Little did Brooke and Tim know that a leisurely hike one evening would lead them to their future wedding venue. Two years before Tim proposed, the duo stumbled upon Camp Collins, a sprawling YMCA property hidden deep in a forest near their Portland home, and immediately felt a connection. "We both loved everything about it," says Brooke, noting the site's towering pines, scenic trails and rustic log cabins, which reminded her of the northern Wisconsin summer camp she had attended as a child. "It was the only place we thought of for our wedding." Much like their unexpected venue, the couple's day was filled with unique touches, starting with their itinerary.
Rather than leading off with their ceremony, Brooke and Tim began with a late-afternoon hors d'oeurve reception. They greeted everyone at the camp's main lodge, where local brews and a country band gave their 200 guests—many of whom had traveled from out of state—a taste of the Northwest. The festivities continued through dinner, served inside the lodge, where white linens and chairs blended with the low-key surroundings.
After dinner, guests followed a rugged switchback trail to a riverside bonfire pit for the couple's sunset ceremony. Before returning to the lodge for dessert and dancing, everyone roasted marshmallows and sang songs by the river's edge. The newlyweds capped their day with a true outdoorsy experience: talking late into the night with friends around a fire, under the stars. —Michaela Garibaldi
Learn from Brooke and Tim
Prepare Privately: The bride and groom made a point of reflecting on their day ahead. They took some time together in a quiet, secluded spot before guests arrived (and also used this moment to exchange gifts).
Consider a Wardrobe Change: In keeping with the relaxed setting, Brooke chose a comfortable silk jacket and skirt for hors d'oeuvres and dinner, then slipped into her strapless Nicole Miller gown just before the ceremony.
Transport Guests in a Fun Way: Yellow school buses—a summer-camp staple—brought everyone from Portland to the wedding site.
Incorporate Childhood Favorites: Mocha-chocolate cookies, a specialty of Brooke's mom, made the dessert course more meaningful.