Selecting A Wedding Venue is Hard Enough – Now Add Camping to That

By Cheryl Ryan

And that’s a wrap. We drove home from our youngest daughter’s wedding yesterday.  I’m not going to lie, I’m getting too old for this. I feel fortunate that all the kids are married now and I never collapsed, causing an unsightly scene and the need for photo editing.  But the good news is that this weekend was magical. A word used by many of the attendees.  And I must confess it really was. 

Like any good event, a lot of effort goes into making it that way and that can go double for weddings. There’s the complication of deciding on a location that meets the vision of the couple.  Then there are the unexpected emotions that come with a major life event, the melding of families and the desire by everyone for this day to be special. Even my daughter was taken aback by the amount of work that goes into all those weddings she’s been partying at for years.

My daughter, Jenna, and her husband, Spencer, are a social couple with a large community of dear friends.  They wanted their family and friends to celebrate longer than the requisite 3-5 hour wedding time. And they were set on an outdoor, (fortunate for our present Covid situation) destination wedding. When she told me that they were leaning towards a camping wedding I like to think that I hid my despair. Was she really expecting us to spend the night in a tent, wash off the dirt and show up for pictures and a ceremony?  

Road Trip

When she sent me the link for a potential campsite I feigned excitement and we set out the three hours to take a look. I felt optimistic that this excursion would put an end to all this talk of a camping wedding. So it was a surprise to me when we both fell in love with our second unplanned camp stop. The first intended location was so horrifying that we needed to find another place to stay the night. We went up the road a bit and found a campsite with darling little cabins. They had bathrooms, made up little beds, electric fireplaces for heat and one was available for the night. 

Camping Kismet

We settled into the cabin and spotted a young couple unloading boxes down in a grove of trees. We walked down and found a cool amphitheater and wooden bar with totem like carved bears. The couple shared with us that their wedding was to be there in two days. They had attended another San Francisco couple’s wedding and fell so in love that they wanted to do the same. 

The wedding party and friends

They generously shared their wedding planner and vendor contacts but it was their unbridled enthusiasm and the beauty of the Pinecrest Chalet that sealed the deal for us. We went into the lobby to check available dates and both worked. The crazy thing is that we couldn’t find any web presence about this being a wedding venue at all. The wedding bookings were based entirely on word of mouth.

It felt like kismet, serendipity whatever you want to call it had brought us here. We made our decision right then and there. It’s been two years – including one postponement – but it finally happened and it was everything that they wanted.

In the end, the venue certainly sets the tone but it’s as much about the love, joy and people that make a wedding more than just a place. This weekend we had the majesty of Mother Nature, the talent of a wedding planner, enthusiastic friends and family and a little magic delivering good air quality and temperatures in the middle of fires and a heatwave.

Jen texted me from her airplane seat that her heart was very full. I’ve no doubt that she and Spencer will revisit this place and remember this weekend with great fondness for years to come and that’s worth any near collapse.

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  • Reply Beatrice Legrand August 18, 2021 at 7:17 am

    What a beautiful story!

  • Reply Gwen Dawkins August 18, 2021 at 8:14 am

    What gorgeous photos! I can only imagine how special and “magical” it was in person!

    • Reply zestandplomb August 18, 2021 at 5:07 pm

      Thanks! We really had some luck on this one 🙂

  • Reply August 18, 2021 at 2:10 pm

    Beautiful photos!

  • Reply Darlene Gerdts August 24, 2021 at 12:37 am

    A wedding is usually a most joyful event. Thank you for sharing a bit of your journey helping your daughter fulfill their dream wedding. The pictures are truly spectacular. I can feel the magic from them. Job well done. Best wishes to the happy couple. ❤️

  • Reply Shana Moore August 24, 2021 at 6:32 am

    It sounds magical— just like you said! 💗

  • Reply jil Britt August 24, 2021 at 10:24 am

    I know that is exactly what she wanted and it couldn’t have turned out more perfect. Just Beautiful! They look so happy!!!

  • Reply Kathryn Machi August 28, 2021 at 8:53 am

    Cheryl, What a beautiful wedding, and mother-daughter adventure! Much happiness always to Jenna and Spencer, and congratulations also to you and Lou!

    • Reply zestandplomb August 29, 2021 at 7:41 am

      Awe thank you!! And congrats on your family milestones as well 🙂

  • Reply Suzi August 28, 2021 at 9:05 am

    Looks amazing! I’m so happy to hear that celebrations like this are possible 🥰

    • Reply zestandplomb August 29, 2021 at 7:43 am

      Yes! So glad we finally got to do it.

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