Vintage Carnival Wedding (with pinwheels!)

Rebecca & John found me via this very blog and were inquiring about renting odds and ends from the Circarnival Wedding I did previously. I was really into their vintage carnival wedding vision, so when all was said and done I'd convinced them to let me plan the whole affair.

That's the great news. The bad news is that I was juggling a pregnancy, followed by a newborn, followed by doctor visit after doctor visit (after doctor visit) wherein I was diagnosed with optic neuritis and then loosely diagnosed with MS (I am still trying to get diagnosed definitively one way or the other and it's been a year and a half now--but that's another story), a husband's drill schedule, returning to work full time, a baby who wouldn't sleep, and nursing around the clock. Did I take on too much? Yes, as usual. But! BUT! Wait 'til you see how cute this wedding turned out.

Side note: Yes, this wedding was last August. Yes, that's over a year ago. Please see above paragraph. Also, my husband has since been deployed. 2016, I hate you. Anyway. I know no one reads the copy on these blog posts but man do I feel better.

Moving on... let's talk about this wedding, eh?


Let's just put this out there: I hand-made over a thousand paper pinwheels for this wedding. I'm not complaining. I want to say I'm bragging, but I'm hesitant to brag about such a thing. Is this what I'll be remembered for when I die? Will people shoot pinwheels into the sky upon my passing?

This wedding took place at Jefferson Patterson Park & Museum in St Leonard, MD. If you're looking for wedding venue, this one isn't a bad choice. Great scenery, good facility, and not terrible on the budget.

The venue did not allow for tacks, etc to be stuck into the trees, so pinwheels were attached with fishing line tied around the entire tree. 

I searched high and low for a sand ceremony shadow box for my couple, but could not for the life of me find a decent one for less than $60 and even for that price I wasn't finding one that wasn't an eyesore. (And one that matched the wedding? Definitely not.) I handmade this one with a standard white shadow box frame. My husband and I glued the back shut and drilled a hole in the top for sand. I then glued the smaller red frame (from the bargain area at Michael's) to the front. The total cost was less than $25.

How gorgeous and in love is this couple??

The bride DIYed her own bouquet. 


Guests were first greeted with a large popcorn balloon arch. For the Circarnival wedding, I had a balloon artist do this, but this time around the budget needed to be allocated elsewhere so my husband and I thought "How hard could it be?" Pretty hard, actually. But, obviously, do-able. My husband set this up himself with the assistance of the balloon column towers we made for my 10 year reunion. In order to get this done in a timely manner we blew up all the balloons the night before and brought them over in our trailer. The popcorn boxes were built by my husband for the Circarnival wedding so we were able to re-use those. (Hi! Future Lola here! Ballooning is my jam now! This balloon arch was cool but if I did it now it would be unbelievable. I hope someone else does this same theme so I can try.)

Hand-lettered agenda chalkboard.

To bring cohesion to an otherwise light-hearted and fun theme, we stuck with a pretty rigid color palette of reds and sky blues and kept it simple in the barn venue with red banner flags and blue & red paper lanterns. 

This wagon is a Budweiser cart I found at a yard sale. We used it for cards and gifts and hung a sign I hand-painted with "Tokens for the Thompsons" on it to cover the giant Budweiser logo. 

Some of the wedding guests had serious flower allergies, so the couple opted for a flower-free reception. Centerpieces consisted of pinwheel "flowers" in popcorn box and milk glass vases. Bowls of peanuts and empty vessels for shells were strewn about for guests to munch on. 

Linens can get expensive. For this event, rather than shell out for "normal" linens, we instead cut fabric table runners from many yards of cloth. This look won't fly for all weddings, but the raw, casual hems worked for this theme in this space. 

For dinner service, we used the stage area of the venue for a Sweetheart table that we later moved out of the way for dancing. 

We made the Kissing Booth for a prior event and repurposed it here, with the addition of some coordinating pinwheels.

The completed sand ceremony shadow box doubled as Sweetheart table decor.

 I made this XO Marquee myself.

Learn how here. 


Cake and cupcakes were provided by Sweet Sue's Bake Shop, who also brought the large cupcake stand. All I had to do here was stick pinwheels in them. 

I hand-made the cake topper with tiny pinwheels, baker's twine, and dowels.  I found the cupcake ferris wheel on Zulily and already owned the smaller cake stands that I threaded with ribbon to match the event's decor.

After dinner guests snacked on popcorn and cotton candy. The "Step Right Up" art is fabric stretched over a canvas that I hand-lettered.

In keeping with the carnival vibe, dinner was BBQ and was catered by Smokey Joe's Restaurant & Pit BBQ


The couple's family graciously contributed some hand-made carnival games including Giant Jenga, Ring Toss, and Cornhole. Additional games (carnival fishing & mini bowling) were purchased from Oriental Trading.

It's possible I invented this next bit. Is a Wishing Willow a thing? Did I invent this? Please say yes. In lieu of a guest book, guests wrote well wishes on strips of carnival tickets that were then tied to the branches of this small tree, potted in a popcorn tin.

Paper photo props were supplied for Kissing Booth photo fun.

Favors were little carnival stuffed animals with tiny custom made stickers with the couples' names on them. Conveniently, they all came with little tags, so I just overlaid the stickers I designed on the tags. They were all attached with twisty ties to three-tier produce racks to resemble the towers of prizes at a carnival game booth. I made the banner using my Cricut. 

No wedding is complete without its own hashtag.

Despite having a breastfeeding infant with me as I tried to juggle logistics at this wedding, I was super pleased with the end result and working with the couple was a real dream. Excited for my husband to return from deployment so I can return to my true love of event planning!