I have always been a big fan of ren fairs, and when it came time to finally get hitched I went through the process of picking out the where, when, and what theme am I going to celebrate the ‘most magical day of my life’ *cough*. I went through the standards, attended wedding expos and checked out any book from the library I could get my hands on. As any bride and groom will find out that the date usually follows the event location as wedding venues are a pretty hot commodity. You might be lucky to find a place in the month that you want to get married if you are planning a year or less ahead of time!
My husbands family is from northern Minnesota, and my family lived predominately in Des Moines Iowa. We hemmed and hawed about where to do the deed. I just couldn’t imagine a wedding at any of the locations we looked at in Iowa. Too Stuffy… Too Formal…. Too church-y… Soooo not me.
“I just wasn’t feeling really inspired by any of the choices available.”
I had been attending renaissance fairs since I was a teenager. My husband Brian had never been to one, but I was happy to introduce him to fairs while we were dating. He loved them as much as me! I started thinking about maybe … just maybe we could do something wildly different from other peoples weddings and get married at a ren fair. We talked it over with the immediate family and the idea was hesitantly okayed – but not enthusiastically. I dived head first into planning a Renaissance Wedding that would be fun for all ages.
Find a great location
We are lucky as one of the largest Renaissance fairs in the nation is just a few hours drive from our home. It was also a few hours drive from Brian’s family so it was a great middle meeting place for everyone. If you aren’t sure where there is a Renaissance Fair near you, check out this great website- it lists fairs from all over the states: visit The Renlist. Some locations only allow weddings during their fair season, others offer weddings throughout the year.
The biggest bonus for me was doing a wedding during festival season. This allowed our wedding guests to enjoy an early wedding, lunch time meal and then they had the rest of the day to attend the fair and have fun. We were featured in the daily parade
Get in touch with the fair
Once you have decided your ideal location reach out to them. Every fair that I have been to has always had Wedding Hosting as an option. To what extent they cater to weddings can vary greatly. What was great when we got married is that there really wasn’t much competition for dates. We were able to get our preferred weekend in August. Many venues offer a wedding only package or wedding plus reception package. I found the pricing is VERY reasonable compared to other event locations. Visit the Minnesota Renaissance Festival wedding page for a sample of what you might find offered and pricing for a large festival.
A couple downsides to consider
Keep in mind that you will likely be having an outdoor wedding. There may be tents – but it is still outside and you can’t predict the weather. Another thing to consider is that your wedding guests will need to pay to attend your wedding at the fair. Usually you can get a number of freebie tickets that will cover immediate family, but the bulk of your guests will be charged a discounted admission. If your pockets are big enough to cover the admission price for everyone that is awesome! If you are having a large wedding however this may not be an added expense you do not want to take on yourself, so be sure you notify guests that they will be charged admissions on the invites.
The fair will walk you through their dates, pricing and options. Some things you will need to address:
- Officiant: Some fairs will provide contact details for an officiant. You may have to dig a little to find a person that you want to lead your ceremony. I choose to have a close friend become ordained online. Be sure to check your state laws regarding who can perform weddings.
In Iowa there is no need to register with the state if you become ordained online, but in Minnesota the officiant must register with the county you are performing the wedding. You will also need to get a marriage license. Find out more about your state requirements here.
- Ceremony: So probably the most recognized celebrated wedding ceremony in geeky Ren Fair history is the Princess Brides wedding… Well I have to admit we rolled the Princess Bride into our Wedding Ceremony and those in the audience that got it cheered. If you are looking for a great ceremony book that has traditional and non traditional themes, and is very easy to work from I recommend Weddings from the Heart by Daphne Kingma.
- Food & Drink: Most locations will offer reception and catering options. Usually catering is provided by their approved vendors only. This pricing is in addition to the venue rental fees. We had our reception catered with a buffet that had turkey legs, grilled chicken, roast veggies, salad, bread and the works. A true Renaissance Fair food adventure. Our catering was also able to offer alcohol.
We had bottles of wine, and kegs/pitchers of beer available. Mead is a great and authentic alcoholic beverage, but not everyone enjoys its sweetness- be sure to offer alternatives.
- Wedding Cake: Most venues will allow you to bring in your made elsewhere wedding cake. You can do just about anything for wedding cakes now- Goodbye the classics and hello new and improved dessert options. I would advise not getting too crazy here. You already have a lot going on with the venue, costumes, and renaissance fair atmosphere. Don’t go overboard with a custom Lord of the Rings Cake that – though admittedly awesome- in 15 years you will wonder what the heck you were thinking as you look back at your photos. Some venues will even provide you a list of bakeries that they have worked with. I found this very helpful as I was planning a wedding out of state and didn’t have to do a lot of detective work. Have fun setting up cake sample appointments –yummy! Check out some of my favorite wedding cake looks on Pinterest.
- Floral: again, a great host venue will give you a starting list for wedding floral providers. I wouldn’t get too carried away with flowers, as you will be outside with lovely surroundings already in place. Think about the location, and what will really enhance your wedding experience. Flowers that are grown locally – and seasonally were used during medieval weddings. There was a strong emphasis on herbs, as they played a big part of everyday culture. Rich dark colors in orange, burgundy, and purple can really stand out in the classic grass surroundings. A nice touch is floral crowns for the ladies in the wedding parties – very theme appropriate. View floral inspirations.
Keep an eye out for my post regarding costuming and invitations to follow!
I love to create art, sew, make cute toys for the kids, eat great food and attend events. I want to share ideas, help you meet great artists and people that would otherwise go unnoticed and encourage you to start your own journey of discovery.
No matter where you live, or what you do there is always MAGIC around you.
Melanie has a Masters degree in Medical Illustration, spent 7 years working in public libraries, and 10 years working in the medical field.