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Elisabeth: I Dream of Summer Camp


by Elisabeth, Contributing Editor

Elisabeth: I Dream of Summer Camp | A Practical WeddingElisabeth: I Dream of Summer Camp | A Practical Wedding

I grew up going to an all-girls sleepaway summer camp in Maine. For seven blissful weeks each summer, I’d slip on the camp uniform of blue polyester and dash out of a platform tent in the pursuit of pure joy—sailing, hiking, canoeing, taking star turns as Daddy Warbucks on the camp stage, singing hearty rounds about swinging along the open road, fostering wonderful relationships with other similarly wholesome youngsters. I still dream about renewing my Junior Maine Woodsmen badge. I drag K with me to Family Camp every August, and stand on the dock with other alumnae reminiscing about that great summer of 1994 and the time our canoe tipped on the Sheepscot River, what a lark! K enjoys it, or tolerates it, in a bemused way, while I stand around harmonizing “The Happy Wanderer” and getting a little teary about the first time I got to swim out to the raft.

We started wedding planning in earnest just after Family Camp last summer. One of the first things we did was make a list of all of the hopes we had for our wedding day, per the book. I had about a hundred different ideas, but K had just one key phrase—community. The idea that our wedding might be a one-day, five-hour intensive celebration was too overwhelming for her deeply introverted self. Her family and friends are far-flung, and she hoped our wedding would be a low-key gathering where she would actually get to spend meaningful time with people. And that’s when I suggested a weekend wedding summer camp getaway.

If our wedding was at summer camp, we could have a lot of activities, so our occasionally awkward and loving families could mingle if they wanted, or walk the labyrinth if they didn’t. All challenge by choice, of course; if you wanted to stay at in town you could, or you could stay on premises with us and perform your talent for the Rehearsal Dinner/Campfire, and then face the lake to sing “Taps” to the setting sun/the happy couple.

And so began my search for the perfect summer-camp-like experience within the tri-state area. I conducted such a thorough literature review that I should submit it for publication. When I stumbled on a low-key resort in the lower Adirondacks, I thought we were golden. On the five and a half hour drive up, we both agreed that it was a bit of a pain for our guests to fly into New York, rent a car, and keep driving for half a day, but we assured each other that the meaningful time they’d have upon arrival would make it totally worthwhile. We’d even make them a mix CD with some camp songs to kick it off.

We toured the place on a cloudless June day. It was warm, a little windy, and the old buildings could not have looked more quaint and welcoming. We traipsed through old Victorians and I mentally calculated how we’d tell our guests that every room was a single, so don’t mind the twin bed, just come outside and look at the water sparkling off the mountains. I figured sharing a twin bed would be the cutest wedding night ever, like we were make-believe college girlfriends, fine! When I saw the old boathouse and dock, I was hooked, imagining twinkling white lights draped across the watery structure and darling rustic cocktails, maybe a banner saying, “A wet knot is harder to untie!” I know. I can’t even write about it I want it so much.

As we passed hiking trails, we dreamed about having a midday pre-wedding hike (K: “Anyone who wants to can hike up the mountain,” and me: “And charming platters of hors d’oeuvres and maybe champagne can be waiting at the top!” K: “You’ve got to be kidding…Oh, you’re not.”). K was sold when she saw Adirondack chairs scattered hither and yon. I knew what she was thinking—here is where she could have early morning meaningful time with her best friends, where they would sip coffee and mostly exchange monosyllabic words while watching the fog burn off the lake. Me, I imagined how ephemerally beautiful I’d look coming by canoe to our simple ceremony, and how I could paddle my new husbutch away from the reception while people waved from the shoreline and placed candles in floating Dixie cups into the water.

We drove home (six and a half hours, with traffic) the same day, and we were all in. It was going to be the world’s best community-minded summer camp festival of a wedding. It was going to be the best weekend of our guests’ lives. And so we started planning, and things started to fall a bit flat, one sticky s’more after another.

