This wedding is so cool!
You know how much we love it when a wedding really lets a couple's personality shine through, and Hillary and Phillip's bright and beautiful summer camp wedding is the perfect example of just that.
A weekend-long celebration at Northbay Adventure Camp in Maryland, with fabulous blooms, quirky DIY decor, dancing into the night and a midnight bonfire on the beach (LOVE that idea!), it was all captured by Nessa K Photography in her signature dreamy style.
In a breathtaking Badgley Mischka wedding dress (and a fab Free People maxi for dancing) Hillary made the most gorgeous beach bride, with a sunset-hued flower crown that set off the style for the rest of the day.
Keeping the tones of hot pinks and purples and bright burnt orange throughout, she, her dashing groom, Phillip, and their very creative friends and family, made the celebration extra special with lots of DIY details and personal touches.
From their beach ceremony arch to their ombre seating plan, and their cool tote favours, to Mexican blankets for after dark, every last detail of this family reunion-themed celebration was lovingly thought out.
Prepare to feel nostalgic for summer camp, with Phillip and Hillary's fun, intimate and utterly unique wedding…
Wedding Day Snapshot
Our Love Story
We went to college together, had been dating for nine years before getting married. We have a house together, a dog and a cat; marriage was the final step in a long journey and one we took very seriously.
When we finally felt we were ready for that step, Phil surprised me at home with a bottle of Champagne- when I asked him what we were celebrating, he asked and gave me the ring – I think I forgot to answer and just started crying, so he was’t sure if it was appropriate to pop the bottle for a few minutes!
We are so excited to be on an even longer journey now as husband and wife.
Our Wedding in Three Words
Camp, Wildflowers, Hugs.
Hillary Dempster and Philip Heckwolf were married on Saturday October 4th, 2014, at Northbay Adventure Camp.
Most of their guests arrived the evening before and stayed overnight in cabins at the camp 'til Sunday. The event was entirely a community effort.
The bride planned all elements of the wedding weekend and executed them with the help of local vendors and close friends and family.
Guest goodie bags with essential items for the weekend were assembled and handed out during check-in by the bride's friends. The guest cards were hand-painted by her mom, while the ceremony music was played by college friends. Throughout the day, everyone pitched in to setup and decorate.
The main decor was provided by local, organic flowers arranged by The Modest Florist, based in Hampden where the bride and groom live. The handmade wedding arch was built by the groom's aunt and uncle, sourcing local driftwood from all over Maryland.
During downtime, guests played lawn games, flew on a zip line and giant swing.
The ceremony was on the beach with the bride and groom’s siblings and Hillary’s lifelong friend as attendants. As they ended the ceremony, guests threw organic dried wildflower confetti and a bald eagle flew overhead.
All meals were provided by Northbay's dining hall, which transformed for the evening reception with the help of a giant disco ball, photo booth, beer canoe, and DJ Landis Expandis. After cupcakes and a ridiculous dance party, guests went back out to the beach, wrapped in Mexican blankets to brave the wind for a midnight bonfire before heading back to their cabins for the evening.
Everyone regrouped in the dining hall for brunch and goodbyes the following morning. All photos were taken by Nessa K Photography.
Our Tumblr page was how we kept our guests informed, and it allowed our RSVP process to be totally online and save on postage and be better for the environment (less paper!)
Definitely a summer camp/family reunion feel.
We used sunset colors through out the wedding, and the decor was heavily influenced by watercolors and wildflowers.
The bridal bouquet, crown and bridesmaid bouquets were made with “sunset” colors; amethyst, rose quartz, carnelian, driftwood, zinnia, celosia, dahlia, hydrangea, gomphrena, and snapdragons.
The boutonnieres to coordinate were made from thistle, scabiosa, and lamb's ear.
The hand-made garland for the arch was mostly greens and grasses with hydrangea, cockscomb, and zinnias.
The aisle markers were hand-tied bouquets with jute twine “hangers” (similar to the bridesmaids' nosegays but smaller).
We also had a low, tablescape featuring live ornamental cabbage/kale in “weathered baskets” for guests to take home.
