Oscar-worthy wedding reception deception!

MARRIED life for Sidmouth couple Helen Baker and Rob Davidson began with the perfect deception.

Friends and relatives arrived in tuxedos and posh frocks at Kennaway House to what they thought was a Hollywood Oscars-themed party to mark Helen’s 40th birthday – to be told by Rob that the event was in fact their wedding.

The assembled guests’ jaws dropped and they looked at each other in stunned amazement, unable to believe they had been convincingly but amicably conned, writes John Goodwin.

So elaborate was the romantic hoax that Rob had convinced a circle of 40 close friends and relatives that he was arranging a surprise meal for Helen in advance of the main party and did not want her to know about it.

They arrived at Kennaway House believing they had successfully kept Helen in the dark in order that she would be surprised to see her friends at a birthday feast.

When all had gathered Rob broke the news to them that it was they who had been deceived, not Helen, and a registrar was waiting to conduct the ceremony.

Minutes later Helen arrived, radiant in her wedding dress, with niece Sophia Patidar as bridesmaid and stepfather Tony Fewell by her side, ready to give her away.

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Only Helen’s and Rob’s parents, their children and Sophia’s mum and dad, Lorna and Meeku Patidar, were in on the plot.

Guests at the wedding breakfast then had to pledge to maintain the hoax when another 40 people arrived for the evening party.

The evening guests were let in on the secret when Meeku took to the stage to read out a list of Oscar winners, saving the one for best storyline until the end and announcing newlyweds Helen and Rob as the winners.

The couple had been scheming since Leap Day when Helen proposed to Rob.

The couple, of Lindemann Close, said it had been difficult not to let anything slip in the weeks and months leading up to the big day. They told their children only a month ahead of the event and barred them from any Facebook activity that could have given the game away.

Helen said: “I think the biggest praise for keeping schtum should go to our children. It was really difficult doing the planning out of earshot of anyone and ensuring that people we booked to provide services did not let the cat out of the bag.

“There was a big note next to the booking in the Kennaway House diary saying it was not to be divulged to anyone.”

One of the guests taken in by Helen and Rob, Louise Troake, of Brewery Lane, joked: “How can we ever trust them again?”