Should You Have a Surprise Wedding?

There are some factors you may not have considered.

There are other solutions to the common thought of wanting to elope, and one of them is having a surprise wedding.

Photo: McClanahan Studio

Planning a wedding can be so stressful that often couples start to fantasize about scrapping their plans and just eloping instead. However, usually reality sets in and the lovebirds don’t want to sacrifice the vision they’ve had for their special day. There are other solutions to this common problem though, and one of them is having a surprise wedding. Unlike eloping, it’s not that it’s a surprise that you went and got married without anyone – instead your guests think they’re at a party and instead it’s a wedding! This also doesn’t mean you have to have a low-key celebration of your marriage; we’ve featured a beautiful and elaborate surprise wedding that was hosted on a rooftop in West Hollywood.

pros and cons of a surprise wedding

Photo by Vue Photography

Should you choose to go this route, it’s important to be aware of both the positives and the negatives, as a surprise wedding might not make everyone as happy as it could make you. Read the pros and cons below:


- Fewer opinions. You and your sweetheart can have the wedding you want, with no one else adding to the guest list or pressuring you to go with a ceremony style that isn’t right for you.

- Memorable moments. Unless you run in circles with A-list celebrities, the chances are high that you’ve never been to a surprise wedding, and the same goes for your guests. The instant everyone realizes they’re actually attending your nuptials is something that will be remembered forever. 

- Lower expectations. Without time to anticipate the big event, you won’t have to deal with throwing a wedding that people feel you’re supposed to have, rather than the one you want to have.  


- Lower attendance. Certain people will do a lot to make sure they attend the wedding of a loved one. A birthday or engagement party tends to not inspire as much will to move mountains. If all of your nearest and dearest live nearby, this may not be an issue, but those who will need to travel may choose not to do so, choosing to save their money and vacation time for a wedding that will never come. Even those who are in town might miss out if they had a prior commitment they’re choosing to honor, when your nuptials might otherwise trump the previous invitation. 

- Hurt feelings. Even if your closest loved ones are all able to attend your surprise wedding, they may still be disappointed to have not been in on the plan. Should you choose to let some VIPs (such as parents) know what’s really going on, others (i.e. siblings) may feel slighted that they didn’t have access to the same information. 

- Might feel anti-climactic. If you were public with your engagement news, the surprise of your wedding might not make as big of a splash as you had hoped. Your guests may not have known you were getting married that day, but they knew the nuptials were happening. 

For additional advice, learn more about the different ways to elope and what needs to be on your wedding-day timeline.