Balloon flowers and belly dancers and popcorn, oh my! Take in the sites as we give you the full feature of the carnvial meets Burning Man wedding. – Becca

The Feeding of the Cupcakes

The offbeat bride: Tara

Her offbeat partner: Mark

Location & date of wedding: Camp Outback, Guerneville, CA — October 16, 2010

What made our wedding offbeat: We wanted to create a day that was fun for everyone, including ourselves. We were married at the place we had met a few years earlier, and the very same place that Mark had proposed to me a year before the wedding.

Ann's Carnival CupckakesWe are blessed with an amazing community of friends and we wanted to give them a chance to participate in our big day. As a result of allowing our friends to help us create our wedding day, we were able to stay in our budget and have an amazing day that included: incredibly tasty food and cupcakes (for all eaters: we had gluten-frees, vegans, meat eaters, etc and everyone ate well and was happy), bellydance performances, fire spinners, DJing, balloon animals, balloon flower bouquets, live music performance, face painting, and palm and tarot readers — it was brilliant.

Skye & Orion & Cotton Candy GoodnessWe also hired a company to run a few game booths and give out fresh cotton candy and popcorn.

We encouraged our friends to dress in a “vintage carnival” theme and they did not disappoint: clowns, lion tamers, bearded lady, acrobats — wherever you looked there was colorful, good fun happening.

InvitationsOur invitations were made to look like an old carnival flyer, complete with a drawing a good friend made of us.

I made feather boutineers for the boys, corsages for the moms and hair fascinators for myself and the girls, as keepsakes and to be worn on the wedding day.

CTP Button KeepsakesWe had our officiant (one of our closest friends) dress as the ring leader in red tails and top hat.

To save on the cost and time of dealing with fresh flowers, one of my dearest friends made us balloon flower bouquets that turned out beautifully.

We had a wishing rock guest “book.”

Shrinky Dink Cake Topper w/ CupcakesOur keepsakes were buttons made by a friend out of a handful of our favorite pictures of us.

Our cake topper was a shrinky dink we made using the drawing from our invitations.

Another dear friend made a huge carnival cutout for us.

Overall, with our community and family, we created a day of absolute joy and celebration, which is exactly what we wanted for our wedding day.

The Ceremony

Balloon FlowersTell us about the ceremony: The ceremony itself was non-religious, pretty traditional in form and to the point. Short and sweet, but meaningful. We wrote out our overall ceremony together and also exchanged short personal vows to each other.

We were married under a big ring of beautifully tall trees.

This was my favorite part of our ceremony:

The Crowd

May you live your lives together as a blessing and comfort to each other.
May your love be as beautiful on each day you share it as it is on this day of celebration.
May each day you share be as precious to you as the day you first fell in love.
May you always see and encourage the best in each other.
May the challenges life brings your way make your marriage even stronger.
Remember to confide in your partner and ask for help when you need it.
Remember that true friendship is the basis for any lasting relationship.
May you always be each others' best friend and greatest love.

The Ceremony

Our biggest challenge: Staying on budget was a challenge at times, but each time we found a clever and creative way to work it out. Everyone was so supportive of our wedding and the day we were creating that there was honestly little-to-no stress/challenges.

Where we were Wed

Nansee's PerformanceMy favorite moment: The whole day was filled with so many amazing moments it is hard to pick one or two.

There was a moment during the ceremony when I looked out at the crowd of people I love and adore, and I blurted out, “I love you people so much” in the middle of the ceremony.

Bring in the Blanck's… I mean clowns :)Having our friends perform — the bellydancing, the live music, the fire spinning — was precious to us. The food they brought was amazing. Every little thing that each person did that day to contribute to our wedding with smiles, joy, and love, made us feel honored and touched.

Queenie & Monkey PerformanceThe live music was a song performed by a close girlfriend accompanied by my ex-husband. The song itself was a song he (my ex) wrote for me after we separated. It was a song of love, encouragement and friendship, as we remained friends after we separated. The song itself was beyond perfect, and it meant so very much to me to hear it live for the first time that day.

Barney, Mark and I

Fire Spinning GoodnessMy funniest moment: I think that the funniest moment is when one of my wonderful fire-spinning friends almost accidentally set me on fire. He is a very experienced fire spinner, but somehow his fire staff got away from him and went sliding straight to me and under my dress. I jumped back quickly, narrowly avoiding falling into the fire pit behind me. All was well and the dress was fine, but he was terribly embarrassed. I decided to look at it as a wedding blessing — cleanse the bride with fire!


Our Fabulous Bearded Lady & Food Coordinator Miss BrennaMy advice for offbeat brides: Delegate!! Your friends and family usually want to be a part of your big day. Be clear about what you want and then allow them to handle it.

About two months before the wedding we hosted a potluck brunch for the wedding party and our friends that were coordinating for us. We just simply went over our schedule and hopes for the day, so that everyone was on the same page. As a result, the day went off without a hitch. Everyone knew what we wanted and how we wanted it, and we made it as easy for them as possible.


Getting ReadyHave you been married before and if so, what did you do differently? As mentioned above, I have been married before. My first wedding was also pretty easy going (that's the kind of girl I am). However, because I had done this once before, it made it much easier to gauge what mattered and what did not for this wedding.

I was determined to have the least-stressful wedding possible, and in the end I believe I did a good job with that. The few weeks leading up to the wedding were mildly stressful, but that was mainly because there was always something that needed to be done in those last few weeks. Once we got to the actual wedding day, everything was so in place and handled that my lovely husband and I just got to relax and enjoy our big celebration.

Carnival GamesAs a second time and older bride, I was also much better at delegating this time than I was the first. (I was more of a control freak in my younger days). Delegating tasks to those willing to take them on is one of the best things I did for myself this time around.


What was the most important lesson you learned from your wedding? That I am blessed with an amazingly generous and loving community of friends and family that I can count on to make things even more amazing than I could imagine.

Yay Rope Swing!

Care to share a few vendor/shopping links?
My girls helping me out

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Comments on Tara & Mark’s carnival, potluck wedding

  1. I totally want to go to this party. It looks like incredible fun! I love the location, too. And PS — GORGE tattoos!

  2. Argh! No link to a vendor for your bridesmaids dresses? Both your dress and theirs were amazing! I was really hoping it would be listed… 🙂 Awesome, fun party!

    And that potluck meeting before the wedding to make sure everyone is on the same page is a GREAT idea.

  3. Such an awesome wedding and the most fun I have ever had spinning industrial!

  4. As a guest at this wedding, allow me to assure you that it really was as fun as this looks. So fun, in fact, it was kinda exhausting. 🙂 love you Tara! xo

  5. This wedding just makes me happy, happy, happy. And shrinky dinks?????? Serious childhood flashback moment! Thanks!

    • The shrinky dink was pure inspiration. Initially I was going to make us something out of sculpy, but truthfully I was so busy with work leading up to the wedding that my free time was limited, so I tried to think of what else might work and somehow something made me think shrinky dink, and viola!

      And now I have extra shrinky dink supplies to play with on rainy days, double win! Get some and have some fun too.

  6. What a fun-looking wedding! And the location looks incredible. We are considering checking out Camp Outback as a potential venue for our wedding. Any tips about the place? Is it reasonably priced? I think it would be awesome to have a bonfire at my wedding!

    • So sorry it took me a while to get back to you! We know the owners of Outback and it is a very personal place for Mark and I. I highly recommend it, it is definitely reasonably priced and we have had bonfires at several of our campouts, so it is a definite option. The only down side, there is poison oak, so you will want to be mindful of that and warn your guests to be aware of it. Wishing you the best for your wedding!

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