Yes, we could rent the place, but it wouldn’t come with any staff, food, setup, or cleanup. That was okay, we could cater it! I totaled up how much it would cost to bring in simple catered meals for over a hundred guests for a long weekend. There went our sperm fund, but it was worth it because these were the memories of a lifetime. K started researching the cubic footage of our Honda Fit and assured me that she could fit a hundred pounds of pulled pork in the backseat. My little sister, a college junior, thought her sorority sisters wouldn’t mind driving upstate and helping with setup and cleanup. I mentally moved a block of the twin beds aside for sorority sisters and added the new line item to our budget. We made a list of people we hoped would be excited to help. We heard from a few friends that they wouldn’t be able to get there in time for pre-wedding festivities, but promised they’d roll in just prior to the ceremony. We calculated the cost of bussing people upstate. We figured out a way to get K’s priest there using a combination of trains and taxis.

Finally, when we were looking at tent rentals and liability insurance, things went to pot. You know the fast-cheap-and-good triangle? How you can pick any two but having all three is statistically impossible? Yeah. We were way past affordability at this point. K thought we could ask some close friends to cook the early meals, and actually enhance the community feel. I didn’t disagree with her, but we couldn’t afford a multi-day event coordinator. I knew that stage-managing a three-day summer camp was going to be so stressful for me that I would struggle to stop to enjoy myself or even fleetingly soak in the enormity of the weekend.

At this point in the planning, we could not have a conversation that didn’t devolve into tears. K wanted to go forward with the plan and trust that it would work out, trust that our community would pitch in to carry the load, but I couldn’t get past the indignity of the cost-cutting measures. We had The Sandwich Fight: K suggested that we save money at a non-wedding day meal by having people make their own lunches and then clear their plates, and I responded that I was not going to ask my father to eat a ham sandwich and load the dishwasher at my wedding, and then we basically wondered why we were getting married at all if our values were so completely different. Rinse, repeat.

A few weeks after The Sandwich Fight we sat down and ordered ourselves to hold a tiny Quaker meeting in our living room where we promised to remain calm and truly listen to each other. Was it the summer camp we wanted, or was it the low-key community feeling? We had originally rejected getting married in New York City, where we live. It felt too expensive, too urban, too overwhelming. But maybe we could figure out a way to bring the feel of community to our corner of Brooklyn, without spending millions of dollars or hours in the car.

Once we gave up the dream of recreating summer camp (and it pained us both), things slowly started coming together in different ways. My friend put together a Pinterest board of simple decorations we could use for the cobblestoned, slightly wild garden next to K’s church. We found a bunch of airbnb apartments scattered through our little Brooklyn neighborhood, and our college friends and family were happy to reserve them. K’s dream of having early morning coffee with her people will still happen; now it’ll be at the cafe across the street from our apartment. And my camp friends are swapping rounds and planning what we’ll all sing during the ceremony.

We’re thinking of it now as if our wedding is a part of normal life, instead of a one-in-a-lifetime dreamscape. We’ll get up; we’ll swing by the bourbon bar that doubles as a flower shop to get a spontaneous bouquet; we’ll take the Q train to K’s church and I’ll point out Governor’s Island when we’re on the Manhattan Bridge like I do every sunny day. It’ll be like any other Saturday—but this will be the best by far.

After the wedding, we’re sneaking off for a few days to a lakeside cabin in the Catskills. There’s a fire pit and a porch with Adirondack chairs and a mountain view across the lake. And I made sure that the place has a canoe.

Photo by APW sponsor Emily Takes Photos

Elisabeth

Elisabeth is an MPH working in public health in New York City. Her old okcupid profile said she’s really good at: fixing socially awkward situations at parties, return trips to Ikea, whipping up excellent mac and cheese on camping trips, leaping into the ocean, being chronically late, and having Friday night adventures all over Brooklyn. In September 2013, she married her introverted, punctual K.

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  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/00388929873803169413 Kristen

    For some reason, I absolutely loved that while Elisabeth was the one who went to summer camp as a child, K was just as in love with getting married at summer camp. Even though it didn’t work out, it seems so sweet to have shared in a beautiful dream like that.

