How to plan a surprise backyard wedding!

Harriet, Fraser and their adorable dog Fred are lucky enough to reside on a lush property in The Bellarine Peninsula, just outside of Geelong. They live in a tiny house and have plenty of yard space for a party. Harriet & Fraser planned their wedding under the cunning guise of ‘an engagement party’ their friends and family would be none the wiser that this home hosted gathering was actually gonna kick off with a legally binding ceremony and a heck of a dance party.

Secrecy itself can a veritable spanner in the works when it comes to super secret surprise backyard weddings. Harriet gives us a little insight to how the plan was initially hatched and evolved.

“Behind the scenes, we were successful in having Bobby Alu as a Parlour Gig. Once that was confirmed, the idea sprung into my head to make it a super low key surprise wedding. It started as just a super quick ceremony before Bobby would play (and we gained permission – he had to be in on it first of course). That was the beginning.

We sent a text so it seemed more casual from Fraser’s phone, it was meant to look like he was having a surprise parlour gig for me/engagement party. Frase is a perfectionist and got carried away landscaping and gardening. We then realised we would need to feed the troops. Some initial thoughts were us doing it. I am SO glad we didn’t attempt that and instead enlisted Annie’sProvedore.”

Keeping the secret was easy for me as I was SO busy with work and writing a 3rd book. I did none of the usual pre-preparations and decided on a dress on the day. I hid out the day before at a local Airbnb The Woods so it would look like Fraser sent me away to create the surprise. We had the idea in November or December and the wedding was in Feb so there wasn’t much time. We found a wonderful photographer, Ed Sloane who does lots of weddings but is mainly a surf photographer so we knew he would be a pro at getting some in the moment shots. Then we found this rad pair of legends to make a video 🙂 because I was not going to miss out on seeing the reaction to the surprise. On the day I was hiding behind a bush waiting to hear a woop!”

Even as the Videographers for the surprise wedding, we could feel the pressure of letting the secret slip, what if someone asked how we knew the couple? How convincingly could we spin a story of being a cousins sisters brother twice removed? Surely Harriet and Fraser had their own moments of explaining why their garden was undergoing a bit of landscaping and other telltale signs of a party being organised

“Heaps. One really good friend was suss and tried to plan a kind of ‘hens’. She said it was just a fabulous day to celebrate being fabulous… hahahah. I was onto her and said the only day I could do was the wedding date. That freaked her out a bit but we had to be careful! My Mum and Sister noticed a more ‘out there’ dress hanging in my cupboard and then spread the rumour around the family that it was a wedding. But most of the close calls we heard about post-wedding. Oh and I told a friend, who is as terrible with dates and times as me. It was just a constant work in progress. So many friends were worried it was a surprise wedding that I didn’t know about! haha”

In the interest of encouraging others to take the DIY/surprise route of a wedding Harriet had this to say

“Let go of control! hahaha. Keep your eye on the prize and don’t cave! One of the reasons I loved my idea to ‘be surprised by an engagement party’ was so I would not have to answer any questions and constantly be lying to people. Everyone was so scared of ruining the surprise they didn’t ask me anything (different story for Fraser obviously .. haha) but that part made it easy for me. Keep it small-ish. The more people, the more moving parts.”

A good surprise wedding is like one of those heist movies, like the Ocean’s movies where the number increases ever so slightly with each sequel to the point that building the team takes up the majority of the movie. You’ve gotta have someone on the inside, who knows the plan as well as the planners but can also interact with everyone who doesn’t know about the plan, the kind of people who can yell “Look, over there!” whilst you sneak some sort comically giant cake into a totally obvious hiding place behind turned backs. There was no cake hiding in this instance, but you get the gist.

“Asho, one of my best friends was the secret agent that was supposedly instructed by Fraser to take me away and drop me off at home at the right time for the surprise. She was super helpful with setting up too. She is a landscape gardener by trade and got stuck in at home helping before hand. Then on the day another friend called her and we just caved and said, come over, we surprised her and they both knocked together a ‘bouquet’ and drove me over to  the wedding. It was so funny and very emotional!”

We met Ed Sloane on the day of the wedding and crafted a master plan on how to execute the covert documentary of the super secret surprise backyard wedding. Basically this consisted of hanging out and pretending to be guests until secret celebrant, Ted O’Neill gave the signal and announced the heckin surprise! At which point we all swiftly and gracefully retrieved our cameras from their hiding places. 

Of course no party is complete without good food, drink and music! In the shape of Bobby Alu and his beautiful band, some badass barrels of beer and more paella than you could possibly eat! So who did Harriet & Fraser employ and why?

“All our vendors were chosen because they were local and I already had some existing connection with them. They were also chosen to keep it casual and fun!”

Beer kegs full of delicious golden party nectar supplied by Forrest Brewery 

Heavier party nectar aka ‘Spirits’ taken care of by Sally from The Forrest General Store

Tasty morsels and Hot Paella lovingly prepared and served by Annies Provedore 

Image creation and Surf anecdotes carefully created by Ed Sloane 

Sneakily crafted Film – US



Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *