Marina & Adam's vintage circus, crafty, kid-friendly wedding

February 16 |
Photos by Ben Hermana
Photos by Ben Hermana

The offbeat bride: Marina Rose, High School Art Teacher and Gallery Educator (and Tribe member)

Her offbeat partner: Adam, Musician, Actor and Fitness King!

Location & date of wedding: Yarramundi House, UWS Hawkesbury Campus, Richmond, NSW, Australia — December 11, 2010

What made our wedding offbeat: After getting engaged in a cafe in Paris in 2009, away from all our friends and family, it was clear to us that we wanted to be surrounded by love at our wedding!

https://www.flickr.com/photos/adam-marina/5350410059/

We only had three rules for our wedding success:

  1. No puffy white dresses
  2. No Church, No Jesus or other God(s)
  3. It had to be the kind of party that people walked away from going,"That party was CRAZY! I think someone got married!"
Marina Wedding- Ben Herman Photography

We quickly decided the wedding phenomenon was becoming a circus. Family and friends from across the globe started expressing their desire to be a part of the wedding, and so the theme was simple: VINTAGE CIRCUS!

In the beginning it was very hard going. Our families are quite conservative and struggled to understand our vision of a circus wedding — they all thought of clowns! But after a while it was clear that we knew what we wanted and wouldn't be deterred!

We made ALL our own props — the elephant archway we got married under, the circus cut-outs, the kissing booth, the bunting, and the table centerpieces! As an art teacher, I had no problem doing it, but the sheer enormity of the project meant Adam and I were still making things on the DAY of the wedding. Adam went to the hardware store at 7:30am on the morning of the wedding to complete the elephant archway!

Marina Wedding- Ben Herman Photography
Marina Wedding- Ben Herman Photography

Tell us about the ceremony: We wrote our own vows which were irreverent and fun. Adam vowed to "tolerate my elephant obsession" and "bind his red-haired strength to my Sicilian intensity!" In response, I vowed to "always stick up for the red-heads" and "share all my love, life and mess" with him — I'm terribly messy!

Adam's mum read The Owl and The Pussy Cat. The entire crowd was crying with laughter as she read "Oh pussy, oh pussy, oh pussy, my love. what a wonderful pussy you are!"

My mum read a passage from Captain Correlli's Mandolin about how love and marriage is like the relationship of two trees growing together as one. Three years ago my mum had two strokes, and while she's recovered, she isn't as stable as she used to be. Her hands were shaking from excitement as she was reading, but I thought she was nervous, so I held her arm steady — it was the closest I got to tears.

We also performed a sand ceremony. The celebrant read a poem about how the sand coming together in the jar represented the marriage of two individuals becoming one, never to be the same again.

http://www.flickr.com/photos/adam-marina/5351088430/

Our biggest challenge: There were three major challenges, TIME, DISTANCE and CLOTHING!

  • Time: We had eighteen months from the moment we got engaged to the wedding and it was long enough to get complacent and lazy for ages only to feel rushed in the end. We had problems booking a venue because of it too. We lost $1000 to the first venue we booked, but gained a much friendlier venue. It was a loss we were happy about (sort of).
  • Marina Wedding- Ben Herman PhotographyDistance: Not only did we have our guests flying in from around the world, but four months before the wedding Scarlett, Adam's little sister and Bridesmaid, went to Japan for six months for a student exchange program. She had to have everything before she left. Organizing a wedding when someone important is about to travel to a non-English speaking country for six months really puts things in perspective — it is only one day, life is every day.
  • Clothing: From the beginning I said to my girls that I just wanted them to wear something red, black and white in the theme of the vintage circus. I had no idea how it would turn out or if it would look unified enough or just plain silly. As it turned out I only saw what Amber was wearing the day of the wedding. It was one of my biggest worries, but as the girls got ready I realized how right my initial gut-feeling was to let them decide for themselves. Each girl wore something that they felt comfortable in, looked beautiful in and WILL wear again. Adam's clothes were another dilemma due to his massive muscle bulk-up in the months leading up to the wedding! We knew we had to buy his stuff online, but without being able to try anything on it was so hard to get his size right. We even had to get my pen-friend in the US to order and send his jacket to us because the size he needed was only available in the US.
Marina Wedding- Ben Herman Photography
Marina Wedding- Ben Herman Photography

My favorite moment: Adam played "La Vie En Rose" by Edith Piaf on his guitar as I walked down the garden path as a nod to our Parisian engagement. That was the moment I went, "OMG I'm getting married!"

