If you are considering a camp wedding for your dream wedding, you may be on to something. Not only are they becoming more popular, but they are also the most laid back and absolutely most fun hanging with your favorite people fire side. A destination wedding in the North Carolina mountains, may be just the right wedding weekend fit for you.
These wedding weekends are filled with the perfect combination of outdoorsy relaxation and rustic sophistication. You can get down and dirty, or you can chic it up at night for dinner and small get togethers before the big bang! Family and friends come together to enjoy each others company and most importantly, celebrate the soon to be married couple. There is a closeness, an instant intimacy There is something about spending a few days together with family and friends in the rustic outdoors of the Blue Ridge Mountains. Whether it is in the woods, or lakeside in one of the national forests, that creates the perfect atmosphere.
Over the last few years, I have spent quite a few of my wedding weekends at a camp, under a canopy of towering trees, and have witnessed many different ways to make the weekend work! To name a few you have Camp Greystone, Camp Highlander, Camp Falling Creek, Kanuga, Camp Pinnacle and many many more!
I am giving you some basic tips on how to host a spectacular weekend experience, from a destination wedding photographers perspective. The wedding I am going to share with you here is one that was also published on Insider.com. The bride absolutely crushed the wedding doing it all herself! The link will be at the bottom of the post if you want to read what they had to say.
Make sure it’s at least a FULL weekend, or more! If it was me, I feel the Thursday-Sunday event schedule has been some of the most memorable experiences for me. The one thing that brings the most realness to my imagery, comes from the satisfaction that the celebration lasted all weekend long. It made getting to know the couples friends and families easy. It made them comfortable with cameras around them. It made the wedding day itself so much more enjoyable. I didn’t feel compelled to rush around and sit and chat with every single person, because I had the time to hang with them before. The images of what mattered seemed to gravitate towards me. As a wedding photographer my job is to shadow the bride and groom. That way when those important friends gravitate towards them, the moments are captured in a genuine way.
It also allows me as a photographer, to really enjoy the weekend as a whole, verus having to cram in the whole story in a quick 8 hours. I was really able to present in the moment. So if possible, make it a weekend where everyone, or most everyone, can stay together. If this sounds appealing, onsite lodging may be a key factor when considering a venue. EB and her crew went old school dorm style. Classy but not glampy in its own right. It was perfect. Memorable. Like a kid again.
Have an agenda. Plan activities, but keep it loose. The one great thing about the North Carolina mountains is the range of options you have. Most of the camps have onsite amenities. But you also want to allow guests some unscheduled time to explore the area, give options but don’t feel compelled to micromanage everyone’s time. This way it is an experience to all of them. I would say to consider forcing the bridal party and groomsmen to opt in for some kayaks or schedule a group yoga class. Those can be great mementos and fall into how photography coverage works.
If you are really ahead of the game and organized, you can send it out before guest’s arrival, or post on your wedding website. Being transparent is best so people know what to expect. Basic information about the property can be helpful too. So many times wedding planners tell me that they I will get a call before guests arrive with questions like, “ is bedding provided” , or “is there a coffee pot in my cabin?” Not that these questions are burdensome to us by any means, but these simple answers provided in an agenda/information packet will be super helpful and will only enhance your, and your guests’, total experience. This way if what is available, the guests can plan accordingly. Sometimes we have to tell them to put on their adult pants! ha!
Choosing a vendor team is part research and part chemistry, in my honest opinion. This topic applies to any wedding really, but if a camp setting is your choice, knowing that is a step in the right direction. Be as mindful as possible when choosing your vendors, which includes thinking about all areas (the venue, caterer, florist, photographer, DJ/Band, bakery, officiant, planner, stationary, design/lighting, rentals and more). You need to know the right questions to ask them, so that your event doesnt fail. So this falls into the area of hiring a wedding planner.
I read once where a bride used visualization strategies and techniques in planning her wedding. What do you see for landscape? What are you eating? What are you drinking? What colors do you see? What do you hear? …live instruments, waves crashing on shore, the crackling of a fire? What do you smell? Do this for every part of the weekend.; from your arrival the first day at your cabin to the farewell brunch and every moment in between. Now write this all down. Let your senses be your guide. Share this with your vendors, and they can hopefully make it happen. Communication is a key component when creating your vendor team. You will find there are many amazing vendors who love heading to camp, especially this wedding photographer.
With these weddings comes some very distinctive experiences that should never be overlooked. Logistics are vital for everyone’s well-being. For instance, if people are going to be walking around at night, they will need to see. So get custom made headlamps or flashlights for everyone. Dont forget the bug spray! A camp survival pack may be a good idea.
The one thing you MUST DO every night. Tthere should be some sort of flame….Campfires, bonfires or both. I mean really, nothing brings people closer than some time huddled around the campfire with cocktails and blankets, telling stories and laughing. But did anyone bring firewood? Make sure to clear with the camp ahead of time that they supply the firewood. You MUST use local firewood, as bringing in trees not local to the area to burn can kill forests.
What about food? Food trucks during the weekend can be a great ideas! Should your guests plan to bring/buy food for breakfast and lunch or are all meals provided. Many local camps in North Carolina offer weddings that are catered all weekend, while others require you to provide your own. We all love animals. And if your Fur Baby is part of the weekend, make sure the event spaces and lodging areas are pet-friendly! So, think about the basic necessities, the overall logistics and plan accordingly.
Getting to western North Carolina is easy. Getting to the area is great, and it makes having a destination wedding easy. Asheville Airport has major airlines and connections through Atlanta, Charlotte. There are also direct flights from destinations around the country.
If time allows, arriving a few days early, before your guests, is HIGHLY recommended. It gives you time to scope out the area, leave welcome bags/baskets and/or run to the local store in case you forgot some items. Sometimes you can arrive and things arent always as planned. We are usually prepared for it due to it happening, but you just want to have some peace of mind.
It also allows you to plan fun adventures each day for the guests. Let them arrive early, deposit there bags somewhere secure and head off on an excursion. Hiking, adventure centers, etc.
Imagine your wedding photographer capturing your wedding weekend as a luxurious twist on an old-school summer camp experience. Activities might include boating, hiking sections of the Appalachian Trail, swimming, whitewater rafting, hiking, and fishing. Relax and enjoy the beauty of Nantahala National Forest with your family and friends. Nantahala weddings are what you look for in a mountain wedding venue when trying to create a memorable North Carolina mountain wedding.