Personally, I think it’s a pretty brave person that attempts a surprise wedding. It’s one thing if your guests don’t know about it (read my last blog here). It’s quite another if your spouse doesn’t know about it. In some countries this is actually illegal. It is a measure to protect brides in particular from being coerced into marriage. As a Humanist Officiant, where we value equality for all, we are always on guard for signs of coercion or other unequal arrangements. Some people who agree to marry have told me, while they are ultimately happy with the arrangement, there was pressure felt to say “yes” to a surprise proposal. This is particularly the case when a proposal was seemingly completely out of the blue. That pressure is only magnified on your wedding day where all eyes are on you and expectations are huge.
That being said, I enjoyed reading this story about a bride and groom who got married on the slopes here in Ontario — interestingly with an officiant who also works as a ski patroller! How lucky is that? The couple had been talking about marriage and the groom did get some reassurance that she would say yes in the moments leading up to that mountaintop wedding. That said, those kinds of moves can carry a lot of risk – especially if you misread the signs from your loved one leading up to it.
Indeed event and wedding planners agree it is a dangerous move. While many surprise-the-spouse weddings turn out fine as this article suggests, like any surprise wedding, the surprised spouse may be left spend those major moments just absorbing the shock of it all. They may also resent it later given that the surprise meant they had no voice or say in the plan or the event itself. Indeed Humanist weddings are all about the couple. They decide what the wedding and marriage means to them. I imagine this would be a tough call if one half of the couple was never consulted in the planning and writing of the actual ceremony itself, which in my case is always a collaborative affair. It could be the reason, that as the article suggests, “surprising the bride or groom with their own wedding is yet to become a trend as pervasive as destination weddings or choreographed first dances“. Food for thought.