Real Weddings

How One Philly Couple Threw Themselves a Surprise Wedding

It involves Mylar balloons, a quick dress change, and one very sweet video.

A surprise wedding may not be the easiest thing to pull off, but we imagine all the hard work has to be worth it for the looks of utter shock, surprise and delight on loved one’s faces when they realize what’s going on. Which is why they just may becoming more of a thing here in Philly. First, there was Chloe and Jimmy’s surprise shindig at La Colombe, and now there’s Lisa Lamprou and Ed Gdowik’s engagement party-turned-wedding at Stotesbury Mansion, photographed beautifully by Haley Richter Photography. Read on to find out how they pulled it all off.

Lisa and Ed met on in September of 2013. They felt a connection right away. Funnily enough, they were almost derailed. The pair excitedly scheduled their first date, but Lisa canceled when she was asked on a kayaking date by someone else. Fortunately, she realized she made a mistake, and called Ed back to fix it. They shared their first date at Teresa’s Cafe in Wayne. Right away, Ed was intrigued by Lisa’s high energy and funny, inappropriate questions. Lisa realized as they talked that Ed had all the qualities she was looking for in a partner. By the time the date was over, she knew he was the one.

After dating for three years, the pair made it official with an engagement. Lisa fell in love with a vintage ring, but the accompanying price tag was a bit out of range. She had Bendi Jewelers in Manayunk recreate it. After many updates to the design, Ed went with Lisa to pick up her perfect ring.

They original planned to tie the knot in a big, destination wedding in Lisa’s hometown of Athens, Greece. However, the couple’s wedding planner, Caitlin of Clover Event Co., noticed that the bride-to-be was a bit doubtful about the destination wedding idea. After discussing a surprise wedding that Caitlin put on in Fishtown, Lisa’s eyes lit up. A surprise wedding was the perfect fit for her and Ed.

Below, watch the video that Lisa and Ed played for the guests at their engagement party turned wedding.

Lisa and Ed, outfitted in a black dress and black suit, welcomed guests to their “black tie engagement party” at the Stotesbury Mansion on January 27, 2018. Then, a playful but heartfelt video of the couple was screened. While the guests were distracted watching the video, they snuck off to change into wedding attire. At the end of the video, the guests were told to turn around and look at the stairs. When the guests looked up, Lisa and Ed were standing in a white dress and black tux with a wedding officiant, framed by delicate hanging flowers. A brief ceremony united Lisa and Ed in front of their surprised guests.

After their larger-than-life surprise, which was a both light-hearted and emotional experience for the couple and their guests, Lisa and Ed led their guests to the reception. The doors opened and a 10-piece band began playing “Crazy in Love.” White linens and vintage goblets added elegance to the tables, while a large display of balloons spelling out “surprise” decorated one of the walls because (See more on wedding balloon decor here.) The grand nature of the venue and its white and gold accents worked well with the couple’s desire for an ornate, Gatsby-esque celebration. To infuse some of Lisa’s Greek heritage (and nod to the original destination plan for the wedding) the tables were filled with Greek-inspired fruits and florals.

Lisa and Ed shared their first dance to “Take My Breath Away” by Berlin in front of all of their loved ones. After cutting into their pomegranate and nutmeg-decorated cake created by Nutmeg Cake Designs, the couple and their guests danced the night away. For their honeymoon, the pair plans on traveling to Morocco in May. Lisa and Ed currently reside in Roxborough where Ed is a senior engineer at PECO and Lisa is the co-owner of LILA Fashion International.


Photography: Haley Ritcher Photography | Venue: Stotesbury Mansion | Wedding Planner: Clover Event Co. | Florist: Junebug Flowers and Design | Caterer: Feastivities Events | Cake: Nutmeg Cake Design| Bride’s Gown: Olia Zavozina From Ashe B. & Co. | Groom’s Tux: Armen’s Custom Tailor | Hairdresser: Alison Sileo Hair | Makeup Artist: Shimmer and Spice | Videographer: Terry Leahy Films | Entertainment: Central City Orchestra | Invitations and Signs: Mountain Paper

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