Why Surprise Weddings Are Having A Moment

With late or missing RSVPs, endless unexpected costs, and the inevitable personal drama always brewing, weddings — while at their core joyful and cathartic — can also turn into anxiety-ridden, logistical nightmares.
So...surprise! The New York Times is reporting that surprise weddings are "having a moment," and, come to think of it, we have been coming across a lot more articles about weddings that are initially billed as an engagement party or other type of event. We really should have seen it coming when Jessa on Girls had one.
Of course, celebrities have been doing "surprise" weddings for at least as long as paparazzi have been around to hound them. Normally, the surprise element here comes out of necessity: They don't want all the cameras on them when they say their vows. Kate Mara and Jamie Bell, for instance, just tied the knot in a surprise wedding ceremony. We don't know much about it except that she posted it on Instagram with the caption "Nuptials"; no location tag.
But for us regulars, this seems to be a more recent trend. While it does take planning, the execution is simpler, it's usually nowhere near as stressful as the months or years of planning a wedding, and it often comes with a cheaper price tag. Plus, it's exciting! Needless to say, we are enthusiastically on board.
The Times reported that Lauren Pienkowski and Corey Chavers invited their 70 guests to what they thought was an engagement party at the SKY Armory in Syracuse, NY. Then, the bride took the stage to announce that: Surprise! It's actually their wedding. Gasps ensued. Some guests were seen scrambling to put more money in their cards, since now it was a Wedding.
For some couples, including Lauren and Corey, the surprise element took the pressure off planning, with all of the pre-wedding events, seating arrangements, and annoying questions from relatives it comes with. "As soon as we got engaged, we were asked repeatedly when the big day was, what kind of wedding we wanted, where the wedding would be; we got overwhelmed," Lauren told The Times. "And Corey's schedule makes it nearly impossible to plan past six months in advance. It was all too much pressure."
With other couples, the surprise wedding comes right after the proposal. Just last week, BuzzFeed told the story of Jenn and Lorenzo Trujillo, who live in Leesburg, VA. "We kind of said we’d probably just go to the courthouse and elope, do something small," Jenn told BuzzFeed News. "We’ve both done the big thing in the past; we didn’t need to do it again."
But Lorenzo wanted to do something a bit more special after all. He asked Jenn to dress up as though they were going on a fancy date. They went out to dinner, where he proposed. At home, there were about 20 guests waiting for her. "So we walk in...and right when we got to the top of the stairs, she sees twinkle lights," he said. "And she says, 'What’s going on?'" He had been planning their surprise wedding for 10 days, keeping it a secret from most of the guests as well.
"For me, it was the most perfect thing. Every ounce of it was perfect," said Jenn.
In another recent story, a bride's dress inspired her to stage a surprise wedding for her groom. Nakita Brown and Rymario Armstrong, a Marine veteran, had been engaged for three years before they tied the knot in Beaufort, SC, on the Fourth of July.
They were going to have a simple ceremony, but when she started dress-shopping, Brown had a change of heart. "I was looking for my dress and wanted something simple, but then I found this gown," she told ABC News, describing a black, sparkly evening dress with a trumpet bottom. "So then, I knew I wanted more than that. I thought, I want to do a surprise wedding."
When Armstrong got deployed — and his return date was subsequently delayed — the wedding had to keep getting pushed off. "I sent him a little book to write his vows while he was away," said Brown. "I told him, 'We’re getting married...so go ahead and write your vows in this book while you have time alone to reflect.'"
Finally, they wed in a downtown park. "She took the uniform and put it in a box with a blindfold and a card with a note inside," Andre Brown, a wedding photographer and the bride's brother, told ABC News. "I had my nephews come and bring the box in to present him with it. He opened it up and saw the note, and from there we proceeded doing the video. We were going to go down to the park to do photos, and she wanted him to put on this blindfold because apparently they have this thing whenever they’re going places like the military ball, she doesn’t like him to see what she’s wearing until the time."
After he saw Brown in her dress, Armstrong said: "I was just lost for words. My heart stopped for a moment."

More from Living

R29 Original Series