Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Surprise! We're getting married tonight.

Liz over at Eight Acres is running a blog hop for bloggers to share their wedding stories. I realise this is a bit of a diversion from the usual content of Craving Fresh, but thought it would be fun to join in.

The proposal
In June 2007, Paul took me to his family bach in Whangapoua for the weekend. It's a magical spot - one of my favourite places ever.

On the Sunday he took me for a walk around the headland and proposed in a little alcove in the rocks, where we ate a picnic while sheltering from some rain. The next photo shows the exact spot, although this photo was taken a couple of years later:
Re-enacting the proposal scene.
Paul had let his Mum in on his plan to propose, and she had been up at the bach the week earlier, so organised a treasure hunt for us. When we got back to the bach, Paul rang her to tell her I had said "yes," and she told him where to find the first clue. It lead us to other clues around the bach until we found her card congratulating us and a box of chocolates.

Organising the wedding
We started planning our wedding for December 31 that year, but things weren't falling into place. Some of my closest friends were going to be out of the country and my sister found out she was due to have her second baby on December 31.

Meanwhile, our engagement party was set for the end of July. It was being held at our church, which was an old converted music warehouse. One night (ten days before the engagement party) I had a brainstorm. Why not turn our engagement party into a surprise wedding? I suggested it to Paul and he ummed and aahhh. Finally he rang his parents to see what they thought. His Dad answered the phone and thought it sounded like a great idea.

Then Paul rang his brother, Brent, who was holidaying in England at the time, to see if he would be able to make it back for the wedding at such short notice. Brent said, "Of course, I wouldn't miss my little brother's wedding," and sealed our fate.

We had ten days to plan a wedding.

I quit my temping job so I could dedicate myself to it. And when I say dedicate myself to it, I mean call in every possible favour, because there's no way I could have done it by myself.

Luckily it was the school holidays so Paul's parents (who were both teachers), were able to come over from Te Puke to Hamilton and lend a hand.

Paul's sister, Kim, also came across to help us organise it. She found us a caterer and helped get all the food sorted on the day. Kim also sewed the four flower girl dresses, as well as black capes for the two nephews who attended.

Paul's sister-in-law, Mandy, made all the jewellery for me and my four bridesmaids. She also took photos on the night with one of the ladies at our church.

Another woman from our church made all the flower arrangements for us, at no charge. I just went to the flower market with her and paid for the flowers I wanted, and she turned them into beautiful arrangements. My favourite was the one she made in a handbag.

Paul's Aunty Barbara made my bouquet of tulips (my favourite flower), roses for the bridesmaids and buttonholes for Paul, his groomsmen and his parents.

The legendary Penny Carey of Te Puke made our wedding cake, only charging us for the ingredients. Our friend, Richard, made little figurines to sit on top of the cake.

Friends from church spent the week helping us decorate, stringing up fairy lights lent to us by one of Paul's friends, and hanging up frost fabric in front of some of the fairy lights to soften the look of the building. I sewed lots of cushions to go on couches in a lounge-like seating area I created, which also had lamps and photos of me and Paul.

Musical friends and my brother, Kris, looked after the music on the night.

Two of my good friends, Megan and Joanna, who are trained makeup artists, did the makeup for me and my bridesmaids. My friend Rosy did my hair and then moved on to help my bridesmaids and flower girls with their hair.

Flatmates waitressed and ran the bar, while youth group kids passed around the canapes. Because of the large number of guests (160) and the small space, we decided not to have a sit down dinner. Instead we provided lots of our favourite finger foods, like sushi and mini Maketu mince and cheese pies.

One of my dreams for the wedding was to have a sweet treats table. This was a real collaborative affair, which lots of my favourite people made things for.

My friend, Anna, made cupcakes and helped me ice them with my bridesmaids on the morning of the party. One of the men from church, who is a trained baker, made several cakes for the dessert table. My chief bridesmaid's Mum, Helen, baked my favourite chocolate brownie. One of my bridesmaids, Belinda, made licorice and truffle platters. Paul's sister, Kim, made fruit kebabs. My sister, Melissa, made a cheese platter.

On the night
The engagement party started at 7pm. We asked guests to wear pink and black and arrive by 7.30pm at the latest. Paul and his groomsmen were there in regular pink and black clothing, but I was getting ready with my bridesmaids so some of my workmates asked where I was. Paul just told them I was running late.

At 7.45pm he snuck out the back with his groomsmen to change into suits and Star Wars masks. What?

Oh yeah. Paul wore a Darth Vader mask and his four groomsmen wore Storm Trooper masks to make their grand entrance to the Imperial March.

They made their way to the front of the room, where Paul welcomed everyone to our engagement party, and... our wedding. (Because of the number of favours we had called in, only about half the guests were actually surprised. It was still fun though.)

Cheering ensued.

After a brief 15 minute interlude, my bridal party made its grand entrance. First the flower girls, with Paul's one-year-old niece Danika being pushed down the aisle in a trolley by her sister Sarah.

Next came my bridesmaids...

And finally me and my Dad. We walked in to Intoxicating, by David Crowder Band. It's a song Paul introduced me to, and one we listened to a lot while we were dating. It also builds and builds and builds, so I made my entrance at the climax of the song (3:47 into the clip), to much clapping and cheering.

Paul and I may or may not have said vows. It was all such a blur it's hard to remember.

Our Mothers lit family candles, and we joined them together to light a middle candle and symbolise the creation of our new family.

And after we were officially married, and had had our first "official" kiss, we had our first dance.

Which snowballed into a dance for everyone, and kick-started our plan to party the rest of the night away. 

Where the surprise didn't work so well
Some friends, who came late to the "engagement party", missed the whole ceremony. Another couple of friends ducked out to a nearby pub at 7.30pm to watch an All Blacks game, only to return and discover they'd missed a wedding. 

All in all though, it was a fantastic night. Planning it in ten days meant I had to make snap decisions, and saved out on months of painful deliberation. It also meant I got to marry and move in with my darling love a whole five months earlier that we had planned, which was awesome.

Thanks for marrying me Paul. And a huge thank you to all the amazing people who made our dream surprise wedding a reality. 


  1. Wow what a fab stories. I have goosebumps! You looks so amazing and happy. Congrats xx

  2. Thanks for joining in Emma! That's a lovely story, its great when you can thank lots of personal friends for helping, it makes it so much more personal. You did an amazing job in that short time with so many guests to organise for!

  3. Such an awesome story! Sounded amazing (and daunting) but so lovely :)

  4. what a gorgeous wedding and what a great way of doing it!!!

  5. What a great wedding story! You looked beautiful, and I'm amazed at how put-together everything was in such a short time frame - well done!

  6. That's amazing! I've never heard of a surprise wedding before, it's such a cool idea!

    - Jessica


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