Laid Back Camp Wandawega Wedding | Anda Marie Photography

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When: August 23, 2016 | Where: Elkhart Lake, WI | Theme: Outdoor, Casual | Colors: Neutral, Yellow, Grey

Deanna and Paul’s summer outdoor wedding had the perfect backyard chic vibes and we are thrilled to share it with you all. Their laid back camp Wandawega wedding features an outdoor ceremony and reception, string lit tent, Deanna’s stunning non traditional gown, giant aisle chair details and more!

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About the Laid Back Camp Wandawega Wedding

“When Paul and I sat down to discuss our wedding, we decided our top priority was to spend as much time with our guests as possible. We also wanted a venue that would feel like us. Try as we might, we aren’t the friends you call when you want to party all night. We’re more of the type you call when you want dinner, good conversation, and a relaxing evening.

We wanted a venue that was similarly low-key and warm — one where our friends and family could feel comfortable celebrating in whatever fashion suited them. I knew that I wanted to get married at Camp Wandawega as soon as we stepped out of the car. Camp Wandawega is an incredible place. Positioned on a small inland lake in Wisconsin, Camp Wandawega has an amazing history.

A former bootlegger retreat and brothel turned lake resort turned Catholic church camp; in its most recent iteration, the camp has been lovingly restored (and also reinvented) as a nostalgic summer camp/community gathering space. The camp felt immediately relaxing and homey. It helped that one of the camp owners was there to offer us a cup of coffee as he tried to keep his dog away from a few baby squirrels they had found!

As a lover of all things vintage, I enjoyed exploring the campgrounds and discovering new delights around each turn. Paul and I both loved imagining our friends exploring, playing, and relaxing together around the camp. The early decisions came together pretty easily from there.

Given the unusual set up of the venue, we tried to use a lot of vendors who had previously been to the camp. We tried to maintain a low-key and communal feel with the food. For Friday night dinner, we looked to Rushing Waters to provide a traditional Wisconsin fish boil – cod, potatoes, coleslaw, and cornbread. For the reception itself, we asked Underground Catering to provide a family style meal of pulled pork, homemade sausage, salad, and vegetable sides. We never formalized a color palette, but we tried to include things we liked and – eventually- it came together into a semi-cohesive theme.”

Wedding Attire

“I tried to keep the wedding dress shopping relatively stress-free. I tried on a lot of beautiful dresses, but I ultimately chose Violet by Rue De Seine (purchased at “Alice in Ivory” in Chicago) because it felt both true to me and true to the venue. I loved the details of the lace and how it managed to be both elegant and relaxed.

The only jewelry I wore was my engagement ring and a gold bracelet that previously belonged to my Grandma Florine who passed away a few years ago. By the end of the cocktail hour, my dress was drenched in mud and super heavy. I asked Elizabeth, our day-of-coordinator, to cut off the bottom so that I could dance. We snuck around behind the camper so she could lop off the train without any of our relatives seeing. I was so grateful for her excellent scissor skills and sense of humor in that moment! She assured me I was not the first bride to make that request and I would not be the last.” – Bride

“For my attire I felt like a traditional black/white suit was too formal for the laid back camp setting, so I opted for a light grey suit with a subtle pinstripe from J. Crew, light blue shirt, heathered grey tie, suspenders, and brown leather shoes.” – Groom

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Wedding Flowers

“The camp and the outdoor ceremony site already provided a lot of natural greenery, so we decided to forgo hiring a florist. The flowers came from a variety of places – my aunt purchased some flowers at the grocery store, I bought a few flowers at Fleur (in Chicago) before heading up to camp, and my mother brought wildflowers from around her home in Indiana.

The beautiful wedding party bouquets were put together by the my aunt. The table flowers were assembled by me (and anyone else who was hanging out in my cabin) on the night before the wedding.”

DIY/Handmade Details

“Although the venue required very little decoration, we did add a few personal touches. First, I decided to design our invitations. I wanted to set the tone for the wedding by showcasing a few photos of the venue with simple descriptions. Our photographer was kind enough to send us photos she had taken of the venue on previous trips, and I used Makr to design the rest.

