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How We Pulled Off A Surprise Wedding

We FaceTimed six friends and told them, “We have this crazy too-good-to-be-true thing.

A brand reached out to partner together, and what we came up with is we each get to bring three friends on an all expenses paid Bachelor/Bachelorette trip.

The hook I pitched them is that you guys don’t know where we’re going. So I’ll give you a packing list, and the day we leave there’ll be a photographer and videographer there, and you guys will find out where we’re flying to that night!”

Because of what I do for work I knew no one would second guess this lie, and they didn’t! I said we were partnering with a brand for two reasons.

One, it would take away any question of whether we were paying for it. I didn’t want anyone hesitant to accept if they thought we were buying them a flight. (The truth is we used airline miles I had saved up for flights and an AirBnB.)

Two, having a brand involved made sense as to why there would be a story, a surprise, a photographer and videographer, without raising questions that maybe this was something even bigger than a bachelor trip.

Prior to the FaceTime, we’d reached out to each via text with a short, “Hey random Q, it’s not definite yet but planning a wedding related thing and wondered if you’re free Sept 6-11?” Then after the call all we needed was their passport information to book the tickets!

Just a couple months later we all met up at Bryant Park. Beau and I had location scouted, sending options to our photographer Sylvie and videographer Henry to find a spot in New York City that was beautiful, wouldn’t require us to block sideway traffic, and near to our next location.

You can tell by the faces that when we met up, bags in tow ready to head to the airport, our friends were freaking out to find out where we were headed, and Beau and I were freaking out that after a year of scheming and daydreaming, this was really happening!!!

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We had printed signs, wrapped in brown paper to keep them hidden. We gathered everyone around and said,

“So we lied. There is no brand. But, will you come with us to… (sign flip)... the French Riviera?!”

The joy on their faces I just cannot get enough of!

Then flipped around the second sign, ‘’... and elope with us? We’re getting married on Monday.”

This time the shock was like a wave. Shocked silence and gasps at first, then level ten joy as it sunk in.

The faces, the body language… I had dreamed of orchestrating that moment of joy for people we loved for SO LONG and my heart flutters more each time I examine these photos!!!

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MY FAVORITE THINGS IN THE WORLD are great conversations, traveling, physical affection, and moments of shared joy begetting joy.

I cry at videos of strangers telling their parents they’re pregnant, an Olympian I didn’t know five minutes ago winning their first gold medal -- their joy makes me weep with joy. I love live college football for the rush of 50,000 strangers all cheering and high-fiving in collective joy. In the last month I’ve styled the wedding day of two friends, finding myself beside-myself-giddy with the pleasure of bringing someone more joy on their most joyful day.

Unless you are an Olympian, Oscar award winner, book a Broadway show… life doesn’t have many “moments” of instantaneous joy we share with others. When you get engaged, reveal your baby’s gender. Those are the moments in life I cherish, and this was one I will remember my entire life. (Yep, all teary-eyed writing this.)

I asked Jade and Alicia to be my bridesmaids before they’re my bridesmaids in the big wedding. He asked Ramiyro and Roshan to be his groomsmen. And we asked Doug and Steph if they would marry us.

They’ve been together for a decade and we admire their marriage. They have so much joy together, love for one another. Beau would always comment, “They seem like they have so much fun together!” and they’re so anchored together in their faith. We intentionally did our church’s premarital counseling with them so they’d get to know us even more intimately before being asked to officiate.

Then we handed everyone an invitation that looked like a vintage plane ticket that said we were departing from JFK in T-minus four hours! Hugs all around. Then we were off, a group of 14 (including 3 Team Dean helpers (thank you Gabi, Ally, Reginald!) and 3 photo/video crew), and luggage galore a quick 10 minute walk away to…

the BHLDN Wedding Boutique!

I had reached out to their marvelous team to help me pull of this surprise and they could not have been any more amazing.

I tried on dozens of dresses in different cuts and colors to find options I was confident would flatter each girls’ figure within my color palette inspired by the mountains and sea where we would marry. Then had each option in two sizes, with one to three options for them each to choose from.

I love the ongoing looks of disbelief on their faces!

Then it was fashion show time! With the gents on the couch each gal tried on her options. What was most important to me was that they each felt beautiful and comfortable, but they all ended up picking my favorites!

To confirm each girls’ size I’d asked their partner or roommate to do some tag-hunting in their closet. I’d also brought along sticky bras in different sizes as there were a few that didn’t conceal a full bra, had asked each girl to pack a neutral pair of heels, and had a pashmina for each in case it was chilly on the wedding day. (A stylist thinks of everything!)

Meanwhile I’d asked each guy to send me their suiting options, so I could be sure each gent had a different neutral color. And had pulled ties from BHLDN to coordinate with the color palette and bring them together, which you'll see in our wedding post soon!

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With bridesmaids dresses and groomsmen ties procured, we had a few moments to enjoy some champagne!

I was on such an adrenaline rush, disbelieving this moment was really happening and it was all going so smoothly.

We had the first of our toasts to Team Sofi. (Our codeword for the elopement, as in South of France.) With a camera crew in tow we would do MANY more toasts ("wait, do that again!") over the four days to come!

But for now, we were off to the airport with one giant Kleinfeld’s Bridal gown bag and a dozen suitcases, ready to wake up in France.

Our tour of the Cote d’Azur coming in the next post...

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