Robyn Rodda Blog


I was approached the other day about doing a “surprise wedding” in a few months’ time. These weddings seem to be coming more and more popular these days as the element of surprise often adds fun and merriment to the actual ceremony.

Now, before I go any further, I should explain what a surprise wedding is all about. It is not a ceremony where a bride traps her man in a room with all her friends and a ready to go celebrant.  No, not only is that illegal it is highly immoral! The law states that marriage, according to law in Australia, is the union of a man and a woman to the exclusion of all others, voluntarily entered into for life, meaning that both parties are well aware and are willing to enter into this marriage. They both also have to have signed the “Notice of Intention to Marry” and the “Declaration to Marry” forms before the ceremony so there is no misunderstanding about what they are about to do. A surprise wedding is a ceremony that the couple plan together but don’t tell their family and friends until the ceremony is about to start.

There are pros and cons to these types of ceremonies, and as I have done a few, I can tell you about you what to watch out for.

Firstly, it’s a good idea to stress the importance of whatever excuse for a get together you gave everyone. If you just invite them all for a BBQ and the weather is not great, you may find that there will be some that don’t turn up on time, if at all! Some people will not prioritize a BBQ or a dinner like they do a wedding. For this reason, it’s a good idea to have at least a couple of people in on the secret to help ensure that everyone invited arrives in time for the big event.

The bride really needs to have a confidant, someone beside the groom that she can share her excitement with. A couple of years ago, I did a surprise wedding and the bride confided in me that she misses having a friend come with her to help pick out her dress. This is one of the most exciting occasions in the whole of arranging a wedding and to do it by yourself is not quite as thrilling. She also had some small problems with the dress maker and the flowers which she had to deal with herself. So, again I say, have a special person that you can rely on to help out for these occasions.

One of the pros is definitely no stress trying to arrange who sits where and next to whom and so forth…. If timed right, by the time the ceremony starts, most guest will have already settled in and having a good time! Surprise weddings are not one for formal ceremonies or receptions, they are better suited to a more relaxed and casual affair although having said that, there are no hard fast rules and if you can pull off a formal event then hats off to you!

About 3 years ago the bride who was having great fun arranging her surprise wedding wrote letters to all that she wanted to be involved. Her three brothers all received a letter telling them that she wanted them to stand at an allotted area and wait for her there so they could walk her down the aisle. She also had a poem she wanted someone else to read during the ceremony. She gave these letters out to the brothers and reader just as her fiancé and her uncle were announcing the upcoming nuptials, about 2 minutes before I walked in the door.

But the biggest pro is the wow factor that you have just provided for your guests. This can be such an emotional high for everybody and the unexpectedness of it creates one of the happiest atmospheres possible. So if it is a surprise wedding you’re after, then I say, go for it, just make sure you don’t try to do it all yourself, share the fun with at least a couple of friends.



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