Marina Wedding- Ben Herman Photography

As I walked in the garden gate, I saw all the little kids playing with the hula hoops totally unaware of the official things happening, which was just as I envisioned! All the parents came up to me and thanked us for having so much to keep the kids occupied and giving them a stress free day! It proves that kid-friendly weddings can be fun for grown-ups and kids!

Adam played a set later in the evening after the fire-twirling belly dancers performed. It was so important to us that he could play at the wedding, because he is completely self taught and I am so proud of how accomplished a guitarist he is! He wrote me a song that had everyone silently listening — it was so beautiful.

http://www.flickr.com/photos/adam-marina/5351034942

We entered the Big-top as husband and wife to Taj Mahal's "Cakewalk into Town," which was one of the first songs Adam and I shared as a couple. Our guests were given bags of popcorn to throw as confetti and man did they get into it! That night when we got to the hotel there was still pop-corn in my hair!

http://www.flickr.com/photos/adam-marina/5350484759

The best bit was when we finally arrived in our hotel room at 1:30am, we stayed up talking and calling friends and family and thanking them, we talked almost all night! It was like these sleepovers you had as a kid talking with your best friend untill you both fell asleep! Waking up the next morning and seeing that we both had our rings on was the perfect start to married life!

Marina Wedding- Ben Herman Photography
Marina Wedding- Ben Herman Photography

My funniest moment: The Best Man's speech stole the night! We had no idea what was coming. Adam's mum had given James a grilling about his speech and he was terrified. James spoke of the pain he felt losing the love of his life to me — his arch nemesis! He called Adam his "beautiful man butterfly" and assured everyone that he was happy to "share Adam" with me "in our bizarre love triangle" so long as he got "naming rights over our first born son!" Everyone was in tears and he didn't even crack a smile the whole time — he had the best timing ever!

Marina Wedding- Ben Herman Photography
Marina Wedding- Ben Herman Photography

Was there anything you were sure was going to be a total disaster that unexpectedly turned out great? The cars! They were organized in a rush a month before the wedding and on the day of the wedding the driver had booked himself a second job and was rushing me to get to the wedding early so he would make his second appointment. I had two minutes to put on my dress and veil before he said he was leaving, "Bride or not!" We arrived thirty minutes early. I refused to be dropped off at the ceremony before my guests so we jumped out a block away and took some pictures to chill out. I was still a bit flustered by it when out of nowhere two iridescent blue butterflies flew over and landed on my bouquet!! It was beyond amazing! After that I said "I'm ready to do this, lets get married!" We walked to the ceremony and later my Nana said it was a lovely touch because she had to walk to her wedding too.

Marina Wedding- Ben Herman Photography

My advice for offbeat brides: Blog the good stuff and diary the bad stuff. I think its so important to project your love and not your frustrations when creating a wedding.

Make sure you're honest with people and take the time to thank them often. You'd be amazed how often we forget to tell people we appreciate them when stress started to build. A well-timed thank you or honest conversation can be all you need to get things back on track!

Sleep, exercise regularly and eat a well-balanced diet — you'd be amazed how much easier it is to be calm when you're well-rested and well-fed!

Marina Wedding- Ben Herman Photography

Drink loads of water before your ceremony, especially if it's outdoors! I was so thirsty by the time I got to the ceremony that I could barely speak because my lips were sticking to my teeth! Water is your best friend!

Be kind to each other. I wrote Adam a little note the morning of the wedding and hid it in his top pocket. He didn't find it until he got undressed at the hotel at 2 am. It was nice to see his face as he read it.

http://www.flickr.com/photos/adam-marina/5351096936

Care to share a few vendor/shopping links?

  • Dress Fabric: Jenny at Saigon Fabrics, Sydney
  • Dress Maker: Yulia – She is AMAZING!
Marina Wedding- Ben Herman Photography
  • Veil/Hair Piece: Jess from Venus in Feathers. She is my pen pal and is beyond talanted!
  • Groom & Groomsmen top-hat, shirt, waistcoat, cane, sunglasses, gloves, jacket, and pocket watch: Gentlemen's Emporium
Marina Wedding- Ben Herman Photography
  • Cupcakes and big top wedding cake: The lovely ladies at Cake Art, Penrith NSW
  • Bride & Bridesmaids parasols: Pink Frosting and Gentleman's Emporium
  • Bridesmaids mini-tophats: Chana's friend Naomi of Nae Designs
  • Bunting: Me, Stella, Amber and my mum! Fabric from Spotlight!
  • Elephant Archway, Circus cut-outs, and Kissing booth: Adam and I with a huge amount of help from Dad's tools, my brother, Dominic, my maid of honor, Chana, and Bunnings Warehouse!

http://www.flickr.com/photos/adam-marina/5351120818

  • Venue: Yarramundi House at UWS Haweksbury, Richmond NSW — Alison and Elizabeth were friendly and helpful and the packages are so reasonable and everything is included! Food, beer, wine, music, cake, ceremony, EVERYTHING!!!
  • Celebrant: Barbara Beveridge — funny and very thoughtful
  • Photography: Ben Herman

Enough talk — show me the wedding porn!



