Home DIY The Traveling Circus Styled Shoot

The Traveling Circus Styled Shoot

The circus is in town so grab some caramel popcorn for a fun and whimsical wedding styled shoot from photographer Samantha Bonpensiero and some amazing vendors.
A grungy, chic ringmaster sets the stage for this ceremony design styled by Hope Stanley of Mary Me Bridal, bronze flower stands backed by a gorgeous dripping pepper tree made for the perfect backdrop with its gnarled bark for an old-fashioned-in-love bride and groom.
Photo Credit: Samantha Bonpensiero
A simple aisle of dahlias, sunflowers, cockscomb and zinnias from Marry Me Rosie leads the way to a beautiful, and mathematically, designed ribbon reception tent. Recreate for yourself Marry Me Rosie ’s ribbon tent with these step by step instructions.

 This ribbon tent was quite an undertaking! We’d say it was a DIY project but it definitely requires commitment and… dun dun dun… math! It was totally worth all the work though. We loved how it turned out! We decided to make our circus tent out of a mix of satin and sheer ribbons to let the light play through. We used 1.5” mustard, sage, merlot, black, cream, and taupe ribbons to really play up the grungy circus feeling we were looking for and a really perfect find of huge red and gold 5” ribbon as a border. The ribbons were tied together at their midpoints and strung up to hang from a large over hanging branch. The individual ribbons were pinned incrementally along the large border ribbon and tied to short birch poles to create the “walls” of the tent. We used thin twine to anchor the poles into position and create tension and the finished shape of the tent. 

Inside the whimsical tent an intimate “reception” space of comfy, textured throw blankets and loose fabrics are spread out on the grass. Old crates serve as tables for antique jars and stands filled with caramel corn, cookies, fruits and nuts for a delicious snack for the entire wedding party. A dark mix of colors and golden elephant table numbers adds richness to the whimsical scene set against a rustic background. Learn how to make these golden little guys below!
Photo Credit: Samantha Bonpensie

A large plastic toy animal (any will do, but we used an elephant) and give it a few even coats of gold spray paint. We set our elephant on a piece of cardboard and mixed 3 different gold spray paints; bronzy gold, glitter, and medium metallic gold. We applied the spray paint lightly at first, building up the layers so that each showed through a little. Make sure not to spray too much on at a time and allow for dry time in between coats (depends on the weather) so that you don’t end up with a goopy dripping mess. Don’t forget to paint the bottoms of the feet! 


Measure from the center of the animal’s back down one side and determine where you would like the blanket edge to lay. Write it down. Now measure down the length of the spine of the animal and determine how wide you want the blanket to be (it should be the width of the flattest part of the back and not extend up the neck or down the rump). Write it down. On a piece of scratch paper measure out a rectangle double the first measurement in length and once the width you just measured. Once you have the basic size the blanket on scratch paper you can embellish it by rounding off the ends (use a glass or round coaster to trace a smooth round edge, or you could make it come to a pointed triangle end or use pinking sheers to make a row of tiny triangles. Feelin’ fancy? You could even cut fringe on the ends!  Now that you have your blanket shape trace it and cut it out on the fabric. 


You can embellish further by adding beads, ribbon, glitter – anything to personalize the edges. We used ribbon and a thin line of tacky glue so we wouldn’t end up with a big mess. You may want to try fabric glue or something similar. Now that the blanket is shaped and embellished, fold it in half and trace this shape onto a piece of scratch paper. On the scratch paper, practice free handing the table number with a pencil and then draw your favorite version on to the fabric with the pencil. Now for the scary part. Paint in the lines of your pencil drawing to make the table number on the fabric. Painting on fabric can be a little tricky so practice on scrap pieces until you’re comfortable. Once the table number paint is dry, paint a layer of fabric glue or tacky glue down the spine line of the underside of the fabric and attach it to the toy animal’s spine. Position the blanket and paint more glue on the sides of the blanket attaching as you go. It is not necessary to glue the entire blanket down, it might look cute to let it hang loosely at the ends. Voila! You’re done! 

Photo Credit: Samantha Bonpensie
Walking up the path in her lace gown from Mary Me Bridal and hair and makeup from Alexis Steeley model Marlena is a real showstopper as the shoot’s old-fashioned bride. Accompanying her in a Friar Tux suit is Tyler who just so happens to be dating Marlena in real life. If you think they make the cutest couple now, just wait tell you see their clown personas Mim and Zero come out to perform at the end of the shoot!

 Fun Fact! Three of the models Marlena, Tyler and Jacqui are all part of a performance group called ClownMa dell’Arte

 Vendors: Photographer: Samantha Bonpensiero Photography/Florist/Décor/DIY’s: Marry Me Rosie Florist/Stylist: Hope Stanley/Bride’s gown: Mary Me Bridal/Groom’s suit: Friar Tux/Make up: Alexis Steeley/Model: Tyler McGraw – “Zero” ClownMa dell’Arte/Model: Marlena Mack – “Mim” ClownMa dell’Arte/Model: Jacqui Jarvis/Stationary: Easton Studios