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Great Ideas For Wedding Day Surprises! with Hannah Larkin, Wedding Photographer, Sarah Cammish, Elsa Rose Boutique and Susan Denton, Wedding Celebrant.

Great Ideas For Wedding Day Surprises. A roundtable chat with a Wedding Photographer, a Bespoke Wedding Accessories Designer and a Wedding Celebrant! Enjoy 🙂

Listen to Hannah, Sarah and Susan on the Wedding Espresso Awesome DIY Wedding Planning Podcast…


Hannah Larkin Wedding Photographer

Sarah Cammish from Elsa Rose Boutique

Susan Denton from Celebrate With Sue


James: [00:00:00] Before we get into the thick of it I’ll just invite my co-hosts to just say a few quick words and introduce themselves. And we’ll start with you Hannah. Would you like to say hello and tell everybody a little bit about what you do. 

Hannah: [00:00:12] Sure, I’m Hannah.

I work through Hannah Larkin photography. I’m a wedding photographer based in London with a kind of second base up in Northumberland.

And I travel all across the UK and further afield, photographing weddings from tiny elopements just for two people up to huge multi day Indian wedding style events. 

James: [00:00:32] Brilliant thank you. Sarah, would you like to say hi and a few words about Elsa Rose Boutique. 

Sarah: [00:00:39] Yes sure.

So I’m Sarah. I design accessories, so mostly hair accessories. But I also do brooches, bouquets and button holes. And my company is called Elsa Rose Boutique.

It was named after my nan, in her memory. And yeah I just love capturing sentimental details and making Brides smile. 

James: [00:01:01] Fantastic. Susan would you like to say hello and just give us a few quick words about what you do. 

Susan: [00:01:09]

Hi I’m Susan Denton. I’m a Celebrant. I work as a Wedding and Family Celebrant.

I work in a Wedding Day situation to support the couple with their wedding ceremony. This ceremony I provide is actually not legal. But it is a ceremony that you can have, and then add on to that, a civil wedding ceremony before or after. And that makes it that little bit more special and I’ll be talking about that later on when I’m doing my Weducation. 

James: [00:01:41] Brilliant, fantastic, thanks very much. Cool.

So the hot topic “ideas for wedding day surprises”.

Now we had some fantastic ideas on a meetup a couple of weeks ago, and they got me thinking, and I thought that, you know, wedding day surprises are basically fantastic ways of giving guests a way to kind of really, really remember your day. It’s like you’re hoping, and it was Joey from Warble Entertainment actually that pointed this out, that you’re hoping that the brides and grooms remember things like the cake cutting or the first dance. But really the guests kind of remember being wowed by a magician, or they remember that the band was awesome, or they had awesome dancing. And those are the kinds of things that really stick in their mind. So…

Wedding day surprises are a fantastic way to treat your guests if you like. 

James: [00:02:34] Now. I know that you’ve all got some amazing ideas. So I want to throw kind of a curve ball one out there. When Rachel and I were looking for wedding venues in Scotland, we were shopping around and we found this place called “Achnagairn House”, and we loved it. And one of the reasons we loved it was because they’d actually decked out the rooms. They were all themed rooms which meant they had something like 20 odd rooms, and that meant that friends and family could stay with us over the weekend. But they each got their own unique kind of quirky room. And one of the amazing gifts that we felt that we’d given people was… We were asking a lot to get them to come up to Scotland anyway. Some of them were travelling from London, so it was some epic, epic journey. But then they all got their own themed room, and it was just so much fun getting the list of rooms and having a picture of them, going, “yeah you know what, that room totally suits these people”. Or that room’s got like a giant heart stool. Georgina is going to love that. Or that cool room’s got two separate baths and it’s called Jack and Jill. And there were so many great ideas and so much inspiration. 

James: [00:03:43] And when people arrived, we kept everything on the down low. We said you are not allowed to know the name of the venue, so you can’t look it up on the internet, so you can’t spoil any of the surprise. And they all turned up and they were like “we love our rooms”. And…

that was such a fantastic surprise for everybody. Something that Rachel and I really, really enjoyed injecting into our wedding day.

