The Element of Surprise

03/24/2014 2:57 PM

07/01/2014 12:10 PM

While on a lakeside walk at their alma mater UNC Charlotte, Derek Karpovich convinced Shannon Sparks that they were on a hidden-camera game show. After answering a series of questions together, the final note asked: “Who does Derek love more than anyone in the world?” As Shannon read the question, Derek dropped to one knee. “He had to have been planning it for at least six months,” recalls the bride, who took the elaborate scheme in stride and, of course, said yes! “He’s always been one for surprises, though.”

Together since high school, Shannon thought she had a pretty good grasp on Derek’s personality. But at their November wedding at The Big Chill, he showed her that he still had a few tricks up his sleeve: Derek and his sister took the stage for what Shannon thought would be a traditional dance and instead, launched into a four-minute choreographed routine. “I never thought they would open up like that; no one did! It really got the party started.”

Shannon’s favorite moment of the evening occurred when Derek’s father showed a slideshow of the couple’s relationship toward the end of the dinner. As the pictures concluded, they gave way to a video of the couple’s engagement that Derek had secretly filmed—from four different angles! “I’m a control freak," says Shannon. "The one thing I loved the most was the one thing I didn’t have control over.”

The morning after the ceremony, Shannon and Derek packed their bags and headed to the airport, ready to jet to the surprise honeymoon destination. “He would play with me by walking over to gates that were headed to Cancun or Guatemala,” says Shannon. “I didn’t find out that we were going to St. Lucia until we reached our gate.” The couple savored the final surprise, enjoying massages, island dinners, and day trips.

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