camp wedding on offbeat bride 1 alternative wedding ideas from Offbeat Wed (formerly Offbeat Bride)
Photos by Justine Johnson Photography and Elisif Brandon (and some guests)

The Offbeat Bride: Jamie, Children's Librarian (and Tribesmaid)

Her offbeat partner: Jon, Computer Programmer

Date and location of wedding: Camp Wing, Duxbury, MA — May 25, 2013

Our offbeat wedding at a glance: We had a three-day wedding at a summer camp which gave us precious extra visiting time with all our friends and family who came from out of town, and made it super fun for all ages. Jon is a computer programmer with an eye for design, so he created camp-themed icons that we used for save the dates, invitations, the website we made for our guests, and various items at the wedding. We also used Newspaper Club to make a paper for guests. We included information about camp and our schedule for the weekend; the insert was an activity book for the kids and the back page was a ceremony program.

Ziskind Hall, where we got married

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We weren't attached to any traditions, so we just did what felt meaningful to us. We had no attendants, no formal dances, no throwing things at our guests (or them at us). We offered my nine-year-old niece the job of flower girl, and she wisely chose to toss chocolate Kisses instead of flower petals — it was a big hit!

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My first rule of being a bride was that I wouldn't tell anyone what to wear. My corset and skirt were made by two different Etsy designers. It was a miracle that based on a few email conversations with two artists who never spoke to each other or met me in person, I ended up with exactly the dress I'd envisioned! Jon and his nine-year-old son Alex wore kilts in their family tartan — they were the only ones with matching outfits.

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We'd planned for an outdoor ceremony and cocktail hour as well as a big campfire for after-hours, but it was raining most of the weekend. It wasn't what we'd envisioned, but no one seemed to mind moving the festivities inside.

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In honor of summer camp, we called our signature cocktail “Love Bug Juice,” and served it in jars decorated with friendship bracelets I'd made for everyone. My stepmom cooked all the hors d'oeuvres from scratch which were amazingly delicious. Dinner was a catered BBQ buffet.

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My step-mom's amazing crab-cakes!

My best friend's mom did all the flowers. She made a beautiful peony and tulip bouquet for me that matched the colors of my outfit, and boutonnieres for Jon, Alex, and Henry (our officiant) out of my favorite roses that she brought all the way from California.


We covered the tables with white butcher paper and added a bouquet of flowers and some crayons. We ended up with some really fun art left by our guests.

Our only other decorations were punched-out paper hearts. My original plan was to string them on fishing wire like this, but due to the rain on Saturday, many of the kids just kept punching hearts and we had so many left over that they were also strewn on our tables and used to decorate random things at the ceremony and reception sites.

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We had a small cake and cupcake tower in rainbow colors. After deliberating for months over what kind of cake toppers to get, Jon's son reminded us that his great-grandfather is a wood-carver. It was too late to ask him to make us something for the occasion, but we already had an adorable gnome couple that he'd carved several years ago and they were perfect. It was meaningful to have his creations as part of the wedding because he is ninety-nine years old, and was unable to travel for the wedding.

My cousin juggled for us the next morning

More than half our guests stayed overnight, and in the morning, my cousin put on an amazing juggling show and gave a workshop for the kids. We made cotton candy for second breakfast and the sun came out at exactly the hour we scheduled canoeing.

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Tell us about the ceremony:
Our good friend Henry officiated for us (In Massachusetts, anyone can get a one-day designation to perform a wedding ceremony.) Since he'd never performed a wedding before, we pretty much made it up from scratch. We found this Offbeat Bride post to be really helpful in writing our simple, secular ceremony.

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We walked each other down the aisle to “This Must Be the Place (Naive Melody)” by the Talking Heads and exited to “The Kissing Song” by Dawn Landes.

Henry welcomed everyone and read excerpts from Goodridge vs. Department of Public Health and a brief passage I wrote about our lives and our relationship. Then Jon's nine-year-old son, Alex, read from The House at Pooh Corner. We'd planned for the three of us to light the campfire at our outdoor ceremony site, and luckily the indoor site we chose had a lovely fireplace so we didn't have to leave that out. We lit the fire with cheap tiki torches — my mom lit mine, and Jon's parents each lit one for him and Alex.

Fire lighting unity ceremony

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When the fire was lit, we began our handfasting. Henry read The Blessing of the Hands then asked, “Jon, do you wish to marry Jamie?” When Jon said, “I do,” Alex wrapped the first cord (a strip of his family's tartan) around our wrists, tucking each end under our fingers. When I said, “I do,” he wrapped the second cord (a super long and wide rainbow friendship bracelet that I made.) We stood with our hands bound for the rest of the ceremony.

