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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 Casual Wedding At Home: Ann & Tim

Ann & Tim had just the kind of wedding I’d love to have had if a) the UK marriage laws weren’t so damn strict and b) if I lived in a blue house. With the ceremony being held on their driveway and the reception in their back garden, this is the perfect casual backyard wedding. The couple actually met at their house, at the house party of a mutual friend who owned it before them. Having the wedding here really brought their story full circle. The matchmaker, even spoke at the wedding.

“They wanted the whole thing to feel like people were at home,” wedding photographers Sarah & Adam of InTandem explained. “The home was built in 1940 and the original owners of the house who sold it to them also had their wedding reception there. Back then it was just a big white farm house, but Ann & Tim repainted, re-leveled, re-landscaped, and even built the flower boxes themselves. It was DIY to the extreme, and their love for authentic vintage came through in their decor.”

Other DIY elements included the chalkboard signs and the jars and bottles for flowers were bought throughout the year. “We went to every thrift store in Austin and more, with a $2 or less rule,” Ann explained. “We splurged on the cake toppers (which cost us a whole $5!) which we found at an antique mall. I also strung about 6 miles of doily garland, but most of it couldn’t be used because of the rain.”

“We really wanted everyone to feel at home during the whole thing. Next to the gift table was a pot of hot coffee, and the the football game was playing in the living room. The ceremony was very casual, with many of the guests standing with drinks in their hands. We wanted it to feel like a picnic.”

Even the unexpected rain fall didn’t stop these two having the perfect day, “This summer Texas saw a terrible drought, with literally NO rain for the whole hot summer,” Sarah & Adam concluded. “Their wedding ended up on the first rainy weekend to break it. They said they never took the rain seriously until the day before their wedding when they had a worried moment, and worked together with friends and family to rain-plan their wedding. It was too late for a tent, so they set up the blue tarp over the tables in desperation. They set big concrete blocks in the super muddy areas and filled the gaps with hay at the last minute.”

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A Beautiful Handmade French Wedding: Sophie & Julien

Sophie & Julien’s family-central wedding was held in the Cote d’Or region of Burgandy, France, in a house build by Sophie’s Grandfather. The ceremony took place at the local town hall and the reception at the family home.

“The wedding was from start to finish a family affair,” Sophie explained. “The house was spruced up for the occasion with my Mother being the driving force behind all the sanding, painting, repairing etc.  Julien’s Mother came out to help as well as my Sisters, Cousins, Brother’s in Law etc!  My Sisters and I spent months looking up ideas and images on various blogs with all details being put to parents, friends etc.  The lanterns came from a friend of mine in Montreal who does decoration for cinema.  She had to create a wedding scene so I bought them off her and added them to the suitcases of various family members who were in Canada visiting to take to France.”

“Our biggest motivator was that the wedding would be fun, elegant relaxed as well,” the bride continued. “We wanted the atmosphere to be happy, friendly and warm – like our families!  Having the reception at my family home in Burgundy was very special…the house was built by my great, great Grandfather and so it is steeped in family memories.”

“The decoration was all hand-made and here are some of the things we did…My Sisters sewed metres and metres of bunting and collected bits of lace which they used to decorate the pear tree under which we got married. My Dad and Julien’s good friend put up all the lighting and lanterns, my close friend and my Brother’s in Law created wreaths and put up hundreds of fairy lights in the trees. We washed and wired loads of jam jars which were hung from trees as candle lanterns.”

“Julien and I designed the invitations and place cards which we had screen-printed in Montreal. Julien’s parents made endless trips to supermarkets, cheese shops, stations, DIY shops to get weird and wonderful provisions, we collected old doilies, lacy tablecloths which we set up on outside tables and chairs for general lounging and smoking. My Sister and her boyfriend helped us find some old frames in which we added some old maps as backing board to our hand-written table plans, they then hung them outside from the arbour we have in the garden – they looked amazing!”

“We bought over mini packets of almonds cooked in maple syrup as favours. My friend and my Step-Mum weeded the driveway, made countless cups of coffee and tea as well as litres of Kir made with local cassis. My Mum made about 12 quiches and other goodies for our next-day brunch and she also made tweaks to my wedding dress, made the vintage lace into a shawl, hand-knitted a alpaca shawl for when it got cold and generally was a superstar! I think I have gone on long enough, needless to say it was a massive group project and it all went without a flaw!”

Sophie’s dress was Custom Designed with Canadian Designer Véronique Miljkovitch. “I knew from the beginning that I wanted a dress that was different and initially I was sure I would find a vintage dress. I found my dress almost accidentally – my Mother was in Montreal visiting me for a couple of weeks and Julien managed to get her to take me to a local designer who is a friend of a friend.  The idea was that I would unknowingly pick out a dress for my birthday present…little did he know that on this surprise shopping trip, I ended up finding my wedding dress!”

“I tried on a dress that was beautiful and my Mother and I instantly could imagine it as a wedding dress.  We asked Véronique the designer whether she would be interested in custom-making it in off-white with a few tweaks here and there and she agreed!  From then on it was a series of secret visits, fabric hunts, fittings. Véronique’s dress was perfect and incidentally has a vintage feel to it!  I decided not to go with a veil but I completed the look with a piece of vintage lace around my shoulders (I found it in a second-hand shop with my Mother in Montreal during another visit a year later!) and shoes that I already had by Mine de Rien.  My beautiful jewellery was created by my sister Dominique with gold chain, non-dyed sapphires and quartz.”

