Imagine waking up on your wedding day barely knowing any details other than who it was you were marrying.
Woolloongabba couple, Madeline Culley and Scott Nicholson, left the entire planning of their big day to the bride's mother, Belinda Culley, in an unusual surprise wedding on September 25.
Besides their outfits, the date and little else, they left the rest up to Belinda, including the venue. The pair, who met in preschool at Calvary Christian College, wed in front of 66 guests at High Church in Fortitude Valley after originally planning a destination wedding in the Maldives.
When COVID-19 hit, they quickly squashed that idea and handed the decision making over to Belinda. "Thinking about planning a wedding during a pandemic was a bit unsettling for them," says Belinda.
"Madeline asked me to plan everything. She was getting flustered and wanted to please
everyone. They both decided to make this a fun adventure and handed me the reins."
Belinda says the couple chose their outfits, the date and little else.
"The couple knew that they still wanted to get married in 2020 and thought that it would be fun if they could just rock up to a mystery destination and enjoy a day full of surprises," she says.
"They knew that they wanted to get married and that was all that mattered to them.
"They entrusted all other decisions to their families and decided that they were going to have the best day of their lives no matter what the outcome."
How did the idea for a surprise wedding come about?
Madeline: We had originally planned on going overseas for our wedding, however that could no longer happen. Mum offered to step in to help find a new venue, which we were thankful for. She found a venue and asked if we would like to know about it, and we thought it would be an interesting and fun idea if it was a surprise location and we had never seen that done before.
Why did you want your mum to organise the big day?
Mum has always had the gift of creating amazing events; whether it was birthdays, Christmas, or Easter. I trusted her sense of taste, as she always goes above and beyond and it made the day perfect.
How much did you know leading up to the day?
Leading up to the day we knew our outfits, the guest list, the photographer, the food, and the other person standing at the alter. That's it. The rest was a mystery.
The venue ??? was the biggest surprise of the day, along with the attention to detail on all of the little personalised ideas to make the day truly memorable. They made a signature cocktail for us. We had a personalised cornhole set built by the grooms father for the guests to enjoy. There was also an illuminated sign donning the new couples last name, handcrafted by members of the brides family.
Most challenging part about not knowing anything?
Going to people's houses and not looking at the invitation on the fridge!
What was Madeline and Scott's reaction on the day?
Belinda: They were so overwhelmed and thoroughly enjoyed the adventure. It was so lovely
watching them soak it all in and embrace everything about their special day. They told
me they could not have asked for a better day and were so grateful for everyone's
involvement in making their day so special. Looking back at photos of the day, you can
see that there was no way of hiding their elation. They loved every single second.
What was the most special part of it all?
Belinda: Knowing that they trusted me enough to create a day that they would love made my
heart full. I am so proud of them both. Knowing that the little boy who once fought to sit
next to my daughter in prep is still standing beside her today is such a beautiful love
story. It was meant to be.
What was the standout moment of the day?
Belinda: The couple didn't know what to expect which meant there were standout moments all throughout the day. Watching them express a variety of emotions, from the moment they first saw the venue, to when they saw each other for the first time in the church. It was great watching them notice the details of the day that had been designed especially just for them: the beautiful abundance of flowers, a personalised laser-cut neon sign, the signature cocktail topped with Persian fairy floss named in their honour and the monogrammed corn hole boards. It was a day full of surprises for them and they loved them all.
Madeline Culley, 23,
Profession: Secondary School Teacher (Visual Art and Learning Support)
Parents: Mark and Belinda Culley
Bridesmaids: No official bridesmaids, but Madeline was supported by her older sister, Hannah Milburn, and younger twin sisters, Olivia and Sophie Culley.
Dress Jovani. A Bridal Affair, Chermside West
Hair Amanda Griffiths (Bride's Aunt)
Make-Up Kerri Nash Makeup
Flowers Shane the Stylist
Engagement ring Argyle Jewellers, Brisbane
Scott Nicholson, 23
Parents Ian and Tania Nicholson
Groomsmen No official groomsmen but Scott was supported by his mates from school, Alan Ny, Zach Chisolm-Daly, Ben Prokic, Joel Pearson, Morne Viljoen and Nathan Waldeck.
Suit Anthony Squires
Entertainment: While the nuptials were away having their photos taken, guests enjoyed playing corn hole on the terrace. The corn hole boards were designed, built and monogrammed with the couple's initials by the father of the groom. During the reception, MC Mark Holman, entertained.
Photographer Daniel Faint - Faint Artistry
Transport Aston Martin Vantage convertible, supplied by Richard Anderson and driven by Cy
Milburn, brother-in-law of the bride.
Cake Micaela Griffiths
Originally published as 'Mum organised our entire wedding, I had no idea where I was going'