Bride & Groom in front of 'venue'

The Offbeat Bride: Rachel

Her offbeat partner: Jake, Lead Pharmacy Technician

Date and location of wedding: Arizona State Fair, Phoenix, AZ — October 31, 2013

Our offbeat wedding at a glance: Our wedding theme was based on my favorite book, Water for Elephants, and had a 1930s circus feel. I purchased a custom paper bouquet and boutonniere made out of a Water for Elephants book and circus-y cardstock! It was so neat reading the excerpts of the book in the flowers.

View from The Ferris Wheel

Bride before ceremony

Elephant shrubbery

Bride's bouquet

Wedding posse

Groomsmen playing games

You could say our wedding was similar to an elopement. We had been planning a wedding at a venue, but the whole thing started to lose its allure as the stress and anxiety began to grow. We wanted something fun, so we scrapped the venue wedding and took a major risk. We remembered the Arizona State Fair is always in town in October. So on opening day, October 11th (20 days before our desired date), we ran down to the State Fair to talk to the carousel supervisor. He directed us to the fair supervisor and we asked if it was possible to have a short ceremony on the carousel. They said they would be glad to accommodate us and even contacted the local news about it!

Wedding party "walking down the aisle"


The guests sat on carousel horses, we walked down the aisle of the carousel to “Circus Fantasy” from the Water for Elephants film soundtrack, the flower girl tossed popcorn, and the bridesmaids carried cotton candy bouquets. The cotton candy proved too hard to resist and were later replaced with candy apples. We rode rides, the groomsmen played games, and we even used a deep-fried Twinkie as our wedding cake. It was like something out of my wildest dreams!

Bride & Father "walking down the aisle"

Waiting for our ceremony to begin

Groom reading his vows

Tell us about the ceremony:
We wanted to be married by someone who would play the part of ringmaster. My dad asked his friend with the biggest personality to fill the position. He wrote our ceremony which was carnival-themed as well:

Dearly beloved, children of all ages, and carnies, too: we are gathered here today, on probably the safest ride at the Arizona State Fair, to award Rachel and Jake lifetime passes on possibly the scariest ride of all, the bonds of holy matrimony, a roller coaster ride with many highs and lows, twists, and turns. It's not recommended for the faint of heart, or those under 42″ tall, but still a ride worth trying. If there is anyone here with just reason why these two should not be joined together, might I direct you to the concession stands. At this time, Rachel and Jake wish to exchange vows that they prepared while searching for a decent parking spot. [At the end:] I now pronounce you husband and wife, you may claim your prize!

Groom's vows


Bride & Groom

Looking at our view

Our biggest challenge:
Our biggest challenge was definitely having our pictures taken. Jake and I had maybe a total of five from our whole relationship. We would run and hide whenever a camera came out. So naturally, we were worried about all the picture taking and the news crews. I was so self-conscious that I didn't even want to look at our wedding photos or watch the news after.

I say “was” because the closer we got to the wedding, the more I realized Jake loves me for all that I am. That it was silly to cry over thinking about what others will think of me on my wedding day. The only opinions that mattered were ours. So when that camera came out, we didn't even notice it.

Carousel ride after the ceremony

My favorite moment:
The most meaningful moments of our wedding were the many times I was reminded why I married the man beside me. For some reason we assumed we could just show up, without rehearsing, and everything would be perfect. HA! So many things went wrong, and being the over-thinker I am, I started to dwell on it. But every time I would start to lose myself in my thoughts, Jake would hold my hand and tell me that everything was fine and that he wouldn't change a thing about our wedding because he was finally my husband. I am so thankful to have such an amazing man forever by my side on this merry-go-round of life.

Best Man telling us we forgot to put our rings on!

My funniest moment:
I have to say the funniest moment was directly after our vows, as we were pronounced husband and wife without our wedding rings. Being in our own world, of course, we kissed! There was a bit of a lull and we didn't understand why. We looked over at the best man, who was holding out the pumpkin with our rings still on it with an expression like, “Uh, guys?” We started to laugh and Jake ran over and retrieved the rings. We were so shaky and nervous, we fumbled to put them on. I was handing Jake my rings and I dropped my wedding band into a hole directly under our carousel horse! Luckily, our officiant had a Leatherman knife, otherwise I don't know how we would have gotten it out!

Groom putting Bride's rings on

Bride drops Groom's ring, Officiant saves the day!

Fried Twinkie in place of wedding cake

Fried Twinkie 'cake cutting'

What was the most important lesson you learned from your wedding?
The most important lesson I learned was to not get so wrapped up in the thoughts of everyone else. I spent many days and nights panicking over how the decor should look, how I would look in my wedding dress, what others would think of our wedding, how my double chin would “ruin” our wedding photos, etc. It was really exhausting and unnecessary. The day of the wedding, all of those silly thoughts left my head and it was just us.

To all partners-to-be with low self-esteem and anxiety, I urge you to look around at what matters most to you: your future partner and your life together. I know the details of your day are very important to you, but try to pull yourself out of hardcore wedding planning mode and enjoy the experience.

Just Married

Care to share a few vendor/shopping links?

Enough talk — show me the wedding porn!

Comments on Rachel & Jake’s “Water for Elephants” state fair wedding

  1. What a beautiful, fun wedding! I love everything about it. The candy apples, the carousel, the attendant dresses. Despite the fun, spontaneous air, it’s clear some planning and care went into it. I especially adore the lovely retro look of the bride and groom–he could be standing on the running board of a car in the Depression, and she is a lovely pin-up style beauty.

  2. Absolutely stunning!!! I’m completely dewy eyed by how beautiful everything was, and those were some much needed words of wisdom.

  3. THIS. This wedding forever and ever. I can’t stop glazing over as I look at the photographs. Every detail is perfection. You are a stunningly beautiful bride. This truly is wedding porn. Yet all of that superficial detail pales in comparison to the emotion and heart I grasp while reading this post. This is exactly what I needed to read just one month from my own wedding. As I obsess over what everyone will think of my choices and whether my wedding will be good enough for anyone else (let alone myself) and what will go wrong (because I know that things will, in fact, go wrong)…. I read your words and am comforted to know that I am not the first nor the last bride to feel these feelings and more importantly, that none of it matters. What truly matter is the life I am co-creating with my incredible groom. Thank you. Thank you a million times over.

  4. My friend posted your wedding story on her Facebook and I had to read about it! I LOVED everything you two decided to do! Your outfits were so cool! You both looked awesome!! I loved your husband’s suspenders and your bouquet was amazing!!!! The bridesmaids were adorable too! I loved the vows your father’s friend wrote. He must have a great personality to come up with such fun vows! This wedding was probably one of the most fun I’ve ever seen. It brought tears to my eyes. I also loved your hair, makeup, and dress. You looked amazing!!! Maybe you should become a wedding planner for unique weddings 🙂 Blessings for a long happy marriage for you both!!

  5. OK, gorgeous all around, I know I’m late to this party, but how GORGEOUS and cinematic, I just love it. And can we talk about the fact that the groom looks like Gilbert Blythe? Just me? Adorable. Beautiful details, beautiful couple, and I applaud you realizing a big wedding was stressing you out and deciding to make it more your own – I loved my wedding, but midway through planning I was really wishing we’d eloped.

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