I have officiated a few surprise weddings – it’s such a fun thing to do! It’s fun for everyone, it’s fun for the couple and I, as we plan the day together sharing our own little secret. I feel so important, perhaps for those weddings I should order a special Military style stamp where I can cover their file and documents with TOP SECRET.
It doesn’t take long for ALL those little things to add up. Before you even get to the day- there’s the save the dates, the invitations and the RSVPS. Then you start planning the big things - the venue - and their charge per person for a 3 course sit down dinner package with canapes and drinks can range anywhere from $80 to $250pp. Then you have the wedding cake and the reception decorations. That’s just for the reception, you also need to consider the other wedding items such as the dress, rings, ceremony location, photographer and/or videographer, hair and makeup, florals and so it goes on.
Having a surprise wedding can certainly cut costs. It cuts expectations and it can cut stress. Not just the stress of paying the bill, but also the stress that can come about when planning a wedding and having so many well-intentioned people offering ‘help’ or advice. When you have your own surprise wedding, it’s a wedding that has all the bits that you want and nothing that you don’t want. It’s a win win.
Firstly – I need to tell you – a surprise wedding is where the couple surprise their guests and get married. It often occurs at an engagement party or some other event that everyone has been invited to. It cannot be a surprise to either party of the wedding – that is against the law in Australia as both parties need to lodge their Notification of Intention to Marry form (the NOIM) with the celebrant at least a month prior to the surprise wedding date in order to have a legal wedding ceremony.
In fact all the legalities of a normal wedding will need to be meet, in addition to completing and lodging the NOIM in sufficient time you will need to also have your legal identification (birth certificate and photo identification OR current passport, and if either of the parties have been married before they would need to provide evidence of that marriage termination). On the day of the ceremony they would also need two witnesses to the ceremony, this can be anyone at the ceremony that is over the age of 18 years and is willing to carry the responsibility of signing the documents and being able to testify that they were present to the ceremony.
I have officiated a few surprise weddings and to date they have all been a hit. Everyone has enjoyed the ceremony and often the announcement of the surprise elicits a few happy tears – and then more tears when the vows come. If you haven’t yet planned your wedding and if you are finding it all a little overwhelming that you threaten to elope – BUT you don’t want to elope and miss out on a wedding with your favourite family and friends – then a surprise wedding might just be what you’re after.