Real Wedding – How an engagement party became the wedding

I just love a secret wedding don’t you? Rachael and Paul came to see me in December to begin planning what their guests thought was to be their March Engagement Party… Surprise! It was their wedding!

I could tell from our first meeting that this couple were going to have a fun night. They wanted to gather with family and friends, have a great party and at some point they’d drop the bombshell that they weren’t there to celebrate an engagement at all. They wanted to have a brief pause in their party to get legally married, then their party would continue.

Rachael and Paul completed all of the legal paperwork with me, then they were sent away to relax, plan an engagement party and keep a HUGE secret! Easy!

Rachael became my friend on Facebook and she was able to secretly send me messages when ever she felt overwhelmed by the weight of her secret. I even got to see her wedding dress when she hid it in an old album of photos on Facebook. Too sneaky.

Finally March 2011 rolled around and it was the night of the ‘Engagement Party’. Guests were invited for 7.30pm and I was scheduled to make an entrance at 8pm. I sent the Groom a sms saying “the eagle has landed” when I arrived. Paul has his hand on the phone in his pocket in these photos! He was ready to text me to come inside to marry them.

I hid in a backstreet until I got the all clear. This video, made by Rachael is how they revealed the surprise wedding to their guest. Great idea isn’t it? Their guests knew that they were ‘planning’ to marry on a beach in 2012… little did they really know.

The best way to continue this story is to share the kind words Rachael and Paul sent me after their wedding.

“Planning a huge wedding was a headache. On the way home from looking at reception venues all day, Paul turned and said ‘Why not do it on our Engagement Party night?’ I didn’t believe him and to my shock, when we got home, he rang Vows Now and booked an appointment for the next day!

The drive down to the Central Coast was our longest drive, I still couldn’t believe Paul wanted to do this (being his first marriage). Walking into the office of Vows Now was relaxing. All our thoughts of how we were going to pull this off came too easy.

Johanna filled out the paperwork with a lot of laughs. This was our biggest secret we’d have to keep to ourselves for 3 months. Right through the 3 months, Johanna & I talked on Facebook, laughing and sharing things in the last week with all the stress.

Johanna scared me with an email asking the Court where my divorce was… I thought we wouldn’t be allowed to marry! Turns out Johanna had forgotten to write the location on her form when she saw the paperwork..Phew! I totally forgot that I’d paid everything and tried to pay again… stressed Bride!

When it came to the night it was a relief that it was our no fuss wedding we asked for. Relaxing, funny in some parts when I called my new hubby to be awful, instead of lawful. At least I made Paul and Johanna laugh. Paperwork done, our Engagement party lasted 1 hour and our wedding started.

Johanna, you made it easy for us. Our no fuss wedding was great. It left more time to spend with family that travelled so far (Brisbane). Everyone said it was the best wedding ever (since they didn’t have to stand around for about 30 minutes or more)

JUST WHAT WE WANTED! Thank you so much. Through the emails to talk and calm me down and the spell-check, everyone didn’t know you could have a wedding you wanted. You’re one celebrant that lets people you marry make the rules* that’s why we would pass your name and number on to everyone. (Passed it on to a couple at the party already!)

Finally I can comment on what I like on your Facebook Page! Haha!

* Note to couples: there are certain rules that MUST be adhered to to make your ceremony a legal marriage in Australia. Vows Now won’t bend these rules, but you can determine how much or how little you’d like to add to the baseline rule.

Thanks for the kind words Rachael and Paul. Here are some of the photos of their Wedding/Engagement Party Night taken by Dave Mason.


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