Longtime readers of this blog know that summer camp is the heart of my life - in fact, this year I'm celebrating my 20th year of participating in camping programs at my local 4-H center, from my first week as a camper in 1996, becoming a counselor-in-training, growing in self-confidence as a teen leader, and building teaching and teamwork skills by working on staff for three summers, to serving as an adult volunteer. Last week, I furthered my commitment to the organization that has helped shape me as an individual by becoming a 4-H All-Star, which is the highest honor one can receive in the organization in the state of Virginia - there's a secret handshake and everything.
When I look back on the last 20 years, some of my favorite memories of camp are bright, cheerful, and warm - painting ceramics during free recreation period, holding hands with sweet campers away from home for the first time, singing songs with my best friends at the top of our lungs, and gathering around the campfire by the lake to share in magic that gets passed down to new campers each summer. I think that summer camps make an amazing wedding venue, and today I'm sharing inspiration for a dream wedding with a retro vibe - inspired by dahlias, red camp lanterns, and the optimistic atmosphere of summer camp.
Isn't this invitation perfect for a summer wedding? I love the hand-drawn illustration. This past summer, when two friends who were both on staff together at my camp tied the knot, they borrowed our camp's tradition of assigning campers to animal themed "packs" for their escort cards and table numbers. At our camp, the pack animals are bobcats, coyotes, deer, ducks, foxes rabbits, squirrels, and wolves. When I was still very young, campers were divided into tribes named after Native American groups who had historically lived in our area. I recently found out that current staff members there are assigned to "families" named after native trees. I love camp-inspired teams as an escort card/table number idea and think it adds a perfect retro camping touch to a wedding without being over-the-top.
My dahlia obsession comes back to me in full force every summer - I love the endless color palette they offer, and how versatile they can be for formal and casual arrangements. They may give my all-time favorites, hydrangeas and peonies, a run for their money.
This wedding took place on a former gold mine now operated as a private, not-for-profit camp - how cool is that? Follow the link for lots of great rustic wedding inspiration.
Another must-see is the vintage-themed camp wedding planned and styled by Amorology - at first I thought it was a styled shoot and couldn't believe it was the real deal!
Antique malls, Etsy, and even thrift shops would be great sources for summer camp inspired weddings - I love the idea of a reception dinner on mismatched plates and simple wildflower arrangements in a variety of containers.
Mixed vintage-inspired prints can add to the retro feel of a camp-inspired wedding in the form of bow ties, pocket squares, ring pillows, quilts thrown over hay bales, and anywhere else that needs a dose of colorful cheer.
My favorite time to walk around my camp is actually at night, just after campfire, when campers have gone to their lodges, the grounds are quiet, and the moon is shining on the lake. That's when I can remember all the walks up the hill from campfire with my friends, the mentors who taught me how to handle homesick campers, the late-night trips to the infirmary that always seemed to end with laughter, and, when I was on staff, Mr. Q dropping me off after our first dates the summer we met. Camp will always be home to me.