I’ve been engaged to my high school sweetheart for a couple of years now. Although I haven’t finished planning the entire wedding, let me tell you: juggling putting together the “perfect” wedding plans while maintaining other life responsibilities can be a hassle. And what’s worse is when loved ones try to convince you to plan your wedding a certain way, trying to encourage you to spend more money than you’re comfortable with because “it’s your wedding day; go big or go home.” Then you have to remind them that it’s your wedding and your decisions. Ouch. Call it eustress if you will, but I think most brides and grooms would call wedding planning distress to an extent.
Fortunately, some couples have a good idea for tackling the stress of wedding planning, along with saving time and money in the process: having a surprise wedding! (Ironically, I’ve considered the idea of having a spontaneous wedding myself.)
How do these surprise weddings work? Well, every couple can do their own thing. However, many couples are choosing to plan their wedding within a short time frame and then revealing to guests last minute that they’re getting married (or even waiting until guests arrive at the venue to tell them a wedding is about to happen).
Now-married couple, Wayne “Smitty” Smith and Katie Smith, was one of many love birds who decided to opt for a surprise wedding. They told guests that they would be attending a birthday bash and Christmas party. Then the couple decided to also add a wedding ceremony into the mix, but only Wayne’s sister and brother-in-law knew in advance!
“We pulled it off, that’s the main thought at that point. We pulled it off without anybody knowing until the very last minute,” Mrs. Smith explained.
One of the reasons the couple wanted to make their ceremony a surprise was because Wayne knew that if his family got involved in the wedding planning, it would be chaotic, and “they’d still not be talking to each other.”
Plus, the Smiths got to save a significant amount of money.
“People are spending a lot these days, upwards of $80,000, on a wedding. They’re going big,” said Wedding Planner Jessica Ralph. Others are spending an average of $29,000 to $31,000, not including the costs of a honeymoon. (These numbers scare me, which is why my fiance and I plan on going small!)
Luckily for the Smiths, they weren’t in debt following their big day. In total, they spent less than $300 on their wedding.
Ralph, too, had a surprise wedding of her own. She invited guests to a 40th birthday party for her husband at La Meridian in Tampa, only to shock them with a ceremony and reception.
Looking back 16 years, the Ralphs don’t regret their surprise wedding.
Any advice for those looking to plan a surprise wedding? Ralph suggests telling a few people about the wedding, so you aren’t alone in the planning process. She also recommends that when inviting guests, it’s critical to make it clear that their attendance is necessary, without revealing too much, of course. Smart girl!
Find out more about how the Smiths and Ralphs planned their unique surprise weddings!