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Surprise Wedding OMG, yes please!

Updated: Feb 28, 2019

Are you planning a ‘Surprise Wedding’, then here’s what you need to know.

A Surprise wedding, omg, yes, pure happiness (and envy) from everyone. Not only do surprise weddings delight everyone in attendance, they are an awesome option for couples who don't want the typical anxieties associated with a standard wedding. Plus, because you’re not going down the ‘traditional path’ you can get super creative with your styling and venue.

Making it Official

Just so you know, a wedding “surprise” for one of the marrying partners is NOT possible under Australian law. NO, you cannot surprise your partner on the wedding day! So, in order to make all of this actually stick according to law, you’ll need a celebrant on hand to officiate the marriage. We do have a bit of legwork in the lead-up too, so make sure you engage a celebrant with at least six weeks before the surprise (we are required to submit a ‘Notice of Intended Marriage’ a minimum of one month prior to the wedding).

Create a Legit Decoy Event

To ensure a great turnout, you’ll need to dream up a creative decoy. If your family is already getting together for a planned holiday, you could seize the moment to plan something on location or if you have a 30th or other milestone birthday, or even a baby naming or gender reveal ceremony you could plan the wedding a week before or after and claim that as your decoy. The most common, however, is to use the engagement party as a ruse and get hitched then.

Explore all options for a venue

Because this is a surprise, you probably will spoil the surprise if you book your wedding in a church, so get creative and check out your local Air BB’s, Farm Stays, Café’s parks, beaches etc.

Plan the big reveal

You may want to ‘tease’ your guests when they arrive by delaying the announcement for a while. Maybe you could hire a couple of rooms in the venue and set up one as an ordinary function and the other as your styled wedding room and when the time is right, usher your guests into the other room! Alternatively, you might want to declare from the moment they arrive that they are in fact attending your wedding and start off with a bang. Or, you may wish to let the excitement build up and slip away to get changed and announce the ceremony when you and your partner are both ready to begin.

Getting to the Party on Time

Let’s face it some people are always running late or if they don’t recognise the importance of the occasion they may just think that they can pop in anytime. If you decide to start the event with the wedding ceremony, make sure you highlight the importance of guests arriving on time. As an incentive you could always state on your invitations that there are free cocktails until 7pm? Or say you’ve got special entertainment or great dinner starting at 7 o’clock so you need to arrive by then?

Dress Code

Also be clear on your invites if there is a dress code you’d like people to adhere to. If you are going for a casual affair at the beach, shorts could be okay, but if you are looking for a classier affair, explain that you would like your “30th/engagement party” to be a semi-formal event.


We don’t generally get many genuine surprises in life so make the most of this one. I think a videographer has to be high on your vendor priority list. The reactions from everyone when they clue in to what’s happening will be amazing but the sound and excitement probably has to be watched to be fully appreciated. You can always feel the OMG happiness of the guests when they realise that the “engagement party” they thought they were attending was just the warm-up act for the real deal. It’s definitely a moment you’ll want to treasure!

Your Logistical Team

Unless you are super great at keeping secrets then you will need to recruit a couple of your most trustworthy friends or family members. Your wedding suppliers maybe able to help you with most of the logistics but just be sure to let them know it’s a top secret covert operation!!

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