I LOVE SURPRISE WEDDINGS!  I live and breath these types of weddings.  I love the nerves, the excitement, the secrecy, the detailed planning, and the anticipation of the whole experience.

When Jenn and Charlie first got in touch with me and told me their plan, I knew that I wanted in!  Jenn and Charlie’s plan was daring, cheeky, and dramatic – three fabulous traits!  Their plan was to take their parents to lunch on New Years Day, and surprise them with a wedding invitation disguised as a dessert menu.  Jenn and Charlie spent months working out detail, engaging wedding vendors – photographer, videographer, venue, and a Marriage Celebrant (me).  We knew it would be a massive task to make sure it went smoothly and successfully – but we were all up for the challenge.

I met with Charlie and Jenn a couple of times to do their legal paperwork and ceremony planning.  Jenn and I chatted over email for months, and we even had a secret rehearsal to finalise details and backup plans.

The day arrived and I felt like a ball of energy; nerves and excitement all rolled into one.  The plan was that I would be sitting at a table near by, pretending to be having lunch with my family, and wait till the surprise was revealed.  I got there early, as per usual, and took my place.  Jenn and Charlie walked in, with their parents in tow, and took their seats.  It was all happening now!  The Functions Manager at the Belvedere Hotel was amazing.  She took them through the mains and placed their drinks orders.  I could see that their parents had started to relax, looking forward to their main meals and enjoying their drinks.

The photographer and videographer pretended to be working for the hotel, and were taking promotional photo’s.  The Functions Manager asked me when the rest of my table were due to arrive – everything was going smoothly.  A few minutes later, I look up to see the Functions Manager walking towards their table with the “dessert menu’s”.  This is it – it’s happening now!  Jenn, Charlie and both sets of parents started reading the menu’s, when all of a sudden, I heard screaming and someone calling Jenn’s name.  It was Jenn’s mother, who was the first to realise what was going on.  One by one, they started getting to the end of the wedding invitation and with that, tears, excitement, yelling and laughing started.  Their parents were amazing – all completely excited about the instant wedding ceremony, and yes, I think a little overwhelmed too!  Jenn then introduced me to their parents, and I was lucky enough to receive hugs all round.

With a change of outfits, and a quick ceremony setup, we were ready to go.  Jenn and Charlie asked both of their mothers to do a reading.  I loved this one:

Treat yourselves and each other with respect, and remind yourselves often of what brought you together.
Give the highest priority to the tenderness, gentleness and kindness that your connection deserves.
When frustration, difficulties and fear assail your relationship, as they threaten all relationships at one time or another, remember to focus on what is right between you, not only the part which seems wrong.
In this way, you can ride out the storms when clouds hide the face of the sun in your lives…
remembering that even if you lose sight of it for a moment, the sun is still there.
And if each of you takes responsibility for the quality of your life together, it will be marked by abundance and delight.

Jenn and Charlie not only did traditional vows, but also did “pre-vows” which they both wrote and were able to speak from the heart.  A lovely addition to a ceremony.  My favourite part of their ceremony was when I spoke to their parents on Jenn and Charlie’s behalf, acknowledging their incredible relationships and the journeys they have taken as a family; tears flowed and I even felt a little wobbly too!  Jenn and Charlie also asked both fathers to be witnesses to their legal paperwork.

INCREDIBLE, INCREDIBLE, INCREDIBLE!  What courage it took to make this happen and the confidence from Jenn and Charlie to think up such a genius idea!  I was floating on a cloud for the rest of the day.

Thanks to Whitedress Photography and Videography, and the Belevedere Hotel for a great surprise!