Tag Archives: carnival

A Carnival and Circus Themed Wedding Reception

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Natalie and Patrick had a fairly traditional church ceremony but that’s definitely where the the tradition ended! Their wedding reception was one of the most authentic carnival/ circus themes I’ve ever seen! They changed outfits, had lots of performers and plenty of food truck options for their 500 (!) guests… Oh and they arrived on an elephant. NBD…

“The reception was at Texas Stunt Ranch”, Natalie said. “We chose it because we knew we were planning on having a circus complete with performers and an elephant and we knew there would be few if any venues that would be ‘elephant friendly’. So when they were not only willing but excited about our plan, we signed with them right away.”

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“Our entertainment was provided by The Vampire Circus and it was the absolute most amazing show I have ever seen….That ANYONE had ever seen! They were an absolute pleasure to work with and handled all the snags in the road with grace. If you have not seen them perform do yourself a favour and go. It was an incredible show, performed by the most skilled and astounding artists. They dazzled 500 people, and every single one of them told me it was the best show they had ever seen. They left the crowd awe-struck. I can’t begin to thank these guys enough. They had a pizzaz that made you not able to take your eyes off of them!!!”

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Quirky Carnival Wedding

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Kevin and Jenn wanted their guests to have fun at their wedding… and what’s more fun than a carnival!? The day was held at Oysterville Schoolhouse in Washington State.

“Our wedding was in Long Beach, Washington, which is an odd choice for a couple from Canada”, wrote the bride. “We had camped there the year before and fell in love with quaint town and the kitsch factor. There is really no equivalent in British Columbia. We had initially planned to have the ceremony and reception on the beach, but because the weather is often unpredictable in that area, we moved it to the Oysterville Schoolhouse. The Schoolhouse was actually perfect though as I come from a family of teachers. We couldn’t have been happier with the location.”

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“Long Beach is about a seven hour drive from our home in Vancouver so we really wanted our guests to enjoy themselves so a carnival theme seemed to be a natural fit for us. We were inspired to make the reception area as carnival-like as possible, so we spent many hours creating the games ourselves.”

“The carnival marquee, the favours, the pinwheel banner above the schoolhouse, and all the games took quite a while to create, but it was worth it to have something different”, she continued. “We also had a lot of help from our family and friends.”

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Hello Kitty & Carnival Wedding at a Theme Park: Courtney & Cori

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When I saw Courtney and Cori’s wedding for the first time I let out a little squeak of approval. Not only did these guys have a carnival themed wedding at a theme park but the bride used Hello Kitty (my favourite!) throughout her amazing outfit! Her shoes, nails and bouquet (!!) all had Hello Kitty on them. Is this the cutest thing ever or what?

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The wedding took place at Rainbows End Theme Park in New Zealand. “We wanted to capture that feeling love gives you in the pit of your stomach”, began the bride “What’s better than a carnival full of love, laughter, rides and sweet treats?”

“Cori and I are not your normal couple, we don’t sweat the small stuff and have the most amazing relaxed relationship full of laughter and smiles.That thrill and excitement you feel when your riding a roller coaster is what it feels like everyday in our relationship so we wanted to have everyone feel it with us! We could not of had a sit down white tablecloth wedding as that is just not us.”

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Carnival Hoedown Wedding on a Farm: Matthew & Jessica

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Carnival themed weddings might be nothing new, but when I see one as top notch as Matthew & Jessica’s I can’t help but want to share it with you. That dress! Those bridesmaids! That location! It’s just all so perfectly beautiful and utterly Rock n Roll.

“Neither of us really wanted a wedding to begin with, so when we made the choice to get married and have a celebration, we sat down and thought long and hard about why we were doing it, and what it meant to us.”, began the bride. “We threw all the rules out the window, started from scratch, and created the day we wanted to have. We always said that, if we were to have a wedding, that we’d throw a party and then, at some point in the evening, we’d get married. So we did just that.”

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One of the decisions we were most happy with was to get ready together. We had a big sleepover the night before with our ‘carnies’ (bridesmaids and groomsmen) and their partners. It meant we got to go to sleep together, wake up the morning of our wedding together, go and set up the venue together, help each other get dressed and then hold hands until the moment we were wed. I don’t know how I would’ve felt doing all those things without Matt sharing them with me.”

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A Circus & Sideshow Freaks Wedding: Tabitha & Cody

Roll up! Roll up! For the wedding circus sideshow… Where lovers meet freaks and fun meets frolics!