We chose Northbay Adventure Camp because it meant being able to have an outdoor venue on a beach that also allowed all of our guests to stay in one place from Friday through Sunday with the infrastructure to provide meals.
All the music was played by close friends from college, musicians Audrey Hamilton and Josh Barnett.
Our processional was a traditional Scottish song from bride’s childhood about journey’s and safe passage, ‘Skye Boat Song'.
We had Tibetan prayer flags and bells during the ceremony and the wedding arch was built by the groom’s aunt and uncle, built from locally sourced driftwood.
We went to the Bahamas, Island of Eleuthera, Buttonwood Reserve
Relatively undeveloped island, its only about three miles across and 100 miles long. We were looking for privacy without a resort feeling. We went for a seven mile beach hike, and didn’t see a single other person.
The only downside is that you see a significant amount of beach trash which is upsetting- but a reality of how humans treat our oceans and what happens when there’s no resort staff to clean the beaches and hide it from the tourists.
The house was wonderful, you can see the Atlantic on one side and the Caribbean on the other- there’s even a private beach with a shipwreck that you can get to by electric golf cart or bicycle.
There’s a turtle preserve where you can go paddle boarding and local organic farms- day trips to the famous Harbour Island are also a perk. Such a gem, definitely recommended over the typical Bahamas vacation.
Nessa is an amazing photographer, she is so skilled at putting her subjects at ease, even when they aren’t comfortable in front of the camera.
Her beautiful images tell stories the way that most wedding photography doesn’t capture.
One of the best decisions we made for the wedding! We will treasure her photos forever!
We had fruit-infused signature cocktails, also in the sunset colours, purple, pink, orange and yellow, with names like Huckleberry Fizz and Zipline Zoom.
We enjoyed many meals throughout the weekend, but the reception dinner was a BBQ buffet.
Though we had a small cake to cut, the guests enjoyed cupcakes from Flavor Cupcakery.
The Decor & Details
We had confetti balloons from Celebrations, DIY watercolor placecards, hand painted and calligraphy by bride’s mother, a sunset ribbon display for placecards, which was a DIY project by bride and groom.
Our sunset candle gemstone jars with amethyst, carnelian, and rose quartz, were a DIY project by the bride, and family and friends.
One of the most important elements that I didn’t want to compromise on was the venue being somewhere that everyone could be together for the whole weekend instead of spread out at hotels, figuring out group transportation, etc.
The photography was also non-negotiable for us, since so much of the weekend was fleeting, we wanted it to be captured beautifully, and when it comes down to it, aside from the wonderful new spouse, the photos are one of the only things you walk away from the wedding with.
First Dance: ‘Digital Love' by Daft Punk
Mother/Son Dance: ‘Across the Universe' by The Beatles
Father/Daughter Dance: ‘What a Wonderful World' by Louis Armstrong
It was truly a community effort – friends and family signed up for doing check-in shifts and helped put together party favor totes and any last minute decorating was done by all our guests!
I am so grateful for such an amazing, supportive group of friends and family. We couldn't have done it without them, it was truly the most love we’ve ever felt!
Having the zipline and the giant swing definitely contributed to a playful camp atmosphere, everyone loved hanging out on the beach too. My great-uncle did the giant swing! It was so scary!
Having the bonfire going at the end of the night was perfect… The cabins and bunk beds and canoe filled with beer all contributed to the overall vibe of the weekend, which was a relaxed combination of “summer camp” and family reunion.
Advice for Other Couples
Be true to who you are as a couple – do what you need to do so that you will be relaxed and enjoy the moment.
Don’t get hung up on the “big day” mentality…
As much as the details are important during the planning phase- its important to let go and just enjoy when the day is actually here!
We told you it was cool, right? So many unique ideas and fun details, and I just love how Hillary's stunning Badgley Mischka gown moves in the breeze – such a perfect dress for a beach wedding, don't you think?
Thanks so much to Nessa K Photography, and of course, Hillary and Phillip, for sharing their lovely summer camp wedding with us.
Don't forget to share your love for the happy couple in the comments below!
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