Board #449 | Modern Vintage Circus

Mood: chic modern whimsy, with a touch of vintage circus inspiration
Palette: glassine white, ink black

Once again I’ve repeated a few favorites here, namely the large balloons with number tags from Randi Brookman Harris‘ wedding, and the black and white bouquet by Artfool (now Matthew Robbins Design). What can I say, they’re favorites! I actually started with the intention of creating an all-white winter wedding inspiration board based around this gorgeous dress by Elizabeth Dye, but I think what I ended up with here is much more fun. Inspired by vintage circus ephemera and details, from the balloons to the souvenir card to the popcorn, this is a modern take on that look. Mostly white, with just a few well-edited dabs of black for contrast, it’s both whimsical and chic.

This inspiration board is, I hope, further evidence that having a simple, and even budget-friendly,* wedding doesn’t have to mean sacrificing style. The decor is mostly large white balloons (which can be found for under $3 each), some touches of black and white twine ($15 for 240 yards), and milk glass cake stands (check eBay and flea markets for these). The only flowers are in the bride’s bouquet (and possibly the groom’s boutonniere). Even the darling alphabet garland is only $13, and which could be used for any number of things (and used again and again after the wedding!).

A reception with cupcakes, lemonade or punch, and popcorn will cost far less than just about any other option. There is no rule that says you have to serve your guests a full meal (though if you don’t, make sure to hold your wedding in between meal times); in fact, for the longest time, a cake and punch reception immediately following the ceremony was standard. I think it’s tough these days when, so often, many or most wedding guests are coming from out of town to attend, and it seems as though you ought to serve them a full meal at the reception – this is certainly something my honey and I have struggled with. But if that’s not your style, or if it’s just not in your budget, cake and punch, or dessert and champagne, is perfectly acceptable, especially if it means you can afford to have all of the people you love there with you to celebrate.

(*In fact, “simple” and “budget-friendly” are not the same thing. It can cost an awful lot of money to have a simply elegant wedding, and it can cost no money at all to lose sight of simplicity.)

Vendor Credits

Row 1:  white dress with ruffled waist by Elizabeth Dye / balloons with number tags from Martha Stewart Weddings / Papermade stationery with black and white twine photo by Max Wanger via Style Me Pretty  //  Row 2:  coconut chocolate cupcake photo by Victoria Pearson / white lemonade with straw flags from Amy Atlas  //  Row 3:  black and white bouquet with sweet peas and privet berries by Artfool / vintage souvenir postcard, balloon ceremony photo by W. Scott Chester  //  Row 4:  popcorn in glassine bags styled by Erin Quon / white piano from Janny Panns' flickr / milk glass cake stands from Martha Stewart via Classic Bride / vintage alphabet garland from Chronicle Books


  • missrantsypants says:

    I love this!
    Exspecially the little circus touches here and there, if were to do my wedding I would changes the colors up a bit, but your inspiration board is lovely.

  • jadorelidylle says:

    I hate how we have to be reassured that not serving a full meal is okay! The day is about you and your fiance not everyone else. Gorgeous post! <3

  • People St.Clair says:

    This board is beautiful. while this would be perfect for a winter wedding it could easily be transfered to any other season. It is just lovely!

  • stacy says:

    GORGEOUS!! I love this twist on black and white… Usually you see very bold patches of black, but this is high key and mostly white with just elegant accents of black.

  • Miss Dee says:

    I absolutely love this idea! The garland is so sweet. I loooove black and white color schemes.

  • Sarah says:

    I love the board and your words below it. So true! We are contemplating a "cake and punch" (well, champagne…)reception, and it is so funny how non-traditional that is these days. I think it would be gorgeous. Thanks for the affirmation!

  • emma discovery says:

    Hello S&I, this is my first comment!

    I'm getting married in September, and we're considering (not a firm plan) getting married in a tiny waterfront park, then walking to the reception a few blocks away. I'd like some sort of vertical decoration, like the balloons, to mark the ceremony site, to be held by guests during the ceremony, then paraded through the streets en route to the reception. But my Mom hates balloons. Do you guys have any ideas for alternatives?

    Thank you so much in advance for any ideas – I absolutely love this site and read it daily!

  • Anonymous says:

    Love this. I just ordered the alphabet garland. Thank you for sharing your wonderful ideas.

  • Michelle DuPuis says:

    I would LOVE to photograph this wedding! Your ideas are inspiring…

  • emma discovery says:

    Kathryn, thank you! Those are beautiful, and a great idea, and just what I'm looking for. Pasting this into my ideas document.

    Again, amazing site, daily read. Thank you!

  • You know my dear, they are not coming to town for a meal, they are coming to town for you. They probably don't care in the least, and if they do, they are not worth fussing your head over.

  • {The Perfect Palette} says:

    just read the bottom portion of your post. I completely agree that there are so many ways to throw a budget friendly wedding & still have it be incredibly special & wonderful.

  • ami @ elizabeth anne designs says:

    i love this. but i really wanted to comment to say i cannot believe you are on board number FOUR HUNDRED FORTY NINE. doesn't it seem like yesterday when we started this little adventure we call blogging?

  • Pinky says:

    This is a beautiful board! And I am a huge fan of dessert and drinks for weddings. Especially if it is a larger wedding. It's just so cumbersome having a meal for that many people, and unless you have a huge budget the food is generally not very memorable. I'd rather wow them with some amazing desserts and fun special drinks. That's more or less what we did, and a few people have commented that ours was the prettiest and most fun wedding they had attended.

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