So I’m going to throw that open to you guys. What do you think? What are your ideas for great wedding day surprises? Everybody just jump in. 

Susan: [00:04:17] I’ll talk about… can you still see me James? 

James: [00:04:23] Absolutely. Susan you might just want to come a little bit closer. I think you’re just a little bit quiet on the microphone. 

Susan: [00:04:29] One of the ideas that’s happened with one of the couples I’ve had was that they decided to have a surprise during the ceremony.

They decided to do the same thing as in “Love Actually”, and have the secret poems. So they had eight different people spotted about, we were in the woodland, sitting on hay bales, and each one of those eight people read a completely different poem from each other.

The Groom had orchestrated the whole thing. The bride didn’t know anything whatsoever about it. When the first person spoke, she wasn’t expecting this, and I announced it and said so-and-so is going to speak, is going to read a poem now. Basically, she was totally blown away. Especially when it continued with the other seven people. So you know, that is something people are enjoying as part of the sort of thing that they can do with the celebrant led ceremony. Which they wouldn’t be able to do with a more legal type of ceremony, because of the time restrictions. 

James: [00:05:40] I love that! It’s a fantastic idea! 

Hannah: [00:05:46] Oh that’s really nice because I think often when you think about wedding day surprises, you think about surprises for the bride, or surprises for the groom. A love letter in the morning, or someone performing or learning a special skill to kind of surprise their other half with, during the day. But I think involving the guests is a really nice idea.

I was at a wedding where every guest, as they entered, was given a raffle ticket. And at the point that they came to do the signing of the register, they picked out two numbers and those were their witnesses for the wedding.

They gave everyone an equal chance to do that, but people were really talking about it, really excited. So that was a nice way to kind of surprise all the guests. 

James: [00:06:28] That’s fantastic. I really think that gets around the whole sort of, like you say, having to pick favourites or… What a great idea! Sorry Sarah I interrupted you for a sec there! 

Sarah: [00:06:38] Oh no that’s fine. Mine actually comes from a friend of a friend. And her friends were getting married on May 4th. Unbeknownst to anybody, the bride comes in, I think dressed as a storm trooper. The Groom was Darth Vader. And nobody knew. They walked down the aisle to the imperial march and nobody had known that they’d got married in the registry office a couple of days previous to that. And then the whole wedding was Star Wars themed. And it was just a big surprise to everybody.

They were quite a quirky couple. So everyone was… It was really nice for everyone because thought they were doing everything quite traditionally. So for them, to put their spin on it at the last minute was a nice surprise for the guests.

And they still talk about it now. So I think that one was quite nice. 

James: [00:07:32] That’s awesome. Love a good themed wedding! Have you guys ever seen singing waiters? Hannah you must have seen the singing waiters? 

Hannah: [00:07:41]

The Singing Waiters! Yeah I’ve seen, well, variations on it. I’ve have kind of small wandering musicians coming up to the tables during the meal. But yeah the Signing Waiters are certainly surprising!

James: [00:07:56] The one thing I really love about the whole singing waiters idea is usually nobody knows it’s going to happen. And there’s usually a kind of a stirring, because it happens in the middle of the meal, the wedding breakfast. And suddenly you know a chef will appear from the kitchen, and he’s got a problem like he’s going to quit. He’s had enough, I’m fed up of working in this place. And everyone just stops dead in their tracks. And it just gets everyone’s attention. And then you know, fast forward 10 or 15 minutes, everyone’s waving their napkins around in the air and singing along, and it’s such a fantastic vibe. Absolutely love it. 

Hannah: [00:08:29]

I would say that the one person you shouldn’t try and surprise on the wedding day is the photographer, because you really want to capture all of those expressions when people notice the surprise.

You need the photographer to know what’s going to happen. So they’re ready to get that shot. 