In the groom’s parent’s backyard, Tabitha & Cody hosted their circus wedding on 5th May – Cinco de Mayo! All these influences were incorporated into their day – the circus, the sideshow and the DIY touches with the help of friends…

“Every detail of our day was handcrafted through the hard work of our close friends & family,” began the bride. “We were so lucky to not have to hire or work with anyone outside of our own tight knit group (except the carnival games, but they were wonderful!). We have the most talented friends, without whom we would have been absolutely lost! From our close friends Sheri & Erik of Tangerine Tree Photography, to the bridesmaids’ dresses from my other close friend Lynn – the genius behind Mandolin Dreams, all the way down to our beer labels and caps… everything was personal and created with love!”

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A Crazy Carnival Wedding: Dustin & Tara

Well who doesn’t love a carnival? Exactly… no one. Hence why I’m super excited to share Dustin & Tara’s epic adaption of a traditional carnival theme into a totally non-traditional wedding.

The couple were married at home. They transformed their own backyard into the perfect carnival setting. They had a kissing booth ‘altar’, a bouncy castle for the kids (and big kids), a bell ringer, a snow cone machine, a popcorn machine and a photo booth! There was a paddling pool filled with rubber ducks and big carnival-style posters for everyone to take home with them. Carnival-style round lights were strung all around the garden and big wooden picnic benches, bales of hay and over 200 balloons decorated the space. They served old fashioned sodas and grilled hot dogs with tons of beer and cocktails. Even most of the guests dressed up to fit in with the theme. “We had a lion, a lion tamer, a ring master, someone on stilts and a ton of top hats and mustaches”, Tara explained.

“Our wedding and the events leading up to and directly after it were all beyond ridiculous”, Tara continued. “To start with at the bachelor/bachelorette party, a friend got arrested. Then, the day of the wedding, the cops came again… then during the wedding after party (at like 3am) our friends thought the bounce house was a good place to make whoopie (well who wouldn’t?) and our neighbor caught them!”

“We got married in our backyard in good old Salt Lake City. We walked out to a Beats Antique song that is carnival sounding and a little bit creepy. The friend who was supposed to marry us had been waiting on his ordainment documents for a while, and with only a week to go, we were getting a little worried. We ended up asking my boss to do it last minute, because we knew she was ordained. She said she was happy to do it, and even dressed up as a ring master! Whip and all… She did a Celtic handfasting ceremony that she modified to fit in with the theme of the wedding. It was perfect.”

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A 1920s Speakeasy Carnival Themed Wedding: Emily & Jesse

Vintage themes aren’t always my bag, but throw a 1920s carnival idea at me and I go weak at the knees! A strong theme like this, done really really well, gets me very excited indeed.

Emily & Jesse were married at The Voorhies Mansion at Edenvale Winery. It provided the perfect canvas for their creative ideas! “I would encourage anyone planning a wedding to use wedding tradition as a springboard and focus on the experience you want your guests taking away from your event,” newlywed Emily told me. “My husband and I went through the traditional wedding/reception order and activities and then changed what didn’t work for us. Everything was a conscious choice from writing the hilarious ceremony with our officiant to deciding to have four bouquets which I presented to my mom, MIL and grandmothers. Once we knew what we wanted we could be very clear with all of our vendors about our ideas and every single one of them bent over backwards to help make it happen. Our guests still tell us it was the most fun, memorable wedding they’ve ever been to and that is exactly what we were going for.”

The speakeasy carnival theme was everywhere – from the homemade stationery, to the food, to the performers. “We have many talented friends and family who contributed performances that totally made the party,” Emily continued. “My sister sang old jazz standards before and during the ceremony, and friends performed our wedding ceremony, performed aerial silks during dinner, taught the Charleston to our guests, fire danced or played the part of a fortune teller, flapper or mime. True Love Sound not only took care of music but were great MCs and with their help we made a silent movie reenacting how me met… it was totally hilarious! You can see it here along with our guests’ reactions in the video below.”

“We also included a note on our invitations and on our wedding site to let guests know that we encouraged them to dress up to fit the theme in any way they wanted… And they DID! It was fantastic! I also want to thank Heather Goodwin, owner of An Inspired Affair, for being my advocate the day of our wedding. She helped me with all of the logistics while we planned and made sure I could have fun by knowing everything was taken care of on the day of.”

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A Fun Fair & Carnival Themed Wedding: Julie & Jaques

I’ve known about Julie & Jaques’ wedding for a long time because the bride’s sister and maid of honour is one of my best friends, wedding photographer Shell de Mar! I’ve been hearing all the exciting details of the wedding plans for so long and now I’m thrilled to not only see the results but to share them with you guys too.

