A Carefree Campground Wedding in Florida

Gloomy weather like this makes me crave hot chocolate with toasty marshmallows by the fire. Outdoors. All bundled up in thick blanket. Ooh yeah. It just so happens that it’s also Lucia’s birthday today, so I want to dedicate to her this free-spirited DIY wedding, set at a campground of a Canoe Outpost in Wimauma, Florida, and beautifully captured by Megan Noonan Photography.  It just screams Lucy and Phil with their camping adventures that I’ve always dreamed of tagging along because they know how to make camping fun!

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I just love this couple’s sweet love story! Read on and you’ll know what I mean.

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From the bride:
Wes and I met in high school. We always hung out with the same crowd, and we were good friends. We never dated back then, I guess the timing was never right. I always felt a strong connection to Wes, and couple of years after high school we finally gave it a go. Shortly after we started dating he actually gave me an ultimatum, “I am going out west to work in a national park, I would love it if you came with me, but if you don’t, please know that I just have to do this right now.” Oh my stars, I love the free spirited type. I didn’t hesitate. I quit my job, cancelled my lease, and within a couple of weeks we were on the trip of our lives. It was during that summer that we completely fell in love.

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How did he propose?
Wes has never been able to really surprise me, except when he proposed. We had been dating for a little over a year at this point, and we actually found out a little bit prior that we were expecting a little one. We were getting ready to move up to the DC area, and Wes decided to treat me to a really great tapas restaurant in Dunedin, Florida. So far our evening was going great, we had one delicious plate after another, but then I started to feel the nausea that comes along with the first trimester of pregnancy. Poor Wes. I took a second to go lay down in the back seat of the car, but quickly sucked it up and went back to enjoy our meal. After dinner we went down to the beach, later assuming he was going to propose there, but it was ruined by a bad cocktail of red tide and a group of drunk rednecks. We then headed home. As soon as we walked in the door, Wes got down on his knees and proposed. It was the biggest surprise of my life! We both look back on this day and laugh. Even though our proposal wasn’t viral video material, it was absolutely perfect.

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We had a completely outdoor wedding at one of our favorite campgrounds. I was constantly gawking the weather forecast to make sure it wouldn’t rain. The forecast showed sunny the whole week… except for our wedding day. It rained all morning. The set up of our wedding was delayed due to the wet weather, but by noon everything was in motion. One of the most incredible experiences I felt that day was seeing not only the group of friends we had prearranged to set up the wedding, but more friends, family, and even the bridal party all helping out with getting everything together. It was so beautiful and amazing, and I realized, “Wow, look at all of these people that are here helping us out. They are here for us and to celebrate our love.” It was overwhelming.

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Prior to our ceremony, the entire bridal party hung out in a cabin, drinking, snacking, and hiding from to arriving guests. When it was time for the ceremony to start we all hopped on golf carts, and cut through the woods where the guests wouldn’t be able to see us walk in. The music started and the ceremony was perfect. Being able to share with all of our family and friends our love and commitment to each other was such an amazing experience. The months of wedding planning was all worth it just for that moment.

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Our style is a bit eclectic and bohemian. When planning the design of our wedding, we kept going back to influences from music festivals we have been to, and that worked as a great inspiration for our wedding. We wanted to plan the entire thing with a budget under 15,000. We picked out what details were most important to us- the outdoors, the music, the food, the photography, being kid friendly, and not having to end the wedding at a particular time. We decided to have our wedding at our favorite campground in the Tampa area, The Canoe Outpost. At this point they hadn’t done a wedding before, but knowing that we could rent out the entire campground it was perfect as we knew we wouldn’t have a time limit on our festivities. We hired two mouthwatering local food trucks Mobile Munchiez and Renny’s Oki Doki, and an amazing local “ukulele funk” jam band, The Applebutter Express. Since we are parents, and many of our guests have children, we decide to set up an area for the kids with games, activities, handmade hula hoops, and huge box of funny hats. The kids area turned into a fun area for just about everyone, it was great!

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Advice for other brides:
If you are planning on doing a DIY wedding, it is easy to get caught up in all of the little details. The best thing you can do for sanities sake is to let people help you when they offer, and to not get caught up in the tiniest of details. At the end of the day, your wedding as a whole is going to be beautiful, and possibly even better than you imagined!

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CREDITS:

Photography: Megan Noonan Photography

Catering: Mobile Muchiez / Renny’s Oki Doki

Floral Designer: Harriet’s Flowers

Dress: Honey Knot Weddings

Cake Designer: Kaylee Kakes

Venue: The Canoe Outpost

Band: The Applebutter Express

Etsy Designer: Cara Bella Creative / The Lovely Teaspoon