James: [00:08:43] Yeah definitely. I remember from the filming days that basically the wedding planner would sort of come and get us, and we were on strict instructions to kind of creep into the room. You know, don’t have loads of camera gear on show, but just kind of really quietly just move into place. And be ready for something to happen. 

James: [00:08:59] But another… We actually kind of like, how about the hotel thing was kind of the beginning surprise for our guests, we also wanted to sort of bookend that, and put a surprise at the end.

So we decided to arrange a kind of a midnight surprise and that was fire dancers in the end.

And we had to work really hard to find them. In the end I think the ones that we booked came from Newcastle. So it wasn’t a massive drive, but still a drive. And we got them up there and we thought it was really cool because again, I think fireworks are kind of THE big surprise. The most common or traditional big surprise thing, and fire dancers are kind of a cool alternative, because the bride and groom actually get to interact with the act. We specifically requested it because we’d seen it at a wedding, and just thought it was so fab.

You get these giant hearts that the bride and groom can light together. So I guess it becomes kind of a symbolic thing as well, which is kind of nice. Such great photographs!

And obviously the fire dancers, they dance around in the dark with flames going, and the guests are like “oooh, ahhhh”. A nice way to kind of end the day, and then everyone’s going out on a buzz. And we’ve seen kind of various versions of that. 

James: [00:10:19] One of my favourites actually was when the Groom was a Beatles, a mad, mad Beatles fan. And the bride had in secret, booked the UK’s top Beatle tribute act. And they came out at the end of the day, and the look on his face, you know, absolutely priceless, just blown away. Yeah. Cool, so any other ideas? Or have we drained it? 

Hannah: [00:10:53] I’m sure there are lots of ideas.

I guess what’s nice is that people can do things that are kind of special to them, rather than just like you say, oh we need a surprise at the end, it has to be fireworks.

That’s what people do. I don’t like it when people are planning weddings saying you know, what is it that we should be doing? What Is it? Or how should weddings run? What ought to happen? I like it when people are really picking what they want. And like you were doing, for kind of choosing really special rooms for your friends. Or picking something really quirky that you experienced before, and was special to you. 

Susan: [00:11:27] I think often it’s to do with the family isn’t is? They want a nice surprise for the family. One of the couples, it was the same couple I’ve just mentioned, decided they wanted to surprise their mothers by involving them in the Ceremony. But in a second way. They were already involved in the ceremony,

but they also involved them by doing a symbolic gesture, towards them. And that was offering them a rose. That was all part of the ceremony…

and I talked them through that. So they weren’t expecting that. So because they travel a lot abroad, and are travelling now again, they wanted to show their love for their parents and thank them again for their support. So that was another surprise. Again it was a more personal surprise, for the family. 

James: [00:12:19] It did actually kind of creep in there a bit earlier. I’m going to highlight it, but surprises for suppliers are not so exciting. They can be really problematic. So if surprises are something that’s going to happen, you’ve got to tell the suppliers, they need to know. You know Hannah’s got to be there to take pictures. Susan’s got to be there to be able to cope with it during the ceremony. It can’t just happen, it throws people out, but they are important. Cool. Well thank you very much guys for those. That was great. 

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  • Reply
    Hannah Larkin
    December 10, 2018 at 3:45 pm

    So lovely to chat with you all – and I’m excited to hear about other wedding day surprises!

    • Reply
      James Pearson
      December 10, 2018 at 4:41 pm

      So good to hear your fantastic ideas Hannah, thanks so much for sharing with us! It was an absolute pleasure to have you!!! Can’t wait for the next one!

  • Reply
    Susan Denton Celebrant
    December 10, 2018 at 8:40 pm

    It was great to talk about and share wedding day surprises with Hannah and Sarah and yourself James! Yes, i’m also looking forward to the next one!

    • Reply
      James Pearson
      December 11, 2018 at 12:29 pm

      Quite the merry troop Susan! Thanks again for joining us!

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