Category — Camp Weddings

More than S’mores: Unique Touches for Camp Weddings

Posted by The Mrs.

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Throughout the week, we’ve been highlighting camp weddings and sharing some tips from the experts. I thought it would also be fun to pull together some ideas for unique touches to add to these camp wedding celebrations.

1. Recite the blessing over the wine with a pewter Branch Kiddush Cup, $76 at ModernTribe

2. This Nature’s Beauty Ketubah captures the essence of camp so perfectly, $199
at MP Artworks

3. The groomsmen should get a kick out of this tongue and cheek Yo Semite
T-Shirt
, $28 at Pop Judaica

4. Help guests make their way around camp in the dark with these credit card sized Let There by Light Flashlight, $9.95 at Pop Judaica

5. What is camp without Color War? These custom made Color War T-Shirts are
sure to delight your guests!, contact Miss Wit for info and pricing.

6. Use these Wood Journals as guest books to capture the memories of your big
day, $16-$24 at 3RLiving

7. Imagine exchanging vows under the sky and trees depicted in this glorious Nature’s
Radiance Chuppah
!, $545 at MP Artworks

June 26, 2009   No Comments

Gabby and Jeffrey’s Camp Wedding

Posted by The Mrs.

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Gabby Etrog Cohen and her husband Jeffrey were married in a reform Jewish wedding at Point O’Pines Camp in Brant Lake, NY in September 2007. This is Gabby’s wedding story in her own words:

We wanted to do something different for our wedding. We knew we wanted an outdoor wedding, and wanted to make a weekend out of the wedding too, not just one evening. Since we are very active and love the outdoors we thought a summer camp would be the perfect location. I went to a summer camp about 20 minutes away from Point O’Pines and used to play tennis there all the time. I also had a number of friends who were campers there, so I was already familiar with the camp.

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Among the activities we had were water skiing, tennis, softball, basketball, tetherball, ping-pong and swimming. The fireworks were really the highlight of the wedding. Our guests didn’t expect it at all and it was a great surprise for them. The fireworks turned out to be much more extravagant than we even expected!

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Planning a destination wedding is tough, no matter where it is. In addition, planning an outdoor wedding is always nerve-racking. You also want to think about your guests – would they enjoy this type of wedding? Are they adventurous? In the beginning, it seemed like it was going to be so relaxed and easy – but planning a camp wedding is a lot of work since it is much more than just one night. You have to think about the activities during the day, the rooming situation, the breakfast, lunch and dinners. Organizing bunks and putting together the rooming list proved to be the most challenging part of our wedding planning.

Although it was a ton of work, our wedding was a blast. We were married two years ago and our friends still talk about how awesome our wedding was!

Photo Credits: Carlos Varela

June 25, 2009   2 Comments

Jessica and Jordan’s Camp Wedding

Posted by The Mrs.

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Jessica and Jordan Coleman were recently married at Camp Echo in the New York Catskills. The couple met while both were attending a camp conference, so camp holds a special meaning for them. When they met Jordan was working for his family’s camp, and Jessica was working at another camp. This is their wedding story in Jessica’s own words:

Our wedding weekend lasted from Friday night rehearsal dinner to a Saturday night wedding, and Sunday FunDay. We provided information to our guests on area other activities and sites that we thought they might find interesting. It was Fall, so we included apple and pumpkin picking, hiking trails at a nearby state park, and horseback trail rides.

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While we did offer accommodations at camp, we did not recommend them — it was cold at night, and most adults aren’t really happy sleeping on a twin-sized camp mattress. One of the best things we did was to provide a charter bus between the local hotels and the camp. That way, we didn’t have to worry about where guests would park at the facility (which would have mostly been on grass or a good walk away from the ceremony and reception site), and guests didn’t have to worry about who would be the designated driver.

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The ceremony took place on a stage in a tent on the basketball courts! The courts are on top of a slight hill, so we had a really nice view of the lake and surrounding trees behind us. We had a green runner underneath, so it felt more outdoorsy, and we were obviously in a tent (in case of rain– complete with flaps that could be rolled down in gusty winds).

