I think every bride gets to the point in the wedding planning process where they say, "let's just elope." Wedding planning can be stressful and overwhelming. Often times a simple wedding can transition into the not-so-simple wedding once invisioned when you start to add the "perfect venue", picking a color scheme, design elements, photographer, caterer, florist, band, and everything else. Molly + Timothy wanted a simple wedding from the start. They wanted to have a fairly simple wedding since they recently purchased their first home. After months of planning a vineyard wedding in the mountains of North Carolina, they decided to forgo their plans and surprise their friends and family at their engagement party.
This is where I came in. As one of Molly's best friends who happens to be a wedding planner, I was the only one to know about the surprise wedding besides each of their parents. We started to think about how we could still have a fun wedding without going over the top and not blow the surprise to all of the guest until they arrived. We enlisted in the groom's father to do the catering, flowers were purchased by the local farmer's market and we designed them the day of, tables and chairs were borrowed from a local church and Molly bought a few of the other items needed for the big day, like linens and vases. The bar was self-serve and Timothy put his artistic ability to good use by creating the wooden tree guestbook and signs for the bar, food and restroom. A family member officiated the ceremony. Some of the guests asked what they could bring to the "engagement party" so we just told them to bring desserts. The bride's brother borrowed sound equipment from a friend and Molly put her excellent music taste to the test when making their wedding playlist. Normally, I would not recommend not having a DJ for a wedding, but we didn't need nor want it for this low-key surprise wedding. There was no bridal party except Bango the dog. I borrowed Edison lights from a vendor in Wilmington and Molly hired a photographer from the mountains. It was not necessary to rent a venue when we could have the perfect Fall wedding location right in Molly's childhood backyard.
Jennifer Gold Photography was there to take photos of the wedding and even she did not know it was going to be their wedding day. Guests started to show up for what they thought was the engagement party and they walked in to see a sign that said "Welcome to our Wedding". There were some confused yet happy faces so I explained to the guests to take a seat and get ready for their surprise wedding.
The ceremony took place overlooking the pool in the backyard. We hand-sewed carnations on fishing line to make a draping floral backdrop. Although we were sewing flowers up to an hour before the ceremony, it looked absolutely beautiful. Guests could sit on mismatched blanket covered hay bales or stand nearby during the 15 minute ceremony. After the ceremony, Molly + Timothy took a few photos with the photographer and immediate family before we chowed down on dinner. There were toasts from special family members, lots of dancing and too many laughs. This backyard surprise wedding could not have been any better and I was so blessed to be a part of it. Now, I am ready to plan another surprise wedding. Any other brave Brides out there?
Molly's WeddingWire Review:
"I hired Melissa as my day of coordinator last weekend for an engagement party that was actually a surprise wedding! It was something that was planned in a matter of weeks, so you can imagine how stressful the weeks prior to the event were.
I'm having a hard time articulating how amazing Melissa is as a wedding planner. She is the perfect example of someone who has truly found her calling in life! Aside from my husband, she was the very BEST decision I made in my wedding planning. She was so responsive, and easy to communicate with. She ALWAYS knew exactly what to say to ease my worries and concerns, and she saw that my day went PERFECT and so smooth. I had several guests comment on how wonderful she was. My wedding day was so hectic at times and all I had to say was "ask Melissa..." or "Please get Melissa" and she was there. It's a wonder how that woman can be in so many places at once.
I can't say enough wonderful things about her. I have tears in my eyes trying to wrap my head about how much I appreciate her being there. THANK YOU MELISSA! For everything you did, we couldn't have done it without you."
Click on images below to enlarge.
Favorite Wedding Moment:
I've known Molly and her family basically since I was born so it meant the world to me to be there on the big day. I helped arrange for Molly's dad to see Molly for the first time in her wedding dress moments before the ceremony with the photographer there to capture his reaction. His absolute joy and sheer pride for his now grown up and beautiful daughter brought tears to my eyes! The photos from this moment are some of my favorite from any wedding I have ever been a part of.
Venue: Family home in Morganton, NC
Music: Speakers + ipod
Catering: Groom's father
Photography: Jennifer Gold Photography
Lighting: The Audio Visual People
Centerpieces & Bouquet Flowers: Bride & Knot Too Shabby Events
Dessert: Each guests was asked to bring a dessert
Officiant: Groom's brother in law
Coordination: Knot Too Shabby Events
Attendees: 70 guests