Vintage Carnival | Red, White & Blue Themed Real Wedding: Hayley & Tom

 In Barn, Carnival, Real Wedding, Vintage

Hello, hello! I’m totally excited to share this real wedding with you all today, why am I so excited you may ask? I am totally excited as it has a fun vintage carnival theme and a very cheerful colour palette of red white and blue.

Yay! I’m sure you are going to feel very inspired and love this wedding as well as our lovely couple Hayley & Tom.

Words by Hayley.

We met at University in 2005, and Tom proposed to me in a rose garden (down on one knee) in Prague, it was October 2011.


When we found our wedding venue on-line, it was love at first sight. The venue was so quirky and unique and even had a carousel… We were also very excited that we could have a church wedding in the same grounds.


We wanted our wedding to have formal bits, church service, sit down meal but we also wanted all of our friends and family to have fun and Preston Court with its carousel really helped us develop this atmosphere on the day.

The carousel, vintage organs and gypsy caravan helped inspire our wedding theme. We also had a vague idea of a red and blue colour scheme (which started off as a bit of a joke) and then everything else just fell into place.


Make up by Gem provided the make up for myself, my Mum and my three adult bridesmaids. She did an amazing job, achieving the exact look I wanted, and the make-up lasted all day. My Mum and the bridesmaids looked amazing!

My hair was done by Elise Bull – I can’t tell you how much I loved my hair on the day.

Both Gem and Elise were so great in the morning – we had lots of fun with them getting ready and they even locked up for us so that we were able to get on the road!


Tom bought me a string of Pearls which I worse on the day together with a pearl bracelet with blue detailing as my something blue, a Christmas present from my future Mother in Law.

The morning of the wedding my Dad also brought jewellery which belonged to my grandmother, this included an antique opal ring and a locket which my Grandmother received on her 21st birthday. The locket had pictures of my grandparents on their wedding day and as they are no longer with us it was lovely to have a little piece of them with me on the day.


I had seen similar dresses in a magazine once and knew I wanted to have red floral patterned bridesmaid dresses with bright blue petticoats (in a nod to my new husband who is a Crystal palace fan, the red and blue theme ran throughout the wedding day which luckily, also matched our vintage carnival feel too!).

I knew I wouldn’t be able to find the exact dresses already made and I also wanted a slightly more age appropriate one for my junior bridesmaid, my niece Amelie. I got in touch with Louise at Oh My Honey who did an amazing job of making the dresses with fabric I spent hours searching for on line!!


To be honest, as I am not a size 12, wedding dress shopping was not something I was looking forward to. I went to some of the pretty boutiques with my Mum and found trying on dresses in a size 10 embarrassing and uncomfortable and I really didn’t enjoy the experience.

On the off chance my Mum and I went to a small unassuming bridal shop in Coventry – not the prettiest in the world, but all dresses were available to try on in bigger sizes. The ladies in the shop knew exactly what they were doing. I was already to buy a different dress when the shop assistant pulled out the lace Phil Collins number, I put it on, and that was it I was in love.

The shop did a great job adding the halter neck to make it more in line with my 50s bridesmaids dresses (and to hide ugly arm fat) and also at taking the dress in. I felt so elegant on the day.



I also had two bridesmen on the day. They wore the same suits as the groom and ushers but had pocket squares made out of the same fabric as the bridesmaids.


Our flowers were provided by Luisa at Wild Daisy Florist. Again Luisa understood exactly what I wanted for the day and provided this at such a reasonable cost.

Luisa also did a great job at suggesting alternative flowers when there weren’t any of my chosen flower available the week of the wedding – an invaluable service (and I think the flowers looked better with her suggestions anyway!)


I arrived at our wedding venue in a white Morris minor called Dibble. We were also lucky enough to have dibble give us a ride home in the evening. Squeezing Tom into that at the end of the night was no mean feat (as he’s 6ft 4!).


It was love at first sight when we found the venue on-line. So quirky and unique and of course the carousel…. We were also very excited that we could have a church wedding in the same grounds. As it turned out we were even luckier as Rev Jo Robertson was a wonderful Vicar who understood what we wanted to achieve and the ceremony was beautiful. The venue itself we saw in December and it was gorgeous then so we knew it would be beautiful in July.

We wanted our wedding to have formal bits, church service, sit down meal but we also wanted all of our friends and family to have fun and Preston Court with its carousel really helped us develop this atmosphere on the day.

