Aw yeah, it's Halloween week! Get ready for a big helping of tricks and treats with your romance. Today we've got seriously cool costume makeup and photobooth shots galore.

the bride and groom

The offbeat bride: Kelly, customer service rep

Her offbeat partner: Justin, web/graphic designer

Location & date of wedding: Justin's parents' backyard in Grayslake, IL and Lake County Conference and Banquet Center in Gurnee, IL — October 29 and 30, 2010

What made our wedding offbeat: Pretty much ever since Justin and I started dating, we always said “if/when we get married, we are so having a Halloween wedding.” Halloween is our favorite holiday and we love to go all out. It would just seem weird if this wasn't somehow incorporated in the biggest party we would ever throw. We also have a mutual infatuation with all things vintage, rustic, and antique. Fortunately we were able to incorporate both of these themes into our two-day wedding extravaganza.

bride and groom (full body)

We also love photobooths. Even before we were dating, we would hang out and see a photobooth and spend a small fortune taking photos. Photobooths had such a big part in our relationship that Justin proposed in one! So naturally, that was the one thing that we had to absolutely have at our wedding. Even though it ate up most of our photography budget, it was SO totally worth it. Our guests had a blast and took home some awesome and unique favors, and we have some hilarious photos to look at as we grow old together.

jazz hands

At the reception, we did very few of the traditional wedding things. The only customs we adhered to were our first dance and the mom/son dance.

candy table

Dinner was beef stew and chicken pot pie. We had cupcakes, caramel apples, and a candy bar for our desserts instead of a traditional wedding cake. The playlist was Halloween-themed music during the cocktail hour and dinner, and then a rockin' '80s playlist for the rest of the evening (which we DJed ourselves on our iPad).

JK_EDIT_183821 (1)

Tell us about the ceremony: Due to a number of factors — the biggest being that we didn't want to be in a costume for the actual ceremony — we came to the decision to split our wedding into two separate events. The ceremony was on the Friday night before the Halloween party/reception. Because that meant that we were essentially planning two separate “weddings,” we wanted the actual ceremony to be small, quick, and informal. We wanted it to be meaningful, of course, but really wanted to focus our energies on the party the next night when everybody was invited.


The ceremony took place in Justin's parents' backyard, the same yard he spent a good chunk of his childhood playing in. That alone infused the ceremony with a lot of meaning, but the fact that we wrote our own vows and included everyone in the ceremony by having a ring warming made our commitment that much more intimate.

the 'alter'

Justin's family went way out of their way to make everything look beautiful, especially the part of the patio we designated as the altar.


cutting the cake

I wore a vintage '50s dress, capelet, and veil. Our guests included our immediate families, godparents, my grandmother, and a few close friends. I walked myself down the aisle to Mae's “The Sun and the Moon.” Our vows were short and sweet. After the ceremony, we had a potluck dinner (served on a giant coffin that Justin's dad built!) and mingled.

ring warming

My favorite moment: The ring warming in our ceremony. We put our rings out there and asked our guests to briefly hold our rings and warm them with their hopes, wishes, and blessings. It means so much to us that, as stated in our vows, we will forever be encircled by the love and blessings of our family and friends.

when i think of you, i touch myself

My funniest moment: It's hard to decide what was the funniest moment. There was so much laughter, especially centered around the photobooth! If we had to pick one, it probably was when my cousin started hamming it up with the photographer. We were cracking up for some time after that.


Was there anything you were sure was going to be a total disaster that unexpectedly turned out great? We honestly didn't expect a disaster of any sort, but our biggest fear was that we'd put all this work into throwing a kick-ass Halloween party and hardly anybody would show up in costume. Fortunately, our expectations were far exceeded! Every single one of the 94 people who attended showed up in a costume and most everyone really went all out and put a lot of effort into making it. Especially Justin's parents! They spent so much time on their costumes, but it was totally worth it.

one of the centerpieces

bobbing for apples - centerpiece

We were also a bit worried about the venue. Our original plan was to have the party in a more appropriate, autumn-y location such as a barn or a farm. Unfortunately, the places we looked at were eliminated either due to the cost (the biggest decider), the weather (cold), or because they would not allow us to execute our vision. Even though our venue was a normal banquet hall, once all the decorations were in place it really didn't matter.

sweep the leg

the hangover

american gothic

What was the most important lesson you learned from your wedding? Your wedding is a litmus test. Incorporating others in the planning will weed out those that really care about you, and you will come to realize who your true friends and family are. Be prepared for this. The results may surprise you.

inside the photobooth

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Comments on Kelly & Justin’s DIY vintage Halloween two-day wedding

  1. Yours is the first halloween wedding that I have seen that has truly wowed me. Really beautifully done! and your outfits and make-up! OMG 🙂

    • Thank you!! We’re definitely fans of the more subtle autumn-festive look, which I think made it not overtly “Halloween-y.”

  2. This was SO much fun!!!!when does the event planning business start? seriously!!!!

  3. Spooktacular wedding. love the jack and sally skellington, did they buy the costumes or make them? Amazing! Beautiful make-up! 🙂

  4. I’m curious, if it’s not too personal, if you could elaborate on “be prepared for who will surprise you” in reaching your wedding vision. I’m already encountering some surprising gaffs at our wedding planning and was wondering how you dealt with it (particularly if it was family/very close friends & bridal party members…)

    • One thing that surprised me is that some friends that we weren’t really close to really stepped up and helped us tremendously… so much so, that our wedding would have been nearly as nice at it turned out.

      I don’t mind elaborating (especially on any snags we hit), but I’d prefer not to here in the comments. I’m not sure if this is against policy on the site, but my email address is kellybelly(at)gmail(dot)com. I’ll gladly answer any questions. 🙂

  5. Can I just say I think I squeed at several of the photos!! Your guys face make-up, the alter, centerpieces, his parents COSTUMES!!! Everything is so FREAKING AMAZING!!! I LOVE IT ALL!! Congrats!!

    I am with Ilene and wondering to if you received any walls when dealing with close people regarding your amazing wedding. We are having issues also with my future in-laws and I am really at a stand still on how to handle all the negativity.

    • Aw, thank you so much!

      Of course, we ran into issues… I think everybody does at some point. Too many cooks in the kitchen, so to speak. But as I replied to Ilene, feel free to email me at kellybelly(at)gmail(dot)com and I can explain further. I don’t really want to air any of my slightly-soiled laundry here. 🙂

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