Casey & Anthony

It’s not often that we have the pleasure of showcasing a surprise wedding, so this was such a treat! This gorgeous couple chose to do it ‘their way’ from the get go and what a party that ensued. Gathering friends and family under false pretences and hiding their wedding attire in secret places, Casey and Anthony were able to pull the wool until they announced ‘it’s a wedding’ in a beautiful nod to their heritages. Their photographer, Jonathan Newton of Pine & Ivory seamlessly captured the entire day and today Casey tells the story of how they pulled off the perfect surprise wedding!

Anthony and I have always done things ‘our way’, from the moment we met. Whether it be travel, study, work or the little things- we have always been drawn to doing things in a way that was a little different. We got engaged on a camping trip in the historic town of Walhalla, a favourite childhood location of mine, but the planning for our surprise wedding had began months prior! We had decided on one of our many long car trip adventures, that when we did get married, we would surprise everyone at our engagement party. We would keep the formalities simple, but the food a’ plenty! And we would all the while keep it true to us as a couple.

As a bit of a wedding fiend, I have spent most of my adult years reading wedding magazines, blogs such as this one, and trawling Instagram- in awe of the florals, the decor and the love that oozed from weddings. I couldn’t wait to have my own version, and I was determined to achieve the ‘must-have’ parts of a wedding in our celebration, but be confident in ditching the parts that were not important to us.

The hardest part, to begin with, was finding a venue that didn’t scream wedding, but could also be transformed into the space we needed. I stumbled across Luna Event Space online and was immediately excited. We went and viewed the venue on Christmas Eve, and Katie and her team immediately won us over with their relaxed organisation and the freedom that they could allow us. The venue is plain, and quite industrial- perfect for an event/party- but can also be transformed into any style you want, with decorations, flowers, seating and more. There is also an industrial kitchen out the back, where their catering company Fourside Events cook from, ensuring the food on your day is always hot and fresh.

A big draw card for us was the large menu we could pick from and the flexibility of the food and drink packages. We opted for a grazing table, hand-held food, plus small bowls, as well as late-night munchies- a real favourite of our guests!

Next up were the other big four – the celebrant, flowers, DJ and photographer. I found all of these through friend recommendations and Instagram- with enough searching you can find anything you want using social media! Our venue was also extremely helpful in recommending vendors who had worked with them and other clients before – which we utilised for hiring plants and extra chairs and tables.

Fast forward to the day, to ensure we had some wedding portraits, we got all dressed up in our wedding gear and did a first look with our photographer. This began at my parent’s house under their oak tree, and then we went to the Botanical Gardens in Frankston for all of our portraits. Afterwards, we came home and changed into our engagement attire and arrived at the venue and hid our wedding clothes in a little side room for later.

For our wedding attire, we wanted something simple and classic – but also something that wouldn’t break the budget. Anthony went for suave tuxedo, and I had a plain white dress, with buttons from the top, all the way to the bottom of the train. We had big plans of searching high and low for these items- but came across them at Ferrari Bridal and Formal wear, in our first shopping trip. Both were easy picks, and the ladies at Ferrari were our kind of vendors; fun, bright and they made us feel so comfortable.

Our guests began to arrive and the food and drink flowed. We took photos under our flower wall, which was easily one of my favourite elements of our decor. The flowers and greenery were key to creating our lush and green style, as well as adding colour to the industrial space. Our florist created two large flower and greenery walls, as well as a bar arrangement and table arrangements. She also incorporated my favourite flowers – carnations, into everything she made. A true testament to how incredible and integral she was in making our day, ours.

At around 7:30pm, my Dad asked for everyone’s attention to give a toast and asked for Anthony’s Mum and my late grandfather’s brother to come to the front. He had secretly explained to them what he wanted them to do about 20 minutes beforehand. As an ode to our Greek and Dutch heritage, and family members who were no longer with us, Dad then asked for Anthony’s Mum to say a passage in Greek, to which the few Greek speaking members in the crowd gasped, and his YiaYia came running to the front – parting the sea of guests in front of her.

My Mum’s Uncle then said his passage in Dutch – which was basically ‘Thank you for coming to the engagement of Anthony and Casey, but they are actually going to get married tonight!’. The majority of the crowd was looking around in bewilderment, until my Dad announced ‘There’s going to be a wedding!’. The crowd cheered, and we made our way into the little bridal suite, to get changed into our wedding attire.

In keeping with having small elements of sentiment to our family dotted throughout our celebration, I walked down the aisle to ‘Can’t Help Falling In Love’ by Kina Grannis – a cover of my parents first dance song originally sung by Elvis Presley.

Our ceremony was brief, but included an important mention of our grandparents (who were all sitting in the front row), and included my brother and Anthony’s cousin as ring bearers and witnesses – in place of having a bridal party. Our celebrant Danielle was exceptional at capturing what was important to us in a succinct and articulate way. She made us feel like it was our friend marrying us, and not a stranger.

After the ceremony, we had some time with guests where more food and drink were served and we had some family photos. We then kept our speeches brief, cut the cake and had our first dance. This was where the party started, and all of the formalities ended. It was really important to us that guests had a good time, so we deliberately opted for minimal speeches, no bouquet tosses and no formal meals – just cocktail style.

Our DJ was amazing at keeping the dance floor full, as was our MC to keep the night on schedule (an important aspect of having a surprise wedding is letting everyone who knows, in on the timing of the night…to help out in making it a seamless execution!).

My Dad and I couldn’t settle on a father-daughter dance song and kept coming back to one of our family’s favourite songs ‘Slice of Heaven’ by Dave Dobbyn, so we decided on a family dance instead! This was so much more fun, and really embraced the kind of family I have come from, and the family Anthony was now officially part of.

We opted to cut costs and stress for a few things, including; our cake and dessert. These were made by my amazing best friend (who was in on our secret), and then dressed with flowers by our florist. We had very simple invitations, and I made the welcome sign, as well as the ‘cards and gifts’ sign myself. All of our candles and candle holders were purchased from k-mart (at a bargain price!), and we opted for no wedding favours.

Our briefing to our photographer was to capture as much natural interaction as possible, and my one request was that I had always dreamt of having a confetti photo of the two of us walking back down the aisle. These are my favourite photos from the night!

We found the whole process so much fun and I have our amazing vendors to thank for that. Planning a surprise wedding could be very stressful, however, the only stressful part was keeping it a secret!

Ms Zebra Says: What an incredible secret – and what a way to pull it off!!!! I’m personally obsessed with the idea of a surprise wedding, so well done! Congratulations and we wish you both the happiest of marriages and life together!