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A surprise wedding: Marisa + John

June 3, 2009

Who says you have to dedicate your total mental capacity and every bit of emotional energy to planning your wedding for an entire year? We sometimes do. Maybe. It’s just that we just get wrapped up in the details. But there’s this other take on getting married that resonates just as deeply, and requires far less obsessing.

Months ago when we saw this super sweet wedding on We Met in a Bar, we thought, “Awwww. A surprise wedding. How awesome!” And as we scrolled through the photos on the photographer’s blog, Kristina realized that 2 of her friends were actually at the wedding. Surprise! She quickly got in touch with dear friend and 100LC reader Becky, (what’s up, Becky!), to get the scoop.

It was such a good story, we had to share the it here. The idea that you could scrap all the plans you’d started and turn your engagement party into a wedding in one week, (because the getting married was all you really cared about anyway) is just so refreshing and lovely. And such a good good reminder of what this whole wedding thing is about, right?


And now we present, a DIY tutorial in how to plan your wedding in 7 days. This might require a little reading, but we cried into our keyboards the first time we read it. (How unusual.) And we’ve interspersed pictures for your viewing pleasures.

Marisa and her husband got engaged a few days before Christmas last year. In the interest of remaining sane, and giving each other a little time to enjoy being engaged, they made a pact not to start planning until February. Nice idea, in theory. But apparently not practical. As much as Marisa told herself she didn’t want all the traditional stuff, she couldn’t help starting down the inevitable bridal obsession path: registry, shower, venue, date, dress, flowers, wedding party! She literally found herself crying every day purely out of panic and confusion. She was totally overwhelmed.


In the meantime, her mom decided to throw them an engagement party at Marisa’s grandparents’ house in Brentwood. The invites went out, the planning was simple and pretty much done. It was the only part of the whole wedding thing she was excited about. (This is foreshadowing at it’s finest, no?)


Wedding planning slowly stated to progress. They wanted to get married in Mammoth, but their families didn’t like the idea, so they settled on a winery in Santa Ynez. Which was great, except John and Marisa had never even been wine tasting together. They weren’t that excited about it, but it was fine. Their wedding planner came over, spent 5 hours planning the Santa Inez wedding with them, and that was that.


(quickly, how AMAZING is the back of her dress!?)

Later that day on her way up to LA for a friend’s birthday party, Marisa filled her mom in over the phone about the Santa Ynez plan. Her mom, being wise as mom’s generally are, sensed that Marisa wasn’t thrilled. She told her mom she was REALLY excited about their engagement party the following weekend.

“I wish we were getting married next weekend and surprising all the guests!”

And her mom (wise, again) said, “Well, why don’t you?”


Marisa’s first reaction was, that’s crazy. There’s no way I can get everything together in 6 days. And her mom gently reminded her that when she wants something done, she generally has a way of making it happen. Epiphany moment.


Marisa called her dad for his advice, which was (remember these words, brides to be):

“Whatever is going to make you and John happy. Just make sure that you get everything you want and need out of your wedding day so that you don’t have any regrets. This is about you and John and nobody else… do what you guys want to do and everyone else will follow.”


She called their wedding planner, the band she wanted to hire, her photographer who she’d already hired, and everyone was available on March 7th. Next she has to tell John. Who initially thinks it’s another crazy wedding idea until he sees the light. He has just received every man’s fantasy tied up with a bow: plan his wedding for 7 more days instead of 7 more months. He’s totally and completely on board, obvs.


The ensuing 6 days are madness. Marisa calls work and takes the week off. She tells her best friend that she’s her maid of honor and they head directly to the Montclaire Collection in Santa Monica where she’s already found her dream dress. Of course it normally takes 6 months to order, but the women in the shop call the owner and sell her the sample at a discounted price that day. Things are falling into place.


Next they have to expand their guest list a little, plus make sure that all the really important peeps are coming. Some have to fly in from out of town so they tell those friends their secret in order to ensure that they’ll make the trip.

The dress gets tailored (in 5 days, with 3 alterations), Marisa picks up two rings at Lakal Jewelry, meets with their wedding planner (who is now planning an entirely different wedding), secures the caterer (their favorite Mexican food restaurant), they meet with their minister, they buy a suit for John and ties for the groomsmen. Next they call their groomsmen and bridesmaids and ask them to be in their wedding. But they don’t let on when it’s going to be. They just tell them to come a few minutes early to the party on Saturday because they have gifts for them.


Friday Marisa gets her nails done, packs her bags and runs last minute errands all day. She and John and a bridesmaid down from San Francisco have a quiet and semi-nervous dinner at home. And then it’s Saturday. They drive to LA, John picks up his suit and checks them into Shutters for their wedding night. Marisa gets her hair and makeup done and then she waits. And time is just creeping by. When you’re throwing a surprise wedding, imagine how anxious you are for the party!


One by one Marisa’s bridesmaids arrive at her grandparents’ house. And when they see her all dressed up as a bride, they totally freak out. The rest of the party arrives and Marisa’s brother Chad gathers everyone in the foyer to give a welcome toast. At the end of his speech he starts to get emotional and tells everyone he has some good news and some bad news.

“The bad news is that with all the crying and 1000 different people to please with the wedding planning, Marisa and John have decided to end their engagement today”… CRICKETS IN THE ROOM. “But I am completely honored to announce that they will be getting married tonight!”


The house errupted in to cheers. The party moved outside where the ceremony was set up and the surprise wedding began.

marisa_john13 marisa_john14

From Marisa:

“It was by far the most amazing day and experience of my life! The day was all about John and I and our marriage…nothing else mattered that day other than the fact that we got married in front of our family and very closest friends. We got exactly what we have always wanted- memorable!

I am convinced that the day happened because of the grace of my grandfather above. He passed away early December of 2008 and wanted nothing more that for John and I to be married. There was a 60% chance of rain that Saturday and it ended up being a perfectly clear night.”


Congratulations, Marisa and John! Thank you so much for sharing your story with us.

Venue: Family home in Brentwood / Planner/Florals: Lush Fine Flowers / Dress: Romona Keveza purchased at the Montclaire Collection in Santa Monica. (For the curious: the belt/sash came with the dress) / Photography: Studio 7 Photography / Catering: El Cholo Restaurant