Old World Carnival Wedding: Erin + Brent

I have such a treat for you guys today! Remember this adorable couple whose engagement session I shared a few months ago? Well, their wedding was AMAZING. Seriously, it’s one of those weddings you look at photos and really wish you had been there – it looks like you stepped into a movie. Erin + Brent were married in her parent’s backyard in Springfield, Missouri. The wedding was a true labor of love with Erin’s dad (with the help of the rest of the family) building the ceremony benches, all the gorgeous signs, hanging all the lights, and so much more! And she is also lucky enough to have floral + event design superstar Carissa (of JL Designs & Events) as her sister-in-law! Carissa designed the entire event and created all the flowers. And Carissa knew they needed an amazing photographer to capture the day, so Carlie + Gabriel of Gabriel Ryan Photographers flew to Missouri to capture all the festivities. Big congrats to Erin + Brent and thanks so much for sharing your whimsical day with us!

carnival wedding in the woods

red roses bouquet

After visiting many antique shops in Springfield, my sister-in-law, Carissa Jowett of JL Designs and Events, and I brought home our favorite items and tried to make sense of our inspiration. We laid out a vintage umbrella, lace tablecloths, amber drinking goblets and velvet wingback chairs. We decided on a rustic wedding with a European flair. It was during that time that the movie Sherlock Holmes came out. There is a brief scene in the movie in which Robert Downey Jr’s character is chasing Rachel McAdam’s character through the dirty streets of London. She is wearing a satin pink dress, a navy damask jacket and matching hat while carrying a bunch of roses. As she confidently walks through what appears to be “carnie” characters perfecting their circus acts, her appearance changes from sweet and elegant to daring and interesting. Carissa and I leaned forward in our chairs, locked eyes and said “this is it!!!” I felt a connection right away and a theme was born: Old World Circus.

bridesmaids in different dresses

groom with unusual boutonniere

For me, the ceremony was the highlight of the event. The ceremony décor was simple and rustic. It honored our roots, nature and our wedding day. The benches were boards of wood that were stained by my parents and soon to be mother-in-law and nailed to tree stumps that my father had cut from a dead tree. With much help from family and friends he also was able to place over 150 feet of electrical lines underground to reach the ceremony site.

The dramatic look for the ceremony had to be the regal velvet curtains framing Brent and I. Our friend and talented seamstress, Laurinda Cox, sewed deep red velvet curtains with gold fringe that were each ten feet by thirteen feet.  Carissa strung them along a thick wire in the trees and held them open with a gold tassel. Between the curtains were two trees that Brent and I placed in one hole during the ceremony as a symbolism of our growth together.

The real surprise was hearing the vows Brent had written for me. I had never heard him express his love and commitment that way. It was endearing, comical and everything I dreamed of. We exited the ceremony to Coldplay’s Viva La Vida as guests threw birdseed that was placed inside brown paper bags. The paper bags also doubled as a program.

curtain in the woods

wooden frames in the woods

wedding guest with parasol

hanging umbrellas from the trees

The table arrangements were as eclectic as the table linens. Just as a celebration might have been decorated in the past, Carissa used drinking goblets, brass canisters and hobnail vases that we had available (and even flew in some of her own inventory from LA).  The flowers were varying combinations of burgundy dahlias, Black Magic roses, gray dusty miller foliage, burnt orange cone flowers, beige scabiosa pods, green snowberries and orange rose hips.  Carissa than added peacock feathers or brown pheasant feathers to every piece.  Every table’s arrangement was different for a truly one of a kind floral “collection.”

unique wedding flower centerpieces

beer in a bathtub

Signs played a huge role in this wedding. The signs not only directed guests, but also added to the theme. My dad and I thought out each sign. He then handcrafted each one. All of the wood and other materials used were either found on the property or leftover scraps from work. He carefully cut wood, hand painted the signs and distressed them to play the part. One particular sign was made into a game by screwing wooden bowling pins on the board. With the help of friends he made rings out of rope and our ring toss was created. The signs were so impressive that Brent and I are using a few to decorate our home.

unicycle rider at a wedding

popcorn and vintage games

wedding outside in the woods

first dance wedding

umbrellas above dancefloor

fire blower

wedding favor

band performing wedding

For me this wedding was a dream come true. As I looked out the curtains of my parent’s bedroom and over the magnificent display I was reminded of how loved and supported Brent and I are. There is a village behind every beautiful wedding and that village is the family and friends celebrating and supporting you until the very end.

Congrats to Erin + Brent! Your day was AMAZING! You can read lots more details about the day here on Erin’s blog.

This wedding is also featured in the current issue of Real Simple Weddings!

Floral & Event Design: JL Designs & Events
Photography: Gabriel Ryan Photographers
Day of Coordinator & Prop Styling: Sharon Taylor Designs
Umbrella rental: Bella Umbrella
Invitations + Programs: My Blue Tulip Design
Dress Designer: Silver Moon
Cake: Cakes by Darlene
Band: Hey Jimmy Band
Makeup: Makeup by Tabitha
Caterer: Simply Delicious

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contact advertise@greenweddingshoes.com
for our current rates!