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The reception was in Olympic Hall, the equivalent of most camp’s rec halls. It’s called Olympic Hall because it hosts the plaques of all the teams throughout the camp’s history. This was a great location with a lot of character. Plus, there was already a stage, so there was an obvious location for the band, with plenty of room for the tables and dance floor.

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On Sunday, we had a continental breakfast, a morning softball game, tours of camp, paddleboats and canoes to take out on the lake, and trails to hike, jog, and bike. Some people also chose to swim, though it was very cold, so we didn’t actually recommend it! The finale was a late BBQ lunch. Most people were happy to just spend time together in a casual environment. We especially loved that we planned for the casual day on Sunday. It gave us time to relax and enjoy being with our guests, rather than always being “on” as we were during the wedding itself.

June 24, 2009   4 Comments

Eden and Bram’s Camp Wedding

Posted by The Mrs.

couple_camp_wedding

Eden Daly and her husband Bram were married at Club Getaway in Kent, CT this past fall. This is Eden’s wedding story in her own words:

We had a lot of out of town family and friends with kids, so we thought having a destination wedding not too far from our home would be the perfect idea. We wanted our guests to enjoy themselves to the fullest without having to worry about driving, and my husband and I wanted to be able to spend time with all of our guests. We did not want to have to walk around each table the night of the wedding taking to guests and miss out on all of the festivities of the evening. This allowed us to enjoy our wedding as much as the guests.

camp_wedding_lake

I grew up going to summer camp and loved the idea of everyone gathering to canoe, play tennis, fly on the trapeze, and then sleep in cabins at night. We had a wine tasting and a cooking class for the non-active/athletic guests, activities for kids, and babysitters on hand. Everyone could lounge lakeside and visit with each other or simply relax and read a book. After our wedding reception, we also had a bonfire where we roasted s’mores and watched the stars.

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The major challenge was convincing older relatives that they would be comfortable staying on site in the cabins (couples might want to get a golf cart to transport guests from one site to the other) and also convincing my mother that it was okay to take a non-traditional wedding route. All in all, my mother couldn’t have been happier. She has received so many compliments about our wedding, and she enjoyed herself so thoroughly that she was literally “over the moon.”

My advice is to make sure you have a great event planner at the camp who you are working with – someone who knows what the camp does best. The staff was amazing. We felt like they had magic fingers. One minute the tent was a place for a lunch barbecue and the next minute it was an elegant tent for our wedding celebration. Work with local vendors too – we really had some terrific vendors that helped to make the wedding a beautiful event.

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If I had done anything differently, it would have been to add an extra day to the wedding weekend- we started on Friday night and ended on Sunday but all of our guests wished they had even more time to enjoy spending time together and take advantage of all the wonderful activities the camp had to offer.

Photo Credits: Beth Keiser

June 23, 2009   No Comments

Camp Weddings: A Primer

Posted by The Mrs.

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Sara and Jon Deren’s S’mores Wedding Favors

I’m just about the only Jew I know who never attended summer camp, but for those of my friends who did go away to camp, they look back on the experience with great fondness.  Thoughts of color war, bond fires, afternoon cookies and milk, and songs like Im Tirtzu bring back of flood of memories for them. It’s no wonder that so many former campers and couples who met at camp choose to hold their weddings at a location that holds such dear memories for them. It’s the nostalgia associated with the summer camp experience that I attribute the growing popularity of camp weddings.

If you are considering a camp wedding, here’s what you should know:

Camp weddings vs. other destination weddings: “A wedding at a camp offers a unique set of benefits that traditional venues don’t normally afford,” explains Deb Williams of Retreat Central. Camps tend to be casual and less expensive than hotel destination weddings. They also hold memories for couples, especially those who actually met at the camp. Specifically for the Jewish wedding, most Jewish camps have outdoor sanctuaries, are spiritual places, and may already be kosher. Most of all, camps are a great way to bring people together. What makes us appealing to those seeking a comfortable wedding experience, may also be what detracts those couples who are looking for a more formal setting though. Camp accommodations and service amenities are generally less than typically expected at a hotel, but as long as you manage expectations you can create lasting memories in this special setting.”

