TAMPA, Fla. - Surprise weddings are on the rise.
Wayne "Smitty" Smith and his wife Katie pulled off a surprise wedding and saved time, money and stress.
"We pulled it off that's the main thought at that point," Katie Smith said, remembering the feeling as she thumbs through old photos. "We pulled it off without anybody knowing until the very last minute."
Until the last minute, guests thought they were there for a big family party. Then the guests were surprised with a wedding ceremony.
Late RSVPs, unexpected costs and personal drama can make weddings can go from joy to anxiety. That’s why the Smiths decided not to bother with a wedding and they are not alone.
Surprise weddings have been on the rise since 2014. The New York Times recently described them as a trend.
The average cost of a US wedding is between $29,000 and $31,000, not including the honeymoon, according to weddingstats.com.
The Smiths spent under 300 dollars on their surprise wedding.
Wedding planner Jessica Ralph said, "People are spending a lot these days, upwards of $80,000, on a wedding. They're going big."
Ralph planned her own surprise wedding. Guests thought they were arriving for a fancy fortieth birthday party for her husband at La Meridian in Tampa and surprised her guests with a wedding ceremony and traditional reception.
She recommends not keeping the wedding a complete surprise, instead, let a few select people in on the secret to help you plan. She also advises crafting creative invitations to emphasize the importance of attendance without giving it away.
It's been 16 years since the Smiths had their surprise wedding. As they look back, they said they wouldn't change a thing.