  1. What a great story! And I'm really feeling you with the "rushed" feeling. I've been engaged for a year now and we're just really getting things going with only 5 1/2 months to go.

    I love what you did with the kids though it's great!

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  2. LOVE the blue dress!!! Everything looks amazing!

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  3. Awesome, awesome, awesome!
    I've been bouncing back and forth between a circus- or a Dr. Seuss-themed wedding, so Marina: I'm just curious what your centerpieces were (if you had any). I don't think I saw any table shots in your photos, but I may have just been distracted by how bad-ass the whole thing was.

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    • It's possible I forgot to add a table shot lol! I got fake moss (too hot in summer to have the real stuff) and filled the bottom of huge hurricane glasses with it, placed a large white candle in the center of it and then placed toy circus animals in each one to look like mini circus rings. Stella made the origami elephant table numbers – they all got taken by the guests!

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    • This wedding has made me very excited for all sorts of new possibilities for my parents' wedding.
      TJ, if you do have a Dr. Seuss Wedding, I really think you should consider writing your vows in anapestic and/or amphibrachic tetrameter!! That way they can have a distinctive Seussian feel without needing to rhyme : )

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  4. Yeah Marina! So happy to see your fabulous, fantastic, love-filled wedding posted. I loved following your planning updates on OBT and you've been such a source of inspiration and encouragement to me and many other Tribe members. Wishing you and Adam all the best. Kim

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  5. This is one of my favorite weddings ever featured on Offbeat Bride. That blue dress! Everyone looks so happy! I have serious wedding envy — I wish I'd been a guest.

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  6. YOur pictures were just gorgeous! Gave me so many idea and i loved your theme it was just beautiful.

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  7. i think im in love! i totally want to marry your wedding… the bluer than blue dress, hot groom and groomsmen in top hat and tails, fire….*sigh*

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  8. Great looking wedding! We had that same reading from Captain Corelli's Mandolin at our wedding, along with one from Winnie the Pooh. It was Pooh that got people crying :)

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  9. So happy to see Marina's wedding featured! I loved seeing your pics on OBT (I was a bit behind the 8 ball to actually follow wedding planning), and if I hadn't had a white dress, THIS would have been my dress. Natch, outfit. Everything about this wedding is flawless. Visual spectaculus!

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  10. I love everything! Especially that incredible blue dress, and the elephant archway- just gorgeous! :D

    Aw, and I adored your vows- especially the bit about sharing your love and your mess with Adam! I can so relate- I'm horrible untidy, which'll definitely make its way into our vows next year!

    All the best for a long and happy marriage. :)

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  11. My fiance and I have been planning a circus wedding ourselves, and I'm so surprised to see this! We've even been discussing the same passage from Captain Corelli's Mandolin for the ceremony. This is above and beyond everything we've dreamed of. I'm somewhere between jealous and depressed at how amazing this truly is.

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  12. I Loved your dress when you were posting about it on the tribe and it looks uh-maze-ing now that it's finished!

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  13. I was lucky enough to attend this wonderful wedding & it was even more amazing that the post lets on!

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  14. I'm loving everything here. The blue dress, the bridesmaids outfits (and shoes! :O ), the very dapper groom, the colorful happiness! Oh, and your hair is gorgeous, I love the purple :D

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  15. OMG! This wedding looks so much fun. I love the circus wedding theme. I also love the bride's blue wedding dress. She looked very beautiful in it.

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  16. as another person stated, one of my favorite weddings on here, ever :). loved everything, especially the colour of your dress!

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  17. I just wanted to say that we are SO inspired by your wedding!!! We want to do something "offbeat" and are having a hard time narrowing it down… After seeing your ideas, we're looking to incorporate something vintage-ey like this~ we are very limited by what we can do (doing a shipboard wedding) but we definitely want to wear something fun and non-traditional. Your photos have inspired us in the right direction!!

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