Surprise! Day of the Dead Wedding

The mission: Surprise birthday.

The Results: A surprise wedding. Yeah, you read it correctly. A surprise wedding!

In July, family and friends gathered to celebrate my mother-in-law's birthday. The next birthday was my husband's. All those who know Cristian also know that the one thing my husband doesn't like is calling attention himself. That includes going out of our way to celebrate his birthday (he's an introvert and working on being more social).  So, his family I decided on a day to surprise him for his birthday.

Ten days before the party I was finishing up the final details for a surprise day of the dead themed birthday party, confirming the face painter and tent. As I was working on the final touches, I started thinking to myself "why are we not married yet". Cristian and I have been together for thirteen years now. It has not been easy but I am proud to say that we are in such a wonderful point in our relationship. He has been asking me to marry him for the past 11 years, but I was not ready. So, I always said "no".

What was I waiting for? Well, I did not want to be married just because it was the "right" thing to do. Yeah, we have been together since forever, but marriage is not an obligation. It is a partnership, an understanding that even when things are rough the two of you will have each other's back. It is more than just "love" and "lust", it is a relationship that goes beyond a chemical reaction from our bodies. It is an understanding that friendship and communication are key components in ensuring this relationship will be more than what it currently is. The only way our relationship could and would last was to make sure that all these elements were the center of our relationship (see, I have put a lot of thought into why I should get married). Just because we had children together did not mean we had to stay together. I believe I reached that mindset on that day (10 days before the surprise). I finally understood that we did have that kind of relationship. In that moment I wanted to be his wife, I wanted to spend the rest of my life with him, I felt lucky that I was truly in love with my best friend.

Once I decided to marry him, I thought what better surprise for his birthday than telling him how I felt. Well, marrying him would be better, of course! 

For 10 days I thought of how to propose to him and marry him on the same day. No one knew. Not even our closest friends and family members had a clue of what to expect. Especially him. So how I do put a wedding together in 10 days, by myself? So, I started to shop for a dress and suit for him. Looked for a photographer and started my wedding planning.

September 4th 2016, the BIG day! I left our home to get his mom's backyard ready for our big day. He thought I was leaving to a day of the dead themed styled shoot I have been working on for the past month (it's not uncommon in my line of work). I had help from his mom and cousin (who I had to reveal my secret to in order to recruit some help). After a few hours, the setup was done.

The guest start arriving and the butterflies begin. My nerves were messing with my stomach. I was feeling light headed. People kept pouring in thinking it was a surprise birthday party. He finally arrives and everyone quiets done. “Surprise” the guest yell and throw confetti as he walks into the back yard. He was not expecting that. Within minutes the face painter arrives to get people in looking the part (remember it still is day of the dead themed). I waited until all the important people are there, our moms and siblings, beloved aunts and cousins (although many of our loved ones couldn’t make it). My nerves are to the roof at this point. I try real hard not to cry. I feared rejection, although I knew that this was his biggest desire, to call me his wife.

I call everyone’s attention. I start by telling everyone how much he loves me. How he makes sure that I know I am loved every day. How after thirteen years he still opens the door for me and makes sure our sons learn those same values. Then, I turn to him and tell him “thank you for loving me the way that you do. I thank God for putting us through what we have been through because it has made us stronger. I can’t wait to grow old with you. I can’t see my life without you. So, babe will you marry me and spend the rest of our lives as my husband?”

All I feel is his kiss. All I hear is our guest clapping and cheering. Then I stop them and him to say “here is the real surprise. Are guests are here so will you marry me today? I have a dress and suit for you ready to go!” He looks surprised as everyone is finally catching on to what is really going on. He says “yes” and now I turn to our guests and tell them that while they eat we will literally flip this party into a wedding. Yeah, they were not expecting that at all.

Moments later I walk down the aisle to Journey’s Open Arms and all my nervous feelings immediately disappear. All I see is my boys standing there waiting for me. I am not only marrying the man of my dreams, but I am making my family whole. This is what my life was missing, us being one. Our sons truly having our last name. This is what God wanted for us. I was just not ready to embrace the path he had created for me. Now, it all made sense.

For my Vows, I didn’t know how to put in words how I felt. Cristian is a big fan of music and that is how I chose to show my love. My vows consisted 100% of music lyrics from songs we loved. It contained lyrics from Journey, Aerosmith, Jason Mraz, Christina Perry, Frankie Valli, Chayanne, Nat King Cole, The Penguins, Disney Pixar, and more.

Our First dance was to Journey’s Faithfully. The rest of the night was just a fun celebration of love with kids, dancing, and a piñata.


I have to give a special Thank you to the wonderful Amy and Conrad of Amy Haberland Photography for capturing all the wonderful moments of that very special day.