Categories: Camping

Truly, madly, camping

Camping weddings are all the rage! So find a romantic pitch and get hitched.

by Sam Pow

a wedding should be a happy occasion – but let’s keep it real, people! The current economic squeeze has made tying the knot a
challenge for the modern couple seeking ways to celebrate saying
“I do”. If the £25k-and-rising ceremonies of old – where guests are expected to
finance babysitters, 5-star accommodation, expensive items from expensive
wedding lists, and never-to-be-worn-again millinery – don’t sit comfortably
with you, then here’s something to think about. Imagine, if you will, a
picturesque field with your nearest and dearest, blue skies above, trees, birds
singing, campfires, sky lanterns and…. yes, tents to sleep in. A beautiful
bride is running through green, green grass with flowers in her hair; she’s
glowing with happiness, and life is good. Yes, camping weddings are not only
great fun, (and hugely popular now), they can also be easy on the budget. And
anything that gives you more to spend on a honeymoon is a great idea, right?

Of course, I’m biased – because my
own wedding was a camping wedding. And honestly, it was one of the best few
days of my life. We took over a beautiful campsite in Dorset, bought a huge
tent to serve as the ‘marquee’, and all our friends happily mucked in to make
it a weekend to remember.

My gregarious American cousin
compered, while
our loved ones heckled and cheered and toasted the tale behind our matrimony.
My husband and I read passages; his was a pop song we’d both loved as teenagers
(before we’d met), mine was an excerpt from an astrology book (I thought he
needed reminding that my star sign doesn’t do housework). Our best friends read
wonderful poems, culminating with a concoction of lyrics by my favourite recording
artist. It was all very special and heart-warming, there wasn’t a dry eye in
the house. One first dance later – complete with choreographed fancy swing
moves – and we pressed play on our low-volume playlists (lest you forget, sound
travels in the country). Cocktails flowed, kids were put to bed, stories were
shared around the main fire.

Hosting a two-day affair seemed to work better than a one-night
social frenzy, and allowed guests to relax and get to know each other. Being
outdoors created the perfect environment for the kids to run free and bond with
each other, just as bumping into other guests at the shower cubicles was an
ice-breaker for the adults. We’d hired a bouncy castle for the next day, which
arrived while my new husband was cooking breakfast for 100 guests over a
firepit (thank goodness for supermarket deliveries, keeping several tonnes of
bacon fresh isn’t a viable option in the middle of nowhere). And even the
weather was kind to us, a little windy, but no rain drops in sight. The fresh
air was invigorating, in the special way that scented countryside breezes are.
All in all, a perfect weekend, with many happy memories.

Camping weddings – tips
for success

So here are my tips for making your camping wedding a great
success – while saving some pennies along the way.

Venue – There are places that have a special licence for marriages in an outside structure, but it’s more flexible to keep the ‘official’ marriage to a registry office, then have a blessing in your chosen outdoor setting. So find a registry
office, church, town hall, or other licenced premises… then party in the
countryside with friends. Choose a campsite with equipped facilities, or find your own
field and hire a marquee. In our case, we sourced an affordable large garden
tent that we later sold on.

Food and Drink – Sit down wedding meals can be very grand, but in
these hard-pressed times who cares about the canapés du jour or the
silver-service spatchcock duck and Eton Mess, when you could be sampling
countryside-reared, organic pork hog roast washed down with DIY cocktails from
a makeshift bar.

Accommodation – If you’re mixing friends with family, book up the
local B&Bs for the elderly relatives to retire to, allowing the youngsters
to party on then crash out in tents on-site.

What to spend – You can be as lavish or as budget-conscious as you
wish (champagne or prosecco?; 4 spreads or 3?; fireworks or fires?). But
remember, nature is free and sometimes, chic is cheap, or at least it is when
you have an ounce of style in your bones.

Pull in favours – Ask friends to help out, donate or make bunting,
bring tasty cakes along for a tea party (much more fun than a three-tiered
wedding cake) – and if any friends are florists get them on board! Guests will
be happy to pay for their own pitch (around £20 for a family of 4).

Brainstorm – Add your own ideas. Adorn tables with small bunches of
wild flowers. Throw your bouquet from atop a tree. (The girl who caught ours
had her own camping wedding the following summer). Instead of favours, give
everyone something on arrival; we opted for brightly-coloured garlands.

Things I Wish I’d Known:

  • Invite more people, there’s always more space in
    fields than you might imagine (but then I believe this is a common regret
    among brides wherever they marry).
  • If you’re taking a baby, take a babysitter – this is
    one weekend you really should not be looking after junior the whole time!
  • Allocate someone else to be in charge of on-site
    organisation instead of trying to help people put up tents while running
    through mental check lists – there’s being relaxed and there’s inviting
    stress, never the two should meet at your own wedding!

Things we got right:

  • Do tell guests with kids to bring plenty of snacks, to
    save them travelling offsite when hungry.
  • Provide a list of attractions near the site – camping
    should be a mini break for everyone to enjoy.
  • Separate couples in a different camping area to young
    families, so they can have a lie-in.
  • Choose a site with glamping accommodation options to
    assist the travellers and the camp-shy, and ideally one with electric hook
    ups for the campervan fans.
  • Rally everyone to enjoy the stars alongside you, and
    spend your first days of married life running barefoot in the grass.

So that’s it! Hopefully your day will go as smoothly as mine. And as for the honeymoon – well, there’s always a camping trip!

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