This Couple Pulled Off the Biggest Ever Surprise on Their Wedding Day
April 20, 2017
Tri State
CasualEateryWinter Weddings
Surprise! We're getting married!.... Now that is the makings of a fabulous celebration. For a Bride and Groom who wanted to keep things fun and low-stress, they decided a wedding day disguised as an engagement celebration at a local eatery would be perfect for their intimate New York City nuptials. And with the help of Designs by Ahn, Haven's Kitchen and Cynthia Chung, it went off without a hitch.
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From the Photographer... I was so excited when William and Ellen reached out to me about having a SURPRISE wedding! Our first surprise of the day was that it was SNOWING when we woke up that morning!! But that didn't stop us! It actually made our outdoor portraits around NYC even better. We made our way around the West Village and then to Chelsea- some in the snow, some in neighborhood cafes- then even ended up in the super crowded, Chelsea Market. The intimate ceremony with family was held at Haven's Kitchen. Then following the ceremony, guests began arriving for the big surprise! All the guests thought they were attending the bride & groom's "engagement party" but instead was greeted with a beautifully dressed up bride and groom exclaiming, "we got married!" It was so fun to see everyone's expressions and shocked reactions. It really was a one-of-a kind experience and I loved every minute of it!

From the Bride... We wanted everything about the wedding to be low stress. We decided on our wedding date with three months to plan and we had no time to procrastinate. Luckily we landed the most wonderful vendors who were lifesavers – for all the details that we didn’t feel strongly about, they were on hand to put their creative spin on our day.

Why did we want a surprise wedding? We’re both easygoing people who don’t really like being center of attention. In a twist from the traditional wedding format, we decided to get married in an intimate ceremony and then surprise our guests with our wedding celebration, disguised as our engagement party. It felt so unconventional and so right for us from the moment we settled on that decision. We told everyone that William’s parents were coming to town and that was why we were doing a fancier-than-normal engagement party. We hated deceiving our friends but their surprised faces were SO worth it. We wanted the wedding to reflect our personalities and our relationship.

It was pretty important that we got married in New York because this was the place where we met and fell in love. Just before we got engaged, I had come across a story about a couple in Toronto who got surprised married at the bride's surprise 30th birthday. I couldn't get it out of my head and William was just nutty enough to entertain the idea. We wanted a space that was unconventional but not too trendy, simple; but not too DIY. Haven’s Kitchen is cozy and personable and just like being home, but much more tastefully decorated.

I had trouble connecting with a calligrapher prior to the wedding so I decided to create my own. I had been teaching myself calligraphy for months and I got to put it to use creating the large signs that welcomed our guests to our surprise wedding. It was a fun project to take my mind off all my final projects from school but because we had huge signs all around our apartment, we couldn’t have anyone over for fear of blowing our secret.

It was so, so wonderful to involve all the important people in our lives in our ceremony. My best friend and would-have-been maid of honor registered as a Universal Life Minister so that she could marry us. William’s brother stood up with us to translate the ceremony for our parents. William’s sister, a professional pianist, recorded the processional music. And Ellen’s brother facilitated the ring warming ceremony in which our 15 ceremony guests blessed our rings and our marriage. To have everyone play a part in the act of marrying us was so meaningful to us. To include everyone in the family who couldn’t make it, we displayed photos of our nephews in the back of the room, and we also included our parents’ wedding pictures, to give us good jujus on our big day. The day before our wedding, William’s parents celebrated their 40th wedding anniversary and my parents celebrated their 30th wedding anniversary earlier in the year.
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