After a particularly brutal winter, the weather is finally shaping up and everyone is heading outside to get some much-needed fresh air. If you’re planning on celebrating your nuptials with an outdoor wedding, consider stretching your imagination beyond the typical settings of beaches and parks. Does your adrenaline rush just from the mere thought of a hike or a campfire? Take a page out of Mark Conner’s book and host your nearest and dearest at a camping celebration that’s sure to ring in the summer the right way.
When Conner married Carla Aldwin, they had the budget to deck out their matrimonial campsite with luxuries beyond most of our wildest dreams, such as air-conditioned tents. Don’t let their lavishness intimidate you—keep in mind that it’s not truly camping if you don’t get at least a little dirty!
The first (and most important) step to planning a camping wedding is to pick the right environment. Not only do you want to weigh the prices of different campsites (unless you have your heart set on the perfect one already), but be sure to keep climate in mind. If you’ve picked the date for a July wedding but the horse flies around your favorite lake are relentless during those mid-summer nights, you might have to forsake your dream campground to save your guests’ sanity.
On the same note, it’s important to take temperatures into account. Even in the thick of summer, it can get surprisingly chilly once the sun goes down, so no matter where you end up just be sure you’ve properly prepared yourselves—and your guests.
Are you not quite willing to give up some critical creature comforts on one of the biggest days of your life? Then you’ll be happy to hear this: Connor’s massive tented celebration didn’t actually take place at a campground—they set it all up in their own backyard!
While their backyard is surely bigger than most of our houses combined, you can still take some inspiration from this thrifty couple. If your backyard isn’t big enough, considering asking a friend with a spare acre or two if they wouldn’t mind sharing all that extra space for such a special occasion. (Just remember the rules that come along with hosting a wedding in someone else’s house.)
If you do choose to gather your guests at a faraway campground, put one of your bridesmaids in charge of the essentials. Aside from your vows and that perfect pair of shoes, it’s important to bring a few everyday necessities when you’re venturing away from civilization. Pack a bag with bug spray, sunscreen, toilet paper, hand sanitizer, a first aid kit, and water.
Don’t forget to include some s’more fixin’s—as well as someone who knows how to safely tend to a fire!
One of the biggest draws of a camping wedding is the fact that you can turn it into a potluck—not just with food, but with equipment too! Instead of blindly handing your credit card over to a rental company, talk to your guests beforehand to see if any of them have tents they would be willing to donate for the night. If half of your guests bring four-person tents, chances are you won’t have to worry about lodging for anyone.
Choose the right campsite and some of your guests may choose to sleep al fresco instead. Don’t forget to remind your guests to bring sleeping bags and sleeping pads, too!
Are you worried some of your older or more glamorous guests won’t be able to get behind the idea of camping out? If you’re open to the location, try to choose a site that is convenient to other amenities. If your celebration is easy to access, your more particular guests shouldn’t have trouble attending the festivities but splitting off to a nearby hotel for their own sleeping space.
If you’re into the camping idea but you’re not interested in getting too intimate with nature, you’re in luck. A new trend called “glamping”—also known as glamorous camping—is sweeping the world and America has jumped on board.
Glamping lets you get into the mindset of camping, but without the barebones accommodation. Depending where you choose to glamp, you could be heading back from that post-ceremony hike into a tent complete with a real bed, air-conditioning, and even a fully functional bathroom.
When you get married in the heart of nature, you hardly need to worry about additional decor—Mother Nature takes care of most of it for you! If you do choose to deck out your day beyond the natural accouterments, take special care to keep track of what you bring into the campgrounds.
Make sure any lightweight accents have been fastened securely so they don’t blow away in the event of any uninvited gusts. Keep your food covered to avoid attracting any unwanted guests, and be sure not to leave any scraps behind—most animals will snatch up the free food at first glance, and they are not conditioned to handle the often-processed food that we humans have become so accustomed to.
Whether you decide to camp the old-fashioned way or you prefer to spruce up your accommodations with some modern amenities, choosing a natural environment for your celebration will help you strip away the superficial fluff that so often surrounds weddings. Embracing nature will help you embrace each other—and your new marriage—in the most organic way possible. Besides, when was the last time Mark Conner was wrong?
Lisa is a special needs teacher and a hugger. She always makes time for everyone and lightens up everybody’s lives with her presence. When she is not chasing her students around the yard, she finds time to write about what she truly loves, and you guessed it, its people and relationships.