It has been a long time since I’ve written anything like this! Usually, I write about my travels (and when I say “usually” I mean about twice a year I’ll come out with a few posts about my recent trips). I’ve been getting a lot of questions about how I managed my wedding. From the photos, it looks totally dreamy — and that’s because it was.
If you want to see how we managed to pull off a wedding on a campsite at a glance, keep reading!
Finding the spot
We got married on Mt. Lemmon in Tucson, Arizona on June 30, 2019. I knew that weddings happened up there often, and a hotspot was Whitetail Campgrounds site no 5. It’s a beautiful site with a huge covered seating area and lots of open space for the ceremony. I knew from the start that this was where I wanted to get married, but it took a bit of convincing to get Daniel on board.
Like most people, he was extremely unsure about how we could possibly hide the fact that it was a campsite. There were grills, bear boxes, pit toilets… the whole nine yards. Definitely a great place to go camping, but a wedding? Hmm.
I had a few people in mind who I hoped could transform the place, and my goodness they did.
Anytime you get married “off the grid” you are forgoing all of the comforts that a venue offers. Particularly, the wedding packages. We visited one venue – The Tucson Botanical Gardens – and we realized how easy it would be to get married there. Or really, how easy it would be to get married anywhere that offered wedding packages. We ended up not going with the botanical gardens mainly because we were planning a summer wedding and summer in Tucson is…scorching.
With that being said, we understood that we either had to get married in the mountains or have an entirely indoor wedding. I’ve always felt the most comfortable in nature and never imagined myself having an indoor wedding. So, we decided on a wedding in the mountains.
Choosing to stray away from wedding packages which included catering, set up, tear down, wait staff, and whatever else, we set out to find all of these things individually.
Why a wedding planner was essential
The number one vendor that made all of this possible was our wedding planner, Felicia. She wasn’t an official “wedding planner” at the beginning (she is actually my mom’s assistant), but that is what it became in the end and I am so glad for it.
Like most people, Daniel and I both work full-time jobs. Had I not been in such a demanding job, I might have been able to keep everything straight. Maybe. Felicia kept track of everything, including me! She set up cake tastings, kept all of the vendors on track, set up a million lanterns, and on the day-of brought in an entire team of people for set-up, service, and tear down (she did soo much more than this.. definitely so much more than I even knew about!)
For some weddings, a wedding planner throughout the whole process isn’t necessary. That’s because when you get married at a venue, they offer you a package that includes practically everything you’ll need. You don’t have to think about cups, plates, silverware…toilet paper…because these are all normal things that a wedding package would include.
Because we went off the grid, quite literally, we had to track down every little item and service ourselves. Yep, right down to the toilet paper. You just never know when those pit toilets are going to run out.
Campsite wedding vendors
Choosing wedding vendors was a bit difficult at first, but once I sat down and actually talked with the people I was considering, it was so much easier. If you have no clue who to even talk to and set up meetings with, crowdsource on your social media pages. People who have gotten married are usually super happy to share any and all information they have. I say this as I write out a blog post & plan about 10 more even though no one really asked me to (laughs). So here is a list of all of the vendors you are going to need.
- Wedding Planner or Coordinator
- Furniture rental service (I used an interior decorator with pieces that reflected my style)
- DJ/MC (or someone who can provide speakers, microphones, music, lights)
- Set up/tear down crew (likely your family & friends)
- Videographer (or someone you trust & a nice camera – provided that you have experience editing videos)
Soon I will be coming out with a separate post that goes through where to find vendors, keeping track of everyone, and why you need each individual vendor.
Decorating a campsite to not look like…a campsite
This was the biggest struggle of all. We toyed with so many ideas to cover up the fact that this was all happening on a campsite. We wanted to cover up the grills, bear boxes, cinderblock walls, and camping benches… but how do you do that without it taking literally hours and tons of manpower?
Here’s how: you just work with what you’ve got. Also, you understand that most of the wedding will be happening after dark and when it’s dark, you can’t see much anyway (laughs). In all seriousness, the things I mentioned above (re: grills, bear boxes etc.) were an eyesore, especially for a wedding. I was distinctly aware of this. However, instead of working against all of that Labor-Day-weekend-camping-trip-charm, we worked with it.
Bear boxes became iceboxes for the beer. They also became spaces for framed photos & foraged goods to be laid upon. The camping benches were covered in tablecloths and the most gorgeous tablescapes. The cinder block walls were used as a base for string lights.
And the entire ramada sparkled.
Final thoughts for a campsite wedding “at a glance“
If you want to get married on a campsite, you must be of a certain brand of person. I’m assuming you’re a little rugged. You enjoy spending time outside. You’re okay with forgoing some of the nicer things in life if it means it brings you closer to others. Me too. That’s why our wedding was perfect for us.
Stay tuned for more posts discussing more specifically the ins-and-outs of our dreamy campsite wedding! There’s a lot to say, and I hope you find it helpful.