The wedding took place in Melbourne. The ceremony was held on the rooftop of the Arcadia Hotel and the quirky and cute reception was at Garage Cafe, Carlton.

“We started with a simple ceremony, focusing on just us and our love toward each other. In fact, we love ‘us’ so much that we had our faces everywhere in the crowd, as part of the ceremony program,” Julie laughed. “We decided on a fun fair theme for our reception from quite early on. Before we planned on anything else, we knew we wanted something über fun. And nothing screams fun like a fun fair! So we turned Garage Cafe into a carnival and we were the hosts!”

The couple put a lot of work into their wedding details with personal touches and fun treats for their guests at every opportunity! “We had a candy bar buffet with take-home lolly jars, cupcakes with a big top as the top cake, big tops as table centrepieces and a seating plan and festoon lights and bunting. An ice cream van arrived during dessert time with music on.”

“We also had a photobooth with silly props. Supposedly we are both quite vain (!) so the very first thing that we booked and paid for was the photo booth! We chose In The Booth as our supplier and it was the perfect choice! Our guests had heaps of fun taking silly pictures with fun props. It was definitely one of the highlights for many of our lovely guests.”

DIY and crafts a-plenty was also the name of this wedding planning game, with the bride, groom and their friends and family getting stuck in to create as much as possible themselves. “We did pretty much everything ourselves, with the help of a multitude of friends,” Julie continued. “I designed most things from name tags to bunting patterns to invitations but Jaques came out with awesome ideas once in a while, such as the photo program fan. Many of my girl friends helped fold origami hearts out of colourful wedding magazines donated from previous brides. Jaques and the boys set up festoon lights and other decorations few days before the big day.”

“We wanted to throw an awesome party to celebrate our big day with the awesomest people in our lives,” the bride concluded when I asked about their wedding theme and inspiration. “It was really as simple as that. We love the fact that every wedding is unique, and so we tried our best to show who we are through our own wedding. This meant a fun filled day with heaps of things to keep everyone entertained.”

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A Halloween 80s Carnival Extravaganza: Tressa & John

For Tressa & John, the most important thing for their wedding was that their guests were entertained and had a great time…and their Halloween 80s carnival theme complete with an costume party dress code made sure of that!

“John and I knew we didn’t want anything traditional in terms of wedding other than a declaration of love for each other,” the bride told me. “We have a fantastic, eclectic, diverse group of friends who have high expectations of us when it comes to throwing a good party so we knew we couldn’t disappoint! We both spent our most formative years in the 80s and wanted to recreate the tubular vibe while also celebrating our most favorite holiday – Halloween!”

“One of the most amazing moments was looking out over the crowd before we began the ceremony and seeing all of our guests in their amazing costumes drinking our signature cocktails – Poprockatini’s and One Night in Bangkokaritas. What a way to kick off the night! And nothing personifies Rock n Roll like an 80s band! We had Mister Miygai who were fantastic!”

To decorate their venue the couple reused their vast collection of Halloween props. “We wanted to add a touch of spooky to the otherwise glamorous nightclub setting. We also employed the fabulous baking talents of my family for some fun different desserts! Caramels, popcorn balls, whoopee pies and candy apples to name a few.”

“Not only were guests entertained all night by a charismatic drag queen, a duo of aerialists dancing from the ceiling, and a rocking live 80s band, but they were also given the opportunity to play our favorite games that have become a standby at our annual Halloween bash,” John took over. “The Newlywed Game and the infamous Costume Contest with prizes are always a hit with our friends. The prizes consisted of 80s swag: classic 80’s games, Swatch watches, Rubik’s cubes, and 80s movies!”

For the ceremony the bride wore a white gown but for the costume party changed into pink and black number while John transformed himself into Tom Cruise from Risky Business!

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A DIY Carnival Wedding at Home: Bethany & Eric

Bethany & Eric’s carnival-themed wedding was held at their home, Antebellum Farmhouse in Granville, Ohio. “The inspiration for our wedding really started with our pre-civil war home”, Bethany told me. “When Eric and I first saw our house with our realtor we both stood on the front porch with tears in our eyes. We had not even walked through the front door but we knew this was our home. Eric looked at me and said ‘we could be married here.’ He then carried me across the threshold. Sounds like a fairy tale…. But so real.”

