It’s been three months since our beautiful summer camp wedding! It’s crazy how quickly it came and went after all of the planning leading up to it. It was without a doubt the best day (days… I’ll explain more in a minute) ever and we enjoyed every second.
Let’s start at the beginning. Cole and I met nearly ten years ago while working at a summer camp called Camp Jubilee in North Vancouver. I had been working there for the past few summers and he came from New Zealand to volunteer at the camp for a year. We became a couple shortly after meeting and haven’t been apart since! This place was our home for many years and the people we met there became family. When we got engaged (read that story here) and started thinking about where we’d get married, it only made sense for us to tie the knot at the place it all began.
Our summer camp wedding was a two night event. Because friends and family were coming from overseas and we had lots of family here in Canada that hadn’t been to camp before, we knew we wanted to give everyone time to really enjoy the place and also get to know each other. We arrived at 6pm on night one by boat (the camp is pretty remote- in the woods but also oceanfront and can only be accessed by boat) and the party quickly started. We cracked open a couple kegs from Mariner Brewing, got our money’s worth out of the two night speaker rental and danced the night away.
On the first night, Cole and his groomsmen stayed in a big cabin on site called Fordham Hall and my bridesmaids and I stayed in the beautiful oceanfront forest yurt pictured below. We’re not super traditional by any means, but I liked having that time apart the night before our wedding. Our guests stayed in cabins with bunkbeds… all part of the experience! ;)
We started the next morning slow with lots of coffee (there may or may not have been Bailey’s and Fireball at the coffee station, haha), a big breakfast and refreshing (read: freezing cold) swims in the ocean to get ourselves alive and ready for the wedding that afternoon.
Our photographer (Nicole of The Red Creative who was AMAZING in more ways than just photography, though her work is clearly incredible. She was truly SO helpful and saved the day a few times!) and makeup artists (Ashley and Jas of Be Flawless Beauty Bar who did an excellent job and were so quick) arrived around 9am and everyone got to work to prepare for the day.
There were people helping out all over the place and I didn’t even know what was going on most of the time. I truly don’t know what we would’ve done without everyone that helped- they pulled the day together so beautifully! The one thing I did do (other than run around like a chicken with my head cut off), along with the help of my bridesmaids, a friend and our awesome photographer, was make our bouquets. I ordered $300 worth of flowers from Costco and knew I wanted lots of color and a bit of an undone, foresty look. Beyond that, none of us had any idea what we were doing but the bouquets turned out SO gorgeous and I couldn’t be happier!
My bridesmaids and I got ready in the forest yurt that we’d spent the night in before. It was honestly a bit hectic because I underestimated how much time I’d need to get my hair done, my bridesmaids made me cry with a cute scrapbook they made me, I totally forgot to give the rings to the best man (insert Nicole’s day saving moment #1) and we couldn’t locate the boutonnieres I made for the guys (insert Nicole’s day saving moment #2, haha).
A family friend who also happens to be an insanely talented hairstylist did my hair for me! I didn’t have a super specific idea of what I wanted, I just had a cute little floral hair comb that I wanted to use. I love how my hair turned out- he did such an amazing job and I was so lucky to have his help!
After the slight stress of getting ready, it was all on and we got hitched. My bridesmaids walked down the aisle to a Mitski cover of Let’s Get Married by Bleachers and I walked down to In Case You Didn’t Know by Brett Young. My grandma was our flower girl (best decision ever, she was so sweet), Duke was our ring bearer and our best friend was our officiant.
We had a totally customized ceremony without all the legal mumbo jumbo (because we legally got married a couple days before our actual wedding) that my friend and I put together, and Cole and I wrote our own vows. It was short and sweet and perfect.
Our guests showered us in dried flower petals that Cole’s mom and sisters put together as we left the ceremony. Little touches like this done by friends and family throughout our wedding were things I never would have thought of myself but loved and appreciated so, so much.
After the ceremony, our bridal party went to the waterfront to take some photos (and drink beer, obviously).
Don’t worry, our guests were well entertained during this time with champagne and this INCREDIBLE charcuterie board that Cole’s sister made. Still can’t get over this.
I wasn’t sure how the bridal party photos would go because Cole really isn’t into posing for photos, but he was such a good sport and so was everyone else. Our photos turned out very “us” and fun and I just love them so much!
Since we had friends traveling from different parts of the world to be in our wedding party, it wasn’t really possible to get everyone together in time to go suit or dress shopping pre-wedding, so we went with rental companies for both the suits and dresses and I couldn’t recommend it more. We received both the suit and dress rentals complimentary in exchange for my honest thoughts post-wedding and I have to tell you- renting is absolutely the way to go.
