By Sally Hughes, Melbourne Marriage Celebrant
Surprise weddings. Whenever I receive an enquiry for a surprise wedding ceremony, I always feel a little ping of excitement as I head to my calendar to see if I'm available. This is because surprise ceremonies (ceremonies that are a surprise to guests, not the couple) are most often the loudest, liveliest and most adrenaline-filled ceremonies to conduct.
Nicole and Saul were married at Little Henri , a popular cafe/restaurant in Thornbury, during what began as an engagement party. When Saul’s dad Michael stood high on the steps in the courtyard to welcome guests, no one seemed to notice that Nicole had slipped away to change into a stunning Sherri Hill tulle-skirted gown. When Michael finished his welcome speech with “because tonight we’re having a wedding!” the crowd well and truly roared. Guests literally descended on a beaming Saul, offering congratulatory hugs and kisses, while several men exchanged high fives and many women held their hands to their faces in shock.
Bench seating was swiftly brought in and within minutes, to the soundtrack of Ben E King’s ’Stand By Me' the very beautiful Nicole entered the courtyard on the arm of her very proud father, Peter.
Together Nicole and Saul stood alone, until one by one, I invited wedding party members to come and stand beside them. The cheers that ensued after each surprised member was announced (OK, perhaps the bridesmaids had a heads up), were priceless. In keeping with the surprise element, I invited Saul’s siblings to act as official witnesses to the marriage, before Nicole’s father stood to offer his blessing on behalf of their community of family and friends.
Unrestrained cheers, laughter, applause and comments ensued as I told the story of Nicole and Saul’s on-campus meeting, the osteopathy study group that gave Saul the opportunity to both impress and distract Nicole, the relationship they kept quiet in order to avoid wolf whistles on campus and Saul’s very romantic and well rehearsed Byron Bay proposal - complete with a ring that Nicole, despite her best efforts, couldn’t find prior.
One year on and I still recall this lively ceremony and this sweet-natured couple so clearly.
Nicole and Saul, you are two of the nicest people I have had the pleasure of meeting. You have such warm and kind souls and I feel so very privileged to have been entrusted with your very happy of secret. Thanks for sharing your beautiful photos - the one below still sits on my desk.