Nicole & Josh's eco-friendly camping trip wedding

Updated Oct 12 2015
6.27.12 - Nicole & Josh's Eco-DIY Beach Wedding
Photos by Sarah Hendricks Photography

The Offbeat Bride: Nicole, artist and fitness instructor (and Tribesmaid)

Her offbeat partner: Josh, contractor and DJ

Date and location of wedding: Dunes Beach at Sandbanks Provincial Park, Picton, Ontario — June 27, 2012

Our offbeat wedding at a glance: We wanted our wedding to be three things: earth-friendly, handmade, and focused on family and friends. It took place during a week-long camping trip. We invited all of our guests to join us in keeping things simple and as earth-friendly as possible for the entire week. The ceremony was on a Wednesday morning on the beach at the campground, and the reception took place the following Saturday in a nearby town.

6.27.12 - Nicole & Josh's Eco-DIY Beach Wedding
06.27.12 - Nicole & Josh's Eco-DIY Beach Wedding

We tried our best to use recycled/upcycled materials and DIY as much as possible, or buy from local/eco-conscious vendors when DIY wasn't an option. We used e-save the dates, DIY invitations printed on seed paper with 100% recycled envelopes, and RSVPs were done online or by phone.

6.27.12 - Nicole & Josh's Eco-DIY Beach Wedding

A friend's mom made my dress, and I made my veil, the bouquets, corsages, boutonnieres, the groomsmen's pocket squares, bridesmaid's anklets, and a custom clutch for each of my bridesmaids. Our emcees doubled as our ceremony musicians, Josh pre-recorded a DJ set for the dance, and we also DIYed all the decor for both venues, including the cupcakes and their stands.

Tell us about the ceremony: We had a Christian ceremony. We revamped the traditional vows to have them reflect our relationship:

I, Josh, take you, Nicole, to be my wedded wife with all my heart, all my mind, and all my soul, form this day forward. In plenty and in want, in joy and in sorrow, in sickness and in health, I promise to provide for you, to care for you, and to avoid all things that would hinder a healthy life. I promise to grow with you in knowledge, happiness, and harmony with love, respect, understanding, and faith. I promise to love and to cherish you, to be true and loyal to you, and that we shall remain companions and best friends as long as our lives shall last.

Everything in the ceremony was centered around the idea of love as three flames that burn as one. We had our pastor read this exegesis to our guests:

In the original Hebrew, the Song of Songs has three different words for love: "raya," which translates as companion, "ahava," which is the love of the will, a profound emotion that leads to commitment, and "dod," which refers to the physical element of love. These three kinds of love are like three small flames that, when lit together, create "the big flame": a love that sustains and reflects the light and love of God. Burning separately, the flames can never burn as hot or as bright as when all three burn together: accordingly, living one or two of these kinds of love can never fully satisfy the way we are created to love. Josh and Nicole, may this candle with its three flames be ever a reminder that you were created for all three flames to burn as one. May you discover "the big flame," and may the fire of God's love be seen through the love that you share.
6.27.12 - Nicole & Josh's Eco-DIY Beach Wedding
6.27.12 - Nicole & Josh's Eco-DIY Beach Wedding

Our biggest challenge: The most difficult part was handing over my vision to my family and friends to help me bring it to life. It wasn't that I didn't trust them to do it, but I had to convince them to trust themselves to be able to do the ridiculous things I had asked of them. It's hard to ask someone to do something that they can't visualize, and I had to remember that my mind is not transparent. Everyone really stepped up to the plate and it all came together beautifully.

My favorite moment: Seeing friends and family come together to make things happen meant the world to us. The night before the wedding my dad barbecued for the wedding party, and about a dozen relatives then took on the responsibility of setting up the ceremony site the next morning. Josh's family and bunch of our friends showed up at the beach in the morning to help my dad, and they got it done in amazing time.

My dad and the best man, despite both being very private with their feelings and sentiments, gave the most beautiful and heartfelt speeches. I saw my dad cry for the first time in my life, and the best man said more positive words in one sitting than he has in the five years I've known him. I will never forget those moments.

My funniest moment: There were two particularly funny moments. At the ceremony on the beach, there had been a comfortable breeze coming off the lake. But just as we turned to light the unity candle it became a full-force wind. Needless to say we had to "visualize" the three wicks burning as one.

6.27.12 - Nicole & Josh's Eco-DIY Beach Wedding

Was there anything you were sure was going to be a total disaster that unexpectedly turned out great? The weather. It was the only thing I worried about because we were camping. My family has a history of torrential rains during camping trips, so much so that during seasons of low rainfall people tell us to go camping so their lawns will get a watering. I had been watching the forecast for weeks and it called for rain the whole time, until about a week before when the rain cleared from the forecast and we had the most perfect weather: not too hot, not too cold, and not a speck of rain the whole week.

06.27.12 - Nicole & Josh's Eco-DIY Beach Wedding

What was the most important lesson you learned from your wedding? I learned that it pays to DIY and frequent secondhand stores; I learned that people will surprise you if you let them; and I learned never to use a third party shipping service to get things from the US to Canada ever again.

6.27.12 - Nicole & Josh's Eco-DIY Beach Wedding

Care to share a few vendor/shopping links?

Enough talk — show me the wedding porn!

  1. I love the touch of blue on the bottom of the dress. It's even better because a friend made it. Makes it extra special. Love this!!

  2. I usually don't comment…

    But I love you dress, it is BEAUTIFUL!! And everyone matched your colors so perfectly 🙂

  3. Love this! How did you like the Crystal Palace? I'm thinking of having our wedding there next year and haven't been to visit it yet.

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