In today’s economy, many brides and grooms are looking for cost-effective ways to have the wedding of their dreams. Often that means DIY invitations, cash-bars, and compromised venues. But for the daring, a dream location can still fit the budget, you just have to do it guerilla-style. What does that mean? Guerilla wedding is the term coined for an impromptu ceremony at a perfect site. The bride, groom and officiant (sometimes a photographer and a few guests too) go to the location of choice unannounced and hold the wedding. As venues can cost thousands, especially the really popular and trendy ones, a guerilla wedding is a way to cut through the red tape and have the day you’ve wished for.
Guerilla wedding ceremonies can take place anywhere that suits the couple, whether that’s at the putt-putt course where you had your first date, on top of the Empire State Building, on a cruise, at a museum or even the zoo! The sky’s the limit to the number of hip, sentimental, and romantic possibilities – a ski slope, golf course, fairground, how about under the stars at the Washington Monument? Think of places where it’s common to see a small crowd gathered in a tour or talking amongst themselves. If your potential venue has an admission fee, plan to pay that for each guest and the rest is gratis. Keep in mind that places who normally charge a site fee for weddings are more likely to get upset if they catch on and plan your attack accordingly.
What kinds of couples are best suited for guerilla weddings? Brides and grooms who are low on budget, high on stress, in love and looking for adventure will appreciate the spontaneity and excitement of an impromptu ceremony. This guerilla style is also good if your parents or future in-laws are too wrapped up in logistics and centerpieces to see that all you really want is each other. Back in the day, there was elopement. Love struck kids would sneak out of their houses and tie the knot. Today’s Romeos and Juliets can create a hullabaloo of their own with the most talked about, unconventional wedding day adventures of the year.
How does one plan an event like this?
The first step is recon – stake out the potential venue well in advance. Play spy by noting high traffic areas, scoping out a good nook to hold the ceremony in and researching upcoming events, you don’t want to clash dates. If you can, ask a security guard or other official hypothetical questions about your planned event. What might the owners do in the event, would there be a fine involved? If there definitely WILL be a problem, take them at their word and chose a new location.
Next, plan your attack – date and time, invitations or e-vites, entrance, set-up, ceremony, exit. Brief any vendors (officiant and photographer) and guests on the logistics and any duties they’ll need to perform (such as lookout or guard distraction). A brazen friend might convince site staff that you’re holding a simple photo shoot and by the time they check with the management, you’re married. Create a plan B to fall back on in case things don’t go as smoothly as you’d like.
Keep your attire low-key if you’re hoping to slide under the radar. A simple white dress should do it, stash the veil in your purse with the rings. Arm guests with birdseed to throw as you exit so there is no mess to clean up. Brace yourself for resistance and keep an open mind to the events of the day. With your posse at your side, you can get married anywhere!
What happens after the ceremony? Well, that’s entirely up to you. You can take your small group out to dinner, an amusement park, or cruise the bar scene. A backyard or even formal reception can still take place to include a larger group of friends and family in the celebration. It’s your big day, so it’s really up to you and your groom. Make it what you want it to be.
My name is Carol Corbett and I'm a freelance writer. I am currently the online editor for NHweddingmagazine.com where I weigh in on all sorts of topics from favor savers, to bridal make-up, to vendor vendettas. Also on my resume, getting married the day after my best friend...many called us crazy, but we loved every minute as bride and bride's maid, then vice versa!