Summer Camp Inspired Wedding in South Carolina

Christie and Aaron love hiking and the camper life and wanted to share that love of the outdoors at their wedding. They decided on a summer camp theme for their big day and turned it into an amazing weekend-long event for their guests complete with a fishing trip, white water rafting, yoga, a spa day, and even a gear bag of goodies upon arrival as a welcome gift! Camp got a bit of an upgrade at dinner though when guests dined under the stars at emerald velvet-lined tables decorated with rich burgundy florals in copper julep cups by Petal & Fern, pressed leaf table numbers, and camping lanterns. It was a fun and colorful event with its own camp mascot and custom logo and these photos from Brett & Jessica Photography will have you reminiscing about (or wishing for memories of!) sleep-away camp as a kid!

How did you meet?

The first time we actually met was in passing, in December of 2013 at a Christmas Party for the Emerging Young Professionals networking group that we were both members of. Two months later (in February 2014) we attended another event together – a Mardi Gras parade party, and that's where we first locked eyes! {Or at least that’s Christie's cheesy version of it} In reality, we didn't say but maybe five words to each other the entire afternoon, but we stood next to each other at the parade and Aaron's daughter, Leah (5 at the time), instantly made friends with Christie. Tristan (Christie's son, who was 7) was jealous of Leah the entire parade. Shortly after the parade, we were both tagged in photos on Facebook from the parade and that's where our friendship began! Over the next 2 years we remained acquaintances on social media. In early 2016, We had our first date after reconnecting on facebook a couple of weeks earlier.  We took our time making things official and didn't make it official that we were dating until the  Summer when we were both sure it was the “real thing”! In June of 2016 Aaron said I love you for the first time – Actually he said “ I think I love you” and Christie said “I think I love you back”.  And that sealed the deal!

What is your proposal story?

Aaron and I love to be outdoors in our free time, we recently bought an RV and love to go camping and hiking! So we wanted to have an adventurous, intimate wedding weekend that would allow our guests to experience some of our favorite activities. We planned a “Summer Camp” wedding weekend complete with a fishing trip, white water rafting, yoga and a spa day.  The vibe was fun and colorful, we had a custom logo drawn up for the wedding that incorporated a raccoon as the “camp mascot” which came from an inside joke between us, and evolved into us texting raccoon emojis to one another as a way to say ‘I love you'. We spent weeks looking for the perfect ‘Summer Camp” location that would fit the vision we had for our camp themed wedding. We found The Shamrock House on VRBO and booked it! The ceremony location happened by accident. We had already planned to get married by a creek next to the house, but when we were visiting South Carolina to work on the wedding plans we went for a drive in search of Jumping Off Rock, which I had found online and when we drove up to it, we immediately changed our plans to have the ceremony there! 

What was the most important to the two of you while planning? Was there anything that you chose to splurge on or skip?

It was really important to us to include our family in the ceremony and have the ceremony be very personal to us. We wrote our own vows, my best friend of 30 years was our “officiant” (we were legally married at home in LA), our children and our 2 dogs were our wedding party, and we had our moms and sisters assist us in a hand fasting ceremony after we exchanged rings. We splurged on a lot of things! Because our headcount was so small, we were able to personalize all the details, get everything on our wishlist for flowers and decor and go big on the seated dinner. We skipped some of the traditions like bouquet and garter toss. 

What were your favorite parts of the day?

Aaron: The drive up to the ceremony. Christie: I made Aaron a wedding day playlist of love songs and I surprised him with it when we got in the truck to ride up the mountain to our ceremony. It was just us and our pups and great music for the final 45 minutes before we became Mr. & Mrs! Aaron: I also really liked the end of the night when the DJ stopped playing and everyone just hung out and talked. Not feeling rushed, just how relaxed the entire day was. Christie: The ceremony was just perfect! I was worrying about every detail until we walked down the aisle together! Once we were standing there, that was all that mattered. The rest of the day was just amazing and so fun! 

What did you do for favors?

We had camping mugs made with our wedding logo. We also created “Camp Gear” bags for our guests in place of welcome bags. They included trail mix, bottled water, sunscreen and a first aid kit. We also had a photo booth lounge space set up with Snapsterbooth. I wanted to create a vintage camp lounge space, and East West Vintage Rentals came through with a lot of the vintage items we used for this! 

Did you include any family heirlooms or special traditions?

Both of our fathers passed away when we were young adults, so we wanted to have our dads with us in some special way. Aaron wore his dad's Rolex and I pinned one of my dad's tie tacks to my bouquet. I also wore my grandmother's antique watch. 

Do you have any advice for couples planning their weddings now?

Smaller guests counts are the way to go! You can get more of the items on your wish list with your budget, and you can celebrate with the people you are closest with! But whatever the guests count, make sure the day is about you and your partner. It's your wedding, and it's the start of your marriage. Don't forget to keep that in mind throughout the process! 

Why a Mountain Wedding?

Aaron and I love hiking and camping. I always knew I wanted us to get married outdoors and I told Aaron that I wanted us to get married on the side of a mountain. Originally we thought about getting married in Colorado, where we go skiing with family, but we didn't want guests to have to fly. We found Jumping Off Rock through a random instagram search. It was quite a drive from the Private Residence we held our reception at, but the view was breathtaking. When we walked up to the spot, after the 45 minute drive through the mountains to get there, the view brought actual tears to my eyes and I told Aaron that is where we were going to become husband and wife! 

What's your biggest piece of advice for other couples planning a mountain wedding?

We were very lucky with the weather and time of year we planned our wedding but when we first visited the venues in December, the snow was very heavy and the roads were closed off. Make sure you know what seasons the mountain location will be open and closed. Also there was A LOT of sun when we held our ceremony. Talk about your ceremony time with your photographer and videographer before you print invitations to make sure the time has the best lighting possible.