Non-Traditional Wedding #1: Carnival/Fun Fair

As we navigate the inevitable changes to the wedding landscape forced by postponements due to the Covid-19 epidemic, there will invariably be weddings that can't happen on a Saturday, and won't follow the traditional structure of 'ceremony, cocktails, dinner, dance'.  My goal with this blog series is to help you imagine how your wedding could look if you need to change the structure or format, particularly if you must postpone it to a non-Saturday.  Hopefully through this series, you'll find or adapt an idea that will work perfectly for you.  My wish for you is that you can get excited about your wedding again!

Have a Carnival/Fun Fair Wedding - WHAT?

This would be a perfect option for any couple who wants to have a fun, laid-back chance to mingle with their guests, particularly (but certainly not exclusively) those who have a lot of kids on the guest list (adults like carnivals too!).  It could take many forms, so use the following information as a guideline, and adapt it to your particular wishes!

Time of Day/Week:

  • perfect for a mid-afternoon or early evening, any day of the week (though you could certainly hold the event in the later evening, and could even incorporate a dance, if you want to!)
  • as always, be mindful of guests' travel and
    work schedules - an afternoon event might be best suited to a Sunday, for instance
  • consider avoiding meal times if you're not providing substantial food
  • you may want to do a first look photo, and take most formal photos prior to the event so you can join the celebration immediately


  • some public parks have pavilions or gazebos that you can rent inexpensively, or
    you can sometimes reserve an entire park - check with your municipality for regulations (don't just assume you can show up and kick out other patrons who may be enjoying the space)
  • a large backyard
  • a venue with a large outdoor area
  • a museum (or Children's Museum), zoo or aviary

In London: Springbank Park, Civic Gardens, Elsie Perrin Williams Estate, Grosvenor Lodge, Children's Museum


  • your ceremony could be held near the beginning of the event - have guests arrive half an hour early (provide refreshments), then make your entrance for the ceremony in a horse and carriage, or in a vintage car/truck.  Following the ceremony, you are free to mingle with guests immediately
  • you may choose to hold the ceremony mid-event.  You could be in attendance, mingling with guests, then ask them to gather around for your short ceremony (chairs not required, except for elderly guests/those with mobility concerns)

Food & Beverage:

  • consider having a selection of food trucks pull in to provide a marche-style meal
  • ask your caterer if they can do themed food options: gourmet sliders, poutine bar, taco station, ice cream sundaes, etc.
  • you could also structure the meal as a picnic: provide lots of blankets for guests to spread out, and provide a buffet of down-home comfort food
  • some parks actually have built-in charcoal BBQs - enlist some friends to fire them up and replicate a big family-reunion style BBQ.  You could even make it pot-luck!
  • if you're not serving a full meal, consider bringing in a cotton-candy machine, popcorn machine, or serving DIY platters of finger foods
  • non-alcoholic beverages can be self-serve in troughs or canoes
  • if the area is NOT a public park, you can obtain a liquor license and serve drinks of your choice

In London: Smokestacks Food Truck, Bifana Boys, Goodah Gastrotruck, Field to Truck Mobile Eatery, Donut Diva


    • caricature artist
    • face painting
    • magician
    • temporary tattoo booth (you can get customized tattoos online)
    • busking musicians
    • lawn games
    • bouncy castles


In London: A&B Party and Tent Rental, I-Fast Parties, Par-T-Perfect

Things to Think About:

  • be mindful of noise bylaws, if you're in an open-air space later in the evening
  • if you're 'creating a venue' in your backyard or a park, ensure that you work with a great rental company and caterer so that you have everything you need with regard to tables, chairs, garbage receptacles, etc.
  • provide lots of activities for guests, and keep the time frame reasonable.  If it's too long and there are not enough activities, it will be awkward

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