When Jennifer Aniston and Justin Theroux tied the knot in August, guests turned up to the ceremony thinking they'd been invited to Justin's birthday party. Avoiding a massive crush of paparazzi in the bushes was (probably) the main reason Aniston and Theroux decided to get married in secret, but as the star revealed on Ellen this week, it wasn't without a few logistical difficulties. 

"We thought we're gonna to tell some people this and some people that and then people that really have to [know] that have busy schedules and whatever," he said on the chat show. "So then afterwards, we kind of realized, like, that was a terrible plan, because you're basically telling half your guests, 'You're unemployed and we can't trust you,' which was of course not the case."

Then of course there was the dress code issue. "There were people there who were just in jeans," he said, while a few guests they'd told about about the impending ceremony kept turning up at the house all dressed up. "We also have friends who, when we've done barbecues and stuff, show up, like, dressed to the nines, like, 'This is the thing, right?'" he joked, "and we're like, 'no, this is actually just a barbecue.'"

It was of course all worth it in the end, with Jen later telling reporters it a "beautiful private moment" - something one of the world's most famous couples doesn't really see much of. 

But it's not just famous celebrity couples who opt for a surprise wedding. When Lucy Germaine and her husband Danny got engaged last year, they quickly decided a traditional white wedding wasn't really for them. Instead - after a small ceremony at The Chelsea Registry Office - friends turned up to what they believed was Lucy and Danny's engagement drinks, only to find they were actually at a wedding party.

We asked Lucy to tell us why she decided to throw a surprise wedding... 

Lucy Germaine and her husband Danny on their wedding day, photographs by Emma Case Photography

"When we got engaged we knew we wanted to be married as soon as we could and the traditional engagement period wasn't for us. I think that period can sometimes create a bridezilla and a lot of stress. I had never been the little girl who dreamed of the Big Church Wedding or grand marquee scenario. In fact, just the thought of walking into a packed congregation all turning to look at me made me feel quite sick! I wanted that moment to be only about Danny and I.

Actually, my dream venue as a little girl was always The Chelsea Registry Office. I grew up nearby and adored seeing the rose petal-strewn steps and a happy Mr & Mrs being cheered on by well wishers. This was something my nerves could handle. 

So inviting an intimate group of our close family and friends to the ceremony was perfect for us. But the problem was how to share our big day with all the other people we loved - without them it simply wouldn't have been a wedding.

So the plan was hatched: we decided to throw an 'Engagement Party' the evening after the ceremony at 8pm. After a champagne reception - and unable to hide our bursting happiness any longer - my husband announced to everyone we had married that morning and that they were actually at our wedding. Their incredible affection and warmth at the news was such a delicious buzz I will be forever happy remembering their loud cheers!

The planning of our day took just three months and we decided to do it all on my birthday, which made it even more special. It was quite stressful securing our three venues - the registry office, the restaurant for lunch and the space for the party - for one particular date but we got lucky, and once they had been booked it was plain sailing from there. With the flowers, my dress, his suit, invitations, hotel for wedding night and all other logistics sorted we kept looking at one another and saying 'why doesn't everyone do this?!' At the end of the wedding planning process we actually still liked one another, and whilst my father still spent a very generous amount of money on the day it wasn't ridiculous - for that I am sure he was grateful.

The only hard part was having to keep the fact that it was our wedding day quiet for three months around close friends we couldn't fit into the ceremony due to space. I definitely found it hard having to accept a few people I loved very dearly wouldn't watch us get married, but I comforted myself with the fact that there would be other times and other life events they would always be at.

I'm not saying our way of doing things was any better than anyone else's, it just worked for us. I think it would suit future brides who don't want too much attention during that intimate moment. And believe me, while there is a frustrated actress in me longing to tread the boards this was the one moment I only wanted to share with a few people and - most importantly - the love of my life.

And for all my unmarried friends reading this... I do still love a big white wedding."

Continued below...

All photographs by Emma Case Photography