I also created welcome packets for each of the guests; one version (to those staying at camp or at an Airbnb) went out ahead of time. The other went out with the welcome boxes (described under favors) to each of the hotels.

Second, I sewed bunting to put around the camp on the day of our wedding. I used a variety of fabrics including one print – “Wispy Daybreak” by Leah Duncan. Our first Christmas as a couple, Paul and I exchanged gifts and were surprised to find we had both purchased items from Leah Duncan’s Etsy shop. Since then her art has always had a special place in our home. To continue our theme, I used an outdated Leah Duncan calendar and some cork numbers to create table numbers.

Additionally, Paul and I wanted to find a way to celebrate the loving friends and family we have. We decided to decorate the area around the guest book with photos of our friends and family and a banner expressing how much we love them. We also included a small polaroid camera (a gift from Paul’s sister) so guests could take new photos and add them to the guest book.

Finally, Paul and I had a few custom chalkboard signs made for the event. We asked a local artist who designs the signs for our favorite neighborhood coffee shop. She was a delight to work with, and with almost no instruction, she really captured what we were looking for. We’ve since hung the chalkboard artwork up in our home.”

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Wedding Planning Advice

“We would definitely recommend working with a planner. We made the decision to hire a planner (Elizabeth at Anticipation Events) for “day of coordination plus” – that allowed for three in-person meetings and unlimited e-mails during the planning. Elizabeth was very helpful in helping us to prioritize, in reminding us of the small items we needed, and in reviewing all our plans to ensure our decisions were logical. She also provided us with some great tools to help organize vendors and to create our timeline. Elizabeth came to the rescue when vendors did not respond to our e-mails and was an amazing emotional support — something we certainly needed.

On the day of our wedding, Elizabeth diligently tracked the weather and looked for a break in the rain so we could have the ceremony in the outdoor chapel. She also created a full back-up plan under the tent, and she made sure the venue staff were fully prepared for either event. When we chose to delay our ceremony, she communicated with the the caterer and the musician and made sure that our guests were dry and entertained. She managed everything, so that we could just focus on having fun and getting married! It was such a relief to have her there. Anytime we felt anxious or concerned, she was right there to solve the problem and to help me relax.

Additionally, we’d recommend that couples sit down at the beginning and discuss what is most important to you. When we weren’t sure, we discussed other weddings we’d been to – what stood out and what was lost in the background.  If you’re going to be hands on in the planning, you have to learn to let some things go. Whenever we felt overwhelmed, we’d go back to our list of the most important things and remind ourselves that our guests would enjoy spending time with us and each other – as long as they had the opportunity to connect with each other, the little things wouldn’t matter.

Finally, we stole an excellent idea from some friends who got married the previous year. They recommended holding “wedding summits” where you set specific times during the week to talk about weddings. They had found that wedding planning can seep into all aspects of your relationship, and it was helpful to have some distance and designated time. We certainly found it valuable to put some boundaries around the planning process and the summits helped focus us. We also found that pairing them with food and beer helped the process along!”


Venue: camp wandawega | Catering: underground catering | Band: Gussied | Event Planning: Anticipation Events | Photography: Anda Marie Photography | Hair: lauren wendt | Makeup: KELSEY JOELLE | Transportation: Y Drive Limo | Rentals: Best events | Linens: BEST EVENTS | Favors: Blue Sky Bakery | Favors: Wisco Pop | Desserts: First Slice Pie Cafe | Desserts: Lithuanian Shop | Chalkboards: Kathryn Eli | Dance Lessons: Duet Dance Studio | Wedding Dress: Rue de Seine | Groom’s Attire: J.Crew | Bride’s Shoes: Anthropologie | Bridesmaid Dresses: Anthropologie | Wedding Ring: Etsy | Wedding Dress: Alice in Ivory | Bridesmaid Headpieces: MERINGUE

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