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A SURPRISE party caused more of a shock for the guests than the birthday girl when she showed up as a bride-to-be.
Guests believed they were going to a late birthday celebration when they turned up at Sarah Preston’s home in Market Harborough, Leicestershire.
Instead they found themselves at a surprise wedding which less than a handful of people knew about.
Sarah and her fiance of three years Anthony Dixon had been planning the wedding, which took place on Saturday, since the beginning of the year.
They had been planning the ‘reverse surprise’ since the beginning of this year, and had managed to keep it a total secret from all but their closest family members.
She said: “We have been together for 17 years and we just thought we didn’t fancy the whole ritual of planning a big wedding.
“It was my 40th birthday in January so Anthony told my family and friends it was to be a surprise party.
“They were all hiding in the house and I ran round and we played a wedding march. I entered the room and they shouted ‘surprise’ and we said ‘surprise’.”
Sarah was dressed up and ready to be wed and the couple led their guests into the garden where they were married.
Afterwards a second surprise awaited the 22 guests – they were taken up on a hot air balloon ride.
Anthony, an IT worker, and beauty therapist Sarah, left the ceremony for their honeymoon in the South of France.
Sarah’s mother, Wendy Preston was one of the very few in the know. She said she lives next door and suspected something was going on when the couple started decorating the garden.
Wendy was only one of four people who knew about the ceremony, which had been planned since the beginning of this year.
Even Anthony’s own parents had been kept in the dark about the ceremony until the last minute.
The proud mum said that guests had no idea that it was actually them who were in for the surprise.
She said: “Everybody gathered in Sarah’s house, the windows were blacked out so they couldn’t see outside.
“They thought she had been away and was on her way back.
“When she walked in, everybody had their cameras ready and she was stood there in her wedding dress.
“It was a case of ‘surprise surprise’.”
Delighted Wendy said that the ceremony was a huge hit with guests once the initial shock had worn off.
She said: “It was just so relaxed and chilled out. People were sitting around on bean bags.
“They were all over the moon. The texts we have got back were saying it was amazing, the best day and we’ll remember it forever.
“I thought it was fantastic.”