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A Village Fete Meets Tattoo Parlour Wedding: Jess & David

Jess & David were married in All Saints Church in Kirby and they had their reception in the bride’s parent’s back garden. Jess wore a Candy Anthony Dress, Upper Street shoes (which she designed herself) and Vivienne Westwood jewellery. The lucky couple had Shell De Mar there to capture their day.

“We met at school and had been together 12 years when David proposed at sunrise on the beach in Mexico,” Jess told me. “Initially I’d been reluctant to get out of bed so early but something told me it might be worth it…and it was!”

“We always knew we wanted to get married in Pocklington, the small Yorkshire town where my parents live and where the school at which we met is. But finding a venue was a big problem as everything just felt too formal and wedding-y. In the end, it made perfect sense to do it in my parents garden as we had the space and freedom to do everything exactly as we wanted. We felt really strongly that if we were going to have all the people around us that we cared most about, we didn’t want to be standing on ceremony. That was one of the reasons we put our table in the middle of the room, because we didn’t want that us and them separation.”

“I knew immediately I wanted a 50’s style dress and as soon as I clapped eyes on Candy Anthony’s dresses it was love at first sight. The polka dots were just perfect and the red sash was brought everything together. I was worried that David would be disappointed that I hadn’t gone more traditional but the look on his face when I walked down the aisle told me I had nothing to worry about. The right shoes were proving extremely difficult to find and it was my Mum who eventually found Upper Street’s website. I designed exactly what I wanted and six weeks later they arrived and couldn’t have been more perfect.”

“My biggest thing throughout the planning was that I didn’t want to settle just because something was easier and I spent many hours trawling websites for ideas on how to do things,” the bride continued. “There were times, I think, when my Mum struggled with the idea that it wasn’t going to be a traditional, fluffy, sugar coated wedding, but she soon got what I had in mind and was amazing in helping everything come together. We couldn’t have done it without my Mum and Dad.”

“In the end the theme was a celebration of all things kitsch – or village fete meets Rock n Roll tattoo parlour as one of our guests described it. The biggest compliment at the end of the day was the number of people telling us how the whole wedding was totally ‘us’.”

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City Meets Country – A Natural & Rustic Farm Wedding: Kevin & Lindsay

Kevin & Lindsay were married at the bride’s Dad’s farm in Ontario, Canada. Along with his wife Lynne, he spent a year perfecting the properly in order to host his daughter’s wedding. “My Dad built a beautiful deck and added a lovely pavilion that were married under appropriately named ‘the wedding pavilion’,” Lindsay told me. “Kev and I spent the week leading up to the wedding enjoying the country and spending time with our families, it was so nice.”

Although the couple told me they wouldn’t really consider their wedding to be that ‘alternative’, they did try to do a lot of things themselves to make it really special. They also enlisted the help of their friends and family wherever they could. Lindsay continues, “We did try to do a lot of things on our own. Having the wedding at a venue that had sentimental value was the best decision we made. My Dad and his wife got married three years ago on their property in a small, almost exclusively family affair. The setting was perfect, relaxed andsentimental. Although our wedding was a bigger production it had the same feeling of intimacy and informality this kind of setting afforded and inspired.”

“My Dad and his wife had pictures all over the gazebo and porch of Kevin and I throughout the years which was a really fun surprise for us and I think entertaining for our guests to see. Since we love lawn games, we had bocce ball and croquet sets all over the property providing guests with afternoon entertainment between the ceremony and reception.”

“We walked down the aisle to Crosby Stills and Nash ‘Our House’ and after the ceremony, we walked back to the Beach Boys ‘Wouldn’t it be Nice.’ My aunt was the MC for our reception and our wedding party consisted of very close friends, siblings and cousins who are all close with each other. All in all, it served for an informal but intimate day that was so much fun!”

Because the venue was so beautiful and sentimental, the couple kept their decor to a minimum. “The joke was that it was a bit of a city meets country. The colours were neutral and were really only accented by the colour of some of the seasonal wildflowers. Our hors d’oeuvre were things like cucumber gazpacho and potato latkes and the dinner was hearty comfort food followed by pie. We tried to strike a balance between refinement and understated elegance with modest decorating, food, and games that complemented the setting.”

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Marco & Corinne’s Global Folk Art, Home-Spun Wedding

When I received the initial submission email from photographer Pat Dy, dubbing this as his ‘coolest ever wedding’ I had high expectations…and you know what I’m going to say here don’t you?…I certainly wasn’t disappointed!

Marco & Corinne’s home-spun DIY wedding was a real labour of love. The wedding took place at the Groom’s arents house and they crafted their wedding mostly from items they already owned. Everything from their outfits to the flowers arrangement were hand made by the couple themselves or a close friend or family member. This created something totally unique and personal.

“Our theme was global folk art,” Corinne told me. “We just used mostly what we already had lying around our house. We wanted that all the elements were everything we both love. So much heart was put in by family and friends during the 2 months preparation of the wedding. My Mom even handpainted the 150 stones as favours.”

They even had a live mural painting – what an amazing memento to have at their parent’s house to treasure forever – and a shadow box, which made for some really great photographs.

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