Newlyweds shock guests with wedding day surprise
A SURPRISE twist left wedding guests stunned after they gathered to witness the union of Warwick couple Mark and Jodie Hughes.
Friends and family poured into the ceremony space at Melrose Gardens where a large television screen, rather than a bridal party, awaited them.
The screen revealed a secret six weeks in the making: Jodie and Mark were already married.
The couple had eloped to the calm, white beaches of Fraser Island where the sight of Jodie weaving through the paperbark trees in her wedding dress brought happy tears to the eyes of her soon-to-be husband.
"I don't usually ever cry, but she looked so beautiful," Mark said.
The sunny, private ceremony was the perfect solution for the newlyweds, who agonised for months over caterers, vendors and the finer details of wedding planning.
"We were having a lot of trouble," Jodie said.
"It was causing a lot of stress between us and we were beginning to doubt if we even wanted to have a wedding."
At the same time, the couple were trying to organise a holiday on the coast to celebrate Mark's birthday.
As they sat at home, scrolling through Facebook to find activities to do on Fraser Island, one suggestion kept popping up: A wedding.
"We were sitting down one night talking about the wedding, about how hard it was and whether we wanted to do it, when we came up with this silly idea," Jodie said.
"Once we started to look at it as a real possibility and looking into it more we decided that's really what we wanted."
A separate ceremony, with only their witnesses and their children, enabled the couple to take the pressure off the process.
"I've never been one to be the centre of attention and that had been a really scary part of it all for me," Jodie explained.
"Doing it this way felt a lot more personal, like it was just each other that we had to think about.
"At the end of the day, we really just wanted it to be about us."
With the ceremony done and dusted, there was nothing left to do but celebrate.
The couple descended onto Melrose Station in the venue's helicopter and opened the doors to an overwhelmingly supportive reception.
"Everyone was really happy for us," Mark said.
"It was exactly how we wanted it to be," Jodie said.
"So many surprised faces among our family and we really enjoyed it, it made for a better day on our not-so-wedding day!"