GoCampingAmerica.com | Posted March
    5th, 2013


    Campgrounds offer a Scenic Setting for
    an Intimate Wedding Celebration


    Happy Camper Blog



    Having a
    wedding in a campground made a lot of sense to Tara and Scott Garcia of
    Milwaukee. After all, they met at Willow
    Mill Campsite
    in Rio, Wisconsin when they were 13 and spent every
    summer camping there with their families while they were growing up. Scott
    Garcia even proposed to Tara at the campground — in a scenic spot where the
    Jennings Trout Stream meets with another stream and flows over a dam.

    But when it came to planning their wedding, the Garcias liked
    the idea of taking what is normally a 5 or 6 hour event and transforming it
    into a weekend celebration at the campground where they had so many fond
    memories with their family and friends. “People started arriving as early as
    Thursday night,” Tara Garcia said, adding that the rest of the group arrived
    on Friday.

    Most of their guests camped in tents or RVs, while the areas
    stayed overnight at a nearby hotel. 
    “By having our wedding in a campground,
    we were able to celebrate the whole weekend,” Garcia said. “We even had our
    rehearsal dinner at the campground. People could socialize by campfires in
    between the different events, and during the day some of our guests were able
    to go fishing.”

    While the Garcia’s wedding was
    certainly unique, growing numbers of couples are getting married in
    campgrounds, particularly during the spring and fall, when fewer people travel
    and campgrounds can more easily accommodate large wedding parties. Campground
    weddings are also becoming more common as campgrounds step up their
    investments in rental accommodations, such as cabins, park models and yurts,
    which can accommodate people who don’t have an RV and don’t want to sleep in
    a tent.

    In addition to being in scenic locations, many
    campgrounds also have banquet facilities, which can easily be used for
    wedding receptions.
    Riverside Resort
    in Spring Green, Wisconsin, for
    example, has a 400-capacity banquet facility as well as a restaurant and bar.
    “We just rebuilt the restaurant and bar and added the banquet room in 2011,”
    said park co-owner Suzanne Shifflet, adding that the campground is a popular
    location for weddings.

    Some families also like the idea of
    having a wedding and reception in a campground because it can be a more
    affordable venue than a hotel. Many also like being able to having a lengthy
    reception and not have to worry about their guests drinking and driving,
    since they can simply spend the night at the campground. While some
    campgrounds can provide meals for wedding receptions, others have kitchen
    facilities that they can make available to wedding parties that prefer to do
    their own cooking. Still other wedding parties opt to have their meals
    provided by outside caterers.

    While campgrounds can be relatively
    affordable venues for weddings and receptions, some couples spare no expense
    when it comes to celebrating one of the most memorable days of their lives.

    Franny Teran and Charlie Freund. When they got married at at Ocean
    Mesa at El Capitan
    in Santa Barbara, Calif. in 2011, they
    kicked off their weekend festivities with a sing-along around a bonfire on
    Friday night as their guests enjoyed tacos and margaritas. On Saturday, they
    recruited some of their guests to make floral arrangements while others
    painted a “chuppah” or canopy, which Franny and Charlie would stand under
    during their Sunday wedding ceremony. The chuppah is a tradition in Jewish
    weddings. Their Saturday night activities included a Western hoedown with
    live music and a square dance caller, and a barbecue dinner that included
    tri-tip, chicken, roasted corn and beans. The actual wedding ceremony took
    place late Sunday morning and was followed by a brunch
    Franny Teran said they had about 150 guests at their weekend
    wedding celebration. Many came in their RVs, while others stayed in El
    Capitan Canyon’s park models and yurts. A handful of guests also pitched

    While it may be hard to beat Franny
    and Charlie Freund’s wedding for the sheer variety of activities, meals and
    entertainment they provided, the Garcias’ wedding might set a standard for an
    elegant yet rustic, nature themed wedding. They had their mid-September 2012
    wedding ceremony outside in an area of Willow Mill Campsite where a narrow
    sliver of the campground sticks out into a 40-acre spring fed fishing

    With fall colors sweeping across the
    campground, the guests were seated on folding chairs, while members of the
    wedding party were brought two by two to the wedding site by horse-drawn wagon.
    Tara and her father then surprised their guests by arriving at the ceremony
    on a two-person pontoon boat, which they paddled to shore as a guitarist
    played “Lullaby” by the Dixie Chics. “My dad and I are very close and I
    wanted to do something special with him,” Tara Garcia said.

    After the wedding, the Garcias had their reception inside a
    huge white tent that was filled with round tables covered with white table
    linens, burlap placements and handmade table decorations, which the Garcias
    made using small logs, twigs and branches from trees that had fallen during a
    recent tornado. Each center piece log was branded with a heart that included
    Scott and Tara’s initials. A local caterer provided the reception meal, and
    the cake was made by the bride’s sister.

    Little details
    made the day even more special. “Our favors were s’mores on a stick with
    a marshmallow dipped in chocolate and rolled in Graham cracker crumbs. Each
    one had a tag with the guest’s name and table number and on the other side it
    said ‘Enjoy s’more love,’” Tara said.

    Thinking back to the days when she was a teenager, Tara Garcia
    said she never dreamed she’d fall in love at Willow Mill Campsite, but she
    always felt she would want to get married there. “At that time, of course, I
    had no idea that (the campground) would be where my love story would begin.
    Although I saw myself standing at the alter with Scott for many years, I
    never knew how much the venue would mean to me once we started our planning.
    To be able to marry my best friend at my favorite place in the world that
    holds so many great memories for us truly was remarkable beyond