A reader named Brian wrote to us, looking for some ideas. He writes:
I am planning on getting married in or around August. My fiancee and I really want a big party where everyone mixes and mingles and has a great time and isn’t your usual wedding reception with the family clique here, the friends clique there, the work people there and everyone is bored and wedding reception-y. We’re thinking a party with something to do would be good but it can’t be a gambling party – we don’t like gambling. Help Chica and Jo!
It is a common problem to create a reception that both you and your guests will remember forever. It’s great to want to put your own unique stamp on this very special event. Chica and I attended a reception that was fun for all the guests and we still remember it years later…a carnival wedding reception!
The reception was held outside on the grounds of a historic home. They had clustered the tables for eating and visiting around the trees scattered across the lawn. In the middle of the wide lawn, they placed all of the carnival games and carnival food stands for everyone to enjoy. This particular carnival had a medieval theme as well so they had real jousting as part of the entertainment.
By contacting some rental companies, you can find a lot of items to host your own carnival themed event. A good resource for finding out about available rentals in your area are elementary school PTAs. A lot of them host carnivals for the kids every year and might be willing to give you a few names and numbers.
Food to serve (you can rent the machines/booths for all of these items):
Performers to hire:
- Face painters
- Balloon sculptors
- Fortune tellers
Rides/carnival games (most can be rented):
- Raffle tickets: hand every guest a ticket and announce prizes throughout the day.
- Moonwalks (bounce houses)
- Circus wagon calliope
- Duck hunt (Ducks, Duck pond)
- High striker game
- Shooting gallery
- Tootsie Roll tree (Tootsie pops and Tootsie pop tree) For a classic carnival challenge, mark the sticks on some of your suckers and put them in this unique holder. Whoever draws a marked lollipop wins a prize!
- Milk bottle game (milk bottles and rings)
- Balloon sculptures
- 3 or 4 things of cotton candy arranged like flowers that your guests can nibble on
- Gourmet apples
- A carnival themed tiered cake. This one is by Pink Cake Box.
- A cake walk. Have a wedding cake, cake walk! Have guests “win” by table and share the cake with those around them. This is a fun way to get people rooting for each other. This way, you can have lots of different wedding cakes at your reception.
Chica and I hope these ideas get you started planning your fun and unique wedding reception. The carnival theme also works well for a kids birthday party.