My sibling read “Waiting” by Raymond Carver. Jon's best friend read “Pathways” by Rainer Maria Rilke.

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When Henry pronounced us married, we each pulled our ends of the cords through the middle to make a knot. After researching different ways to do handfasting, we chose this one because we liked that we tied the knot ourselves.

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Our biggest challenge:
Planning a three-day wedding was a lot more work than planning a six-hour wedding. Even though it seemed like we were pretty organized in the weeks before the wedding, everything in the last week was much more work than we expected, and we got to camp with our stuff in a big jumble and our plans still inside our heads.

Delegating all the tasks that needed to be done was crazy but we finally got enough information to the two friends who were acting as day-of coordinators and they did an absolutely amazing job of pulling everything together. I kept reminding myself that all I really cared about was that everyone had a place to sleep, was well-fed, and we were married at the end of the weekend.

There was also some sadness in all our planning and celebrating because my dad died about two years ago. As wonderful as the whole wedding was, his absence was big in our hearts. He loved Jon, and while I'm not sure he would have enjoyed all the specific things we did at our wedding, he would have loved that we didn't follow any rules.

camp wedding on offbeat bride 2 alternative wedding ideas from Offbeat Wed (formerly Offbeat Bride)

My favorite moment:
Immediately after the ceremony, Jon and I walked out into the pouring rain and found a small, dry landing on the side of the building. We sat together in our tiny shelter and had a quiet moment alone. It's the only part of the weekend that didn't feel like a blur.


My funniest moment:
My five-year-old nephew passed out popcorn before the ceremony, which was totally adorable. He took his job so seriously that after Jon and I walked in, he came right up to the front of the room and offered some to us and our officiant.

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Fun with cotton candy

Also priceless were our crazy friends working the cotton candy machine Sunday morning. Candy fluff was flying everywhere and they were in safety goggles, eating it out of the air and having a great time working the crowd of kids waiting in line.

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Have you been married before and if so, what did you do differently?
Jon was married before and had the smallest wedding legally possible (he essentially eloped). He doesn't love being the center of attention, but he said that it was very moving for him to be surrounded by our loved ones, that speaking in front of “a crowd of our choosing” was a much more comfortable and meaningful experience than he expected.

He was definitely onboard for having a large celebratory wedding from the start, but a particular conversation with my mother switched him into high enthusiasm mode when she pointed out that a wedding was one of the only opportunities in your life to gather everyone together who means something special to you.

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What was the most important lesson you learned from your wedding?
Our people are AMAZING. Everyone wanted to help. No one questioned a single one of our decisions. No one caused an iota of drama before, during, or after the wedding. My mom helped us financially, my stepmom cooked, my best friend's mom bought and arranged all our flowers, and two of our closest friends acted as day-of coordinators. When we got to camp EVERYONE stepped up to help: the handful of people we'd assigned tasks ahead of time and also everyone else who saw that we had more work to do than could possibly be done. It was an incredible unexpected gift and it added a whole new level of wonderful to our wedding.

camp wedding on offbeat bride 3 alternative wedding ideas from Offbeat Wed (formerly Offbeat Bride)

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photography: Justine Johnson Photography
dresses: KMK Designs

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Comments on Jamie & Jon’s three-day summer camp wedding

  1. +5 for Goodridge vs. Department of Public Health reading! Who knew a court decision could make me both well up with tears for romantic love and pride for the human race as whole for inventing and defending marriage. This one definitely makes my ‘allergies’ act up every time…

  2. i LOVE your dress! and i’m so excited to see your venue – i’m from Marshfield and would love to have a full weekend celebration, so to see a place literally right next door is very exciting for me. best wishes!

    • Thanks! We absolutely loved Camp Wing (which is part of an amazing non-profit organization called Crossroads for Kids) cannot say enough good about their staff! Feel free to message me on the tribe if you have any questions about them.

  3. OMG!! I LOVE the popcorn & cotton candy! I actually want a popcorn machine at my reception

  4. I love this wedding- everything is so beautiful. The ceremony is so touching. Congratulations on a wonderful event. I love how everyone joined in to help. Lovely.

  5. You looked beautiful and happy and radiant! Congratulations on taking this step with your family. It looks like such fun!

  6. You two are adorable! Everything about this made me smile and I LOVE your dress.

Comments are closed.