If the past 2 years are anything to go by, having a secret wedding is the super-hot trend that celebrities around the world are setting. The days of selling exclusive wedding photos to the likes of OK! and Hello seem to be over, with many celebs choosing a top-secret wedding date, location and even keeping shtum about whether the event even happened or not for months afterwards! In the last few months alone, we’ve been left crying out for details about the big days of Jennifer Aniston and Justin Theroux, Mila Kunis and Ashton Kutcher and Cameron Diaz and Benji Madden. Many of these weddings masqueraded as parties, with guests completely in the dark over what was about to happen. It seems as though many celebrities are taking back their privacy by keeping their truly intimate moments such as weddings and babies a secret from the rest of the world.
For those of us existing in the real* world, there are many couples out there who crave such privacy and intimacy for their own weddings. Many introverted people balk at the idea of 12 or 18 months of people harassing them with questions like “when’s the big day?”, “where are you having it?” and “you should hire ‘x’, my cousin used them and they were AMAZING”. The notion of having every detail of your wedding dissected before it’s even begun, combined with worrying about guest lists and table plans, can be incredibly stressful and off-putting to many people. Why not take a leaf out of the celebrities’ books, and plan your very own top-secret, surprise wedding?
First things first, make a plan with your partner. If you’re having a secret wedding, you will more than likely not even be telling your parents, and therefore paying for the whole thing yourselves (even though this is becoming more and more common anyway). Depending on the size of the wedding party you want to have, you may need months to save up enough money to pay for it. Likewise, if you’re planning to have a traditional wedding reception at a hotel over a weekend, you will find prime dates are booked up well in advance. A church ceremony may completely blow your cover, unless you have a small child that needs to be christened, so it may be best to stick to a civil or humanist ceremony. Try to secure a ceremony time for as late as possible, as people may become suspicious if they see a start time of 4 or 5pm for the party – 7pm will be more appropriate. You could always do the official part in a registry office before or afterwards, and have a simple blessing at the party itself to avoid this situation. Be aware that guests will be suspicious too if you have chosen a hotel that’s well-known for weddings, so you will need a good cover. It could be a surprise birthday party for one of you or for a relative, or even an engagement party. If you want people to dress formally, make sure you say so on the invitation.
Bear in mind that you will need two witnesses for your marriage. Pick two people that you can count on to be there, as you will need to provide their details to your officiant beforehand and they may need to show identification. Let all of your wedding suppliers including the officiant know that it is a surprise wedding to avoid any mentions on social media or among your local community. It may also be worth sourcing your outfits in another town or city, so as not to be caught out by a passing friend or colleague! One issue with this is that you won’t have your usual entourage in tow to help you choose your dress, so find a great boutique with a stylist that you can trust to give you honest yet tactful feedback.
Because your wedding is a secret, you can use this opportunity to have exactly the kind of day you want, without the advice (solicited or unsolicited) from friends and family. It can be as formal or as casual as you like. As you won’t be having a traditional bridal party (unless you ask some friends or family members on the day to stand with you) you will avoid the hassle of choosing dresses or suits that not everyone likes, and the food choices will be yours and yours alone – no chimes of “aunty Mary doesn’t eat beef, so you’d better pick the turkey and ham!”.
Finally, only invite those that you really want to be there to share in your special day. This is not the time to worry about inviting everyone you’ve ever worked with or the relatives you’re not really fond of, and if you want an adults-only event, this is an excellent way to get around it. The key is to plan everything as you would for a normal wedding, with the only difference being that you will have to keep it completely secret. This is a wonderful opportunity to plan the event completely with your partner, as they will be the only person you can really share the excitement with!