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Surprise Wedding - Just I Do


‘Surprise! We’re getting married!’ 

What follows? 

Stunned silence and unbelievably shocked faces. Then the noise. ‘Oh my gosh!’, ‘Far out!’, ‘No way!’ ‘@#*@#*!’. Next tears and congratulations. This is often the scene when a surprise wedding is announced but what follows is the most relaxed, happy and stress-free occasion any couple could hope to have.

Next to an elopement, a surprise wedding can be a very romantic event and one that will be remembered for ever by everyone present. Especially if the occasion is planned well and the secret can be maintained!

A surprise wedding is basically a party with a bonus wedding.

Is a surprise marriage ceremony legal?

1. It is clearly stated in the Marriage Regulations that for the marriage to be considered legal both parties to the marriage must have informed consent, that is one individual cannot surprise another individual with a marriage ceremony.

2. This means that only the guests can be surprised.

3. The couple needs to follow the same process as for any other marriage:

  • Complete the Notice of Intended Marriage (NOIM) 
  • Give NOIM to celebrant no earlier than 18 months, and no later than one month before the marriag .
  • Provide evidence of date and place of birth, photographic evidence, and evidence of death of previous spouse or divorce. 

4. Two witnesses who are over the age of 18 and can testify to who the marrying couple are, need to be present for the signing of documents. 

If this process is followed, then your marriage is LEGAL! 

Things to consider

If you want a wedding that:

  • Is easier to organise and plan
  • Has more autonomy (that is, less advice from others)
  • Is less expensive
  • Is less stressful and more fun,

so then a Surprise wedding is for you.

At ‘Just I Do’ we can help you with this through our Registry room at the Hunter Wetlands Centre. Here is one scenario to think about.

How to organise your Surprise Wedding

You decide you want a Surprise wedding. You send out invitations to guests to meet at the Hunter Wetlands where you have planned a barbecue for, eg your Engagement, 21st birthday, 30th birthday, a special announcement (whatever you think will get your guests there). 

Previously, you had contacted the ‘Just I Do’ celebrant, completed and emailed all necessary paperwork, paid your fee, chosen your ceremony, then you decided who your witnesses would be and booked the barbecue area with the wetlands.

On the day of your of your surprise wedding, you arrive 30 minutes before the guests so that the celebrant can site all of your original documents and you can sign the ‘Declaration of no legal impediment to Marriage’ form. As the guests begin to arrive, you walk from the Registry office to the barbecue area where you meet your guests, so at a time organised with the celebrant you announce your Surprise! and then the celebrant joins you and the ceremony begins.

How simple is that! 

We are more than happy to help you with your marriage ceremony be it an elopement, a surprise marriage ceremony or a more formal affair. 

We appreciate you taking the time to look at our website and we enjoy being in partnership with the Hunter Wetlands Centre.

Happy planning!

The ‘Just I Do’ team