Joanne Carter and John Gudasic started planning their wedding before they were even engaged.
They booked their church and reception venue in October, and it wasn’t until the following April that John popped the question.
But it was all for special reason – the Newtown couple wanted to celebrate their big day with a surprise wedding.
“Everything had to be timed and spaced out so that our extended family and friends didn’t clue on to our secret wedding plans,” Joanne explains.
The couple said their “I dos” in an intimate ceremony at St Peter & Paul’s, with only immediate family and a handful of friends watching on.
“The fact that it was so private made it all the more special for us,” says Joanne, who chose a stunning high-neck gown from One Day Bridal.
“I will never forget the moment Johnny saw me for the first time walking down the aisle – it was one of those times in your life where everything stands still and you forget the outside world.”
And then the surprises began.
With their guests expecting an engagement party, they were overwhelmed when the happy couple was announced as husband and wife at their reception at Werribee Mansion.
“There was so much emotion in the room and it was really overwhelming to receive so many well wishes along with words of encouragement and support,” she remembers.
The reception exuded modern elegance. With the help of Nomad Styling, Joanne and John carefully created a luxe space with a mix of minimal and industrial decor.
Concrete, wood, glass and copper were key elements, and softer touches were incorporated with festoon lights and candles.
Central to the day was a concrete feature wall with large letters spelling out ‘Jo & Johnny’.
“It was a showstopper, there was definitely a wow factor to it,” Joanne says.
The couple thoughtfully planned personal ways to incorporate John’s Croatian heritage into their special day.O n arrival, guests had the traditional Ruzmarin rosemary stem pinned to their clothing, and were offered a shot of spirits Kruskovac or Rakija, and a Croatian band played traditional songs into the night.
“I love Johnny’s values and commitment to his family and community,” Joanne says.
“I come from a small family so it’s been really rewarding to have been so accepted into Johnny’s family and the wider Croatian community.”

Ceremony: St Peter & Paul’s
Reception: Werribee Mansion
Catering: Werribee Mansion
Photography: Simon L. King Photography
Wedding stylist/planner: Nomad Styling
Videographer: Purple Ribbon
Gown: One Day Bridal
Shoes: Stuart Weitzman
Headwear: One Day Bridal
Hair: Blondie hair + cosmetica
Make-up: Blondie hair + cosmetica
Cake: Alice Broadway
Flowers: Botanica Flowers
Suits: Hugo Boss
Rings: JMS Diamonds
Transport: Unique Car Rentals
Entertainment: Magla
Stationery: Oak & Orchid
Prop hire: Nomad Styling
Minimoon: Fiji
Honeymoon: USA, Mexico and Canada