Offbeat Brides have been submitting lots of gorgeous woodsy weddings, so we've compiled a few of our favorites in a forest theme week including this nostalgically-inspired camp wedding.

On the way to the Alamo.

The offbeat bride: Taymar, Live Action Director (and Tribesmaid)

Her offbeat partner: Max, Manager of Remote Production

Date and location of wedding: Zaca Lake, near Santa Barbara, CA — June 2, 2012

Our offbeat wedding at a glance: Max had only two preferences: that our ceremony would be spiritual but not religious, and that it would be outside. I wanted to spend more than just a few frantic hours with our guests, most of whom were coming from out-of-town, and I wanted to make it affordable for people to come, without putting us into eternal debt.

Sign to the wedding at Zaca Lake.

We were able to somewhat affordably rent the entire lake and cabins at Zaca Lake from Friday through Sunday. Nearly all of our guests stayed with us for the whole weekend.

Our awesome program designed by my friend Emily Kay.

My grandparents used to take my two sisters and me to a cabin on a lake in Illinois every summer. We would have huge spaghetti dinners, and all of our family would come and hang out on the lake. My sister Josie and I both went to a sort of hippy clown camp in California called Camp Winnarainbow. Those are some of my fondest childhood memories, so I wanted to sort of recreate that free feeling of childhood summer bliss with all of our closest friends and family.

My flower fairies.

My ribbon ladies create the aisle.

Tell us about the ceremony: I wrote a poem about how each person in our lives is like a ribbon making up a tapestry, and my dad read it as my best friends and “ribbon ladies” brought colored cloth down to create the aisle. My son and nephews were my “elves,” my nieces and best friends daughters were “flower fairies,” and my sisters and best friends were my bridesmaids.

My son Caspian and my mom walk me down the aisle.

Our son Caspian and my mother walked me down the aisle to the song “Give Yourself to Love” by Kate Wolf, sang beautifully by the lead singers of the band Area 51.

My mom explains the tree of life rug.

I was raised on the Navajo Nation where my mother still works as a midwife, so she brought a Tree of Life blanket to present to us, and spoke about its significance. My friend Rachel read from Thich Nhat Hahn and the Buddhist Five Agreements.

Max gives Caspian a talisman representing Max and Caspian's new relationship as father and son..

Max's parents gave him a wolf necklace which he gave to our Caspian as a symbol of their bond.

Everyone gave advice and tied a string around our wrists.

Then the ribbon ladies passed out pieces of string and everyone came up to tie a string around our wrist while giving us advice. Finally, our officiant Sarah told a story about how she had told me in college that being in love is like being in a boat — you can't be in it unless the other person is too.

We left by boat, pushed off by the groomsmen.

After we exchanged rings and kissed, we left via rowboat. Our groomsmen pushed us off, and we rowed away with our son in a canoe alongside us. Everyone blew bubbles and waved goodbye.

Our prediction box.

Our biggest challenge: We wanted to be very inclusive, but we also were paying for the wedding ourselves so we couldn't invite everyone we wanted to. We met at work, and would have loved to invite every single one of our awesome co-workers. Instead we opted for a separate work party.

With my Grandmother.

My favorite moment: Since most of our grandparents were not with us anymore, we incorporated elements to remember them. My mother made my grandparents famous spaghetti at the lake lodge for the welcome dinner on Friday.

For the ceremony I wore my grandmother's pearl necklace, and Max's maternal grandmother's ring, and paternal grandmother's earrings and necklace, so that every grandmother was represented. My father's mother made it to the wedding in a fabulous pink silk dress with a white feather headband. She looked fabulous! My sister hung my great-grandmother's wedding dress near the cake table. The morning after the ceremony we had a Bubbies bagel brunch to celebrate Max's maternal grandmother.

First dance to Ben Folds "The luckiest"

My funniest moment: After our first dance as a couple we did a family dance with Caspian to “Life's a Happy Song” from The Muppets. After the first verse, we invited all the kids to join in, and eventually we had everyone in a conga line dancing around the barn!

The second funniest moment was realizing that in order to go to the bathroom, I needed at least three of my friends to hold my dress up for me! I imagine this happens to a lot of brides, and I don't know how shy brides deal with this dilemma.


Was there anything you were sure was going to be a total disaster that unexpectedly turned out great? Since we had over 100 guests and only 19 cabins, we had to do a lot of jigsaw puzzle mental work to figure out who would go where. I was especially worried that sheets, towels, and pillows were not provided. How to get enough of them for everyone was a huge headache. We were hoping to rent, but there weren't any companies in the area willing to rent to us.

In the end it worked out perfectly. We asked people to bring their own linens if they could, and most people did. For those traveling long distances, we bought inexpensive sheets and pillows from IKEA, and placed them in a hamper in the lodge.

We grouped all of the families in cabins by the lake, our late-night partiers in the bunk house and above the barn, and our quiet, early morning risers on the far side of the lake. Matching people according to personality really worked out.

My friend Shea made these amazing cookies.

My advice for offbeat brides: If you can, hire a coordinator. If you can't, assign someone who understands events and isn't in your bridal party. I can't imagine how much might have gone wrong if we didn't have a coordinator managing all of the many vendors.

We banned electronic devices based on this post. I thought it was a good idea, so I requested that people not take pictures during the ceremony. I'm really glad that I did, as it was so much more meaningful to have everyone present, and my professional photographer got great pictures. Guests will post unflattering photos of you on Facebook if you let them, so I found it best to just say no cameras and cell phones out during the ceremony.

The toast.

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Comments on Taymar & Max’s summer camp weekend wedding

  1. this wedding kind of took my breath away holy moly how beautiful!!!

    and I have totally totally thought that a wedding a camp would be AMAZING!!!!

  2. You mentioned that you had a separate party for your co-workers. I was just wondering how you navigated that whole thing. My fiance and I have a large church family, but because of a small budget, we could not invite most of them. Did you make your intentiones about the separat work party known ahead of time? Or lt it be a surprise that you wanted to do something spearate just with that group of people? Was it well received? What did you do at said party?

    • We sent out an email to all of our co-workers letting them know how much we wished they could all be there, and that we were planning on having a separate party to celebrate with them instead.

      The week before our wedding our co-worker Deb threw a lovely party for us right after work in our campus cafeteria. This was really nice because it made it very convenient for everyone to come. She got a cake and balloons, so it was very festive. We did a ceremonial cake cutting and fed each other, which was fun for everyone and ended up being good practice for our wedding reception. Then we walked around and talked with everyone and took pictures. It was really wonderful.

      I think most people understand how expensive it is to put together a wedding, and will welcome an alternative that still includes them and acknowledges their importance to you. Since planning the wedding is stressful enough, I would recommend asking someone from your church if they would be willing to throw a simple church celebration for you so that you don’t have to plan it yourselves. Good luck, hope that helps!

    • Thanks! I love the flower fairy dresses too. The dresses were from an Indian shop. They’re actually women’s skirts, so the girls can keep them and wear them even in college. There weren’t enough available in one color, so I opted for both green and purple, which I think ended up working out very nicely.

      My sister is really crafty so she created and sewed on the wings, as well as adding the sashes and decorative touches. I think we ordered the parasols online. We also got really cute jackets for the elves at the same Indian shop. The one we went to is called Namaste, and is in Downtown Santa Barbara, but I think any Indian store would have similar beautiful things.

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