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Being a wedding planner requires industry insight, great organization and systems, high amounts of people skills, and a crazy amount of pre-planning, just to name a few things. But being a wedding planner for a destination wedding requires all of that, plus more! 

Destination weddings bring logistical challenges (How do we get everyone there? How do we know what vendors are actually reputable, if I don’t live in the area?), and the need for an excellent wedding planner is higher than ever.

Today, we interview Marsha, our chief wedding planner with over 10 years of experience on what it’s like to plan destination weddings, by looking at a case study: Rachael & Andy’s Destination Camp Wedding Weekend at Camp Alexander in Wisconsin! This couple from the southwest wanted a destination wedding in Wisconsin where they could celebrate their wedding for a full weekend at a camp in the beautiful forests of Wisconsin. Who did they hire? Marsha, of course! 

Happy bride and groom together in Wisconsin forests

What stands out to you about your couple?

Andy & Rachael are my handstand couple! This is the couple who decorated their wedding with photos of them doing handstands in all they places they’ve visited over the years.They love to travel, and everywhere they go they take a handstand photo. How fun are they!! They are an adventurous couple and they wanted their adventurous spirit to touch all aspects of their destination wedding.

What were Andy & Rachael’s goals for their wedding?

They wanted to get married in Wisconsin because Andy has a large family who are local to Wisconsin, so it was easier to have their friends and coworkers travel from Arizona to Wisconsin. For this couple, having a destination Wisconsin wedding could better accommodate their family while also allowing their desire for adventure and unique experiences to be part of their wedding.

Destination Wisconsin invitation suite

What were the benefits of planning a destination wedding for Andy & Rachael?

They were able to reserve the whole camp for the full weekend – what an incredible experience! They were surrounded by their loved ones in one place for a long weekend. With a multi-day destination event, it had a great feeling of intimacy. They were able to spend more quality time together, and the accommodations were many, with cabins, RVs, tents, and local hotels available. 

What are some problems associated with planning a destination wedding? How do you address those problems?

For the unique challenges of planning a wedding across the country, we had to put some great systems, organization, and communication in place to make sure that Andy & Rachel and I were able to be on the same page throughout the planning process. We had consistent, regular check-ins so the planning didn’t become overwhelming. We also had the advantage of having a local wedding planner in the same area as the venue because I was able to use my connections to have great vendors on our team.

Bride and groom at Camp Alexander

What are some problems associated with planning a camp wedding weekend? How did you address those problems?

In terms of planning a weekend-long camp experience, we were able to choose lots of fun activities to make sure that guests enjoyed every minute of the celebration. At Camp Alexander, we were able to say yes to activities for all ages: hiking, rock painting, volleyball and swimming, as well as wedding festivities, campfire songs, dancing, and more.

Weather was also a big part of the discussion. We lucked out because for the most part, the whole weekend had warm, beautiful, sunny weather. However, the ceremony was in the hot sun, so we had to figure out how to keep all the guests cool and comfortable! We structured the ceremony to be short and provided water to guests at the ceremony site.

Electricity was another issue we needed to make plans for. When we lost power in the middle of the ceremony, we had to get creative with a power source…of course, we turned to the bride & groom’s beloved van that they’ve traveled the country in together! Always have a Plan B.

Friends and baby enjoy camp wedding
Friends have fun at camp wedding

What were some highlights from their wedding as a planner, and as someone attending the wedding?

There are just so many!! I loved the personal touches that were sprinkled through the wedding. For example, the photos of Andy & Rachael doing handstands across the country that decorated all the tables – I loved that touch. They also paid attention to personal details, like their first look, personal vows during the ceremony, and 10 readings during the ceremony to include many loved ones in the service.

I also loved the creative activities and entertainment they chose to be in their wedding. There were fun camp activities for guests of all ages. When it came for the reception, Felix & Fingers Dueling Pianos completely stole the show! The dance floor was full all night long. 

And the FOOD!! It was not your typical camp food. There was thoughtful catering with a wide variety of meals and service styles throughout the weekend. There was a campfire meal on Friday night as a Welcome Dinner, with a leisurely breakfast and picnic lunch, followed by the Wedding dinner later at night, which was an outstanding feast with a wide range of cuisines, adding to their desire to bring adventure into every part of their wedding.

Andy and Rachael, I dearly love you both, and was so honored to plan your wedding in Wisconsin. I miss you both and wish you well – and congratulations on your first months of marriage! Sending you the warmest love from the state that will always be where you had the best weekend of your lives!!

Any many thanks to Erin Evangeline Photography for your skilled photography- we are so impressed with the way you brilliantly captured the joy of this wedding weekend. Thank you for sharing your photos!

Sincerely, Marsha