  1. This is adorable! I love the circus theme and all the little details that make this wedding totally unique. I am in LOVE with the bride’s dress… and her green earrings! Gorgeous!!!

  2. This is the best circus wedding I’ve ever seen! The colors are beautiful and the rustic elements were tied in perfectly.

  3. Just saw this over at 100 Layer Cake. Guess it is all the rage today in the wedding blog world!

    Looks like a swell party – with yummy food!

  4. This wedding looks like it was made of magic!

  5. The bride’s dress is so sexy!

  6. Such a fabulous day! Congrats, congrats and congrats again, E&B!

  7. Hi. Your wedding was gorgeous! I’m dying to know where you got your green earrings! Would you mind telling?

  8. Love the earrings! Where are those from?

  9. This is seriously one amazing wedding! Love the creative theme yet executed perfectly! The photography, design is all so amazing!!

  10. Hello….Springfield Missouri couple here :) I love the frames idea…what was it that you used in the photo frames?

  11. Now this must have taken a lot of planning.

  12. OMG!!! This is like my dream wedding. A party in the woods – and those umbrellas hanging above!! I Die….Saving this for when the time comes. :)

  13. Oh how beautiful! I really love the umbrellas as the “ceiling” to the dance floor. What a wonderful unique wedding!

  14. Wow–just wow! This is one of the most outstanding, inspiring, colorful, unique, wonderful weddings I’ve ever seen. It’s definitely something I’m very inspired by–and quite a few pictures from it were just filed away in my inspiration file! Congratulations on such a wonderful day!!

  15. God Im in love with this WEDDING! WOW!
    Thanks for sharing this one Jen!!!!

  16. yay!!! thank you jen for showcasing this wedding in all its “carny” glory :) erin got so much inspiration from your blog during her planning process! i love re-living this day xoxo, C

  17. WOW!!! What an incredible, spectacular wedding. So gorgeous- brilliantly designed and photographed. I would have loved to have been a guest:)

  18. SO EXCITED & HONORED! It was like xmas morning seeing the post this morning! Thank you so much! It is beautiful! Can’t wait for more everyday!

  19. SUCH an amazing wedding! I’m in love with those red velvet chairs. So many wonderful details!!

  20. There are so many things that I love about this wedding! I DIE over the hanging parasols!

  21. That looks like such a fun wedding, games and colour. Love it.

  22. Oh my goodness, this IS spectacular! Take me here please!

  23. So much fun, so inspirational, and so unique!



  24. i can’t get over how amazingly fabulous this wedding is!! the carnie folk, the signs, the decor, and her tophat veil?? to die for!!!

  25. Such a unique and subtle theme.

  26. Hello! I’m struggling trying to find hanging lights like the ones featured in this post, as well as wedding posts everywhere! Where on earth do you find those lovely bulbs attached to strings that do NOT look like Christmas lights? Thank you for your help!

    Andrea Franzen (Seattle)

  27. love LOVE the upside down umbrellas!

  28. Excellent. The curtains and hanging parasols lend such a magical, cinematic element to this scene. Great wedding theme and even greater execution of that theme. Perfect.

  29. Andrea-I love those lights too! I have some hanging in my backyard. We got ours from Target, but I’ve seen them at Cost Plus World Market also :)

  30. This wedding is AMAZING!! The concept is so unique and Carissa totally outdid herself with the details and execution of everything. Seriously- so fun, imaginative and awesome!!

  31. I love the umbrella decors :)
    nice idea!

  32. It was the cinematic red curtains that first caught my eye but after seeing all the incredible details that went into this celebration I am in awe. Most importantly, it looks like everyone had so much fun!

  33. This is GORGEOUS! I love her dress, love the umbrellas and the bar set up (photo’d with the bartender behind it) is just perfect! I bet the guests had such a great time enjoying the whimsy.

  34. The bustle on her gown is stunning. And she works it SO well. I love the umbrellas upside down. I can literally hear the sounds of the circus from these photos! Beautiful :)

  35. Just saw the few questions. Sorry I didn’t answer sooner. Katie & Katy, I got the earrings from http://www.robertachiarella.com. They sell all kinds of dramatic jewelry spotted on the red carpet. Springfield, Nichol, we put pictures of our family members in the frames to reasonable our family tree. Andrea, we also found some cafe bulb lights at target, but eventually ordered them in bulk from Hometown Evolution, Inc. There is also partlights.com. Hope that helps! You can check out more on http://www.erinpotpie.com if you have other questions. Yay GWS!

  36. I’m obsessed! My fiance and I are planning a circus/carnival themed wedding for next year. This has provided wonderful inspirations :] thanks for posting

  37. This is so cute!! Erin, can you tell me how you strung up the lights & parasols over your dance floor? I LOVE the look. What kind of string did you use to make sure it was strong enough to hold all night?


  38. Christine Sakariasen on:

    Absolutely awesome!

  39. OMG! The upside-down umbrellas!!! I love them so much!! Where do you find umbrella/parasols like them, I wonder??

  40. i was just wondering if by chance how you went about finding all those wonderful parasols i have searched some on ebay but can’t seem to find the pointy ones like you have here :)


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