    • Elisabeth

      Yes Kristen! You are so right. And it was one of the few places where we saw eye to eye thus far so it felt especially lousy when the plan went south.

      • http://www.blogger.com/profile/00388929873803169413 Kristen

        Take heart! You saw eye to eye on something which bodes well for future wedding and life planning.

  • http://poppiesandicecream.blogspot.nl/ Amanda

    This wedding sounds like it’s going to be amazing, I love the idea of morning coffee with your family / friends in front of your apartment, having them stay in your neighborhood and spontaneously picking up your bouquet.

    Your honeymoon in a cabin sounds like out of a book too.

    (We also dreamt of a venue, this old-school tea-room and cake shop with a grandma vibe that we just to frequent when dating, but then… it just didn’t work out, they would not have us on a Saturday, they wanted us to rent the place per number of “areas” in the café in slots of 3 hrs. + the menu per person… which added to more than we wanted. In the end we found a restaurant in which we paid a price-per-person that included it all, they were super acommodating to our wishes, and they had a patio-garden area (part of our “vision”). They even added raspberries in the champagne and set up an ice-cream car and high tea brunch menu which all adapted to what we wanted… for the price-per person that was budgeted. )

  • Manya

    I loved this post so much. Isn’t it interesting how our entire concept for a wedding morphs and evolves over the course of the planning? I thought that we would nail down a vision then sort of drive to execution of the vision, but we found that our entire vision morphed as different pieces fell into place. Your wedding is going to be incredible and perfect. I’m so excited for you!

  • Rachel

    Gahhh, Elisabeth, SO MANY THINGS ABOUT THIS POST!

    First of all…omg omg omg, I LOVE summer camp and every time I see a summer camp wedding I want to have one SO BADLY. Going to summer camp was such an amazing part of my life growing up and I totally understand why it was so hard for you to let go of this. I want to decorate our living room with a vintage camp theme; last weekend I was at an antique store and it took all my self-control not to buy ALL THE THINGS. I blame the American Girl book “Molly Saves the Day.”

    Second of all, I so relate to SO much of this post. And here I thought we were the only ones who were planning one wedding, only to realize that the cheap part of the triangle was NOT happening and to bring it back closer to home, which we hadn’t initially wanted to do. Also the line “I couldn’t get past the indignity of the cost-cutting measures” perfectly described how Eric felt during a lot of early planning. And replace The Sandwich Fight with The Great Pie vs Cake Meltdown and yeah…right there with you (though I think more in K’s position than yours). And we are ALSO looking at doing our original wedding thing (which was basically winter camp because omg CAMP) as our honeymoon (if budget allows). It seems like the perfect solution to us too!

    Third, you are a DAMN good writer. This post was so funny (I snorted at the casual way “sperm fund” was tossed in there and laughed out loud at “You’ve got to be kidding…Oh, you’re not.”) and so sharp.

    Finally, I have recently started dreaming of opening a summer camp for adults someday. There would be arts and crafts, survival skills, sailing, campfire time at night, etc and it could be a sweet vacation for adults or used for corporate retreats. And clearly, on the weekends, it should also be a wedding venue.

    • Cleo

      “I blame the American Girl book “Molly Saves the Day.””

      YES!!!

      My first time going to sleepaway camp, I insisted on getting a 1940’s looking canteen that held half the water more modern water bottle/canteen would hold because of that book.

      P.S. Let me know when you open your camp. I’ll sign up for the first session. :)

    • Sarah

      OH MY GOD – MOLLY SAVES THE DAY!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! How much love did I (do I?) have for that doll and her books!!!

      That is all.

      • KB

        Best. American Girl Doll. EVER!

      • Catherine B

        I was always disappointed when we didn’t have epic games of capture the flag at my artsy/church/soccer sleepover camps…

        • Elisabeth

          Rachel! I’m having total American Girl flashbacks now. I had Kirsten and painfully saved up for every last accessory. That slate chalkboard and tiny teensy chalk pencil and the food and the tiny doll! YES I AM a plucky upstart American Girl ready to face any challenges that come my way! Also no joke, there is a vintage canoe paddle hung artfully above our bed. Camp realness. I will totally be an angel investor in your summer camp, please do this!

