And why I am I the Celebrant to have?
Having just come from a day where I had two surprise weddings (with the possibility of a third), I am thrilled to suggest this could possibly be the answer to your prayers.
The greatest challenge you face is having to keep a secret! Can you do that?
I remember back to my own wedding twelve years ago, when my husband and I tried to come up with a plan that would suit both our personalities. I am "out there", as you can imagine, being a Celebrant. He, on the other hand, is much more reserved. So, here is the plan we came up with. We invited our immediate families, which came to about 30 people in total, and we had a lovely ceremony in my parents' garden at Lincoln, on a beautiful sunny day.
That evening, we went off to the Ladbrooks Hall (a great hall if you are wanting a very economical venue), where we where we had invited lots of friends for a New Year's Eve party. Everyone was surprised to learn that we had just been married! We had a great night, and the band played great music. It was a successful wedding that suited both of our personalities.
So, I suppose it is fair to suggest that I have always loved surprise weddings. I am, indeed, delighted when others choose to have a surprise wedding. I think it is because I love the secret meetings to plan the event, the mystery and fun that is generated.
I am great at keeping secrets - a very important quality here in New Zealand! Here, I can’t discuss it with anyone because the chances are they will know someone going to a party, then they put two and two together and the surprise can be lost. I tell my daughter that these secrets are the nice and good secrets.
People sometimes look at me and ask what I mean by a surprise wedding - surely the couple knew they were getting married? This is partly true. New Zealand is a very easy place to get married. Only one of the two to marry need make the declaration in front of the registrar to say you are free to marry. So in effect, sometimes one of the two is in the dark until the surprise is sprung on them.
This was indeed the case for my first surprise wedding on Saturday night. All the family had gathered for a birthday party (about 20 people). I arrived, went in and asked Ivan if he would get married right now, in front of family and friends. We were all confident he would say yes, because he has proposed twice a year for over 23 years, and Lynette had always said no. So, a short ceremony was conducted, to everyone’s delight, and I left them all with Ivan and Lynette as Husband and Wife.
I then proceeded to another venue and met Philip Bailey outside (a photographer). We talked as we waited for 7.00pm to roll around, and then I went in with Philip behind me. I said “My name is Julie Lassen, a Marriage Celebrant, and I was hoping someone here would want to get married tonight”.
It took a while for everyone to understand that indeed there was a couple who were going to marry - an older couple with a grown up family. They'd hoped their son, who was coming back from Queenstown, was going to make it, but the weather did not work in his favour. I think one or two of the family thought something was going to happen, as they didn’t normally have a mid-winter dinner. This turned out to be a very special mid-winter dinner as Julie and Shane said I DO. Looking around the family I could tell there were many happy faces (still with a little surprise!). So, in this case the couple both knew, but none of the guests knew. Beautiful!
One of my lovely couples rang and asked if I would do a 50th Birthday party surprise wedding. This is what the bride, Barbara Stretch, had to say about her wedding
“I was having a 50th party - all invites sent out. I'd said I would never get married again BUT had it all organised. The place, band, cake, suits etc and one night got down on one knee and proposed to Mike. He was gobsmacked - all he had to do was turn up. Thanks to you, Julie, it was the most magical night of our lives. Three years next month.”
I have also done surprise weddings for the overseas couples who fly into Christchurch, pick up the paper work, get married with a couple of witnesses present then either phone parents at home and say they got married or alternatively wait until they fly home. Most people, once married, struggle to keep it a secret, so calling home and saying "we've just got married" happens!
So why have a surprise wedding? Well, it takes away lots of fuss, stress, difficult decisions, interference and pressure from other parties, as well as reducing expense.
Points to remember:
1. Base the wedding ceremony around a special birthday, anniversary, or time in your lives like going overseas or moving house, any excuse really.
2. Take someone into your confidence other than your partner, as it is hard to keep a secret and you may need to throw ideas around.
3. Pick me as your celebrant, because I love entering into the spirit of the occasion, which really makes for a fun time.
4. Remember you can do this at short notice - call me and make sure I can be with you, and you only need three days to get a licence.
I look forward to the surprise wedding!