Yeah Weddings

How to Plan the Best Surprise Wedding Ceremony

A surprise wedding ceremony is a great way for adventurous and unique couples to have a wedding that is in line with their style. If you and your spouse are that type of couple then a surprise wedding is right up your alley.

Read on to find out how to pull off an unforgettable surprise wedding ceremony. 

Everything You Need to Know to Pull Off a Surprise Wedding

bride and groom wedding photo

Whether you’re looking to save some money or you want to avoid the fuss of a large affair, a surprise wedding ceremony is a great option for you. But how do you plan such an event?

Look no further because here is absolutely everything you need to know to plan the absolute best surprise wedding ceremony that is sure to blow everybody away. 


Choose A Date, Location, and Cover Story

aisle and wedding venue

Once you decide that a surprise wedding is right for you and your fiancee, it is time to start nailing down the logistics. Keeping such a large secret is extremely hard, so it is best to keep your engagement short.

Pick a date about three to six months after your engagement so you have enough time to plan. This also ensures that there is a limited amount of time for the secret to get out.

One of the first steps in your planning process should be to choose a location that can house enough people. This is difficult so it is best to start looking as early as possible. 

After deciding when and where your surprise wedding is going to take place, begin crafting the perfect cover story that is sure to get people to show up without revealing the truth of the event. One of the most common guises is an engagement party.

While this is a great idea and can certainly steer people away from the truth, it has become more well known in recent years. To make sure that everybody will be shocked, think of an important event or celebration that is important enough that people are likely to show up for.

You could also try choosing a cover event that is unique such as a Jack and Jill bridal shower, a birthday party, or a family vacation. Whatever your story, make sure it makes sense for you and your fiancee. 


Only Tell The People You Have To

bride and mother of the bride

The only way for a surprise wedding to work is if it actually remains a surprise. The best way to keep it a surprise is by keeping it a secret. The less people you tell your plans to the less likely it is that the truth will get out and ruin the surprise.

Of course, there are people you have to tell in order to pull off the entire event. Those people you should confide in include any vendors and their staff. It will likely be necessary for you to rely heavily on your vendors and their staff since you will not have your wedding party and family helping plan. 

If you are worried about how your parents might react on the day of the surprise wedding, it would be a good idea to share the secret with them ahead of time. That way they are in the loop and they can help with the planning and execution of the event. 


Choose Your Vendors and Have Them Get to Work

wedding flower vendor

Since this is such an important, personal, and secretive event, it is imperative that you choose vendors that align with your style. Share your vision with them, step back, and allow them to do what they do best.

Planning a surprise wedding is stressful enough so it might be nice to not have to control all of the vendors as well. This is one area where you can be more hands-off and allow yourself a moment to take a break and relax. 

If you have the money for it, consider hiring a wedding planner as well. This is especially helpful if you have no idea where to start with the planning process. They can take the lead and manage everything and everyone to be sure you have the wedding of your dreams.

If you want a simple and pretty low stress planning process then a wedding planner is the right choice for you. If a wedding planner is not an option, you can most definitely do it yourself. Do not be afraid to ask for help from those you have confided in about the wedding. 


Send Out Invites

man opening invitation

Now that you have decided what your cover story is going to be as well as when and where the wedding is to take place, you have to start sending out invitations.

Create invitations that are formal and reminiscent of wedding invitations so as to highlight the importance of the event without giving away the surprise. This is sure to entice guests, get them to take notice, and make them more likely to attend.

Be sure to include a clear and emphasized start time so guests do not miss the surprise. You can also opt to include a dress code so guests come properly dressed for a wedding without knowing it.


Don’t Forget the Necessities 

best man witnessing marriage license signatures

Planning a surprise wedding is an exciting and stressful time so it is easy to overlook some of the necessary parts of a wedding. Create a list of essentials that you need to remember for the wedding.

Get your marriage license, choose a certified officiant, and find caterers and entertainment for your reception. Make sure you have an approximate headcount to give to the caterers so you can work together to create the right size menu. 


Enjoy Your Day

wedding reception welcome sign

You have done everything you can to plan the best surprise wedding and now it is time to enjoy your day. Let your planner and vendor do their jobs as everything begins to fall into place.

Savor your secret with your fiancee, bask in this moment, and have fun getting married to the love of your life.

Do not worry about how the day will go or if things will go wrong. Your guests have no expectations. Remember that this day is all about you and your future spouse. 


Some Tips and Tricks for Surprise Weddings

wedding exit as a couple

Use these tips and tricks to make sure your day runs as smooth as possible.


What to Do if You Want to Have a Bridal Party

wedding party photo

If you want to have a surprise wedding, but you also want to have a bridal party here are a few options for you. You can opt to tell them moments before the reveal to everybody else. With this option, they would wear whatever they showed up to the event in.

If you would rather have everyone in coordinated dress, you can either have all guests follow a dress code or you could purchase a variety of dresses in different shapes and sizes. Have your bridesmaids find one that fits and return the rest.

If you choose this second option, be sure to leave tags on the dresses and make sure you have a large enough variety of sizes so everybody is able to find something to wear. 


It’s Better to Overestimate Your Numbers

men wedding guests

If you are having your wedding catered, you will have to give them an approximate number of guests. Whatever your potential number of guests, be sure to add a few more to the number you give to the caterers.

It is better to overestimate to ensure that there is enough food for everyone who shows up. It is likely that some people who did not RSVP will still show up and you need to be able to accommodate for that with the caterers. 


How To Announce the Wedding

You’ve got your friends and family gathered for whatever the mystery event is . . . how do you tell them it’s a wedding?! 

There are plenty of ways to drop the news that you are getting married on the day of. You could use a simple welcome sign to surprise guests on the way in, or come out and announce it yourselves. You can decide how to best share the big news, but have fun with it!


Don’t Leave a Lot of Time Between the Arrival and the Reveal

wedding guests and arrivals

Leaving a lot of time between the arrival of guests and when you reveal that it is a surprise wedding means that guests are more likely to figure out what is going on. Limit the time between the arrival and the reveal to keep the mystery alive and to ensure that everybody is thoroughly surprised.




Your wedding day is about you and your future spouse and that is still true for a surprise wedding. While you are surprising your guests, the day is not about them.

Throughout the planning process and the wedding itself, be sure to stay true to yourself and your style. Do not compromise on what is most important to you just because you are going for a nontraditional wedding. Remember to have fun, embrace the process, and celebrate the love between you and your spouse. 

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Laura Gooch

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