The theme may have started with their home but over time ‘a day and night at the fair’ became their manifesto. Royal Steamline provided the perfect stationery to fit the idea. “We wanted to create a vintage carnival feeling for all ages of guests to enjoy,” the bride continued. “I have an antique and interior design business named after our home, so I incorporated many antique and vintage items, furniture and props to create the scene. I searched auctions and estate sales for real vintage goblets, punch cups and plates for our guests to enjoy. I used vintage furniture outside to create a living room area that was a fabulous photo booth for all of our guests as well as the bridal party.”

The ‘outdoor living room’ was a particular highlight for all the guests. “We NEVER realized how much of a hit the backyard living room would be,” Eric explained. “I would have bought five more couches and cocktail tables and candelabras had I known it would have been so popular a place to sit! We also used it as a makeshift photo booth area — it was perfect!”

Bethany wore a vintage handmade lace dress that a friend found in a suitcase that she had bought at a garage sale! “When I tried it on, it fit like a glove and I knew it was meant to be,” she explained. “The only problem was that it was so old that it was pulling apart in places and no seamstress wanted to touch it because it was so fragile. I finally found a lovely woman named Peg Smith who had sewn the costumes for the Columbus Ohio Ballet for decades and was willing and able to hand pleat the tulle hem and hand mend the lace.”

“We had a bar under a maple tree where we used a vintage wood bar and stools lighted with globe lights and feathered lamps,” continued Bethany. “The gazebo was an iron structure from Mexico that Eric gave to me as a gift before the wedding. We used hay bails from our farmer neighbor topped with oak planks from a local mill for our ceremony seating.”

“We wanted the food to have a carnival feel as well,” she remembered. “We chose Leslie’s Creperie, a local food truck, to serve our guests fresh made to order crepes. It was a visual experience to watch the crepes being made as well as being delicious. We also served fresh baguettes made by our neighbor who has a bakery called Lucky Cat. The children (and adults) enjoyed the spun cotton candy, popcorn, and shaved ice cones.”

“There was something for all ages at this wedding. The children played vintage carnival games as their parents danced the night away to a live band. The night ended with a spectacular fireworks display that lighted up the sky over the farmhouse.”

“The best thing about our theme was that it gave the kids something to do, ” Eric confirmed. “Our bestest kid-sitter Sarah brought a friend and helped the kids win ‘carnival coupons’ that would be drawn from a hat to win some prizes. All they had to do was spin an old carnival wheel I bought and get above a certain number, or put the softball in old milk jugs that were in the barn when we moved in, or put the bean bag in the corn toss, each ticket making them more eligible for a prize. Yes, we sugared them up with cotton candy and snow cones and a lot of candy. But then the kids had THEIR area and the parents had their area under the maple tree bar or on the dance floor, or on the big front porch.”

Even though their wedding looked spectacular, like most newlyweds there are a few thing they wish they could have done differently. “I wish we had a ferris wheel and I checked into hot air balloon rides,” the groom explained. “I bought fireworks — it was soooo much fun to just let them rip toward the end of the evening. My simple addition was antique lanterns that I bought while I travelled. I went from Oklahoma to Boston to Arizona antiquating before work and finding old railroad and barn lanterns to hang in the lights. I packed them gently and travel them like gold in the airplane overheads. Many times I had to explain to TSA that is was for a wedding and that they could test away for explosives. I already had my fireworks! However I think the simple lanterns, torches, and lights in the trees and tents presented a very easy way to light our 3 acres. An outdoor fire-pit added to the romance as well.”

Obviously a huge undertaking, the couple called upon friends and family to help plan and execute their wedding. “The day before the event, all of Eric’s family, sisters, brothers-in-law, their kids and grandkids showed up early to start the set up,” said Bethany. “They set up tents, tables, carnival games, outdoor bar, cotton candy and snow cone machines, lights, dance floor, hay bales for seating, etc. They were an amazing team. They left the farm looking absolutely fabulous.”

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A DIY 1940’s Carnival Wedding: Marcie & Rich

Marcie & Rich’s Nerdy DIY wedding was inspired by the things they love. The couple love to hang out at home with cat and dog playing video or board games and reading so the wedding theme kind of stemmed from these ideas.

“I think our inspiration for doing things the way we did was that we didn’t want the same old same old”, Marcie told me. “We’ve both been to tons of weddings where the details were essentially the same but for a few differences. People tend to do the long church ceremony with the long gown that you would never want to wear again and make a bunch of stuff for the guests that they will never use or even want just because you saw that tiny beer stein in a craft store and thought it was perfect cause you like beer. We wanted people to have fun all the way through, including ourselves! We would much rather have a swinging party and get married in the middle of it than the other way around.”

