How to Plan a Camping Wedding

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    Say "I Do" in the Great Outdoors

    ••• Photo © Monica Prelle

    There's no better place to say, "I do" than in the great outdoors. An outdoor location is perfect for your celebration of love and marriage, but how do you plan a camping wedding? We have photos, advice and true stories from brides who recently planned a camping wedding and tied the knot outdoors. In the next few pages you'll find tons of inspiration and ideas to plan your own camping wedding. 

    Advice from Real Brides:

    • The Outdoor Wedding Dress
    • The Camping Wedding Location
    • The Wedding Party and Your Guests
    • A Yosemite Campground Wedding
    • The Outdoor Wedding Menu
    • The Wedding Music
    • A Farm Wedding with Camping
    • The Wedding Cake
    • Tents, Toilets and Decorations
    • The Worst Case Scenario
    • A Lakeshore Wedding with Camping


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  • 02 of 12

    The Outdoor Wedding Dress

    ••• Photo © Monica Prelle

    Ah, the outdoor wedding dress. Just because you are planning a camping wedding doesn't mean you can't wear the wedding dress you always dreamed of. Be aware of your setting, of course, but a casual wedding does not necessarily call for a casual dress. More importantly, make sure your shoes are practical for the terrain.

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    The Camping Wedding Location

    ••• Photo courtesy of Carina Bassin

    Selecting an outdoor wedding location with camping shouldn't be too difficult. Look for a group campground that can be reserved or a private camping resort that allows events. You'll want to make sure that your wedding venue is reserved for your big day.

    Is there a location that is memorable for you and your fiancé? Do you love camping in the woods, by a lake or at the beach?

    The best part about planning camping wedding is the natural beauty of the venue and the great outdoors. But not all of your guests will enjoy camping, so you'll want to make sure they are comfortable and have accommodations available for their needs as well. Look for a camping resort that offers motel or cabin rentals, or check if your campground wedding location has a hotel close by.

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    The Wedding Party and Your Guests

    ••• Photo © Monica Prelle

    Attire for the wedding party can set the tone for the evening. Are you planning a casual campground wedding or a fancy outdoor affair? Either way you go, you'll want to make sure the wedding party is comfortable and prepared for the environment.

    Let your guests know about environmental conditions of your wedding site. Consider the weather and let your guests know the forecast so they can prepare shoes and attire that is appropriate for the setting.

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    A Yosemite Campground Wedding

    ••• Photo © Monica Prelle

    Brieann Roberts: "We planned a campground wedding because it represented the things we love the most in our life together -- wild, natural beauty and being connected to nature.

    "We wanted to bring our favorite, most loved people to one of our favorite places, and share the lifestyle we created for ourselves."

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    The Outdoor Wedding Menu

    ••• Photo © Monica Prelle

    Just about any menu is appropriate for your camping wedding. Look for a caterer that has experience catering outdoor events. Try a wedding barbecue, taqueria or a menu based around seasonal ingredients.

    "Feeding 100 people off the grid can be challenging," says Brieann Roberts. Her Yosemite campground-wedding menu was planned with locally grown ingredients.

    Brieann's advice: "Keep the menu simple with as many raw style dishes as possible. Compostable plates were easy and manageable."

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    The Wedding Music

    ••• The Littlest Birds, a banjo and cello folk music duo. Photo © Monica Prelle

    An outdoor wedding begs for live music. Think about hiring musicians for the ceremony and a band for the reception. Bluegrass and reggae bands tend to be crowd pleasers, but select music that you and your fiancé love.

    Make sure to check out the electrical situation before the big day and ask the band to set-up and sound check well in advance. Some outdoor venues won't have adequate power for bands, so depending on your location, you may need to consider renting a generator.

    Memorable wedding moment: My 80-year-old Grandpa in a black cowboy hat and boots cutting a rug on the dance floor, while my favorite band played on the bank of the mighty Merced River at raging high-water! ~ Brieann Roberts

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    The Wedding Cake

    ••• Photo courtesy of Carina Bassin

    Your campground wedding can have a traditional wedding cake, or picnic-style treats. Cupcakes, brownies, and fruit tarts are popular options for outdoor wedding celebrations. But, whatever desserts you choose make sure to keep them cool and indoors or in the shade. Wedding cakes can, and will melt in the sun!

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    A Farm Wedding with Camping

    ••• Photo courtesy of Carina Bassin

    Carina Bassin: "We planned an outdoor wedding because it felt like us. Our first date was a backpacking trip and we now live on a farm.

    "The outdoors is really important to us. We planned a camping wedding because we wanted everyone that had any desire to be able to stay all weekend, drink as much as they wanted, enjoy a bonfire and a hay bale dance floor, and to be able to sleep on the farm.

    "We offered up our three houses to guests, invited RVs to park on the farm, and built a campground. And we camped in a tent right in the middle of the campground so that our favorite place and favorite people really surrounded us."

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    Tent, Toilets and Decorations

    ••• Photo © Erin Carlton

    Outdoor weddings require some sort of shade and cover from sun or unexpected weather. Check if your wedding venue has a covered area or rent a wedding tent. Tents can easily be decorated with twinkle-lights and paper lanterns.

    "Don't stress about decorations, because the setting is really your decoration," says Carina Bassin. "I spent a lot of time looking at crafted pinwheels and banners and everything else you could possibly have, but in the end, we didn't need any of it because the setting was stunning on its own. In a gorgeous outdoor setting you can go very minimalist and the effect is classy instead of overdone."

    Campground restrooms don't always have the plumbing to accommodate large groups. Look into portable toilets if necessary. Clean up the bathroom with air freshener, and leave hand sanitizer or hand-soap.

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    The Worst Case Scenario

    ••• Photo courtesy of Carina Bassin

    Rain, wind or snow on your wedding day can be a bummer, but it doesn't have to be. Make sure to have a back-up plan, rent heat lamps if it is going to be cold, and if possible, let your guests know the weather forecast a few days before the event.

    Carina Bassin: "Honestly, our worst nightmare turned into the most memorable and wonderful part of our wedding: it poured and we had no rain backup plan. However, our friends and family had great attitudes, and everyone bonded way more than they would have if it hadn't been raining.

    "We all huddled under tents, bonding over sharing beanies and thermals and hot cocoa, and then we moved the entire event into our ancient, not-at-all cleaned up barn -- twinkly lights everywhere, cake, kegs, and a sound system (because our friends are awesome). I was sure all our friends would leave early, cold and soggy, but they all camped anyway.

    "The wedding I planned for a year never happened, but the wedding that did happen was much more...MORE amazing and memorable than what I was planning."

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    A Lakeshore Wedding with Camping

    ••• Photo © Erin Carlton

    Monica Carlton: "When my husband and I decided to get married, only two things were certain: 1. We wanted to spend the rest of our lives together, and 2. The wedding had to be outdoors with camping included.

    "We chose a lakefront resort with cabins and a campground next door for our outdoor wedding.

    "Our friends reserved campsites and our families reserved cabins. Our afternoon wedding turned into three days of camping and music. There really couldn't have been a better location for our wedding celebration."