Surrprise wedding stuns the guests
FOR Warana couple Belinda and Michael Stanton, lunch with friends and family on Valentine's Day involved much more than tucking into a parmy, roast or salad.
There was a last-minute hiccup with the photographer, not to mention the hair and make-up stylist suddenly being unavailable, plus they had to hide from everyone.
After nine years together and the past seven being engaged, they chose Valentine's Day as their wedding day, but there was a catch.
They didn't tell anyone.
"With just a few exceptions, all our friends and family believed they were just coming to a Valentine's Day lunch with us," Belinda, 38, told the Daily.
"Not even my mum and step-dad knew."
And even though the couple's youngest children - Jaydalee, 3, and seven-year-old Bailey - were the ring-bearers, they weren't told until the day before.
It was also a surprise for Belinda's 17-year-old daughter, Ashleigh, who flew in from the NSW Central Coast on the Saturday.
The couple was married on the Buderim Forest Park boardwalk in a near-impromptu ceremony that had other park visitors smiling.
"There were these random people who were congratulating us and saying how romantic it was," Belinda said.
"Our celebrant, Renee Lynch, said it was a great idea and so romantic.
"I'd been planning it since October and Michael and I had been talking about it since we got engaged seven years ago, but I still had the wedding jitters.
"The most stressful part was hiding under the gazebo from the guests as they arrived. Jaydalee kept wanting to run out and say hello to everyone.
"Another thing that made the ceremony different was that it was the guests walking down to the music, not the bride. We were staying put and it was our friends and family who were walking up to us as they found out what was happening.
"Mum just burst into tears. She was blown away with happiness."
Belinda said it was an intimate occasion with only 14 adults and four children sharing their big day.
"Our friends who weren't there were so happy for us when they found out after I posted our news on Facebook," she said.
Their reception was held at the nearby Harry's on Buderim restaurant and the newlyweds had a three-day honeymoon at The Sebel Resort at Pelican Waters, followed by a Whale One cruise from Mooloolaba.