          • http://andshelovesyou.com Lucy

            I HAD KIRSTEN TOO! *fistbump*

            Her Christmas outfit was the coolest. And you could get a people sized version, which I totally didn’t do because I wasn’t obsessed. Nope. *whistles*

          • Rachel

            I went to the American Girl store for the first time when I was in high school and I still FREAKED OUT seeing all that stuff in person. (Oddly, I had the same feeling when I went into a BHLDN store for the first time a few months ago. It’s just All. So. Pretty.) I had Samantha and Addie, but I LOVED Molly. Actually, all the dolls were amazing, which is why I get REALLY cranky about the fact that Pleasant Company sold out in such a big way. Those dolls got me interested in so many great things and the books were fantastic.

          • http://thevanillabride@blogspot.com Sonarisa

            I hope Lucy sees this since I can’t reply to her post below.

            I decided that I looked exactly like Kirsten in 4th grade. I talked my mom into making St Lucia rolls during Christmas (which became a tradition in my family. Every Christmas we eat St Lucia rolls and hot chocolate while opening presents.) My mother even made me a life sized version of her blue calico dress that I totally wore everywhere. Like, to school and stuff. People thought I was weird…

            This thread is taking me back.

    • https://twitter.com/SaraMBittner one more sara

      I think a lot of summer camps do have things like this! My camp (on the Eastern Shore of MD) has started family camp weekends (no kids required), and just recently built the two new retreat houses with more hotel style accommodations (read: air-conditioned rooms without bunk beds) specifically for business/church etc. retreats. I believe there are also scrapbooking and knitting weekends in the works. I’m definitely willing to share more specific information about my camp if anyone is interested (my APW handle is linked to my twitter).

    • Melissa

      Grown up camp please! I work for the Girl Scouts, and we have an Alumnae Camping Weekend. I’ve never gone, because I know it would be impossible for me to maintain a professional demeanor in front of our volunteers and alumnae. But s’mores, and hiking, and friendship bracelets, and swimming in the lake!

    • Katherine

      Rachel, I would SO be on board for your adult summer camp :-) Sounds like so much fun!

    • http://landlockedlove.blogspot.com Kelly

      When I lived in New York and worked on Madison I used to walk past the American Girl store every day, and I STILL squealed a little bit every time. I had Samantha and Felicity, my sister had Kirsten and Molly, and my cousin had Addy.

      It does make me sad that the historical dolls are much less of a focus now, compared to the Girl of the Year, and the create your own look-alike thing they’ve got going on. I LOVED those dolls and books as a child, and it was so, so cool to learn about different eras of history through that lens.

    • http://www.jalondraadavis.com Jalondra

      Ditto on the writing. Cereal almost came out of my nose. I also had some delusions of grandeur that had to be reined in. And as sometimes I feel a little saddened and intimidated by the labor-heavy community driven weddings I see on indie sites, knowing my family just doesn’t have that capacity, its good to see a story of someone who considered but decided to back off a plan community labor intensive. The new plan sounds beautiful, and much easier.

  • http://www.foreveryoungadult.com erin

    I love this so much.

    I love how much the idea of weddings changes, from our pre-engaged selves to our engaged-but-not-yet-planning selves to our in-the-throes-of-spreadsheets selves to, finally (hopefully) our wedding-day selves. And how, as is proven in your case, the things that are really important remain, no matter the surroundings or the structure.

  • http://acceptorchange.blogspot.com YetAnotherMegan

    As another summer camper, I have to say your first plan sounded wonderful – until you got to the details. I was getting stressed out for you! Beautiful dreams die hard, but it sounds like you’ve found the perfect mix of the atmosphere you want and the wedding you can put together without pulling your hair out and sacrificing other dreams. And that wedding sounds absolutely gorgeous.

