When you think camp, the first things that come to mind are campfires, cabins and canoes – not weddings. While it’s certainly not a traditional theme, many couples today are taking inspiration from summer camp to create an unforgettable wedding.

“Summer camp themed weddings are not only fun and unique, but they offer a sense of nostalgia for guests. Guests can travel back in time to their childhood while celebrating a special time in their friend's life,” says McKenzie Millard, Wedding Coordinator at Ivory & Beau. “A theme of summer camp brings guests close together through activities, storytelling and memories.”

Whether you met at summer camp or just love the rustic, woodsy aesthetic, here are a few expert tips for planning a laidback and fun-filled celebration.

Choose a Camp-Worthy Venue

“My favorite way to make this theme work is by having everyone camp out together the weekend of the wedding! By staying in cabins or tents, guests would really be immersed into the summer camp vibes,” says Millard.

Just be sure to check that your dream venue is available on your date – some places may be closed to events during their peak months (June, July and August). If the area is removed from energy sources, plan to bring generators to ensure your guests and vendors have the power they need.

Dress Appropriately

A camp-style wedding shouldn’t be a formal affair, so dress to match. That means avoiding heavy materials, long sleeves and big trains. Consider linen suits and bohemian style gowns with lace or chiffon. For shoes, stick to flats since heels are likely to sink into the grass.

Keep Everyone Comfortable

With any outdoor wedding, it’s important to have strategies in place to keep everyone comfortable, no matter what Mother Nature has in store. Be sure to provide shade during the day and blankets as it cools off in the evening. Also, have a plan in place if it starts raining, such as a backup indoor venue or tent. And remember to offer plenty of extra bug spray and sunscreen!

Offer Games and Activities

What is summer camp without games? Engage your guests in classic activities like lawn games (croquet, corn hole or ring toss), giant versions of board games (checkers or connect four) or team competitions (tug of war, capture the flag or color war). Of course, a campfire complete with a sing-a-long is also a must!

Add Rustic Touches

From the altar to the wedding cake, weave your theme into every detail for a cohesive look. Millard recommends utilizing masculine hues for your color palette, such as brown, red, dark blues and greens. “Incorporating textures such as leather or rope could add additional interest, too,” she adds.

Other camp-tastic details to consider: enamelware place settings, sliced wood chargers, wildflower centerpieces, pendant garlands, plaid table runners and lots of lanterns.

Provide a Casual Menu

For the food, keep it casual. That means barbeque, macaroni and cheese, trail mix stations, deli spreads, buffet breakfasts and, of course, a s’mores station.

Have Fun with It

Camping is about having a good time with friends and family – and so is your wedding! So, don’t forget to incorporate plenty of elements of carefree fun to truly capture the spirit of summer camp.

“My advice would be to make it real as possible! Make it seem like your guests are really going to summer camp. To give them an unforgettable experience I believe that you should incorporate details that will bring back memories for all of your guests,” says Millard.

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