This couple managed to keep their wedding a complete secret, with guests thinking they were attending a housewarming-cum-50th birthday party at their new home. Here’s how they pulled it off…

Sophie Nammary and Stephen Gunn

17th September 2022

Venue | Couple’s home in Edinburgh
Photography | Luke Bennett Photography

“Steve and I met in January 2018 and on a trip to Lodge on Loch Lomond for his birthday in November 2020, he proposed. I was pregnant at the time with our daughter, Scarlett, and we decided that we wouldn’t get married til she was old enough to be our ring bearer. Our wedding was a year and 10 months later.

Steve and I had spoken over the years about what we might like our wedding to look like. I’d always imagined throwing a 1920s fancy-dress party and got him on board with the idea.

We wanted to keep our plans as stress-free as possible. We decided to host it all at our new home and keep the wedding aspect a surprise. Our 56 guests would think they were being invited to a housewarming party and to celebrate Steve’s 50th.

We really did manage to keep the wedding secret from absolutely everyone! There was a close shave as I forgot to tell my hairdresser that it was a secret and on our wedding morning, she did my sister-in-law’s hair straight after me! Thankfully, she didn’t let slip.

We were still doing renovations on our house, so the day before the ‘party’, we had a major cleaning operation. We’d only just had the decking finished and there was debris everywhere. My amazing friends all chipped in to make the place presentable before we decorated in earnest.

We put up a marquee, placed lanterns around the garden and hung lamps and thousands of fairylights. I dotted loads of 1920s props around the house, including a gorgeous gramophone, and set up a DIY photobooth under our stairs.

As the wedding was a secret, I greeted our guests on arrival in a black flapper-style dress. I then had to slip away and get changed into my Phase Eight wedding dress. At that point, an announcement was made for everyone to gather in the garden.

Our band, The Gatsbys Jazz Band, started playing ‘Here Comes the Sun’ when I walked around the back of the house and into the garden. Our guests all saw me in my dress, there was a united gasp and I burst out laughing. My mum looked totally shocked, and I could see others standing with their mouths wide open. I think it’s safe to say we gave them a shock!

The lovely Annalese McDermott from Humanist Society Scotland was our celebrant. She laughed with us and our friends through our short, sweet and poignant ceremony. In those moments of exchanging vows, you really see each other and no-one else. It was an incredible feeling, and even though we both felt overwhelmed with emotion, we kept it together.

Our favourite moment of the wedding was our then 20-month-old daughter Scarlett bringing us our rings. She was a bit shy, but she toddled over and gave me the box and a kiss. We’ll never forget it for as long as we live.

Hats off to our amazing catering company, the Culinarians, who are masters at work. Not only did they supply utterly delicious food and drink (including 20s-themed cocktails), they essentially took on the role of event organiser and executed it to the highest level. We even had dashing waiters that added a lovely sense of pomp and occasion.

I get quite emotional now looking back at Luke Bennett’s incredible photos! They are a time machine back to the feelings and atmosphere of the day. On the day, he was invisible at those moments he needed to be, but extremely charismatic at others to get the best out of our guests.
Guitarist and singer Craig McGill from Coast Entertainments was also sensational. Watching everyone dancing like 1920s lunatics to him playing ‘Highway to Hell’ is a highlight that’ll be forever etched in our memories.”

Top tip: “Confirm a celebrant and entertainment quickly, as they are booked often two years in advance. Imagine the day from start to finish, make lists and don’t let it become a stress: planning should be part of the fun!”

Venue Couple’s Edinburgh home
Photography Luke Bennett Photography
Celebrant Annalese McDermott, Humanist Society Scotland
Bride’s dress Phase Eight
Bridesmaid dress Monsoon
Flower girl dress Handmade By Morag Makes at Leith Market
Bride’s hair Sarah at Sobo Hair
Groomswear Flea Market at the Out of the Blue Drill Hall
Wedding rings Bespoke from Annie Smith
Bouquet Elliott Clark Flowers
Other flowers From own garden and mum’s garden
Catering and event organisation The Culinarians
Daytime entertainment The Gatsbys Jazz Band, booked via Warble Entertainment
Evening entertainment Craig McGill, booked via Coast Entertainments
Marquee Gazebo bought from House of Tents

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