  • ANOTHER MEG

    I love this! There’s a advice in Meg’s book that that came to mind when I read this- essentially, figure out your dream wedding, then figure out what you love about it, and try to keep those things. This sounds like a wonderful way to keep what you love about the camp wedding idea and still be able to afford it/stay sane.

    You are two smart cookies. Also, saying goodbye to your absolute dream wedding is hard, and I hope you love the shit out of your real wedding. And then your marriage.

  • Moe

    Oh so sweet!!! I hope your wedding is beyond joyful and fantastic!

    I’m a city girl who’s never been to summer camp and my wedding has already passed, but now I want a camp wedding!!!!

  • http://unexpected-moments.blogspot.ca/ Sheryl

    “We’re thinking of it now as if our wedding is a part of normal life, instead of a one-in-a-lifetime dreamscape.”

    Some of my favourite memories of getting married are those every day type moments, like the drive we took together to get to our hotel in the early afternoon.

    • http://landlockedlove.com Kelly

      SO true!

      David and I went to the farmers’ market the morning of our wedding to eat breakfast and pick up flowers for the bouquets. We go to the market every weekend when it’s open, and it was such a deliciously normal (and yet super-special) way to start the day!

  • Becs

    It is a joy every time I go to APW and a post by Elisabeth is waiting there — brimming with humor, heart, and insight!

    • Elisabeth

      Becs — thank you. I find public writing terribly nervewracking and this is incredibly kind of you!

      • Rebecca

        your writing is amazing Elisabeth!

  • Oakland Sarah

    Your post really resonates with me. I feel like I now know every summer camp within an hour of Oakland. My fiance and I originally were looking for much the same thing–more quality time with our far-flung family and friends, but also trying to find inexpensive accommodation for guests as a way to make it more do-able. However, once I started looking into it, my stress level started rising. It started to seem that it was going to be a lot more stressful and a lot more expensive than I had initially expected. Now we’ve looked into group campsites around the area (thanks APW commenters for the great suggestion), and are moving forward with a picnic/park wedding.

    We also had a sandwich fight! My fiance suggested we have sandwiches for the reception because everyone likes sandwiches. I sorta freaked out and was like “I want nice food!” to which he responded about the nice sandwiches that exist in the world. We haven’t returned much to this conversation because we’re very much at the beginning of *actually* planning. It’s hard for me to figure out what I mean exactly by “nice food.” I just want it to feel celebratory. My fiance keeps trying to find the least expensive option and insisting that “nice” and “expensive” do not have to go together. (he has also suggested we serve everyone soup because it’s inexpensive–at first I thought this was ridiculous and then I remembered that “Italian Wedding Soup” exists).

    Anyway, so much still left to sort out! But, I feel you, Elisabeth!

    • KB

      I feel like everyone has a version of The Sandwich Fight where one partner really wants something and the other partner suggests doing it cheaply/quickly/not at all, which leads to WHY DON’T YOU LOVE ME??? I personally am trying to think of the most hospitality-oriented, meaningful details, whereas my fiance just doesn’t want me crying over a glue gun…

    • Rebecca

      I’m just going to throw out the idea of an afternoon tea style reception as a fancy sandwiches option. See also: english garden party. Bonus- gives your guests excuses to wear fancy hats.

      Figuring out what “nice” meant to us (and our budget) was totally one of the hardest parts of the entire planning exercise- good luck!

    • http://www.jalondraadavis.com Jalondra

      My fiance said that we didn’t need to send invitations, we could just email (not evite, regular ass email) and tell people. So I understand your struggle. I got my invitations but they were super cheap from an online printer and we skipped the save the dates and are doing electronic RSVPs. We are having, among other things, some pretty, gourmet looking sandwiches. Which are really just regular but really good sandwiches cut into four with a toothpick stuck through them. Might be something to think about. Pick your battles, Girl, there’s more to come. Sometimes he may seem tacky but what he is saying actually makes sense, you just have to figure out how to make the suggestion more aesthetic and hospitality sense for you.

