Broke-Ass Tag: Fairgrounds Wedding


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?




  • 8/5

    Affiliate Disclaimer NewOne 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 were likely going to cost more than we were willing/able to spend. I want to feed my guests awesome and delicious food, but I don’t want to go (more) broke doing it. We wanted to be able to research every available option and choose what was right for us.

    Etsy bomobob ferris wheel carnival photograph

    Photograph available from Etsy seller bomobob

    Just a few weeks after we decided to go all-in on our theme, the Holmes County Fair happened to be going on. The timing was pretty perfect, and we were able to walk around and see the different vendors and their options and prices. We sampled a lot of goodies and made a list of what we liked best. We gathered information for the stands we loved and contacted them over the next few weeks so we could see if they would even be interested in doing a wedding — and if our preferred menu was feasible. We got super lucky, because both vendors we talked to seemed excited about the idea and were more than happy to work with us on creating a great dinner.

    Our menu:

    Shredded beef sandwiches, sausages with peppers and onions, corn dogs, french fries, onion rings, ice cream, funnel cakes and chocolate-dipped cheesecake. I mean …*insert heart-eye emoji here*

    Yeah, it’s a lot of fried goodness, but there are also a couple things that aren’t submerged in oil, so I feel good about it. I also feel fantastic about the price. For $12-$15/person, we’re getting all of that yumminess. It even includes dessert — hells yeah! We are getting a small cake for us to cut, but unless someone is dying for a slice, it’s really just there to look pretty and provide us with a stale, frozen anniversary tradition next year. Truth be told, we don’t have a firm price or even a contract in place, because we will be paying at the end of the night when they tally up how much food we went through. We’re totally fine with that since it’s exactly what we want.

    This year’s fair kicks off Saturday, so we will be making the trip again so we can try the food one more time, and also see all of the amazing progress at the fairgrounds. Being the first ever wedding at the fairgrounds is scary, but this will be a trial run for the food stands which is super helpful. When they arrive to set up the night before our big day, they will know exactly what they are doing. Bonus!

    All in all, I totally suggest looking into food stands or trucks as an option for a wedding or event. We are really happy we went with what we really wanted, and I think it’s going to pay off.

    Have you made any wedding decisions that are super outside the box? Share in the comments!