09:07AM, Thursday 18 January 2018
The happy couple. Credit: Amy Leaver and Ryan Lewis.
Partygoers were shocked when they realised two of their friends were set to tie the knot – believing instead they were attending a birthday party.
Cookham Rise couple Andy and Susan Finlan sprung the surprise on the 80 guests at Moor Hall in School Lane, Cookham, on Saturday evening.
They were invited to what they believed was Susan’s 50th birthday party, but just over an hour after the frivolities kicked off they were summoned to another room set up for a wedding.
It meant the guests – friends and family – were all dressed in their casual party attire and that suited unfussy Andy and Susan down to the ground.
“We have had people saying it is the best wedding they have ever been to,” Andy said.
“People didn’t know to dress up, they were just in jeans and trainers.”
He added that ‘a few’ jaws dropped when the guests realised the party was a cover-up for a real wedding.
They were taken to the marriage room from the party under the ruse that
56-year-old Andy had a surprise for Susan’s birthday.
Susan, however, was well aware of what was about to happen. When they arrived, a council registrar told them the couple they were about to get married.
A secret wedding ensured the couple, who operate a minibus company, could have a laid-back event, and Andy said it allowed guests to enjoy the day without a long slog typical of some ceremonies. Guests told the couple it suited them.
The party was organised ‘to cheer everybody up’, Andy said, as both he and his wife have lost loved ones in recent years.
Bemused guests at the tail end of the queue filing into the room weren’t entirely sure what was going on. It became clear shortly after, however, as Andy and Susan had to draft in their children, 21-year-old Daisy and 16-year-old Frazer, as witnesses.
“My daughter couldn’t stop screaming for the whole ceremony,” Andy said.
A honeymoon possibly in Venice has yet to be booked.
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