Mary & Stephen's friend-made forest camp-out wedding

April 26 |

You've seen this wedding teased once before a while ago as we all drooled over Mary's dress. Now we get to drool over all the rest of this amazing forest wedding!

The Offbeat Bride: Mary, graduate student in clinical psychology

Her offbeat partner: Stephen, psychologist

Location & date of wedding: Boy Scout Camp in Santa Cruz, CA — May 29 – 31, 2009

What made our wedding offbeat: We had a three day camp-out in the redwoods with 190 of our favorite people, and the entire thing was dreamed up and thrown by friends and family (okay, with the exception of the one hired lifeguard).

This event couldn't have happened without the 90+ peeps who made it explode with deliciousness. While we gave our friends/family vague ideas of what we liked, we pretty much let go of creative control for most aspects, including flowers, cake, decorations, signage, food, entertainment, music, and (even to a certain degree) my dress — not knowing what any of it was really going look like until it actually happened. And what we created with our friends and community was something way more awesome than we could've come up with ourselves, but that still very much reflected the Mary-and-Stephen-ness of the celebration. So, in some ways it was one giant, awesome surprise.

Some of many favorite bits:

  • Friends and family talent show.
  • BYOB wedding pie.
  • Transporting antique furniture to the forest for photo shoots with Alison (who also happens to be one of my favorite people).
  • Improvised surprise first dance to Eggplant Casino (who are hilarious).
  • Canoe races in the pond,
  • 1000 paper cranes hanging from the redwoods.
  • Realizing that my friends and family all came together to give us the amazing gift of this celebration.

Tell us about your ceremony: My dad officiated the ceremony — I wanted him recognized as part of the awesomeness.

What was your biggest challenge: Honestly, I can't remember. The whole thing was a giant challenge (throwing a wedding without hiring any help!?), and the only way we were able to pull it off was to ask friends and family to help, but to give them as much leeway and creative freedom as possible so that it didn't feel annoying or like a burden.

It's super helpful, too, that both Stephen and I (and another sixty or so of our friends) have been producing large scale events through False Profit for a number of years. Translating all those skills to the wedding was essential to pulling it off.

Advice for other offbeat brides: Be kind to your family as they give you ideas and advice, but really, you've got to blaze your own path and do what feels most special to you and your partner.

Care to share a few vendor/shopping links?

Enough talk — show me the wedding porn!

  1. **mouth hanging open in awe** o..m..g.. this has to be my mostest favoritest wedding on this whole site. the furniture out in the woods, the creativity, the little tiny budget, what amazing friends! aak! thank you for posting this, it made me clap my little hands

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  2. I love that your dress and flowers match your tattoo (which is beautiful by the way). Both are beautiful in their own right, but it really ties the whole look together, and the fact that it works with art you already had (I assume) makes it even more wonderful.

    Also yay for family and friends coming together to make the wedding happen. Personally I think this should be a tradition (in as much as it's practical), I just love the idea.

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  3. an incredible wedding appropriate to obviously incredible people!
    I don't usually take the time for all the photos of a wedding, but these were mesmerizing – so beautiful!

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  4. I LOVE your hair, dress, calla lilies, everything! Fabulous.

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  5. Those cranes really spoke to me, Derrik loves to make cranes.
    Congratulations on your lovely wedding and best of luck with your marriage.

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  6. i have never been so in love with a dress before!!!

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  7. Wow!! Beauty abounds! I am in awe of all the creative energy in your wedding. You looked delicious, and I have to say that I am so happy to see a bride rockin the armpit hair! Really makes me rethink what I'll do, since shaving my pits is NOT being true to myself at all. I also have to comment that your entire getup was extraordinary… the dreads, the dress, the tattoo, and the SHOES! Might I ask where you found them? Thanks so much for sharing your day with us. Inspiring.

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      • I know, haha! I've been a lurker on OBB for quite some time, and I think I have devoured about half of this blog already. I read the article on shaving vs. hairy pits awhile ago, and I thought I was convinced that shaving would be better for me. But, really, seeing the photos from this wedding, it was only apparent in a handful of shots.