Amy Abrams and Ronen Glimer met as youngsters at Camp Ramah and were married at Isabella Friedman Jewish Retreat Center 15 years later

Amy Abrams and Ronen Glimer met as youngsters at Camp Ramah and were married at Isabella Friedman Jewish Retreat Center 15 years later

Consider the weather: Just like any outdoor wedding, you’ll want to have a back up plan just in case it rains, whether it be a tent, or an alternative indoor location. One of the biggest attractions of having a camp wedding is that guests can partake in all the outdoor activities. If it rains, it can really put a damper on the experience. Lauren Young was married at Camp Kweebec in Schwenksville, Pa. When she told her rabbi she was getting married at camp, he said: “What? You better pray it doesn’t rain.” Her response: “Rabbi, that’s your job, so start praying!” (Lucky for Lauren–it didn’t rain!)

Dress for the occasion: Keep in mind that camps can be grassy, muddy, and sandy. Be sure to instruct your guests to pack appropriately and leave the stilettos at home. Lauren got creative with her own wedding attire and wore comfy camp friendly Jack Purcell sneakers along with her wedding dress.

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Lauren Young and Jon Gordon’s basketball court horah

Take advantage of camp activities: The great thing about camps are all of the activities offered–from campfires, to swimming, to canoeing, and sing alongs. “During the actual ceremony, we sang “You’ve Got a Friend,” which is the ultimate camp song, and everyone sang along,” Lauren remembered fondly. Camps by nature are kid friendly, so if you’re inviting lots of kids they should have a blast. Jon Deren is not only owner of Camp Manitou in Maine, but he and his wife were married there too. His advice is to “focus on the uniqueness of a camp wedding. Guests will remember the s’mores and sunsets, not the formal flower arrangements. Be prepared for the unexpected and embrace it as part of the experience. ”

Provide alternative accommodations: While the kids and younger folk might be thrilled at the idea of sleeping in bunk beds, it might not be as practical or appealing for older guests or those who are higher maintenance. If there are hotel accommodations nearby, you might consider booking a few rooms to accommodate these other guests. Amy Abrams, who got married at the Isabella Freedman Jewish Retreat Center says “The only thing I would have done differently would have been to encourage some of the guests to stay at a B & B nearby instead of the camp since they were not thrilled with the accommodations (shared showers!)” Lauren did exactly that. “I had buses bring guests back and forth to camp from the hotel, but my camp friends spent the night at camp,” she said.

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Sara and Jon’s Lakeside Ceremony

Hold your wedding at a camp that is equipped for weddings: While the thought of getting married at the camp you attended as a child might sound appealing, not all camps are equipped for weddings. There are a lot of logistics involved in a camp wedding so it’s therefore best to hold your wedding at a camp that has the facilities and know how to host a big event.  Jessica Coleman of Coleman Family Camps recommends asking the following questions: Are there places where the water may be turned off seasonally?  Is the camp’s kitchen still open, or will a caterer need to bring in a mobile kitchen?  What will the weather be like during the event — does this area get hurricanes, tornadoes, heavy rains, early (or late) blizzards, etc?  Can the camp’s electric system support additional heaters?  If the electricity goes out, will generators be required for lights/cooking, etc?  Does the camp have access to them?

Know the logistics or hire someone who does: This goes back to the previous point. If the camp does not provide a point person for logistics, you might consider hiring one for the occasion.  Just about every bride I spoke with recommended hiring a professional to help you. “I wish I used a wedding planner because it was hard to keep track of all the little details on the day of the actual event,” Lauren explains, “The day unfolded in different locations, so that made it more difficult for me to manage: the ketubah signing was in the owner’s cabin, the ceremony was in the camp gazebo, the cocktail hour was on the Mansion House porch, the meal ended up being eaten inside the dining halls because it was a chilly day, and then we had dancing on the basketball court.”

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Lauren and Jon’s wedding guests enjoy a meal in the canteen

One of the biggest benefits of holding a camp wedding is the amount of quality time you get to spend with guests. “Brides and grooms who have gone to camp especially love the connection!” exclaims Marla Coleman, of Coleman Family Camps. “And so do guests! Even those who haven’t been to camp get a very instant appreciation. There is an indescribable atmosphere at camp, unlike any other event space. Being at camp just recalls feelings of being connected.”

Resources:
Foundation for Jewish Camp
American Camp Association

June 22, 2009   3 Comments