Choni & Mark

Can’t you just imagine how exciting it must be to invite your loved ones to your engagement party and then turn around and tell them they’re actually at a wedding? Today’s couple did just that and the excitement of surprise is such a huge part of their day!

Choni explains how she and Mark met. “Mark and I met in April 2011, we met at an Easter Music Festival called Easterfest held in Toowoomba.  We met in the morning and by the evening I knew that he was someone amazing!  Mark was working away at the mines at the time, after a month of “long distance” dating, he settled back in Brisbane… A year almost to the day that we met, we had the most amazing wedding that we could have ever asked for.”

Photos today are by Juddric Photography who captured such fun and spontaneity with today’s photographs!

For her surprise walk down the aisle, Choni remembers, “We chose “Better Than Love” by Griffin House as our aisle song.  This song is significant to us and the song fitted our surprise wedding perfectly.”

To make their ceremony a little bit different the couple kept their vows private until the moment. Choni recalls “Mark and I exchanged the traditional vows, but then we also wrote our own vows that we didn’t share with each other til the ceremony.  It was really beautiful to hear in each others words what our commitment meant to each other, I started crying when Mark gave me his vows.”

Choni’s bridesmaids wore gowns from Ojay, Forever New & Table Eight. Choni explains “Each of my Bridesmaids wore different dresses; their dresses complemented each other.  My two sisters and my dearest friend were my Bridesmaids, and I love these three women for all different reasons and I didn’t want to make them look like the same person.  To tie the Bridesmaids in they had matching bouquets and changed into matching shoes for the surprise wedding.  It was really special to me to have them standing beside me!”

Of their photographer, Choni says, “The decision to use Juddric Photography was the easiest decision of our whole Surprise Wedding!  My family has been using Juddric for several years, for family portraits and weddings.  The husband and wife team at Juddric are fantastic; they have the ability to allow those around them to forget that they are holding a camera.  They give people the space and freedom to enjoy their special day and just capture it all so perfectly.  Looking at so many of our Wedding Photos, I didn’t even realise that they were there shooting!  A photographer that can capture the moments of one of the biggest days of your life without intruding is a gift- and that’s what Juddric Photography is all about.”

Choni chose a brooch bouquet made by Noaki Jewelry. ” I really wanted a bouquet that I could keep, I found a vendor, Noaki on Etsy, that created custom made Vintage Jewel Bouquets.  My bouquet was silk flowers with vintage jewels as the centrepiece, I also had a flower made to match my bouquet that I wore in my hair ”

The wedding reception continued at the Sandgate Town Hall where the engagement party started. Choni explains the process. “We got engaged on Jan 21st 2012, and since we decided to have a surprise wedding at our engagement party we needed to keep the engagement party fairly close to Jan 21st.

We decided to have the party on April 21 and the venue that Mark suggested happened to be available on that day!  We chose to have the engagement party at the newly renovated Sandgate Town Hall, in Sandgate QLD.  Brisbane is home to both of us and we wanted our friends and family there to celebrate with us, the hall has just been redone and it was amazing.  It was the one and only venue that we visited and when we saw it we knew that it was the perfect backdrop to our wedding day.

The hall’s amazing molded walls, French chandeliers and polished wooden floors fitted perfectly with our vintage Inspired theme.  We also chose Sandgate Town Hall because just over the road is a beautiful park.  I had always imagined getting married in a garden and seeing the gardens and rotunda across the road just made it all the more special, we knew that it was the perfect place to have our engagement party in the hall and then have the guest move over to the garden’s for the surprise wedding.”

Choni says “My Grandma made (what she thought were our Engagement Party Cakes!) our four Wedding Cakes, we served the cakes and fruit salad for dessert.  Each cake was decorated differently from the others and she did a beautiful job.”

The tags even those have a story surrounding them! Choni tells “I surprised Mark by adding vintage tags to our wedding rings, one said “With This Ring” and the other said “I Thee Wed”.”

For the decorations, the couple chose to make the most of their vintage theme and put it together themselves. Choni says ” It was really important to me that our wedding had a hand made feel, I wanted the guests to be looking around all night seeing more decorations and details that they had previously missed.”

“We fell on to a theme for our surprise wedding, we used the quote “Grow Old Along With Me, the Best is Yet to Be”.  This quote was printed on the engagement party invites; it was hung in the hall, written on mini black boards and painted on our wedding tree.  We had been collecting jars from friends and family for weeks to decorate the hall.  On each jar we tied twine and added a vintage tag.  We made scrabble letters into Bunting, one said “Grow Old With Me The Best Is Yet To Be”, another said “We Are Engaged”, and after the wedding ceremony it was changed to “We Are Married”. “

The speeches are one of Choni’s fondest memories of the day. “I loved the speeches at our wedding.  Our parents gave speeches, so did Mark’s brother and my Bridesmaids, then my two Aunties that flew out from New Zealand stood up and gave a speech telling a few horribly embarrassing stories about things I had said about marriage a few years earlier!”

The couple danced a waltz for their first dance, Choni recalls, “We danced to “A Thousand Years” by Christina Perry.  My sister teaches dance and as our wedding present choreographed our dance.  For the first verse and chorus Mark and I danced alone.  The lyrics of the song say ‘one step closer’, at that point in the song my parents, and bridesmaids and their partners joined us and continued the dance with us.  It was an emotional moment for everyone.”

Congratulations Choni and Mark! Thank you for sharing your wedding day with us! Thank you also to Juddric Photography for sharing today’s images!