  • The Dilettantista

    This post is lovely and I hope you get the community feeling you want…but I’m sorry to have to be a wet blanket–I got nervous for you when I read that your guests were using AirBnB. AirBnB is illegal in NYC now, so just make sure that your friends and family have some alternative housing plans in mind:

    More information here: http://thebillfold.com/2013/05/airbnb-not-in-nyc/

    Again, sorry to be the bearer of bad news, but better to know now than to know when it is too late.

    • Elisabeth

      oh no worries on being a wet blanket. I submitted this before the news about airbnb came crashing down, and have been alternately worrying and trying to let it go ever since! I was moaning on about it to my best friend Molly (who was planning to stay in one of those apartments I mentioned) and she said: “You’re at the point in the process where you need to start narrowing things down that are Not My Problem and My Problem. You will be much more sane if you can let go of the NMP stuff. Everyone can manage their own selves!” I appreciated the stern talk down…since I have a bit of a hard time letting things go and worrying that I need to arrange it all.

      • The Dilettantista

        Hi Elisabeth,

        Good!!! You seem to be On Top of It so I figured that this was submitted before the news this week.

        And yes, your friend Molly is right, let it go–your friends and family are adults who can take care of themselves, they’ll figure it out! (I’d be worrying too, so, you know, you aren’t alone).

        I might also be a killjoy but I am on the side of this being a GOOD THING because I’ve had some friends and family (including my sister) in NYC whose (crazy) roommates decided to AirBnB without ASKING PERMISSION FIRST, so my sister came home one night to a strange man in her apartment. It was all fine, the guy wasn’t a creeper, my sister just had no idea this was going down. NOT COOL, crazy roommate, NOT. COOL.

      • http://www.jalondraadavis.com Jalondra

        Why don’t you email your guests or post something on your wedsite about the legal changes and also set up a room block somewhere (or if you don’t feel like doing that, links to some inexpensive hotels, or better yet, a hotel search site where they can find hotels themselves) so they can make the decision for themselves. I know its not technically your problem, but you don’t want people to walk into the situation blind and have something happen and associate that bad experience with your wedding. Inform, let them decide, and let it go. This also seems like something someone helping you can be delegated to handle?

    • https://twitter.com/SaraMBittner one more sara

      Okay wait… a couple of my friends have booked an apartment using AirBnb in NYC. From this article and a quick google search, I can’t tell if this effects them. Has anyone read anything about the practical consequences of this decision?

      • The Dilettantista

        Okay basically what I think is (and I am not a lawyer so don’t quote me but this is what I am understanding from my reading)…if your landlord (or angry roommate, see above) wants to sue you for impropriety regarding the lease and illegal subletting, your landlord can sue you and your landlord will win. So from what I understand it does not directly or financially impact the people who are renting through Air BnB but, instead, the people who are placing their apartments for rent via AirBnB. As in, your friends aren’t going to get sued for renting a room via AirBnB. What will impact your friends–presumably a lot of cautious AirBnBers will be reneging on any agreements so as to avoid possible landlord lawsuits. At least that is what I would do, were I in that situation.

  • http://www.laughterinthelou.com Emma

    As someone who did have a summer camp wedding (http://apracticalwedding.com/2011/09/midwest-camp-wedding/), I don’t blame you for the romantic notion dreamland or the hard work overload! We were lucky to have camp provide the food, clean-up, etc. We did have to bring more in than a normal venue, but it never ended up being too much work in our specific case. It can be magical but it can be tricky! Kudos to you on a good decision and on finding ways to bring elements of camp into another space. Loved this post!

    • Elisabeth

      Emma, that picture of the camp dining hall all decked out is so, so lovely!

  • http://snippetsof.blogspot.com SarahE

    A wedding vision! Even one that changes and evolves over time!

    As my partner and I have only just begun even saving money for a wedding of any sort, I just want a vision. Any vision. I mean, I know we’re on the way to it, but I have zero patience for life transitions. I want a decision. NOW. That way I can properly fantasize about it. Unlike now, where I have to keep stopping myself from getting too into wedding-vision details, since we have no plans and the plans we do make will likely evolve over time anyway.