“Our ‘theme’ was loosely based on a 1940’s style Carnival. I love the time period and we both wanted a theme that would allow us to have games for our guests and fun retro style clothing and accessories.”

The wedding took place at Heritage Hall, Vancouver British Columbia, Canada. “The Hall is this great building that used to be many things in the past and is now a rentable hall,” the bride continued. “Loads of crafty-type fairs happen here and that is how I came to hear of it in the first place. It has a huge clock tower and is located in Mount Pleasant which is a funky area filled with small locally owned shops. The look of the building and the area made a perfect place to rent. Didn’t hurt that it was far more reasonably priced than any ‘wedding hall rental’ places in Vancouver and we were allowed to do things our own way.”

Marie wore a dress by Peppermint Pretty, shoes by Fluevog and a headpiece that she made herself. Both she and her bridesmaids also wore jewellery by Wicked Minky. “I wanted a tea length dress because I have never understood why people buy these amazing shoes only to cover them up with a huge long dress. I was also very keen to get something that was a bit retro. I have been in love with 1940’s, 50’s and 60’s styles since I was little and a dress without a crinoline was not an option! I also wanted something that I could cut a rug in and not trip and fall on my face. When I dance, I go all out so the fewer restrictions the better! I fell in love with this dress straight off the bat. Erin Coleman was amazing and made something that fit me perfectly and all I did was send in my measurements. I did not want to go into a bridal shop at all and I didn’t. Most have a posh vibe that I don’t appreciate and they never seem to have anything that isn’t all along the same line of design. I find it both intimidating and boring.”

Many of the other wedding details were DIY including the bride and her bridesmaid’s bouquets, the ‘popcorn’ cupcakes (made by Marcie’s cousin Allison who owns a bakery), all the stationery and the majority of the reception decor and props.

“We made all the bunting hanging around the reception out of old thrift store sheets cut up and strung together, as well as the centrepieces. These were thrift store vases filled with tons of gum balls to hold up the Whirly Pops, handmade pin wheels, felt moustaches on sticks made by Maro Designs, and flags to name the table. We went with song names and made a game out of people winning a drink token if they were the first one to come up to the DJ when their table song was played.”

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A Carnival Destination Wedding in Trinidad and Tobago: Erin & John

“The Republic of Trinidad and Tobago is not your usual destination wedding location…  Then again, we’re not your typical bride and groom,” wrote Erin & John. “First of all, we wanted to base our wedding and honeymoon around Carnival that happens every year in Trinidad.  It’s one of the world’s largest Carnival celebrations – and we wanted to be dressed in sequins, feathers, and not much else for our honeymoon celebration.  We invited our friends to come to Tobago the week before Carnival for our wedding.  We rented out all the villas at The Palms Villa Resort – and partied for a solid week leading up to our big day.  The following week, our friends followed us on our honeymoon…and danced with us in the streets of Trinidad!  How nice of Trinidad to throw us such a lovely wedding reception!”

The wedding day started with portraits on the beach, “Our photographer Angela Hubbard spent the morning following us around the small island of Tobago taking our photos on the beach, next to the colorful and whimsical architecture of Tobago, with goats, carrying chickens – you name it!  She captured such whimsical, beautiful, and silly moments… The photos are priceless.”

Erin wore an amazing Vera Wang gown and John designed his outfit himself.  “He wanted something just as unique and special,” continued Erin. “He succeeded, with custom made boots, hat, suit, and a vintage Louis Vuitton silk shirt.  John’s best friend and best man, his chocolate lab, Loki, couldn’t be there – but his life-sized cut-out was!  As for the rest of the bridal party, we gave loose guidelines – but really, it was all about us. With a few accessories like parasols for the bridesmaids and matching hats for the groomsmen – everything came together beautifully.”

“To end our special day, we lit Chinese wishing lanterns and sent them off into the night sky.  It was so beautiful (despite our worry that our wedding might forever be known as “the night we burned down Tobago”) and magical – that thinking back on it now, it hardly seems real…”

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Raven’s Carnival Bridal Shoot

Raven wanted some carnival themed bridal portraits and so she asked William of Famous William Company to shoot them for her. “She had a blast and was all smiles even though the weather was blazing hot that day,” William told me. “The carnival was located outside of Atlanta, Georgia. She wore a 1950’s vintage wedding dress and for her something blue for the photos she had blue converse trainers.”

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