Back to Top
PolkaDotBride - Australia's number 1 Bridal Blog, Wedding Directory and Advice for Brides
Log In Register

How To Throw A Surprise Wedding

by | Australia - Victoria, Bride, Inspired Weddings,


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

Visit Ms Polka Dot's Directory

Friday Roundup

by | Blog News, Bride


Phew! I think this week has been a rather odd one with all the public holidays and races with champagne! I’m looking forward to a full week of divine weddings next week! But for now, here’s a few tid bits from around the web!

Firstly around the Polka Dot blogs!

Diamonds for the gents? I wrote a diamond wedding band roundup on Polka Dot Groom

Behind the scenes with Preston Bailey on Polka Dot Wisdom

Alicia shares her vintage book envelope liner tutorial on Polka Dot Made!

Ms T chooses her venue (and shows off her ring!) on Polka Dot Weddings

Airstream for your honeymoon? In Byron Bay? Why yes please! On Polka Dot Honeymoons

Remember you can sign up to be a contributor by filling out the contributor application after registering for a personalised collection! We’d love to have you!


Train released “Marry Me” this week as a single, what do you think? First dance material? I have to admit, it does have me sway into my “oh romantic” head-space!

We have two fab competitions running on Polka Dot Bride at the moment, firstly go into the draw to win one of ten double passes to The Luxury Wedding Showcase at the Treasury in Melbourne and our competition to Win your Dream Wedding Gown from Henry Roth!

Wedding List Co is teaming up with Coco Republic for their “Wedding Party” events during November. Attendees can enjoy personal attention from the Wedding List Co experts (including owner Karaline Loiteron) to help them plan their registry and select the items right for them.  The events will be held in Melbourne, Brisbane & Sydney and  registration closes today for your free gift so register on the Wedding List Co website here.

Antibride released their (free!) Iphone app recently and you can find me (AKA Aussie Bride) on there! Check out all my guest posts as well as the others (including the editor of Destination I Do magazine) by downloading the Antibride application here.

Ruffled Blog launched a new look today! Not only has Amanda put a fresh new look on the site but it’s packed with lots of great features- Congratulations Amanda!

Well Dots! That’s round up another week (stay tuned though because I have such an exciting “How To” guide this afternoon with one of the net’s favourite bloggers! What have you been up to this week? Please share your stories with me, I want to hear!

Sky and Mat

by | Bride, Inspired Weddings, International,


Sky and Mat

While Polka Dot Bride is Australian and we celebrate every day the beauty that is Australian wedding, we also have a large contingent of international readers, particularly from the US! I love to show off international weddings because I feel like they give us even more inspiration- something that another culture, another country, another couple celebrated with.

Sky and Mat had such a beautiful wedding- it’s literally filled with homemade touches, not only by them, but by their family and well some amazing Etsy vendors! And the photos- oh they’re just breath taking too! So I couldn’t resist sharing this celebration with you this morning! Their story goes a little something like this (as told by their photographer!) “These two lovebirds met at a restaurant where Sky was a bartender. Mat came in, he says a few times, Sky says once, to get a Sierra Nevada. He was waiting to get his haircut down the way and stayed for a brew. He said he might come back. He did. After their first date, which consisted of Sky tasting sweetbreads for the first time and Mat not divulging what they were until after her first bite (she was hooked), he came to work for the same restaurant she worked in. He was a chef who sent special plates out and stole spicy glances from the expo line.”

Photos today are by Made U Look Photography. I almost feel to put words with the images today is a shame because the images really have a way of speaking for themselves. but alas, the polka dot way is to tell you all the stories from the day!

Sky wore a  beautiful gown, Dupioni Silk Custom (modeled after Lee Ann Belter’s creation) by Lana’s Bridal Studio and Bolero by TianaCHE on etsy. Her wedding day hair and makeup was styled by Kayci Stoots. She carried a bouquet made by Songs From The Garden.

The couple married at The Flower Barn in California. The photographers say, “The venue was the fourth and last serious place to be scoped, but it was actually the first on the list. Sky was a little afraid to see it because she knew it was the place, an answered prayer. It was everything Mat and Sky had dreamed up: farm setting minus the animals (except for the most adorable chickens ever created-The Gypsy Chicks-Chinese Silkies), indoor/outdoor facilities, majestic trees, cottages and a farmhouse for family to stay and celebrate the night and next morning in. Everything was perfect.”

