Backyard Circus Wedding: Heather + Mike

circus wedding ring master

Heather + Mike’s circus theme wedding was actually born out of a joke Mike made one night. Kind of love this story told by Heather…

One night we were talking about what we wanted our wedding to be like. I’m a wedding photographer myself, so obviously I was taking this conversation a little too seriously. My husband (then boyfriend) turns to me, and jokingly says “Yeah, and instead of ring bearers, we can make my nephews dress up in bear costumes.” To which I responded “I know you’re joking, but we’re doing that now.” So that set the tone for our circus affair. Even though Mike and I are definitely not acrobats (unless you count making it back from the fridge with an armful of diet coke and candy as a death defying stunt), we definitely like to have fun, which at the end of the day is what I think we wanted out wedding to be all about. We had about 10 or so kids there, and while we thought they would be the ones overly thrilled with the circus themes, it was really our older relative who loved it. There’s just something about the circus that makes you feel like a kid again, no matter how old you are.

I could not agree more Heather + Mike! Their wedding was a total DIY wedding and took place in their backyard in Michigan. Big thanks to Gabe Aceves for the photos and congrats to Heather + Mike for throwing such a fun wedding!

carnival wedding invitation

gold glitter shoes



Each of the girls picked out their own dress in their designated color. In addition, they each portrayed an animal, through their shoes and hats (zebra, tiger, and peacock). My sister made the hats as well as my veil and reception piece.

striped bridal belt

first look

I think the most memorable moment for me (Heather) was the feeling in my stomach just before our first look. I'm a pretty confident person, so I don't experience butterflies that often, but they were there in full force. Our ceremony was also amazing, and really set the tone. It was awesome to watch all the kids actually wrapped up in what Grant, who married us, was doing. I'm glad we decided at the last minute to invite the kids down to blankets at the front. Their faces were priceless. Mikey says his most memorable moment was "Seeing you in your beautiful dress for the first time on our first look". Second most memorable moment would be watching my parents do a formal slow dance to "Freak Me" by "Silk".

bride and groom

red tie

bride and groom

bride and groom

bride and groom

ribbons in trees

ring master

bride walking down aisle

circus wedding

circus wedding

bride and groom

bride and groom

Processional: Sleepwalk – Santo and Johnny

Recessional: Having a Party – Sam Cooke

First Dance: La La La Means I Love You – the Delfonics

bride and groom

bride and groom

bride and groom

Really, the big thing that made the day special was how many people in our family put their hands on something for the wedding to make it special. My small army of cousins and siblings set up the chairs and hung the bunting. My dad, with help from my Uncle, made the frames for the lights. My Aunts made salad, and arranged for a popcorn machine for a little mid wedding snack. My sister made the hats. My brother made sure the music cues were set up. Mike’s Aunt made goodie bags for the kids (young and old, alike) including clown noses, stickers, and paddle balls. My brother-in-law married us, and really set the tone for the whole wedding with how awesome our ceremony was (complete with “conjoined twin” singers, disappearing rings, and magic tricks). Mike’s father and brother brewed the beer that the guests enjoyed. I could go on and on. It really was a wedding made by everyone, and for that reason, it was infinitely more special to us.

carnival wedding

popcorn floral centerpieces

I ordered my flowers at wholesale and arranged them myself 2 days before the wedding. The included ranunculus, anemones, thistle, carnations, and seeded eucalyptus. It was a big job. Each of the bridesmaids arranged their own bouquets. My bridal bouquet also included oriental poppy pods that my grandmother planted at our house when she was still alive. We collected containers (bottles and vases) for a few months, and snagged the adorable popcorn containers at Target. Corsages for the moms were handmade fabric pinwheels.

zoo animal table numbers

carnival wedding

vintage camera

clown nose

first dance

carnival cakes

carnival wedding

I’m not just saying this as a photographer, I’m saying this as a bride. Doing a first look was one of the best decisions we made about our wedding day. My husband is my person, if that makes sense, and really I needed him there with me to deal with the emotional roller coaster that is a wedding day. As soon as I saw him, I instantly felt I could do anything. The wedding seemed like a piece of cake from that moment on.

Little things really do slip through the cracks quite easily, so ask people what you might be forgetting. Also, I think the biggest thing is, don't feel pressured to have any type of wedding other than the one you want. Weddings so often get out of hand. At my job, I've seen couples forced to invite 30 people they don't know to their wedding by their parents, and brides pressured into doing a garter toss by their bridesmaids. So yeah, make sure everyone who is there is someone you love and on your wedding day, only include the traditions and things that matter to you. If you hate the garter toss, don't do it, and if you want to get married by a man dressed as an old school Circus Ringmaster, then do that, and if you only want to invite 20 people, go for it. It'll make the day feel that much more special. Also, kids at weddings are awesome. I don't know why they don't get invited more.

photographer: Gabe Aceves // venue: bride + rroom’s home // bride’s attire: A modified Eureka Dress by Amy Kuschel from the Gown Shop // shoes: Zara // veil: handmade by my sister // groom’s suit + shoes: Asos; Shirt: J. Crew; Tie: The Tie Bar // Catering: Pompeiis + homebrew beer // cakes: Made by a family friend, Becky Durik // hair: Ashley Hayes of BeJe Salon // makeup: Laura Allen // day of coordinator: Kaeli from Luna Soiree

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  1. love how the wedding theme came about. gabe did an absolutely amazing job capturing their big day.

  2. Thank you so much for featuring our wedding, and all our hard work! Gabe did an amazing job. No one could have told our story better than he did:)

  3. Possibly one of my favorite weddings, ever. So thoughtful, so full of character, the perfect blend of DIY and charm, the most adorable B+G…and thank goodness Gabe was there to work his magic photo-wise. It’s all so perfect!!!!!!!

  4. This is absolutely stunning. Great photos, Gabe! And Heather + Mike – you two look adorable!

  5. Soooo fun! Love, love the beautiful photos!

  6. I have never seen a circus-themed wedding! I loved all of the unique decor and pictures! Great idea for a beautiful wedding!

  7. So fun! Love all the rich colors and what a cute couple.

  8. So refreshingly different and fun!

  9. Heather and Gabe (and co) you deserve a standing ovation for this. It’s so perfect in every way.

  10. So thoughtful, so full of character, the perfect blend of DIY and charm, the most adorable B+G…and thank goodness Gabe was there to work his magic photo-wise. It’s all so perfect!!!!!!!

  11. I love it. It’s whimsical & fun without being cheesy.

  12. Beautiful wedding! And I absolutely LOVE the bride’s dress!

  13. Haha very unique and cool wedding indeed. Takes guts to go outside of the norm and do something fun like this.

  14. Amy [Marilyn's Keepsakes] on:

    Having everyone’s hand in part of the wedding is sure to make it a special day =) I think it makes everyone that much more excited and makes you realize how important everyone is in your life. Great job DIY bride!

  15. I love this wedding theme! So cute! The feather boutonniere definitely complete the look!

  16. Love the photo in the meadow with natural backlight! Great photography!

  17. i love this wedding!! so creative and fun! the details are amazing.


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