When is a wedding not a wedding?…

…when the invitation says ‘come to our engagement party’ but really you plan to get married and surprise everyone!

Is this a good idea? After all a wedding is just one big party, right?  Not according to Monica Geller (“Honey, I love you, but if you call our wedding a party one more time, you may not be invited”)!

I’ve spoken to a bunch of people – a couple that had an ‘all day engagement party’ that turned into their wedding, along with some guests who attended these types of ‘not wedding’ weddings and got the pros and cons from both sides!

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Planning the day

♥ Pro – less planning!  If you’re the bride and groom, and you want a more low key wedding this could be your way forward.  One invitation, one venue, no pre-wedding stress, no bridesmaids outfits, no seating plans and no opinions on everything from friends and family!

♥ Con – You can’t be sure of numbers. If people think it’s just a bit of a party they may not make so much of an effort to attend on the day should something else come up and you risk not having key people at your wedding.  You could of course tell those people, but then you risk your secret getting out!

Conclusion – it’s only going to work for you if you are relaxed about who is there and what happens on the day.

Your budget

♥ Pro – low cost.  It’s a well known fact that if you say the word ‘Wedding’ things suddenly become more expensive. A cake is £80 but a Wedding cake is £250.  A dress is £120 but a wedding dress is £800….you get the drift!

♥ Con – not sure there is one when it comes to budget!

Conclusion – if having ‘wedding’ items is important to you then this is not the way to go but if you are just having a party then go for it.

The Guest List

♥ Pro – you can have as many or as few people as you like.  Venues often have minimum numbers but what if you just want 30 of your closest friends and family there?  Or what if you want 500 people to come and have a great time?  Either way, when it’s a ‘not wedding’ wedding you can have the numbers you want!

♥ Con – keeping tabs on those 500 people!  Or making sure all of the 30 turn up.  When you send a wedding invitation you usually request an RSVP – not so when it’s ‘just a party’.

Conclusion – if number control is important to you stick with the traditional way of doing things and make sure people know it’s your Wedding Day.

What to wear

♥ Pro – you can wear whatever you like and no-one is going to criticise you for it!  And you’ll save a ton of money.  This is of course true of a traditional wedding but there is pressure to look ‘bridey’ which is just not there when you’re not really a bride.

♥ Con – you lose that wedding look in your photos and people may not turn up in ‘posh’ outfits. You can still pop a dress code on there but if you’re planning a ‘garden party’ your guests might be suspicious if you ask them to dress up

Conclusion – if smart outfits and posed wedding shots are what you’re after stick to the traditional set up, but if you’re laid back about all that this might be the way forward!

Is it real?

Well that does depend on whether or not you have an official registrar.  Anyone can perform the ceremony for you but if there’s no registrar present you will have to go to the Register Office and make it official You can do this before or after the ‘surprise’ day – it’s just a formality!

Here’s what a Bride who did exactly this has to say:

“We did tell some people (those that had to travel and those that I really wanted to be there – like my brother!) and it worked out well in the end. There were a couple of people who said ‘oh I wish I’d have known it was your wedding and id have made more of an effort to be there’, but I just thought it is what it is!

We told people it was a ‘posh picnic’ and asked people to dress up. One friend didn’t quite get the ‘posh picnic’ theme and came in jeans and was a bit annoyed with herself – because she missed an opportunity to dress up!

One reason we did it in secret is because I didn’t want wedding talk to dominate every conversation we had with people in the run up to the day – you know how it is – as soon as you announce that you are getting married, every time you see anyone they start with ‘so, how’s the wedding plans going’. I’m actually quite shy in that I hate being centre of attention (who knew lol) so I didn’t want it to be all about me (which I think is the opposite of how most brides see their big day!)

Remember too the power of social media. As soon as Hubby announced to the crowd at the picnic that it was a wedding, my cousin put it on Facebook – and tagged us in it, which meant that the surprise was gone for people who were just coming to the ‘engagement party’ that evening.

It also meant that we didn’t get many presents (which we didn’t want – but some people might want…) and that we got a lot of ‘engagement’ cards rather than wedding cards!

I wouldn’t have done it any other way though – we had an amazing day – it was so relaxed, lots of fun and just as we wanted it to be.”

So to wrap it all up then – it really does only matter what’s important to you. That’s not to say you can’t have both, but if a surprise wedding is what you’re after then you will have to relinquish some of the control of a ‘normal’ wedding.  You can of course plan a full on wedding to surprise everyone with but for us here at Wedmother Towers, that’s kind of not the point! ♥


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