Rich’s Surprise 60th Birthday Party

Happy Birthday, Dad!!! Planning for his surprise 60th birthday party started about ten years ago. Nicki and I were both in college and in no way able to plan a surprise 50th birthday for our dad, Rich Dembski. Last year, we set a date for dad’s 60th birthday party and held off all other commitments for the weekend of August 24th. During the last year, we planned and listened. We planned a lot of fun surprises and special moments, especially some that echoed the celebrations from his last big birthday party at age 30. We listened each time dad told a story about someone from his past. When we heard a new name, we added it to our guest list to make sure to invite as many people as possible (dad loves a crowd!).

More recently, we ramped up planning three months ago with the help of our mom and my husband, Ryan. A lot like wedding planning, we finalized our guest list, planned a great menu, and enlisted the help of family and friends (including Aunt Carol, Uncle Mike, Uncle Jimmy and countless others). Unlike a wedding, we had the added challenge of how we could pull of a party with 160 guests in total secrecy. Did I mention that this party would be held at my parents’ house that my dad built? I should because this meant the additional challenge of hiding all preparations and getting him out of the house to set up the party in a single afternoon. Good thing we are used to dealing with large events and complicated logistics as wedding photographers.

Dad’s actual birthday is today, August 26th, but when August 24th arrived, it was time to party! Nicki sent him on a six-hour scavenger hunt starting at noon on Saturday. He had lunch with his brother, a beer with his cousin, a one-hour massage, an ice cream date, and a long, hot walk with Nicki’s new dog and her roommates before heading back home at 6pm. Based on his last scavenger hunt clue, he knew he would be seeing his family for a nice dinner. But he didn’t know that he’d be seeing 160 people on his front lawn!! He was shocked, surprised, and even made an impromptu speech. I think you can see the happiness on his face at every part of the day. We all love his so much and it was such a great feeling to be able to create this celebration for him.

Special thank you to Sean Means of Portraits by Sean. He is a great friend and did the honor of taking some very important photos of moments that we got to enjoy. Below is a collection of photos by Sean, Randi, Nicki. I confess that some photos are from our iPhones too.

Already I’ve forgotten what we were discussing. We were probably describing some kind of surprise and how we did it!

A golden grinder trophy for Rich made by one of his long-time crew members and great friend, Ryan.

Here I am dressed in the gorilla suit, delivering dad’s very HOT birthday cake. Photos of this event are scarce since I had to get out of the suit in a hurry, but I made the special delivery just like he did for me at both my 16th and 30th birthday parties.

Here is the first screening of Dad’s video. Over the last few months, Nicki and I interviewed family members to document dad’s life story and collect stories from family members.  Nicki was the mastermind of the project and I hope you enjoy it if you care to watch.

Just like at his 30th birthday party, the evening ended with some fireworks!

Happy 60th Birthday, Dad! We all hope that you had a great day!

I'm Randi Voss, a professional wedding and portrait photographer based in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. I specialize in photographing fun, happy weddings working throughout the wedding day as both a photojournalist and a portraiture artist. Have a look around my blog to see what I've been doing lately, both personally, and professionally, and get to know me better. View the Galleries to see some of my favorite photos. Leave a comment to let me know your thoughts. Sincerely, Randi


  • Denise Kiss

    We had a great time! Nice job putting everything together. The food was delicious. The suprised look on his face was priceless.

  • Rich Dembski

    I cannot begin to express my gratitude to my daughters,my son in law, my wife,my family and all my friends, who helped make my surprise party such a success.The presentation was top notch and done with extra love.The professionalism in the Voss and Dembski style,show through to make this the most memorable party I have ever been associated with and anyone who knew me from the old days knows that I was involved in a lot of parties.Once again,Thank You, Thank You,Thank You.Ps I was really surprised.

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