    (Example, after far too many daydreams of my very best friends chattin’ it up with me over coffee and mimosas at my future in-laws house, my future MIL says that as part of their upcoming kitchen remodel, they’ve decided to take down the enormous mirror that covered half their dining room wall and had a convenient shelf underneath it at counter-height. Perfect for multiple ladies getting ready together, amiright? Le sigh. Now I must adjust my daydream to include the large mirrors in each of their two hall baths. What a trial! [says the drama queen])

  • Breck

    With all the talk of sandwich fighting, I keep picturing a Style Me Pretty-esque engagement shoot with couples throwing sandwiches at each other. Anyone else..?

    Seriously though, wonderfully written post. And I’m excited you get a piece of your camp dream on your honeymoon!

    • JEM

      SMP food fight shoot FTW!!!!!!!

  • Copper

    Funny enough, I dreamed of a sweet, succinct little courthouse wedding. No showers, no rehearsals, just us and the judge, and then maybe dinner at a nice place with our people. And what did I wind up with? A camp wedding, so that we can spend time with our families, and our families can spend time with each other! It is funny how things change when you actually see what works for you, and what works for your partner, and what works for all of your various people.

    • Elisabeth

      oooo, I can’t wait to hear how your camp wedding turns out. During another planning phase, which I’ll get around to writing at some point, we entertained the idea of a courthouse wedding for .24 seconds. After the rollercoaster camp fantasy, I was totally ready for City Hall, but K, then realized it was very important to HER, introvert and all, to mark it as a public ceremony with our families and friends as witnesses…so here we are at St Marks in the Bowery. Things. They change!

      • Katie

        Ooh, does that mean K’s priest is Winnie? She’s fabulous!

  • sandyliz

    Elisabeth, how about you take my family farm summer camp style wedding, and I’ll take your Bklyn neighborhood wedding? :)

    I never went to summer camp, and most of my friends are going to be horrified at the nature (Mud!? Chickens?! Camping?!) and the remoteness. But when the family owns a farm that accomodates 200 you take the low low family discount and forget your dreamy city hall, neighborhood wine bar, taking the subway with all of your guests dreams.

    • Copper

      Yep, or when renting a camp for the weekend costs 1/5th of what renting an in-town wedding venue costs for an afternoon! Gotta roll with the punches.

  • Helen

    I spent many years at camp in Denmark, Maine! I thought about getting married at the actual camp, but we ended up deciding on a camp-like lodge in Casco given that many of our guests are older and might not appreciate sleeping on cots and using outhouses :)

    • Elisabeth

      Helen – did you go to Wyo?? Oh so campsick this time of year.

      • Helen

        Yes!! For 9 years including the year I was a counselor. So close to getting a Wiggie chair…how about you? It’s funny that Wyo is coming up again, I was in a jewelry store with my fiance in Austin last weekend (to finally get him a wedding band…) and the “running bear/white dove” song came on the radio. I had never heard that song before outside of Wyo :)

        • http://www.ameripriseadvisors.com/cristina.l.caruso Cris C

          Maine Woodswoman here! (And JMG)

          I so wanted a camp wedding, except my camp is the Girl Scout Camp in Bridgton, and its DRY! I can’t rightfully have a wedding with no champagne and other adult beverages. So we too will be having an urban, city wedding.

  • NB

    I attended a summer camp wedding at Ogontz camp in New Hampshire and it was an amazing time! They have adult-sized beds in cabins with roll-down canvas sides that were actually really nice. There’s a lake and canoes too. They also have volunteers who set stuff up and bake fresh bread on site! My friends spent about $23,000 on the wedding but it was a 3-day event with maybe more days for the immediate family and they had a 12-piece band. So although it’s outside of my fiance and my budget, I highly recommend it.

