Boksburg bride on her surprise wedding: ‘It was an amazing experience I’ll never forget’

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Jo Hefer was delighted about the surprise wedding her fiancé, Paul, cooked up for her. (PHOTO: In-Frame Studio)
Jo Hefer was delighted about the surprise wedding her fiancé, Paul, cooked up for her. (PHOTO: In-Frame Studio)

The bride-to-be thought she was just modelling her gown at a wedding expo – so imagine her surprise when she walked down the aisle at the venue to find her fiancé waiting for her and realised they were getting married then and there.

Three months down the line Jo Hefer (39) from Boksburg is still stunned about the surprise her husband, Paul (43), cooked up for her and says it was a beautiful moment she will never forget.

“It was like a flashmob wedding,” she tells YOU. 

Having been forced to postpone her big day due to Covid-19, Jo decided to cheer herself up by entering a wedding competition she came across on social media that would allow her to showcase her gown.

Before she knew it shed made it to the top 50 and then the top 30.

“I then got an invitation to the wedding expo to model my wedding dress,” Jo says. 

Unbeknown to her the organisers had contacted Paul and suggested he surprise her with a wedding.

“They said, ‘Listen, how would your wife-to-be feel about a surprise wedding?’” Paul recalls. “I thought perfect, here we go. I have never been able to surprise her with anything so I thought this would be the perfect opportunity.”

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The couple have been together for six years and each has a son from their previous relationships.

Paul admits that it was tricky to arrange all the little details without her knowing but he eventually pulled it off. 

“Things like getting the pastor, getting her ID photos and the wedding contract ready. I remember she asked me why I needed those things and all I said to her was, ‘I am just showing how ready and committed I am to get everything sorted’,” he adds with a chuckle.  

When the big day arrived, she and her bridesmaids all turned up at the Thulani Wedding Venue east of Pretoria for the expo, ready to model their dresses.

While they were getting ready, Paul, who’d agreed to walk down the aisle with her, slipped away and got everyone ready. 

It was a very different wedding to the intimate affair that they’d been planning. As it was open to the public, strangers started streaming into the church at the venue. 

While Jo was getting dolled up in the bridal suite
While Jo was getting dolled up in the bridal suite with all the other brides-to-be, Paul was in the church getting ready to give her the surprise of her life. (PHOTO: Twane Paich Corporate & Lifestyle Photography and Marika Wilkins Photography)

“The place was packed, I was very nervous but it was phenomenal,” Paul says. 

Meanwhile Jo, still unaware of everything that was afoot, was in the bridal suite getting ready with all the other brides-to-be and did not suspect a thing.

But she did find it strange when she arrived at the chapel and the wedding march song she and her fiancé were planning to use for their actual wedding was playing.

Jo says she knew something was up when her stepdad
Jo says she knew something was up when her stepdad, Eddie Herbst, suddenly appeared next to her to walk her down the aisle. (PHOTO: Supplied)

“I couldn’t help but ask what was going on,” she says. 

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Then suddenly her stepdad, Eddie Herbst, appeared at her side – which definitely wasn’t part of the plan.

As Eddie escorted her down the aisle, Paul stood up and went to stand in front with a board that read, “We are getting married now.”

“I was halfway down the walkway and the MC made the announcement. I realised what was happening. My tummy dropped but it was an amazing experience I will never forget,” Jo says. 

Paul says seeing Jo’s reaction was priceless.

“I saw her looking at my board and the first thing she said was, ‘I am going to kill you’. It was awesome,” he adds. 

The lovebirds are now planning a celebration party
The lovebirds are now planning a celebration party later this year. (PHOTO: Supplied)

The happy couple say they are grateful to all the sponsors that contributed to making their day special.

They’re planning on having another wedding celebration on 5 March and they can’t wait for the big party. 

Looking back, Paul says he has no regrets about the wedding and would do it again in a heartbeat. 

“Doing it the way I did for her was special and for me it just shows how much I love her.” 

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