25 Delicious Ways to Serve Carnival Food at Your Wedding

cotton candy
Photo: Anna Delores Photography

Everyone loves some fairground fare.

01 of 25
cotton candy
Anna Delores Photography

It's hard not to get excited when a carnival rolls into town. Fairgrounds are seasoned with a little bit of mystery, a little bit of magic, and a whole lot of joy. From the sweet smells to the festive music, their ambiances are especially uplifting—they bring people and families together with fun and comforting food. Weddings can actually learn a lot from festivals and fairs. Don't all brides and grooms want an enjoyable, cheerful affair? One way to bring about nostalgia and delight is by serving carnival food at your cocktail hour, reception, or after-party.

If your favorite memories consist of Ferris wheels and fried dough, these menu options might be right up your alley, and each of these delicious eats will have your mouth watering. If you can't commit to a sugary, oily main course, you can certainly swing indulgent apps or late-night snacks. They may not be healthy, but they sure are tasty, and everyone loves a guilty pleasure now and then. Browse through for inspiration for wedding food and drinks.

Serve this carnival classic on sticks for easy munching and stickiness-free hands. The mini size will prevent sugar crashes while still inducing plenty of smiles. Kids will love the saccharine treats, while parents won't be too against the portions. Plus, the bites are incredibly photogenic, and basically made for a cool Instagram post. It'll take a lot of willpower to pass on these tiny, colorful snacks.

02 of 25

Caramel Corn

popcorn appetizers
Lisa Ziesing for Abby Jiu Photography

Delicious popcorn drizzled in caramel is hard to mess up. Serve the stuff in bags, bowls, or in popcorn scoopers, like at this wedding.

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Animal Crackers

animal crackers
Anna Delores Photography

This treat is a circus staple. Enjoy elephants, tigers, hippos, and giraffes in familiar cookie form.

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Mini Pies

fried pies
Jose Villa

What do you get when you take tiny pies and put them in a fryer? Amazing edible wedding favors (calories don't count on wedding day).

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French Fries

fries carnival food
Joel Serrato

This wedding served deliciously-seasoned fries in paper cones for a surprisingly-pretty appetizer.

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Laura Murray Photography

Pizza slices are filling grab-and-go snacks. Play with toppings to make them unique.

07 of 25


kabab appetizers
Rebecca Hollis Photography

Anything on a stick is instantly convenient, which is exactly why carnival fare is often served that way. For food that's actually healthy, try kababs with grilled veggies, or common street foods like chili-sprinkled mango slices.

08 of 25

Turkey Legs

turkey legs
Jeremy Chou

This engagement session took place at a county fair, so naturally, the couple noshed on turkey legs. We recommend the hearty grub for your rehearsal dinner.

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Fried Dough

funnel cake with powdered sugar
Jen Fariello Photography

Elephant ears, pizza fritte, funnel cake, fried dough—while you may debate this treat's title, you can't deny that it's delicious. Many vendors top the snack with powdered sugar, but if you're serving the Italian version, offer marinara sauce.

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Cotton Candy

cotton candy tower
Apryl Ann Photography

Make a wedding "cake" with cotton candy by stacking puffs of the stuff on a stand.

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Soft Pretzels

soft pretzels
Anna Delores Photography

Warm, doughy pretzels are incredibly yummy, and taste great with a range of saucy dips.

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wedding popcorn
Lacie Hansen Photography

This couple gave guests bags of truffle popcorn to snack on. Serve your own as attendees wait for the ceremony to begin—just make sure they stop crunching when the processional starts.

13 of 25

Lobster Rolls


Full-sized lobster rolls are popular at seaside festivals, but they're pretty filling and relatively expensive. Cut on costs and save room for dinner with little versions of the meal at your cocktail hour.

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wing appetizer
Nicole Baas

Hot wings and BBQ wings are another favorite, and if you don't want them fried, you can have them baked. Going boneless makes less of a mess, which guests, vendors, and your venue will appreciate. This wedding served tasty wings in cups with celery and carrots.

15 of 25


chocolate mustache lollipops
Lindsey Stewart Photography

These chocolate mustache-shaped candies were a lighthearted wedding dessert. Those big, face-sized swirly lollipops are another silly option.

16 of 25

Hot Dogs

hot dogs
KT Merry

Good old-fashioned franks are uniquely satisfying. If you're conscious of your health, go for organic or nitrate-free. How you stuff your buns will depend on where you're from—offer different versions to showcase you and your partner's roots.

17 of 25

Snow Cones

bride with snow cone
Christie Pham Photography

This bride was caught daringly sipping on a food coloring-filled snow cone. The syrupy treats are a sweet way to cool down come summertime.

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Caramel Apples


Candy, caramel, and chocolate apples are perfectly autumnal. Let guests take them home or set them up at your dessert table.

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Clark Brewer

This cocktail hour paired a Dogfish Head IPA with Chesapeake Bay waffle chips. Also at the tasty affair were mini margaritas, mini tacos, and mini chicken and waffles.

20 of 25

Food Truck

Lisa O'Dwyer Photography

Many gatherings—from carnivals to rodeos to farmer's markets—are embracing the food truck trend. At this wedding, guests had their pick between Pink Tank (pictured here) and Biker Jim's.

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Ice Cream

Braedon Photography

Mini cones are pretty to serve but cups are more mess-free. For dairy sensitivities or allergies, it doesn't hurt to offer sorbet, Italian ice, or popsicles.

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wedding burgers
Bryan from For the Love of It

This couple made the creative choice to serve In-N-Out as their reception's main course. If you're going in a more formal direction for dinner, consider burgers to soothe late-night cravings.

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wedding milkshakes
Justin + Mary

These shake shots were blended by The Marketplace at Guilford Center. Also notable was this wedding's donut display.

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Homemade Chips


Pre-packaged chips may do the job, but why not make the snacks on the spot? Guests will be impressed by your special recipe.

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Corn Dogs

corn dogs
Anna Delores Photography

Corn dogs are the quintessential fair food, but that doesn't mean that they aren't wedding-worthy. As this wedding discovered, presentation is everything.

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