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        • Yeah, I didn't even notice that AT ALL and I went through these photos with a fine tooth comb over and over again! Be true to yourself girl!

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    • I've debated this also, I've decided to have pictures taken beforehand in my dress w/ the pits unshaven, then shave them for the day. It's really for my mom… even though I love my hair, it will grow back, and I'm pretty sure my mom would cry.

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  8. I love it! Where oh where did you get the SHOES? I need pretty and comfy red shoes.

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  9. Hi everyone! Glad you're enjoying the wedding deets.

    So, the shoes are John Fluevogs (http://www.fluevog.com/). Not only are they super cute, but they're super comfy too. I wore them for the first time on my wedding day for 12 hours and didn't even think about it.

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  10. Umm is that BASSNECTAR at your wedding?! Totally looks like him.

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    • Are you referring to the last pic? That's Benchun, he's one of the kick ass FP DJ's. Congrats again guys, you're wedding is as beautiful as the two of you are!

      Needless to say, I'm sure they could have had Lorin at their wedding.

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  11. That picture of him kissing your nose is just so sweet.

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  12. I remember when the first post appeared and about fell out. Oh wait, I commented on that one! I was so happy to see this yesterday but am only now able to comment.

    Congrats on such a supremely amazing day!

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  13. Whoa! At a Boy Scout Camp? My FH and I met staffing a Boy Scout camp together and we would really like to get married at the camp. I know we're in Houston and you did it in California, but I'm still dying for details on how you guys pulled that off…

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  14. Awesome awesome wedding. LOVE the venue, love everything!!

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  15. Thanks for the love on the photos ladies. I loved shooting them almost as much as I love Mary & Stephen!

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  16. Love the dress, love the pics, love the vintage furniture in the middle of the woods. Love the ceremony set up…..

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  17. Please pretty please can I have some logistics?

    I want to have a 3 day weekend party at my girl scout camp I went to as a child and worked at during college. How did you let everyone know it was going to last 3 days?

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  18. Probably one of the most beautiful weddings I've seen.

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  19. i love woodsy weekend weddings. beautiful! and i want to marry your dress, please. :)

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  20. Did you happen to get your tattoo done at Diving Swallows??

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    • I did! Cedre is the artist – she's amazing and super sweet.

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  21. Heyy I am a photographer desperately trying to find a beautiful outdoor setting for my wedding next year and this place is perfect… can i ask exactly how you went about booking this venue? thanks so much!

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  22. wow that was beautiful. i want to get remarried just to have a reason to steal all those marvelous ideas. just lovely.

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  23. So cool!!! Love the whole inside outside vibe…very very well done, a perfect amount of quirky!

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  24. WHERE WAS HER WEDDING AND HOW DID SHE RESERVE IT?! D:
    I have tried all night to figure it out :(

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  25. this wedding is amazingamazingamazing! so inspiring and gorgeous. your tattoo makes me swoon. and the dress. and the cranes! and IN THE REDWOOD FOREST OMG. it's like all my fantasies come true. LOVE.

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  26. This is the wedding that brought me to Offbeat Bride several months before I was even engaged. I casually typed in "forest wedding" to Google Images one night and saw this picture of a bride wearing a gorgeous white and red dress standing in a circle of rocks in a beautiful forest setting. I click on it and immediately fell in love with everything I was seeing! From Mary's dreadlocks, tattoos, and stunning dress, to Stephen's fedora and comfy-looking furniture, to the canopy of branches and the rock and flower circle. What a wonderful way to be introduced to Offbeat Bride!

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    • Aww. I love hearing "how I found Offbeat Bride" stories…. this makes me all warm and fuzzy, even three and half years after this wedding was posted!

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  27. wow. I dont even have words for how incrediable I think this is.

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  28. So gorgeous and dreamy! What fun ideas! How did you go about the camp out (tents or cabins)and how much, if you don't mind me asking, was it to rent out that wonderful place for a three day campout? This is exactly what my fiance and I are looking for! Congrats :)

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