With a nine-year friendship behind them, Tiffany Williams and Ron Hamilton had seen each other date all the wrong people. But it wasn’t until an online dating site matched them for the second time that they decided to date each other.
“When we started dating, we knew there was no turning back because we had been best friends,” Tiffany says. ”We knew we wanted it to work.”
A year and a half later, Ron pulled off what would become the first of many surprises in their relationship: a proposal in the Garden of Versailles in Paris, France. Tiffany had joined Ron on an overseas business trip, and while they were touring the garden, a photographer approached the couple and asked to take some test shots.
“I turned around to say “Cheese!” and Ron was down on one knee with a ring,” Tiffany says. “He had set the whole thing up. It was like a storybook proposal.”
Although the couple started to map out a 2017 wedding, their plans took a detour when things grew larger than life.
“The guest list was already up to 800 people, and we didn’t want the focus on our family and our faith to get lost in that,” Tiffany says. And since Ron’s family was traveling to Kansas City for Thanksgiving, they decided to skip the traditional affair in lieu of a surprise wedding ceremony for their closest of kin.
In just six weeks, Tiffany and Ron pulled together the details of the surprise wedding with the help of L. Max White of Consider It All Done, who coordinated everything from the Hy-Vee cake to the bouquets of flowers from Trader Joe’s.
“We had to contact all these vendors at the last minute,” Tiffany says. “But when you have the right people at the table, it just comes together.”
On Nov. 24, the couple’s families arrived at Delta Athenaeum for Thanksgiving dinner. After an icebreaker, Ron announced that he and Tiffany would not be getting married in 2017—they were getting married now. On cue, the music started and the couple’s pastor was revealed as Tiffany walked down the aisle.
“There were so many tears, and folks were cheering,” Tiffany says. “Everybody was totally surprised, so it just allowed people to be genuinely in the moment and experience the fullness of the emotion.”
The couple even coordinated their own surprises for each other, with Tiffany flying in Ron’s best friend and Ron inviting Tiffany’s sorority sisters to serenade her. But the most pleasant surprise of all was seeing both families come together to celebrate their union.
“Seeing two families who were meeting for the very first time interact as if they’d known each other for a lifetime, that was the best part of the day,” Tiffany says.