Carnival time:how to create a funfair themed wedding


Image: Megan Thiele Studios

It's got to be one of our all-time favourite wedding themes – the carnival (or vintage fairground, circus...whatever you like to call it!) Yes, carnival weddings are cool. Fact. Plus they marry (!) perfectly with a vintage aesthetic: think red and white candy stripe, bright floral displays, vintage signage, circus fonts, a touch of whimsy and wonder, plus candy floss, ice cream, sodas, hot dogs, ferris wheels and merry-go-rounds. Really, it's an incredibly fun theme that you and your guests will remember, for like, evuh! Here's a breakdown of what we think makes the ultimate vintage carnival wedding...

Beautiful balloons! This image by Kiex Foto for a styled shoot featured in Bespoke Bride captures all that is good about the vintage fairground theme.

Prepare for some serious sugar rushes as candy floss takes centre stage! Image: Sam Tipi


1. Feature LOTS of candy stripe cuteness

This is probably the most iconic symbol of a vintage carnival wedding and instantly conjures up an image of the traditional circus big top and it can be applied to any, or every aspect of the wedding from the straws in the drinks to the groom's bowtie! We love the way the ribbons for the bridesmaids' bouquets are wrapped with red and white grosgrain ribbon. Striped paper sweet bags full of treats make perfect favours or gifts for the littles.

Credits: (L-R) Kat Forsyth Photography; Fox and Brie candy stripe bow tie; candy stripe sweet bags; red and white stripe bridesmaids' dresses; red and diamanté shoes from Bowry.co.uk; carnival theme place settings by Every Last Detail, photo by Samuel Docker


2. Go to town with tasty fairground treats

You can really push the boat out when it comes to food and drink and have lots of fun creating delicious circus-inspired treats for guests including soda pops, milkshakes, ice cream, candy floss, cake pops and all those scrum-diddly-umptious things! The theme lends itself well to hand-held food, so even tacos, pizza, hog-roast, BBQ food would fit in perfectly, saving money on the traditional and often pricy wedding breakfast option. We think the cotton candy cocktails are just genius!

Credits: Painted floral wedding cake by The Frostery; ice cream from Dreamstime.com; soda pops and candy apples from Kara's Party Ideas; milk shakes, cup cakes from Sugar Spice and Glitter; red and white wedding cake from Her World; cotton candy cocktails by Love Me Do photography


3. Dress up with patterns, sparkles & embroidery!

How perfect is this dress for a fairground wedding?! Image by Asa Shuts

Images: Colour pop couple shot by Jean Jeanie; stitl walkers with couple found over on Style me Pretty; balloon couple shot by Love me Do; gothic bride by Clare Tamin Photography; vintage californian wedding couple by Taryn Kent


Vintage attire works so well with this theme – tea dresses or 1950s prom style wedding gowns as well as bohemian 1970s vibes are perfect. Adding interest with pattern, such as polka dots or stars give it a magical feel. For the head, 1960s short veils and 1940s bird cage hair accessories look really on theme. Grooms can go to town with colour and pattern too with bowties, braces and pops of colour. And of course, bridesmaids, flower girls and groomsmen can compliment the wedding style perfectly. You can be savvy though, and bring a whimsical carnival element into your wedding without going completely Greatest Showman about everything!

We love the short veil and vintage dress coupled with the groom's snappy check three-piece suit. Tats optional! Image by Sarah Maria photography

Stars add a theatrical element while colours, glitter and sequins give it a luxe feel. Credits: Linzi Star bridal cape by Eclectic Brides on Etsy , The Couture Company; image by Pix by Stevie; pretty glittery shoes: image by Anne Marie Bouchard; vintage bride with balloons by Matilda Rose Photography; gorgeous golden open toes shot by Love Me Do.

Matching guests to the theme is always a winner! Image credits: Veroluce Photography; Pretty bridesmaids' dresses compliment the bride's vintage style: image by Esther Louise Photography; Grooms kit can give a subtle not to the theme and you can really push the boat out with the kids: images by Megan Thiele Studios


4. Get creative with your stationery and detailing

Of course there are the small details that can take it to a whole new level...we love the red, it's classic, but you can really choose whatever palette you like; metallics, pinks, rainbow goodness. Add kissing booths, candy stalls, fairground games, pinwheels, balloons, stilt walkers, contortionists...the world's your oyster!

Vintage signs like these look great and are easy to DIY.

Circus table seating plan by Magic Moments; pinwheels by Esther Lewis Photography; merry-go-round styling by Matilda Rose Photography; bouquet by Kiex Photography

Image above by Gina Fernandes Photography Below: Esther Louise Photography

Clowns noses, fairground rides... the only thing stopping you, as they say, is your imagination!

Image by Lisa Carpenter Photos

If you've had a vintage styled fairground or carnival themed wedding we'd love to hear from you. Any tips or advice for others planning theirs? Get in touch and be featured on Vintage Bride