  • http://www.superfantastic.blogs.com Superfantastic

    We wanted to get married at an eco-resort we stayed at in Belize (Black Rock River Lodge – highly, highly recommended). It was beautiful there and would have involved pretty much no work on our part. And they’d rent the whole place to us and provide meals for all of our guests for a week for well within our budget if we had it in their off season. DONE! Except. They only have 13 cabins and we couldn’t make the math work, even for our very must have guests. And the next closest place to have people stay was a 30 minute drive over bumpy dirt roads. Some of our guests would have to get passports to come. And they’d all need shots and anti-malarial drugs. And it isn’t a very little-kid-friendly place. And the off season is the rainy season, which would mean a really dicey drive out there. All of the ands added up until it was clear to me that it just didn’t make sense for us to do it. It took my now-husband a lot longer to let go of the idea, come around to the idea of a wedding in Florida instead, and then get excited about that idea. It wasn’t the dreamscape, but it had the laid-back feel and spending time with our guests that we wanted. And we got our tropical escape with our honeymoon in Burma. Real life for the win.

  • Louise

    Oh man, I fell in love with a summer camp wedding too… It didn’t happen for me either. I was SO bummed. But whimsy is not always (usually?) friends with practical. We looked at a lot of places, but the most promising was an old summer camp now owned by the city of Seattle, so it actually wasn’t far away from us at all. BUT, they wouldn’t let us have alcohol outside. This sounds like its not a big deal. I convinced myself of that too. We even put a deposit down. But the wedding was in the summer, and the building was old and not that big, so it would have been really warm. There was a lovely outdoor area, of course, but if we had to police our guests (and we would have had to. we would have had to appoint two people to make sure no alcoholic beverages left the building) to keep drinks inside, no one would be able to enjoy it! People ALWAYS have a drink in their hand at weddings as they mingle. AND, the whole point (for me) was to be able to end the night with a camp fire! Outside! Without policing my guests’ beverages! In the end, we convinced my mom to let us have a backyard wedding at her house and we got our deposit back. We just couldn’t get over paying a lot for something that wasn’t perfect. If the venue wasn’t going to be perfect, I wanted it to be cheap. (only the cost of renting tables and chairs). It wasn’t stress free, it wasn’t at summer camp, but it was inexpensive and beautiful. And no one had to put their drink down to enjoy the beautiful night outdoors.

    • Elisabeth

      Whimsy is not always friends with practical — YES.

  • Mrs. Trouble

    When we got married, we had our officiant read this to open the ceremony:

    Thank you for coming today! Today is mostly an ordinary day. The sun rose, babies were born, people went to work, we took a little walk in the park, and we just so happen to be attending this wedding. The not so ordinary part is how these two ladies are making promises to each other for the rest of their days, no matter how ordinary or unusual they may be. It is special, too, that you, their families, are here with us today…….

    Cheers to the ordinary. I love that every time I wear the wool coat I wore that day, look at my wedding ring, sign my name, use those champagne flutes, I think of my ordinary, beautiful, exactly-right-for-me marriage.

    • http://thevanillabride@blogspot.com Sonarisa

      I love that. I want an ordinary day where we happen to celebrate an extraordinary commitment. Beautiful.

      • Elisabeth

        You’ve captured this so perfectly. One of my constants during planning has been holding onto this idea of the ordinary stuff around us — the coat, the subway, etc. — becoming that much sweeter because of the wedding.

        • Mrs. Trouble

          Let me tell you, I was pretty unsentimental going into the planning of the wedding and marriage itself. But this sweetness in ordinary things has sold me completely, and also kind of gradually just keeps getting sweeter. I think you will love it too. One thing about loving another person that much is that you really don’t and can’t control every bit of it. But having it emerge in ordinary things is just… So lovely. And makes me feel so loved.

  • Pingback: Elisabeth: I Dream of Summer Camp « A Practical Wedding: Ideas … | Wedding Budget Help

  • http://fitnessbythesea.com Jose Abril

    Summer camps are
    nice, it teaches a lot to kids and help them with their study depending on
    what type of summer camp they enroll to.