canoe paddle and wedding invitations

Are Camp Weddings Really Cheaper?

A Real Bride’s Story

A few months back a real bride, Hayley, contacted me about camp venues in NC. She has seen my Weddings at Camp Highlander post and wanted to know more.

dress and iron sign

She wrote:

 Ultimately we are looking for a place that all of our friends and family can come to for the weekend and stay in one area. We don’t want to break anyone’s budget or have to worry about shuttling everyone to and from spread-out hotels. This is probably one of the few times that we will get such a great group of strangers together and we want everyone to be able to interact. Did your guests stay in the cabins at camp? If so, how many people can they accommodate. We are looking at about 100 people who will be attending.

hand painted Save the Date card

I gave her a vendor list that included Camp Highlander and told her to let me know how it all panned out. I had an opportunity to interview Hayley about her search and her ultimate decision to fore go the camp wedding thing. Here is Hayley’s mid-planning Hindsight Advice


Hayley’s Wedding Venue Hunt

Why did you initially want a Camp Wedding?

I thought I had come up with the most amazing, unique wedding idea: A Camp Wedding! There are so many summer camps in the mountains of western North Carolina where we live. Since most of my family and friends will be coming from out of town, I thought it would be fun for them to stay at the camp for the weekend. I also thought this great weekend event might come at a reasonable price since fall is the off season for the summer camps.


How did you go about researching your options? What did you find?

Well, first of all, I found that I was not the ONLY one who had come up with the amazing summer camp wedding idea! As it turns out, it costs a good deal to have a weekend wedding. And summer camps are no exclusion to that. I quickly realized that a camp wedding would be out of our budget. I began searching for all possible outdoor wedding venues within 1 hour. I researched Inn’s, Bed and Breakfasts, city parks and gardens, farms that offer events, national forest campsites, and vacation rental homes that could accommodate a large event. Many of the venues that host weddings on a regular basis were very expensive and restrictive when it comes to catering, alcohol and time. National forest campsites and vacation rental homes located on large pieces of land were more DIY friendly.



Why did you change your mind?

We nixed the camp idea mostly due to budget. With that in mind, we decided to plan a one day event rather than a weekend. While we would love to accommodate all of our guests needs, the day is really about US. We talked about our biggest priorities and set out to meet those.


What did you finally choose for a venue and why?

For our outdoor wedding, we narrowed our search to locations that would allow self-catering (including alcohol) and a late night reception with a bonfire and camping. We wanted our guests the have the option to pitch a tent if they chose not to drive home at the end of the night. This left us with a large national forest campsite and two vacation homes located on farms. In the end, one of the vacation homes offered a tent, tables and chairs, electricity and camping for our reception all for $1500. We will not have to worry about the added cost and headache of rentals and by renting the house for the weekend, our reception can go on into the wee hours of the night with cleanup in the morning!


What are some venue hunting you have for finding a venue on a budget?

  1. Do your research and be creative. Some places may not have had a wedding before (like vacation homes), but it doesn’t hurt to ask if they’d be open to it! Or in our situation, our venue doesn’t usually provide camping but after finding out we are an “older” couple, i.e. responsible, they allowed it. Let’s hope we live up to that stereotype ;)
  2. Decide if you want a venue to provide it all of for you or if you’d like flexibility. It will probably cost more for a venue that has everything on site (from food to table linens) but a DIY reception with rentals can add up too!
  3. Prioritize and don’t budge on what you want! There are lots of things we could have done to make our wedding cheaper, but we really want a casual evening event that doesn’t have to end just because the clock strikes midnight! Plus our guests have the option of going home, getting a hotel, or pitching a tent!

 canoe paddle and wedding invitations

~All Images from Visio Photography~