How to Pull Off an Engagement Party Turned Surprise Wedding

Keep your big reveal on the down low with these celebrity planner-approved tips!

Anna and Spencer Photography

Time constraints. Family drama. A limited budget. There are so many reasons real couples decide to say to heck with tradition and shock their friends and family with a surprise wedding. One of the easiest ways to make it happen? Disguise your big day as an engagement party! To ensure everything goes off without a hitch and your cover isn't blown, we asked a few celebrity wedding planners to spill their secrets.

Only tell a select few people

First things first, you'll want to make sure you don't let the cat out of the bag! That means only confiding in your officiant, planner (if you have one) or a trusted sibling/BFF if you think you'll need some help scheming. It's best to keep immediate family members, like mom and dad and your grandparents, in the dark regarding your secret plans, since they're the ones you're really looking to surprise, points out Sofia Crokos, celebrity wedding planner and owner of Sofia Crokos Events.

Meet the Expert

  • Celebrity wedding planner Sofia Crokos is the owner of Sofia Crokos Events & Lifestyle and was named the best wedding planner in the world by Harper's Bazaar.
  • Andrea Correale is a New York City and Hamptons-based celebrity caterer and the founder and president of Elegant Affairs, a full-service catering company.

Include this on your invitations

According to Crokos, a formal invitation that highlights the fact that there will be a "special announcement" at your engagement party ups the chances that everyone you'd like to attend your wedding will actually show up. Now, to get them there on time, Andrea Correale, president of Elegant Affairs, strongly suggests adding the word "prompt" next to the start time on your invites.

Woo your guests with a handwritten note

Flattery wins them over every time! For any guests you absolutely must have in attendance or are particularly concerned may not come, Correale recommends including a heartfelt handwritten note to go along with the formal invitation. "Mention how much it would mean to you if they were there."

Set things up the right way

Once the big day has arrived, Crokos says you and your fiancé should be MIA for the first 15-20 minutes of the party. "Cocktail tables and/or lounge furniture should be set up in the shape of a circle allowing for everyone to get a good view of the couple," she notes. "This also creates a makeshift stage for when the ceremony commences."

Have some behind the scene coordinators

Those who are "in the know" about the big reveal (i.e. your planner, bestie, etc.) should be ready to cut the music, hold the drinks at the bar and then cue the wedding march, tells Crokos. "These people will act as your conductors throughout the surprise wedding." As far as making an announcement goes, you can either have your officiant do it or let your guests know that you'll be getting hitched yourselves when you walk out for the first time.

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