Life is a Carnival

 In Culture, Feature

This STL couple’s Tower Grove Park wedding was a colorful and unique expression of their love.


Erin Wiles
29, catering manager at Local Harvest

Aaron Dodd 
31, local actor and Whole Foods employee

Their Story The charming twosome met while working for the same Italian restaurant. Erin was a server and DJ for the restaurant’s popular karaoke night, and Aaron was waiting tables. Aaron would try to stump Erin during games of hangman while they worked, but she figured out every word he threw at her. Their on-the-clock games sparked a close friendship, which led to a romantic relationship and their now 3-year-old son, Simon. When Erin was hospitalized for a life-threatening health condition, Aaron had already been carrying around an engagement ring, just waiting for the right moment. He knew then that he wanted to propose as soon as he could. Once Erin returned home, he challenged her to a game of Scrabble. He hoarded tiles throughout the game, and when she left the room, he laid out tiles spelling “marry me,” winning the game and Erin in marriage.

Colorful Coordinates In planning their nuptials, the couple wanted to stay true to their personalities—vibrant and fun and a bit nontraditional— so a vintage carnival theme was just the ticket. Erin found an off-the-rack gown that had everything she wanted. A bit of tailoring transformed it into the classic and elegant dress she’d imagined—perfect for passing down to future generations. The rest of the bridal party was given a lot of freedom in what they wore.Bridesmaids chose their own vintage floral dresses and the guys their own vests, suspenders and ties in gray and brown. The effect was more “Sunday Best” than formal. The couple chose the Old Playground Pavilion in Tower Grove Park for their ceremony and the Old Post Office building Downtown for the reception. French galvanized buckets full of large, bright floral arrangements, along with Erin’s DIY touches, created the perfect cozy-yetcolorful environment for saying “I do.”

Fresh Foodies With Erin working as a wedding caterer for Local Harvest and Aaron working in the seafood section of Whole Foods, the menu was critical to the couple. Local Harvest’s Clara Moore helped plan the unique dishes, which were full of fresh produce and local ingredients. Rather than a formal sit-down affair, small plates were served—a delightful assortment of cheese plates, pickled vegetables, watermelon skewers and summer succotash— followed by mouthwatering fried chicken with mashed potatoes and gravy. The feast was finished off with a dessert buffet that included Momo cakes and mini cheesecakes from Sugaree Baking Company, and specialty bacon-maple, Bailey’s and Guinness cupcakes made by a friend. The couple used a small cake with fresh fruit and vanilla cream from Whole Foods for the ceremonial cutting.

DIY Design To keep the wedding personal, Erin learned how to sew and created many of the unique details of their wedding herself, like the triangle flag banners at the ceremony, repurposed lace tablecloths and the handstitched programs explaining the different elements of their wedding day. For the photo booth, she either made or handpicked the clothing and accessories for the props, and she, along with Aaron and their friend Rachel, painted the beautiful backdrop.

Let Us Entertain You The pair feels lucky to know many of St. Louis’ most talented performers, so they enlisted their talented friends to read literature and poetry during the ceremony. The couple also chose three musical acts to play throughout the day. A banjoist and guitarist played during the ceremony, and their friend Elly Herget of The Skekses formed a special band just for their wedding and sang “Danny’s Song”—a tune the couple had sung to Simon since before he was born—which prompted the toddler to join them on the dance floor and sing along. In the middle of the song, however, Elly changed it up and ripped into a version of “Teenage Wedding” to get all of the guests dancing right away. Later on during the reception, the Loot Rock Gang played Americana music to keep the party going till the last song.









Photo credit: Sarah Mason Photography

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