Broke-Ass Tag: Carnival Wedding



It’s a little crazy, right? An entire wedding with fun, games, coloring and more with hardly a kid in sight. Yeah, it was a bit weird, but we knew all along we wanted a kid-free wedding, so even after picking our theme we stuck to it. There were several reasons for this: 1) It’s cheaper — the fewer people, the less money we were spending on tables, chairs, food, candy, beverages and so on; 2) I wanted to give my guests the opportunity to have a night of crazy fun; and 3) I am not a kid person, okay? I’m just not. I have been to weddings where the dance floor was packed with kids all hopped up on sugar and running around and just being crazy like kids are supposed to be … and OMG. I knew that wasn’t the kind of reception for me. I know it can be a controversial thing, but we really didn’t have any issues. Here’s how we navigated the whole thing.

I had made comments for years about having an adults-only wedding, so my close friends and fam certainly weren’t surprised. I’d gotten the occasional side-eye or weird look, with the usual comments from other brides saying no one would have come to their shindig if they couldn’t bring their children. Well, that just straight up sucks in my book. A typical wedding requires a lot of planning, which takes a lot of time. If you have months and months and months, heck maybe even years of notice, I feel like you can line up a babysitter. Disclaimer: I am not a parent. I know this. But I know many of them. I have siblings and in-laws and close friends who have kids. I know how hard it can be to find a trustworthy person to watch your kids. I truly, truly get that. But all of them have managed to find someone. Whether it’s another family member, a nanny, or just the occasional sitter, they’ve all done it. So I was confident that with enough lead time, basically everyone could make it happen. I made sure it was very clear on our wedding website that we were having an adults-only day. Our save the dates went out in early February, coupled with a Facebook post with a link to the site in case they didn’t notice it on our cute little tickets. It also stated we would provide childcare if they’d like us to.

Officially, we gave everyone eight months to start working on a plan. Even so, we wanted to help just in case they couldn’t come up with one. Russel and I also took into account that a lot of our guests were coming from out of town, and maybe they wouldn’t want to leave their little ones for an entire night or weekend. Because of that, we offered to provide babysitting for anyone who wished to take advantage. When we mailed out invitations about seven weeks prior to our big day, I included a handwritten note to all of the people who have children. (BTW, this is a good time to mention that we are not monsters and were pretty flexible on the whole. If someone had a newborn or baby who was still nursing, they were absolutely encouraged to bring said little nugget. I made that clear on handwritten notes as well.) I gave everyone my phone number and encouraged them to call or text me if they wanted to discuss babysitting. No one called. I wasn’t even really surprised, to be honest. Not a lot of our friends or family members have young kids. Maybe a little weird for a couple in their early 30s, but it’s how we roll in our social circle. Those who do had all managed to line up child care ahead of time and didn’t need our help. Had anyone requested it, they could have left their kids with a trusted, CPR certified sitter at the hotel in town. We had a room block, and it’s where most of our guests stayed. Their children would have been waiting for them post-reception, stuffed with pizza and all tired out from swimming and playing.

In the end, it really couldn’t have worked out any better. I felt like we really tried our best to give people plenty of time to plan, and we would have been more than happy to arrange a sitter had the need arisen. I get that it can kind of be a slap in the face to have someone say they want you at their big day … but don’t bring the little monster, so we really wanted to go above and beyond to make our intentions clear and take the burden off our guests.

Of course there were three children in attendance who we wouldn’t have dreamed of leaving out. One of my nieces and my nephew were my flower girl and ring bearer, and my other niece was there as well. It should go without saying that Russel and I wanted them to celebrate with us, and celebrate they did. We had carnival games set up on the lawn for cocktail hour, and to make it super official, my mom bought a bunch of stuffed animal prizes. They made out like bandits. Add in coloring, dancing, glow in the dark balloons and eating yummy fair food all night, and they were in heaven.



Photos by Jenni Bella Photography

If you think a kid-free wedding is for you, do it! Stick to your guns, but also remember to be a little flexible. These are your guests, so go out of your way to make it easy for them. If you’re like us, you’ll be very happy with the result.

Have you thought of going kid-free? What challenges are you facing? Share in the comments!

  • 12/20

    Affiliate Disclaimer NewOur wedding was the best day ever, so naturally we wanted some really fun ways to remember it. I talked about my way too expensive Instax guestbook a while back, and while it did cost a pretty penny, I am SO glad we ended up doing it. I am obsessed.

