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

By on Apr. 26th

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!