Not every couple wants a formal and glamorous wedding. Some want to keep their big day lighthearted and fun. And what’s more fun than the circus?

“While the circus may seem like an unconventional wedding theme, it’s actually the perfect source of inspiration for a whimsical event,” says Sonia Hopkins, owner and principle designer of XOXO BRIDE Events.

“Just thinking of the circus conjures memories and thoughts of good times. It is an instant visual stimulation of a good time to be had,” explains Hopkins.

Want your nuptials to be the greatest show on earth? Here are a few ideas for planning a wedding worthy of being under the big top.

1. Soften the stripes

When you think of the circus, you probably immediately conjure up images of the iconic red and white striped tent. For your wedding color palette, Hopkins recommends giving a nod to this pattern without being too on the (big red) nose.

“Take the striped red and white theme and apply ivory, gold, rose color, grey or tan. You can elevate the look by merely changing the color palette to something softer but staying in theme with patterns, textures and decor elements. Color is everything!” she says.

2. Stay outdoors

For the venue, Hopkins definitely thinks outdoors is the way to go. “I like an open space, like a large vacant parking lot or wide-open field with view is perfect,” she says.

If outside just isn’t an option for you, consider going with a rustic style space like a barn with lofted ceilings, beams and beautiful wooden walls.

3. Add a vintage touch

Circuses have been around for hundreds of years, so they’re the perfect fit for couples with old-school tastes. Pull from this long history by utilizing vintage graphics, typography and imagery on your paper goods. Turn your invitations into giant ticket stubs; create your own vintage circus programs for the ceremony or style your engagement photos like an early 20th-century circus poster.

4. Ditch the flowers

Swap out traditional blooms for more playful décor alternatives. “Flower elements should be creative using textural or non-traditional items such as [fish tanks], feathers and Pampas grass,” suggests Hopkins. “Think outside of the box from actual flower blooms, that's where the magic will be made.”

Other quirky floral substitutes include:

• Balloon arches over the wedding altar

• Backdrops made of colorful ribbons

• Centerpieces made of paper flowers

• Bright streamers and garlands strung above the reception

5. Create photo ops

Give your guests plenty of content for the ‘Gram by setting up a photo booth or two. Provide plenty of circus-themed props or, better yet, create an old-fashioned “booth” by painting characters on a wooden board and cutting the faces out for guests to pose behind.

6. Serve circus fare

Infuse classic circus food, like cotton candy, caramel apples, popcorn or snow cones, into your wedding day menu.

“Imagine tray passed mini bags of caramel drizzled popcorn or mini cones of bubblegum flavored cotton candy! We eat with our eyes first, so this stimulates the senses before we even take the first bite,” says Hopkins.

7. Provide live entertainment

Of course, what would a circus be without the performers? Consider hiring live acts, such as aerialists, stilt walkers, fire performers or acrobats, to put on a show for your guests. If you really want to go over the top, rent a vintage carousel or Ferris wheel for guests to take a ride (or two).

©CTW Features