How to Plan a Camping Wedding

A wedding bouquet and rings resting on a tree stump outdoors

Dreaming of a camp wedding for your special occasion? Weddings at camping venues can make your life simpler. They’re often setup with many available activities, amenities, shelters, restrooms, and ample space for your reception. However, if you camp at public campgrounds, then you must pay attention to noise or alcohol restrictions, and curfews.

What to Look for in a Camping Wedding Venue

There are camps that provide the basics: all-weather shelters (barns, etc.), restrooms, showers, tents, bunk houses, activities, and electricity. Plus, you can supplement with whatever the venue has to offer or bring your own food, drinks, entertainment, and décor. Does the venue have an altar that you can decorate with flowers and other materials, or maybe you can utilize some of what Mother Nature has to offer?

You can find these types of venues online by searching for camps that do various events. The costs of these venues are usually reasonable, and you can save money by using the same location for your wedding and reception. There are various fees for these venues, such as facility, wedding packages, amenity (entertainment, etc.), and any additional services.

Facility fees may include: Facility for a set number of hours (five hours for wedding and reception), maximum number of guests, wedding and reception site, professional wedding coordinator and event consultant, reception needs (tables, chairs, linens, china, flatware, glasses for all meals, cake cutting service). Based on the facility it could include amenities, such as the use of a pool, playing fields (baseball, soccer, football), tennis court, basketball, horseshoes, ping pong, hiking trails, campfire, amphitheater, kayaking, rowboats, dancing beneath the stars, a pool, fishing, and more.

A bride and groom's table for an outdoor wedding reception

Amenity (event rate sheets) fees: Venues could offer extra recreation options, such as horseback riding, hayrides, morning yoga, zip-lining, water skiing, etc. Check out all the extras to maximize the memorable fun.

You can bring decorations to supplement what’s already at these camps or pay the venue extra for additional décor. They probably already have great backdrops for the “I do’s” and maybe a natural altar to decorate with some nice materials and flowers.

If you’re going beyond a day camp experience many of these camps offer weekend accommodations. Imagine a bit of a rustic experience complete with bunk bed cabins, teepees, tree houses, tents, or they might even offer suites complete with air conditioning and even wifi for a more comfier, glamping experience.

Have your guests and yourselves dress accordingly, for example, you may want to consider wearing flat shoes while you’re outdoors. It’s always good to check if the facility provides extras that guests might forget, but you might need bring extra blankets, umbrellas, bug spray, citronella, and small battery-operated flashlights as favors, plus any other comforts that will help your guests. Check with the venue for lists to send your guests with the invitation before their arrival to camp. Also, check if they include Friday night arrivals complete with bonfire, snacks, and hot beverages, etc.

Outdoor evening wedding reception

Dining in the Great Outdoors

Some of these venues prepare food on the premises or have preferred vendors for your dining needs, which could cost less than bringing your own vendors. If you’re arranging the food yourself, consider these fun options to get people in the camping mood: picnic or boxed meals, a DIY sandwich bar, BBQ, fresh cut-up or grab n’ go fruits, cheese and crackers, prepared salads, and easy serve desserts such as pies, cookies, trail mix bar, or s’mores bar (added extras: candied bacon, cookie-butter). Drinks can be barrels full of iced beers and sodas or a keg wrapped in burlap, and plenty of chilled water or champagne in iceboxes. You can also ask guests to bring their favorite picnic classics.

Use food netting to deter flies and other bugs! You may choose to use the venue’s cutlery or bring your own. Remember, heavy-duty paper plates work best for many picnic favs!

If this is a multiple day affair, then easy breakfast cereals and milks (regular or non-dairy), sweet rolls, fruit, and beverages make for an easier time or use of the venue’s dining options.

Reception Entertainment

Take advantage of your unique surroundings! Use traditional campground games, such as sack races, kites, flashlight tag, horseshoes, tug-of-war, charades, badminton, cards, lawn bowling, art & crafts, board games, and other fun games. Don’t forget the sing-a-longs and guitars and dance the night away under the twinkling lights and stars. Also, maybe consider a deckchair movie theater complete with bags of popcorn to close out the night.

Friends singing songs by a campfire

DIY Camping

If you like the idea of starting from scratch and enjoy “roughing it”, you can build your own wedding from the ground up, among the trees or off the beaten path. Depending on how adventurous you and your betrothed are, and what you can expect of your guests, this could be just barely off the beaten pathand close enough for guests to stay at a hotel nearbyor much further on, depending on what you can carry out.

Make sure you specify in your invitation that it will be a camping wedding with details on what to expect, a basic list on what to bring, or information on alternate accommodations.

If you camp at a public campground, then check for any noise or alcohol restrictions, curfews, or necessary permits. Find one that allows you to reserve a large section of the campsite based on how many guests you’re expecting, some degree of privacy, available cabins, or rentable tents.

If you’re planning a sunset wedding, make certain your wedding ceremony’s officiate is either an outdoor enthusiast or close enough to civilization. For a rustic chic vibe, you can take your vows under a canopy archway made of wood or natural materials, decorated with flowers, chiffon, netting, LED fairy lights, or a beaded crystal curtain, with aisle runners of flowers and greenery. After the ceremony, your guests can throw biodegradables, such as flower petals.

For dining, look for tables that are already available, decorated with runners and simple flowers, or bring lots of picnic style ground blankets and pillows. Also, crates and wood slabs create nice tabletop displays and help handle food and beverages, which you can decorate with trailing leaves and moss.

Decorations could be as simple as displays of flowers and runners, hanging mini string LED lights, lanterns of flameless LED candles, etc. Check your local dollar store for great bargains!

Also, in case Mother Nature shows up with unexpected weather like rain, consider renting a pavilion tent or plan ahead by choosing a site with shelter. Also, it should be close to restroom facilities. Check if you need to bring your own power source.

Remember: Stock the toilets well with toilet paper, hand soaps, and paper towels. Yes, even if they are public toilets, your guests will appreciate it! Also, bring a basket full of old clean sweaters and jackets in case someone forgets one. Don’t forget to have enough trash containers and remind folks on good camping etiquette (pick up and put trash in its place, follow campground rules). And let guests know where the closest emergency room is, just in case someone gets a little too adventurous.

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