The corsages were by Handi Craft Kate, The couple’s daughter Ella wore a tutu from Laurie’s Tutu Boutique and shoes by Ivory and Moss. (She insisted on wearing her mothers shoes right up until the ceremony began though!)

Mat and Sky designed and wrote the wedding invites. Mat is an artist (outside of the kitchen as well) and Sky is a writer. The two had a lot of creative freedom, and only a few arguments, in this project. RuffHouse Art was a wonderful find on She helped with the colors and all of the production. They also DIThemselves with the save-the-dates,most of the desserts and all beverages, boutonnieres, sign-in table cards and set up, painted craft birdhouses and birdcages, favors, ceremony programs, reception decorations, escort cards, wedding party gifts and rehearsal dinner invites.

One significant theme in the wedding, besides the bird element and mild literary theme, is the relevance of the number 3. This is Sky’s favorite number. It is very special and intriguing. Many of the small details of their wedding have the number 3 strewn into them, if you look close enough! Her younger brother, best friend and man of honor (all the same guy!) was born at 3:33 p.m. and Mat proposed to Sky at approximately the same time. They set the wedding for 3:33 p.m.

Sky walked down the aisle to  Chris Tomlin’s ‘Amazing Love’. It was an instrumental by their amazing friends – Josh Bueno and Josh Guerrero who happen to be guitar gifted. Sky and Mat’s brothers stood beside them at the ceremony along with Sky’s bridesmaids dressed in gowns from Adrianna Papell and Old Navy.

There were some funny stories from the day. Sky says “just some of the usual – groom not having a room to get dressed in (he just roamed the grounds), our almost teenage son’s bloody nose right before the ceremony (along with locking himself out of his room 8 minutes before GO TIME and having have his necktie cut because it was too long)”

The cake, albeit beautiful, caused a few hassles! Sky recalls,”I have food allergies and had already had a small fiasco with it the morning of. I was unable to pick it up because they covered it in buttercream (I’m allergic to dairy and gluten). The cake came later than promised and so we were unable to decorate it! We’d had planned a gorgeous bendy grapevine twig to enhance it, along with a nest and two birds and two eggs (for our children) included. No go. Funny thing was, I had a vision of this months before. We still said, “Let Them Eat Cake”! I ended up with an allergic reaction (not necessarily the cake!) but it was quite a coincidence. Later found out it had eggs in it and I had requested it not to -VEGAN). All in all, a day for the books.”

The first dance was to Born Again by Third Day. The couple sang to one another (it helped and made it special there were both male and female vocals:). Everyone else faded into a blur.

A big thank you to Sky and Mat for sharing their wedding with us today on Polka Dot Bride! Thank you also to Made U Look Photography for such scrummy images!

Photos by Made U Look Photography

Prue and Andrew

by | Australia - New South Wales, Bride, Inspired Weddings,


Prue and Andrew

Oh, Wednesday couldn’t be much better when you have a stunning wedding like the one we have this morning! To say it’s full of glamour is an understatement. Our bride Prue has the most amazing gown that will have you squealing with delight, she designed it herself and it looks like it’s out of the pages of a vintage fashion magazine!- it’s a complete stunner!! and the moody rain? Well it just added to the atmosphere!

Photos this morning are by Infinity Photography who as per usual have captured this wedding with a whole lot of beauty and grace.

Prue Rainey designed and made her own gown and her bridesmaids gowns. Her vintage makeup look was styled by Kelly Tapp. Seed Flora put together a bouquet of succulents and roses.

The couple were married on Georges Head lookout overlooking Sydney harbor. Prue says, “Our  friends created an alter and aisle on the headland as a surprise, so I had no idea what I was going to being walking down when I arrived. It was a well kept secret and It was absolutely beautiful.”

Prue walked down the aisle (or sandstone steps) to an instrumental of “Use Somebody” by Kings of Leon.

Prue’s most memorable moment is a classic but romantic one. “Marrying  Andrew was the most special part of the day to me.”

Prue and Andrew held their reception at The Tea Room, Gunners Barracks. Prue says “ The Tea Room was the perfect intimate setting for the reception. We felt like a part of the room – not on display.”

Prue and Andrew danced their romantic first dance together to “Only You” by Louis Armstrong.

Thank you Prue and Andrew for allowing us to share your wedding day on Polka Dot Bride! Thank you also to Infinity Photography for today’s photographs!

Photos by Infinity Photography

Back to Top