’ to heighten the importance and make sure that people would come, especially relatives living interstate. If we had just said it was our birthdays they may not have made the trip.
Is the key to a successful surprise wedding to keep it simple and personal?
I don’t think it’s necessary to keep it simple and personal however, it did made it a lot easier to avoid raising suspicions. I wore a casual vintage summer dress instead of a gown (which was actually my mother’s wedding dress, so that worked out very well!). Because it was outdoors, it had a very casual feel about it and the rustic ambience and ‘smart casual’ dress code really helped to disguise the true nature of the event.
If someone wanted to organise a surprise wedding but wanted it to be more elaborate e.g. a big cake, obvious wedding attire, elaborate flowers – what suggestions would you have for them, to keep it a surprise until the last possible moment?
I’ve actually heard of a surprise wedding where the bride and groom didn’t even show up to the party until one hour into the event and they appeared fully dressed- which was their way of announcing that they were going to get married! Another way is simply to get changed just before the ceremony. I definitely think there are ways of concealing the these things. By saying it is at least an ‘engagement party’, you can get away with more elaborate decor.
Does a surprise wedding allow you to be more discerning about the guests you really want to be there, instead of the having to invite the people you know you ‘should’ have there, as well?
The guest list is probably the trickiest component of any wedding, especially a surprise. We wanted to keep numbers small which is one of the hardest things to do and can offend those who aren’t invited, it really doesn’t matter if it is a ‘surprise’ or not, people will still be offended when they find out later that it was actually a wedding. Also with a surprise wedding you can run the risk of important guests not attending because they are not aware of the importance of the event. You need to make a decision as to whether you will reveal the secret to them should they decline the invitation. In hindsight, I think it is best to tell.
How did you co-ordinate all the suppliers on the day – keeping it a secret from those who might drop by for a visit?
Luckily we didn’t have the problem of people just dropping by unexpectedly! It took us a few days to set it all up. We held the event in my in-law’s backyard and this gave us several days to really refine the details and also resolve problems that occurred along the way.
Did you have help on the day itself to set up everything?
Our parents all pitched in- from dealing with the suppliers, flower arrangements, moving furniture and props, hanging up decorations etc. We hired some of the furniture and props from “Georgeous” and Georgie Kay (the creative director) and her delivery guy Chris were both very hands on with helping us set up. Also her florist- Melanie of ‘Cecilia Fox‘, whom we hired to do the hanging bottle flower arrangements, actually helped out with all the other arrangements as well. We were really amazed by their dedication.
What are some tips you could pass on about styling the celebration?
If you want to style the event yourself, first of all give yourself PLENTY of time. If I had to do it again I would give myself a year instead of 3 months!
Before you start finding suppliers, have a clear idea of your theme and your colour scheme so that you can specifically find ones that really understand your vision and will also be able to give you tips and good advice. This allows you to delegate with confidence because you really can’t do it all yourself. It may take awhile to find the right ones.
I would highly recommend holding the event in a private property so that you really have time to refine those details when setting up. The problem with hiring venues is that a lot of them tend to come with their own furniture and caterers which means that you have very little flexibility in styling things your way. Also, a space that has a lot of fantastic natural light makes a huge difference and takes great photos!
Find a fantastic photographer who will really capture all that work that you put into the event in a special way!
Attention to detail is really important and can really set your event apart from others. However, don’t be dismayed if you can’t complete all the projects you originally set out to do- nobody is going to notice that anything is missing except for you. Quality is better than quantity!
A big thankyou to Amy for sharing her tips & tricks for a surprise wedding! As I know you all adore details, here’s a full rundown of the suppliers Amy and Mark used
– Amy wore her mother’s wedding gown with a floral fascinator from Alannah Hill
– Julie Dammery of Beautique Creative styled Amy’s hair & makeup
– Catering was done by Atlantic On Site
– The wooden breadboards were sourced by Amy from Market Import
– Flowers were by Melanie from Cecilia Fox
– Some furniture, props and glass bottles were hired from Georgeous
– Red & white paper straws were bought from Lulu’s Cupcake Boutique
– Wine barrels were hired from The Design Depot
– Chinese lanterns were bought from Scarlet Jones
– Bamboo cutlery by Bambu bought from Greenfeet
– Vintage typewriter was bought from Provincial Home Living
– The couple were married by Deborah Cannon
Photos by Jonathan Ong