An Impromptu 'I Do:' How to Plan a Surprise Wedding

By Camryn Rabideau

If you don't want to deal with the stress and potential drama that comes along with a traditional wedding, there's an easy way to avoid it. No, it's not eloping (though that would work, too). It's to have a surprise wedding!

Surprise weddings are gaining popularity for several reasons. An impromptu "I do" lets you save money, get hitched sooner, skip many wedding formalities, and keep things exciting. However, it probably goes without saying that surprise weddings are harder to plan, since you can't tell anyone what you're up to.

Here are some tips on how to pull off an amazing surprise wedding without the secret getting out:

Decide on a Cover Story

Perhaps the trickiest part of planning a secret wedding is getting your friends and family to the venue. You're going to need a cover story, such as a birthday party or engagement party, to get everyone in the same place without arousing suspicion.

It's generally a good idea to send out invitations, whether printed or via email. Be clear about what time you want guests to arrive. If you put a time range, some people will probably show up later, potentially missing the main event.

Clue in a Few Key People

You obviously want to tell as few people as possible what you're up to, but you'll need some help planning your surprise wedding. It's important to have at least one or two people to help with formalities such as directing vendors and troubleshooting on your big day. If you try to do everything yourself, you're sure to get stressed out.

Be careful when choosing the few people who will be in the know. Close family members or friends are generally your best bet, and don't tell anyone you know can't keep a secret. Your vendors should also know what's up so they'll know not to post anything about the event on social media and to keep their lips sealed when your wedding day arrives.

Don't Be Afraid to Hire a Wedding Planner

You might think you can't or shouldn't hire a wedding planner since you're taking an unconventional route, but that's not true at all. There are going to be a lot of details to sort out, from vendors to decor and everything in between, and a professional planner will take the brunt of this work off your plate. In fact, a wedding planner might be more helpful than ever, as you probably won't have a big bridal party to help with wedding preparation.

Expect a Few People to Be Upset

While your guests will certainly be happy for you on your big day, understand that some people may be upset they weren't more involved in your wedding. Maybe your friends were looking forward to throwing you a bachelorette party, or your family members wanted to go wedding dress shopping with you. These people may not understand your choice of a nontraditional wedding, so just be patient and explain why this was the best option for you and your fiancé.

Have a Camera (or Two) Ready

One of the best parts of a surprise wedding is seeing everyone's faces when they realize, "OMG, you're getting married right now!" Their expressions are bound to be priceless, so make sure your photographer is ready to capture these candid moments. You'll love to look back on these pictures when you reminisce about your wedding.

If you're considering a surprise wedding, make sure you're prepared to follow these steps to pull off a great event. If you manage to keep everything under wraps, your wedding will be a celebration guests will talk about for years to come.