How to Host a Summer Camp-Inspired Wedding

Saying "I do" at camp sets the stage for a wedding weekend of unplugged, authentic experiences you and your guests won’t soon forget.
by Harmony Walton

Summer is officially here and that means wedding season is in full swing. If a destination wedding in the summer months is in your future, then stop and smell the wildflowers while we help you plan a kid-friendly, adult-chic summer camp wedding even the oldest guests will love.

Where to Host a Summer Camp Wedding

From the California coast to the mountains of New York, glamping and summer camp wedding venues are home to domestic destination weddings with a twist. Taylor River Lodge in Almont, Colorado, welcomes wedding guests to luxury cabins (complete with heated floors) and two daily adventure excursions for all with a buyout of this boutique ranch-style resort. Learn to fly-fish with friends in the morning and white-water raft in the afternoon before tying the knot under the stars and celebrating late night by your choice of fire pits.

For a mountaintop ceremony and culinary program nothing like what you went through in summer camp, check into Cedar Lakes Estate in Port Jervis, New York, where you’ll dine on delicacies the best Hudson Valley chefs have to offer and explore 500 acres of forest with activities like zip-lining and mountain biking right on property.

What to Do at a Summer-Camp-Style Wedding

When families camp together, they play together. Don’t forget summer camp games and activities fit for kids and adults alike. Marcy Blum of Marcy Blum Associates knows just how to mix in the formal with the fun. “In the camp wedding we produced last summer, lots of new friendships were made between people who would never have gotten to know each other,” she says. Guests enjoyed events by day and night to keep the party going. “We had the ‘camp’ parts of the wedding feel like a real camp, including a crafts bunk that had various arts and crafts projects underway all day. We also had an awards ceremony that night after dinner for MVPs, most enthusiastic and so on, but we made the wedding reception itself formal and the décor very lush to distinguish between the wedding night and the other days.” Don’t forget to set yourself up for success on those other days too. “Mix up your ‘groups,' like some college friends, relatives and work pals on each team, and then try for games that have as many participants as possible: volleyball, capture the flag and relay races,” Blum says. The end result is much more memorable than the average welcome party.

What to Give Guests in a Camp Wedding Welcome Bag

Destination wedding welcome bags take on a whole new meaning when you're hosting a summer camp wedding. From onesie pajamas to late-night snacks and s’mores kits, give your guests gifts they can use during their experience. Vanessa Kreckel, of TPD Design House, who recently curated camp gifts for the Engage!18: Fairmont Banff Springs event, suggests gifts that fit the environment. "Incorporate a great welcome bag—canvas or mesh is essential—accompanied with a flask, enamelware mug or canteen—a survival kit of sorts (Gentleman’s Hardware has an awesome one or you could DIY to customize it). A personalized deck of cards is always fun too. Custom branded pins and patches are inexpensive and make a great statement."

No matter how much you spend, sometimes it’s the simplest personal touch that counts. For example, "a really great welcome note that ties it all together feels like a letter from camp (but from the couple getting married)," Kreckel says. When it comes time to delivering the goodies, consider displaying them instead. "Distributing or displaying welcome bags would depend on the venue or wedding site. I love a great hanging display of bags, on hooks or a rope line, or even out of the back of a great old van or truck if the venue can do that," she says.

Harmony Walton is the founder of The Bridal Bar, host of Bridal Bar Radio airing on iHeartRadio and editor of the destination wedding blog, Jet Fete by Bridal Bar. With a vast celebrity clientele and over a dozen years of experience, her brands have been recognized around the world and featured in media outlets such as The Associated Press, The New Yorker, The Knot, The New York Times, Entertainment Tonight, People Magazine, The Los Angeles Times and many more. 

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