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If the cost of the average Australian wedding is making your head spin, then why not save your hard-earned money by disguising your nuptials as another big event? To achieve a Pinterest-worthy surprise wedding, Bhria Vellnagel uncovers the crucial elements you’ll need to execute a seamless and unforgettable celebration.

Image Credit: Beaux Art Co.
Image Credit: With Every Heartbeat Photography
Image Credit: Beaux Art Co.
Image Credit: Beaux Art Co.

Planning the perfect wedding is known to take months, if not years. With all of the extra formalities – from bridal showers and bachelorette parties, to rehearsal dinners, and everything in between – on top of organising one of the most memorable days of your life, it could quickly have you pulling on some trainers and reenacting Julia Roberts’ iconic getaway in the film Runaway Bride! But fear not, a surprise wedding may be the blessing in disguise you’ve been searching for.

Whether you’d like to make a scene announcing your newly married status with an eye-catching fireworks display, or would prefer to keep it simple with a small get together at your local café, this versatile style of wedding can be customised to deliver your ideal result. Read on as Queensland Wedding & Bride uncovers how to throw a unique and flawless surprise wedding.


From capturing the look of utter astonishment on your grandmother’s face, to your father’s tearful disbelief, a surprise wedding will be an emotional and exciting experience not easily forgotten. As you won’t have to plan any other celebrations in the lead up to the event, use this time to adequately plan all the details that go into this once-in-a-lifetime experience.

To keep your big day under wraps, a good rule of thumb is to hold the event less than six months after announcing your engagement. It’s completely understandable if you believe you’ll struggle to organise a wedding in that short time, especially if you want everything to be exactly the way you’ve always dreamed it would be. But it’s important to keep in mind that the longer you leave the event the more your guests will begin to suspect something’s awry. So, if possible, keep it short, and lean on those in the know for assistance.


There’s no better way to guarantee that your big surprise will go off without a hitch than by planning your entire day down to the letter. As your imminent nuptials won’t be common knowledge, it’s worth ensuring that you have a supportive team at your beck and call to help arrange the big day, from finding the perfect venue to the amazing final reveal. To ensure you receive a helping hand, it’s best to keep the members of your bridal party in the know. It’s also paramount to clue in your hired professionals, as you don’t want your wedding coordinator spilling the beans when they gush about how great the ceremony space looks.


To lead your guests further astray, ensure you’ve chosen a venue that doesn’t scream ‘wedding’. Multifunctional spaces – such as the modern interiors at Currumbin Waterside Wedding Location, or glam event rooms at Rydges South Bank – are ideal as they are non-suspicious locations.

However, if you’re set on having a chapel wedding, you may just have to create an amazing excuse for why you chose that venue for your engagement party or birthday celebration. Embrace your inner salesperson and you can rest assured your friends and family will be none the wiser.

Moreover, instead of fibbing to your nearest and dearest, you can be a little creative with your big reveal. For example, consider giving your guests invitations with a pick-up location instead of the actual venue, then transport them while blindfolded to keep the surprise alive until the very last second.


Just because your surprise wedding may not be the classic rendition of a ceremony, it doesn’t mean you’ll have an easier time making it official. If you’ve chosen to say ‘I do’ at your local courthouse, you need to remember to fill in a marriage certificate application either online or by mail prior to the big day.

Image Credit: We Are Twine
Image Credit: Stone and Wool Photography
Image Credit: Stone and Wool Photography

If you still want to take that magical walk down the aisle, whether it be in a church or down a makeshift runway in the middle of your event space, you’ll need to book a celebrant to officiate it all.

Selecting an experienced celebrant at least two months before the event will give you enough time to get to know one another, and have all the paperwork done and dusted by the time the big day rolls around. Furthermore, by including a trusted celebrant you’ll also be offered expert advice, a unique point of view and they may even help plan your surprise!


A surprise wedding just wouldn’t be the same without someone there to document the occasion. Not only will investing in a wedding video ensure that you can replay the fun and excitement of this once-in-a-lifetime experience time and again, but it will also capture all the expressions on your guests’ faces, which in the end is the unique satisfaction you hope to achieve with this style of event.

While most professionals will be able to do the job credibly, it takes a special individual to be able to perfectly capture and display all of your best moments, from the pre-announcement mingling, to the post-announcement reactions. During the consultation stages with your chosen videographer, it’s best to ask them what limitations they might face when it comes to recording your big reveal, so you can be sure you’ve found the right person for the job.

Moreover, you can opt to have your videographer recommend a photographer, who will be able to shoot at angles the videographer may miss in the heat of the moment. Remember, while surprise is fleeting, your memories of the event can live forever through video footage.


As the key distinction of a surprise wedding is that it will need to remain a secret until the day in question, this style of event can cause a lot of stress for couples with family and friends who don’t live a stone’s throw away. While those with their entire guestlist residing close by may have it easier corralling their nearest and dearest, you don’t need to lose out if your guests live abroad. A good cover story is the key to ensuring they attend. If you have an upcoming landmark birthday or even a big family holiday in the near future, make sure to take advantage of the opportunity to bring the whole family together! Most couples will use their engagement party as a cover story, which will likely be enough to coerce your international guests to book their flights. Moreover, it’s also important to make the ruse a believable one, so as to not arouse suspicion in the months leading up to the event.

Occasionally, even an important event that isn’t labelled as a wedding will leave some guests sitting on the fence. It’s important to understand that many may not be able to afford to travel or take time off work, and are simply saving for the one chance they’ll have to see you walk down the aisle. In cases like these, it’s best to quietly break the news to ensure they’ll attend. After all, it wouldn’t be a wedding without those that mean the most to you there to celebrate with you.


It’s finally the big moment you’ve been leading up to for months, and whether you’ve chosen to burst through the doors with the MC announcing, “here come the newlyweds”, or to move everyone into a pre-planned ceremony room, there are countless ways to embrace your big reveal.


The surprise moment will be the ultimate part of your big day and so will need to be planned perfectly.

Some tips to keep in mind are to organise a distraction for when you need to leave the room for large periods of time. For example, while changing into your wedding dress. Another vital insurance policy is to enlist a dedicated friend or family member to ensure everyone is in the right place at the right time.


Don’t sacrifice the wedding of your dreams at the cost of doing what others may want or expect of you. While a surprise wedding is a creative solution to the traditional affair, you’re bound to come across a few opinionated critics when the day is done. Whether they didn’t like the modern take on a classic service, or had a problem with the reveal itself, it’s important to not pay any mind to these complaints as it’ll ruin the amazing memories of the event you worked so hard to create. Remember, it’s your day and as long as you and your significant other thought it was perfect, then that’s all that matters.

If you choose to host a surprise wedding, you have a multitude of unique experiences to look forward to and remember fondly for many years to come. From the excitement of planning such an amazing moment, to the stunned expressions shared by your guests, your big reveal will be a once-in-a-lifetime experience that will be completely unique to you.