We had no event planner we did it all ourselves. Unfortunately the venue booked a wedding the day before ours so instead of being set up the day before Tom, his best men, brother and sister in law all went over to set up the venue in the morning which was very stressful but they did an amazing job!

The venue did a degree of oversight on the day, unfortunately some of our small details were missed, and they asked for our running order at 1am the morning of the wedding! But our caterers did a great job at keeping the day going!


When it came to styling the venue, it was so hard not to get too carried away with all the decoration as everything available is so pretty! So we let the barn do a lot of the talking.



Unusually for a church wedding we were able to have the bridesmaids go down the aisle first which was a really nice alternative to them following me down the aisle.


My bridesmaids walked down the aisle to canon in d minor and my dad and I walked down to the bridal march. I couldn’t have imagined doing anything else!


We had a Church of England wedding. Readings were Union by Robert Fulgham and an insert from the bible. We had Jerusalem and How Great Thou Art as our hymns. The latter was my Nan’s favourite hymn and got me a bit teary when our entire congregation sang it.


Our wedding photographers, Cotton Candy Photography were wonderful from the get go. They answered all questions I had, no matter how silly. They were perfect on the day and the pictures speak for themselves! The candy booth [photobooth] also went down a storm.



In the barn itself we wanted some of the carnival colours to shine through so we used blue glass water glasses bought from habitat, and I painted Kilner jars blue in an effort to create the English equivalent of blue mason jars (which I fell in love with on the blogs).

We added colour to the table with red and blue stripped straws and traditional sweetie bags.



Instead of a guest book we put collections of vintage style postcards on the tables that represented us, our favourite places, our hobbies etc and asked people to write messages on those. These are all stored in a vintage cigar box ready for us to read on our first anniversary.


Something that is very important to us is family and friends, so we had a display in the bar area with photos of our family including those who were no longer with us, vintage style post cards of our favourite places, and family trinkets such as a pink carnation in a jar – my grandparents wedding flower – and the CRABS cup… a family Bowles trophy played for every year when on holiday to Portugal (don’t ask!)



Our wedding cake was an M&S special! We weren’t too fussed about the actual cake but spent some money on the cake topper. It was personalised to look like us and I’m so happy we got to keep it. We found our cake topper on Etsy.



Out sweetie table had red and blue jars with ‘SWEET’ bunting from Etsy again and my dad made a wooden sweet shop display.


Instead of wedding favours we provided a sweetie table which was an immense success. We also had pictures of our guests printed up on cigarette style cards as their place cards to take away.


Our first dance track was ‘Ho Hey’ by the Lumineers. We were going to have ‘So Happy Together’ by the turtles as we were keen not to have anything too slushy, but after realising there was no way in the world we could dance to it we settled with what has quickly becoming one of my favourite love songs.


Not sure we danced much better to that to be honest!


If you could impart any words of wisdom to a Bride to Be planning her marriage and wedding day, what would they be?

Work out what’s important and stick with that. For us we wanted everyone at our wedding to feel appreciated and we did that with tokens such as the photo place cards and the photo display in the bar.


In the planning process its easy to get stressed – don’t. Things will not go to plan on the day – I promise you – you won’t care. You just married the person you love most, everyone else you love is in a room celebrating with you, and it doesn’t get any better!

What was your most memorable moment of the day / evening?

The speeches! They were all so good!

Massive congratulations to you Hayley & Tom on saying I do! I absolutely love your vintage carnival styled wedding. Amazing! The colours are just so bright and fun.

Thank you to those wonderful Cotton Candy ladies for sharing the pretty on the wedding blog and please do leave this lovely couple some love!

Want to see more red, white and blue wedding inspiration? Check out this beautiful Americana, with a touch of vintage inspired real wedding. Oh lovely.

credits | wedding photographer: cotton candy weddings | venue: st mildred’s church and preston court, nr canterbury, kent wedding dress: special occasions bridalwear | brides shoes: rachel simpson | bridesmaid dresses: oh my honey | florist: wild daisy florist | make-up: make up by gem | hair: elsie bull | grooms suit: moss bross hire | cakes: m & s | catering: relish  | wedding decor: etsy

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Showing 5 comments
  • Dane

    Cute decor! I enjoyed this post.

  • Harriet from The Zoots

    Very cool. Love the carousel and those bridesmaid dresses! The barn has been beautifully dressed. Congrats Hayley & Tom!

  • Emil

    It’s such a amazing place..

  • david walters photography

    What a stunning reception room! Love that backdrop it looks fab lit up! great idea with the carousel.

  • Ksenia

    Beautiful wedding! Bride is looking amazing in her dress..

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