Broke-Ass Tag: Carnival Wedding



I think I mentioned once or twice that our wedding was the best ever, and it really, truly was. From the weather to the food to the dancing and fun, it was everything we hoped it would be when when we started planning it 15 months prior. That said, there are always going to be minor mishaps, and we definitely had a few. I knew there was a 0% chance every single detail would go according to plan, so I had braced myself in advance. Still, I actually surprised myself with how much I just didn’t let the small stuff bother me. I try to be a Go With the Flow type of gal in every day life, and I think that served me well on our wedding day.

Because, you can’t control everything.

My bridesmaid Kelly is an amazing artist, and she spent the night before the wedding making little chalkboard signs stating how I had met each of my girls. They were so amazing and detailed, and we were so excited to take pictures with them. I had them with us in the hotel suite while we were getting ready, and triple-checked that they were in the box of stuff that needed to go out to the venue. Welp … we still managed to forget them. I saw them sitting in the Very Important Box the day after and was so bummed. We got so caught up in the 500 other things that were happening that they just slipped everyone’s mind. It sucks, but it was bound to happen.

Weddings are full of roughly 1,558,256 moving parts, so don’t be surprised when a detail here or there gets lost in the shuffle.

Especially for us Broke-Asses who don’t have the money for a planner or coordinator. Luckily, I still have them and I am scheming for a way to get everyone together so we can take that picture. It will happen … someday.


My girls are the best … fact!

Our handmade decor is one of my absolute favorite things about our entire wedding (shouts out to my mom Elaine … again!). It was beautiful, whimsical, budget-friendly and a million other adjectives. We were married in front of an old bank barn, and we gussied it up with rosettes and poofs on the doors. These things were hanging up for hours, and wouldn’t you know that a section decided to come loose and fall off right in the middle of our ceremony. At first I was like, “Umm, what’s happening??” but then we all started cracking up at the timing of it all. It was seriously the perfect comic relief in the middle of a bunch of mushy stuff.



Notice the droopy fans right above me … classic.

My sister, Caty, and Russel’s brother, Alan, gave fantastic speeches after dinner. They were funny and heartfelt and everyone loved them. Well, everyone who could hear them. Our DJ was set up inside the barn, and the range on his wireless mic was juuust a bit too short. And I mean just. They both used the microphone, and there were times during each speech where it cut in and out. They persevered and it really didn’t take away from their amazing words, but if we could go back we’d obviously come up with a solution.


Russel and I really lucked out when it came to our vendors.

The food was on point, the dance floor was packed all night, and I am obsessed with our photos. Our DJ and photographer were hugely instrumental in helping us nail down a timeline and stick to it. They kept things moving smoothly all day, and were super accommodating when I decided to delay my bouquet toss. It was supposed to happen after we danced with our parents, but it just didn’t feel like the right time. I wanted to give everyone a chance to get a drink and get limbered up out on the dance floor. When it was finally time to do the toss, we ran into a bit of a problem — I couldn’t find the toss bouquet anywhere. My mom was the only person who knew where it was, and not only could we not find the flowers, we could not find her. I got a little frustrated, but eventually she appeared and all was right again. So maybe know where your bouquet is, or at the very least make sure more than one person is clued in on the location.


So yeah, when I said minor, I really meant minor.

It didn’t rain. We didn’t have a muddy mess. My grumpy old man dog didn’t bite anyone. Did a few small issues pop up? Of course. But they were honestly not a big deal. Were we hitched? Did we have a good time? Did our nearest and dearest enjoy our party? Yes, yes and yes. As long as we kept that in mind, it made dealing with our minor mishaps a breeze.

All photos by Jenni Bella Photography

  • 1/25


    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

    Our 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…

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    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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    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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    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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