    There was a time when we had no idea where the guestbook was going to be located. We discussed setting it up in the barn, which was our main reception area. It had the perk of being inside in case of rain, but we were afraid that there wouldn’t be enough room and it would be too dark. Fuji Instax cameras are cute and fun, but I wouldn’t say they take the most high quality photos. I had almost forgotten about this ugly wooden sign/bulletin board type thing that was right on the path from the entrance to seating for the ceremony, but when my mom reminded me of it we decided it would work. The location was great, and we could turn it from an eyesore to something pretty and useful.

    My brother Justin, who was also a groomsmen, took one for the team and made us an amazing ticket backdrop for photos — what a tedious and time-consuming activity!  It turned out even better than I imagined and I cannot thank him enough.

    Rachel's ticket photo booth backdrop

    Credit: Jenni Bella Photography

    Our volunteer Instax photographer, Cailyn, got situated before guests began arriving, and as they walked by she snapped their pic and they wrote a little note next to it in the book.

    Guests get pics in front of Rachel's ticket backdrop

    Credit: Jenni Bella Photography

    Cailyn snapping a photo of two of our guests.

    Rachel's guest book photo booth setup

    Credit: Jenni Bella Photography

    Once all of the festivities moved indoors, Cailyn brought the book and camera inside for more pictures. Toward the end of our reception, my bridesmaid Laura noticed that we had a bunch of film left over, so she manned the camera and got some gems of everyone dancing and having a good time. They are my favorite thing ever and are mostly unfit for public consumption. Our guestbook holds 104 photos, but we ended up with close to 140. They are the best.

    In addition to that, we also had a custom canvas made for our guests to color. I saw the idea on the Interwebz one day and knew I needed it, but I wasn’t going to pay like $250.00 plus shipping to order one from the only company I could find who makes them. Just, #no. So my mom, AKA the Queen of All Things Wedding, set about making one for us. She found a carnival print she liked, traced it onto transparent film and used an overhead projector — middle school style — to draw it on a canvas she bought. I will say, she got super busy with other wedding-related items, so she handed it off to my brother Justin to finish up. He did a fantastic job, and even ended up free-handing some personal touches.

    Rachel's custom carnival canvas

    Credit: Jenni Bella Photography

    That empty bucket was eventually filled with markers, I promise. Everyone really enjoyed adding names and colors all night, and we love the way it turned out, smears and all. I can’t wait to hang it in our office, where I can see it every day.

    Rachel's colored-in canvas

    I’ve talked a lot about fun being our main goal for our big day, and little touches like these really helped us make it an amazing and fun-filled day for everyone. The added bonus is that we have amazing keepsakes to look at whenever we want.

    What fun little touches are you adding to your wedding day?

  • 12/6


    On top of having super yummy carnival eats for dinner, we had some sweet treats for our guests, too. Even though funnel cakes and elephant ears are some of the best desserts on the planet, I knew I wanted a wedding cake to cut as well. I can take or leave the actual cutting of the cake while everyone stares. And the whole smashing thing?…

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    And other yummy treats! I detailed our food plan a while back, and if you recall, I was missing a fairly important detail: the total cost. We worked with our caterer to come up with the perfect menu, and we had a general price range of $12-$15 per person. We never had a contract and we didn't have to pay any sort of deposit. Kinda…

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    I have always planned on having different centerpieces at each table. I saw a photo of another bride’s wedding that had her escort cards as little ticket stubs with each person’s name on one side and the name of their table on each. I completely fell in love with the idea. Unfortunately, the Etsy seller who made her cards no longer makes them. I found…

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  • 9/21

    Danielle Invites 2

    As a DIY, oh-so-poor bride, I have always planned on making my own invitations. I have been fussing with designs, envelopes, and patterns for about two years solid. I even went through a phase where I planned on having an Etsy shop to give brides invitations on the cheap. Then I realized I have no artistic ability. Sadly, that’s kind of a prerequisite for being a…

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    They add up! I mean when you buy things, they accumulate. Math was never my strong suit, but that is an easy one ... and holy shit. It's adding up. With under a month to go until our wedding, the time has come to concentrate on the little details. My mom and I collaborated on a giant list (109 items!) of stuff we need to…

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    Etsy bomobob ferris wheel carnival photograph

    One of the main requirements that Russel and I had when it came to choosing a venue was the ability to choose any caterer/food option we wanted. There were several reasons for this: 1) You can't have a carnival wedding without fun carnival food and I don't think most traditional caterers are down with all fried everything; 2) We knew that a lot of companies…

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  • 7/6


    There is no question that bridesmaid dresses have come a long way. Hello, 1980s: you were cruel and unusual Even so, choosing the right dress for your girls can be daunting. Everyone has their own style, their own body type and their own budget. The more ladies in your wedding party, the more difficult it is to find something that works for every girl --…

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