The bridesmaid dresses were from Bridesmade. They were an infinity style that you could tie tons of different ways which worked really great because I wanted my bridesmaids to wear something that they felt was most comfortable and flattering for them. There were so many colors to choose from, but we settled on the shade Wine because it went so well with the navy suits and the whole camp setting in general. Their sizing is easy with only a couple lengths and a couple sizes, however our sizing estimate was a little off for a bridesmaid coming from Australia and we had to get a last minute change in size. Bridesmade sent out the new dress super quick and we received it just in time. My ladies looked so amazing!
The groom and groomsmen suits were from Black & Lee. Choosing the suits was a super easy process- we just went into a store near us, Cole chose the suit he liked, the staff helped us color coordinate the other pieces like shirts, vests, ties, pocket squares and shoes, he got fitted and that was that! We had the groomsmen (of which 3/4 were coming from overseas) go to a tailor and get measured, we dropped off their measurements at Black & Lee and a few days before the wedding when everyone had arrived, the guys all went in and tried their suits on. There were a couple things that needed to be changed size-wise at this fitting and Black & Lee was so quick to accommodate! Those that needed changes were able to pick up their suits the next day. It was such a streamlined, stress-free process and I can’t recommend them enough.
Duke’s suit, on the other hand, was made by me. You can buy them on Etsy, but they’re harder to find for big dogs and I didn’t want to pay an arm and a leg. I used one of the cloth napkins from the wedding dinner since we had a ton extra and bought a cheap white shirt and burgundy tie from Value Village. I cut everything up the night before the wedding and glue-gunned it all together in hopes that it would work out and it did- I was stoked with how this ended up looking! He was a very handsome boy.
My dress is a Stella York 6814 that I got from Everything But The Groom (this was the best bridal store we went to). This was one of the first few dresses I tried on and the only one I immediately LOVED, but it was also at the first dress store we’d gone to so I didn’t want to commit right away. Another few bridal stores later, I went back to purchase this one and I had absolutely no regrets or second thoughts. I had quite a lot of alterations done (by Angeline Bridal in Vancouver- very highly recommend, she did an incredible job!) so the dress fit like a glove. So much of a glove that it was borderline impossible to sit up straight at dinner haha, but it was totally worth it.
After photos, we all sat down for dinner in a beautiful picnic table area (very fitting for a summer camp wedding!) that everyone came together the night before and morning of to decorate. Cole and some friends put up all of the lighting which totally made the space and a whole team came together to put together the centerpieces.
I wanted to keep our centerpieces simple and rustic (and cheap, haha). My parents dried a log in their house for like three months for me and then cut them into wood rounds (thanks mom and dad!). On top of the rounds, I sat a mason jar with a white pillar candle, a vase with a little lace bow filled with an array of leftover flowers from when we made the bouquets, rose gold table numbers held up by these little tiny logs that I found at the dollar store and had my parents to cut a slot into, and a small glass that we filled part way with rocks and water and then added a white floating candle to. This all sat on top of a lace table runner. The decor probably cost around $10 per table, if not a little less.
The rest of our decor was pretty simple. I had a few signs hand lettered by a local artist, we had a little candy bar that I put together with IKEA jars and candy from Amazon, there were some little white lanterns with tealights around, a friend and I glued some twine to a picture frame and pinned a bunch of photos of Cole and I over the years to it, Cole’s sister found some cool little decor pieces at the thrift store and other than that we just had flowers and lights. The signs below were made by our family friends and each sign listed somewhere one of our guests had traveled from. I loved this so, so much- we kept these to hang up in our house!
Dinner was followed by some really great speeches (we have some funny friends and fam, let me tell you), dancing… and more dancing, and flip cup, and a big bonfire. Our first dance was to Always On My Mind by Tiki Taane (you’ll probably have to Google it… I told you we’re not very traditional, haha) and my dad and I danced to God, Your Mama and Me by Florida Georgia Line. For those who are local and wondering, we bought all of our wine through Everything Wine (they let you return anything that’s unopened which is great) and all of our beer was from Mariner Brewing (we had so many compliments on the beer!).
The next morning, everyone worked together to pack everything up, we had breakfast and unfortunately had to part ways. We had a lot of people tell us they could have happily had a couple more days there and we were definitely wishing for the same!
It really was the best couple of days ever and we truly couldn’t have pulled it all off without all of the help we received. It was such an incredible feeling to have all of our friends and family from all over the world in one place, and for that to be a place that is such an important part of our story (we literally wouldn’t be together without it) made it even more special. If you’re thinking about doing a summer camp wedding, we couldn’t recommend it more!
Vancouver wedding vendors mentioned: