I know Jessi from the pole community. After seven years together, she and her boyfriend Mark decided it was time to tie the knot. They may have taken the slow and steady route with their relationship at large... but when it came to wedding planning, they certainly did not. 

Jessi told me the day that she booked her venue at Jefferson Patterson Park and Museum that she'd like my help with the planning. And then, conveniently, dropped the bomb on me that they'd booked the venue for only six short weeks later. Oh, and their total budget would be $1500. And $600 was just used toward the venue. And the wedding would be just days after Jessi and I both performed in a pole showcase--for which we'd be spending much of our time rehearsing. Nopressureoranything. 

She told me she'd like a vintage circus/carnival theme... which was lucky for everyone involved because I'd already thrown a circus themed baby shower and had some "stuff" still at my disposal. 

I'll be posting a rather exhaustive look at all the DIY details that went into this fun-on-a-budget wedding. But for now I wanted to focus on the stunning and (you won't believe this but it's true) first-time-shooting-a-wedding photos from our photographer. 

I had previously shot a pinup shoot with a new-to-me photographer, Sharon of Wild Saffron Photography. I was beside myself with awe for the set we shot and asked Sharon first if she'd like to shoot the wedding--for free. I knew it was a long shot, but I also knew I'd help to make sure the pictures turned out great for Sharon's portfolio to help her get a foot in the wedding photography biz. I was hoping she'd see it as a mutually beneficial event. And, to my (and my bride's) absolute delight, she did. Sharon is a spectacular human and even let us get ready at her house!

Our friend Ashley from TnT Hair Salon in Cape St Claire did Jessi's hair based off a sketch I drew up and sent to Jessi one day. To save the bride some dough I lumped my makeup artist service and a wedding dress I just so happened to have on hand into my wedding planning fee. 

By sheer luck the wedding gown was a perfect fit for Jessi and she didn't need any alterations or even any pinning in place. All we added was some red and white striped ribbon from Michael's that I pinned around the waist. The dress was originally from David's Bridal but was altered years ago to have the sweetheart neckline. I also supplied the birdcage veil (which I already had from a previous event and was an inexpensive $18 from Michael's anyway). I made the bride's pinwheel fascinator (click for a tutorial).

Speaking of pinwheels... this giant pinwheel was handmade using the same steps as the pinwheel fascinator tutorial linked above and made an excellent photo prop. I also handmade Mark's pinwheel boutonniere. 

Nicole of Inflation Sensations REALLY brought some magic to this wedding. My husband and I built giant popcorn boxes out of plywood and Nicole swept in and added a giant 'popcorn' balloon arch over the entryway to the reception connecting the two boxes. (I'll have more pictures of this awesomeness in my next post featuring this wedding's details!) I'd seen some balloon animal yard stakes on Amazon that I thought would be a cute addition to the wedding, but the cost of them added up quickly. It took me longer than I'd like to admit to realize that I'd be working with a talented balloon artist who could make these for me--and all I'd need to purchase were wooden dowels from Lowe's to stick into the ground. With Nicole's help these were super inexpensive and looked great lining the aisle of the ceremony. After the ceremony they also doubled as fun photo props (and, much to our surprise, as weapons for some rambunctious children?). Being able to shoot their own circus-carnival version of American Gothic was unplanned but awesome!

Jefferson Patterson Park and Museum turned out to be the perfect location for this wedding. The barn pavilion worked great for the circus-carnival theme. The weather was great, luckily, so we were able to use the surrounding grounds and scenery for the ceremony and photos, but I think the venue could work well even in rainy weather just by housing everything in the barn pavilion. Plus it was a super in-expensive $600, which is a pretty good bargain anywhere, but especially in Maryland. For the ceremony we used an open space outside of the barn and framed the I-Dos between two large trees. Between the trees I (read: "my husband") hung a canopy purchased from the children's section of Ikea that I had on-hand from the previous circus baby shower and hung underneath it yellow curtain panels that I've had since college and were originally purchased from Wal-Mart. 

The bride's mother supplied the flowers. She had the bouquet made and brought me budget-friendly red carnations. I arranged the carnations in vintage milk glass vases that I already owned and topped them with pinwheels.

The reception was a blast. There was a lemonade stand, a circus themed candy bar, a popcorn stand, a cotton candy machine, and a kissing booth (that my husband built and we all (me, the husband, and our bride and groom) painted. The popcorn and cotton candy machines were both borrowed. Guests played games of "ring toss," "pitch-a-pouch," and "kill-a-can" for prizes of goldfish-in-a-bag soap. To stretch the budget, the wedding was not catered. Instead, guests all brought their favorite dishes for a potluck. People generally scoff at the idea of a potluck wedding, but in the right setting I think this is a perfect choice for the bride and groom on a budget. The bride's sister made the elephant-topped cake herself (which I'll feature in my next post). 

The corn-hole game was borrowed. It was not carnival or circus themed, but I covered it with red and white striped wrapping paper to give it a more worthy appearance. The mini decks of playing cards were purchased from the bargain bins at Michael's. I wasn't sure if they'd be a big hit, but by the end of the reception they were all gone. (I asked my husband to set them up, by the way... and he delivered with this intricate playing card tower. He was also a great help in dutifully drinking all of the beers for the ring toss game.) In my next detail post on all the DIY-goodness of this wedding I'll be diving in deeper on all these circus-carnival wedding crafts, but Sharon did such a great job at making my handy work look beautiful that I thought I'd feature some photos here as well. 

For all my hard work, I must admit that the best part of this wedding was the general feeling of fun and love between the bride, groom, and their friends and family. Guests came dressed to the nines--as clowns, bearded ladies, strongmen, and in general vintage loveliness. Guests (and the pastor) donned clown noses for the ceremony.

Yes, this wedding was put together in under six weeks. Yes, the budget was (and remained) under $1500. And YES, Sharon of Wild Saffron Photography is now booking (paid!) weddings. Between weddings, engagements, boudoir, and general shoots, Sharon is now booked out for months. I'd highly recommend her for your upcoming event... but make sure you book in advance!