A Relaxed, Outdoor Wedding at Camp Wandawega in Elkhorn, Wisconsin

Ariana Ervin (28 and in fashion design) and Lucy Martier (26 and a culinary manager) met in high school but didn’t start dating until years later. “We

Ariana Ervin (28 and in fashion design) and Lucy Martier (26 and a culinary manager) met in high school but didn’t start dating until years later. “We like to say we were high school sweethearts with 10 years separating the time we met and the time we finally started our lives together,” Ariana jokes. After getting engaged at Sea Ranch Inn in California (near where they live), they started looking for the right venue to host their wedding. They flew to Wisconsin, where they have roots, and fell in love with Camp Wandawega in Elkhorn, set in the woods of southeast Wisconsin. “It had such a magical feel to it—the kind of place where you would leave your phone in your backpack and forget about it for a couple of days,” Ariana says. They envisioned their guests swimming in the lake, riding bikes around the grounds, catching fish and playing ping-pong. “Once we saw it, we couldn’t get it out of our heads,” she says. Once the venue was selected, everything was designed around the camp. “We wanted a wedding where kids would be running around the lawn barefoot and babies would be passed around while people drank wine under cafe lights and stayed up by the fire,” Ariana says. Guests enjoyed charcuterie prepared by close friends, specialty cocktails, readily available Greek food-truck options, a barbecue and pig roast, grilled Wisconsin corn and cake from a local bakery. “We wanted our food to be easy and relaxed, like our wedding,” Ariana says. By the end of the evening, guests were dancing and singing in the tent (it was set up with an open mike to encourage spontaneous performances), swimming in the lake, exploring the grounds, relaxing around a bonfire and hanging out in the treehouse. Many of the couple’s closest friends and family members stayed at Camp Wandawega for three days. “It was three days of pure magic surrounded by all these people we love so much,” Ariana says. “Everywhere we went we saw friends. I know a lot of people say they didn’t get to see or spend time with people on their wedding day, and I didn’t feel like that at all.” And while the camp experience was perfect, she admits, “Our wedding could have just been us in a big field, surrounded by our favorite people, and I would have been happy.” —Chrissy Sorenson

Ariana and Lucy wanted “wild and messy” seasonal wildflowers consisting of vibrant blooms and Billy Bobs (a yellow circular flower). Their planner picked up the flowers at a flower market and assembled everything at the camp. “We stopped on our drive and collected tons of dried flowers on the way up, and these were woven in,” Ariana says. “We tried to represent the lushness of the environment around us.”
The bridesmaids were asked to wear something white. “We gave them lots and lots of ideas via Pinterest,” Ariana says. Some wore simple dresses, some wore rompers, some wore pants. They all wore either white Converse low-top sneakers or Pons sandals. The flower girls wore gold Pons sandals and white rompers, and the ring bearer wore a mini version of Lucy’s outfit and carried a bow and arrow down the aisle.
Lucy walked down the aisle to “Bittersweet Symphony,” performed by a live orchestra, and Ariana followed afterward.
Even though the camp is privately owned, there’s a functioning outdoor church on the property—with benches overlooking a stage and scenic water views. “It's incredibly beautiful and rustic,” Ariana says. To add some color to the natural space, the couple created panels of wrapping paper as a backdrop, playing off the palette of gold, blush, blue and white. Their idea was to string greenery across the top of the structure, but after much deliberation, they decided to spray-paint ping-pong balls gold and tie them together to create garlands. rnLoved ones who have died were remembered with photos hung on a tree in the center of the aisle and candles that bridesmaids lit as they walked down the aisle, “to symbolize the light of our loved ones being there on this special day,” Ariana says.
Guests enjoyed many amenities at Camp Wandawega in Elkhorn, Wisconsin. The camp replicates a simple, relaxed, old-fashioned camp experience.
After the ceremony, “We just lounged around in this great big field, danced, had a bonfire, ate food from the food truck, climbed the treehouse and played,” Ariana says. “It was perfect.”
The reception took place in a field at the camp. Farm tables were interspersed with pallet tables for picnic-style hangouts.
Lucy's parents spent a year collecting 200 vintage plates and glasses, then drove from North Carolina in a van to deliver them.
A local bakery prepared Ariana and Lucy's naked wedding cake.
The couple’s first-dance song, sung by Lucy’s mom, was “Gypsy.” “We met in high school, but it took us many years to end up together. The song represents that,” Ariana says. “It’s one of my favorites.” The tent was set up with an open mike, allowing the many musicians at the party to perform. “So many people ended up playing music, we didn’t even need a playlist,” Ariana says.
Lucy and Ariana took a few minutes to celebrate their union, just the two of them on a canoe in the lake, during a beautiful Wisconsin sunset.