Ian Wilson and Chloe Autridge tied the knot at a flash mob wedding on Airlie Beach foreshore. Image: Tropix Photography
Ian Wilson and Chloe Autridge tied the knot at a flash mob wedding on Airlie Beach foreshore. Image: Tropix Photography

SURPRISE: A ceremony not even the couple knew about

A WEDDING of epic proportions took place on Airlie Beach Foreshore last night as more than 90 performers on both land and sea helped to celebrate the couples surprise nuptials.

Whispers of the event rippled through Airlie Beach last week as businesses teased something exciting was due to happen, and all was revealed when three boats and a fleet of jetskis landed on the shore.

What followed was a spectacular show of song and dance with a choreographed routine to the tune of the Bruno Mars hit Marry You.

Airlie Beach residents Ian Wilson and Chloe Autridge then tied the knot in front of family and friends, many of whom thought they were just attending a birthday party, as well as more than 400 onlookers.

The show ended with a rendition of All You Need is Love as instrumentalists popped up from the moored boats and dancers surrounded the newlyweds.

Ian Wilson and Chloe Autridge were part of a flash mob wedding on Airlie Beach foreshore. Image: Tropix Photography
Ian Wilson and Chloe Autridge were part of a flash mob wedding on Airlie Beach foreshore. Image: Tropix Photography

While the couple knew they were getting married yesterday, neither knew exactly what was going to happen.

Chloe Autridge, who arrived on a Red Cat Adventures boat, said she didn’t expect such a big crowd to show up.

“I knew minor details but the majority of it was a massive surprise, and a pleasant surprise,” she said.

“I came in on the boat and I was sitting out there for five minutes and I started to see people accumulate and I was really nervous.”

The wedding was the brainchild of Airlie Beach resident Phil Batty in a bid to attract more tourists to the Whitsundays.

“I was sitting in a hotel room in Melbourne about eight weeks ago and saw a flash mob video and thought ‘nobody’s got a backdrop like (Airlie Beach)’,” he said.

“I want people to watch it and think next time they’re going on holiday, maybe they’ll come to Airlie Beach.

“We need more tourists here, every job in this town and this region relies on tourists in one way or another.

“It’s done for the region and Chloe and Ian just happened to be game enough to do their wedding like this.”

The show involved 71 dancers and 26 musicians and was pulled together with donations from local vendors.

Debbie Savvy from Tropix Photography, who was also a major part in pulling the event together, said she had her doubts at first but after gaining so much support from the community she knew it would be a success.

“Honestly the vision that Phil had was so grand that I didn’t think it would ever come together,” she said.

“But when we had our first big dance practice … I left and I felt like it was so possible and it was going to be incredible.”

The whole display lasted about 15 minutes, Mr Batty said there would be lots more the community had not yet seen when the final edit is unveiled on social media on February 7, a week before Valentine’s Day.

Mr Batty also said the project couldn’t have happened without the generous support of many local businesses.

Tourism Whitsundays, the Whitsunday Coast Chamber of Commerce, WeddingsWhitsundays.com, and Accom Whitsundays also dug deep to support the surprise by providing financial support.