I’m excited to share this Camp Mendocino wedding! Unique, meaningful and fun are the words that come to mind when I look back on Sara and Chris’ October 2019 wedding.
Camp Mendocino holds a special place in the hearts of many locals. If you grew up in Northern CA, chances are you went to Camp Mendocino for at least one summer.
Located on a 2,000-acre property in the beautiful redwoods of Mendocino County, Camp Mendocino makes an incredible, out of the ordinary wedding venue.
Think ziplining, kayaking, archery, kickball, tacos and campfires! Sara and Chris’ wedding had it all – and a whole lotta love.
This wedding was pretty different than most. At its heart were fun activities to help each side mingle with the other. There was little in the way of traditional wedding activities like a wedding ceremony and cocktail hour. Everyone had such a great time!
Check out a reel showing another awesome Camp Mendocino wedding I photographed here!
Table of Contents
About the wedding couple
Sara and Chris met in 2013 at Camp Mendocino. Sara is actually Camp Director and Chris worked there for four summers.
How cute is this for a falling-in-love story…? Let me set the scene…
It’s the summer of 2016 at the Camp. The buses full of campers and staff have rolled away, and Sara and Chris are left standing side by side in the newly quiet forest.
It was at this moment they realized their relationship had grown deeper than friendship. Though the summer was over, their romance was just beginning.
Chris lived in the UK and Sara lived here in the Bay Area. Their love flourished long distance, until the time that Chris would have his K1 visa and could begin his new life with Sara in Oakland.
2 years later in early 2018, Chris popped the question by Lake Merritt, a stone’s throw from the home they now share.
What was billed as a ‘picnic with friends’ by their beloved Lake Merritt turned out to be the perfect Friday afternoon to get engaged.
Sara’s answer? “Shut Up!”
After clarifying with “of course,” they celebrated their engagement with champagne. Check out pictures from their engagement shoot, back at the scene of the proposal.
Other wedding events
Sara and Chris had another wedding celebration at Vezer Family vineyard in Fairfield, a few months before their big Mendocino wedding. That wedding was very intimate with just 7 close family members in attendance.
I had the pleasure of photographing that event. You can see the article about it below! It was featured on the popular wedding website One Fab Day.
That was a special intimate celebration, but Sara and Chris wanted to celebrate with their wider community. Chris’ family and friends hail from the UK, and Sara’s family is scattered out over the US. The big wedding (dubbed the “redwood wedding” would be the only time everyone would be in one place.
Order of events at Camp Mendocino wedding
The day before
The day before their wedding, folks started arriving on a bus from Oakland, about 3.5 hours away. The drive in was incredibly picturesque. Sara and Chris even put up encouraging signs down the 45 minutes of dirt road to welcome guests in.
There was dinner and sitting round the campfire. I was honored to be welcomed in the evening before to settle in.
It was a wonderful introduction to the festivities that awaited, as well as to become acquainted with the expansive grounds.
I also got to reconnect with the couple’s family members from their earlier celebration.
After breakfast, the morning was free for guests to do whatever they liked. Options included ziplining, archery, other games or just warming up around the fire. The weather was a little too cold for kayaking on the picturesque Noyo River that runs through Camp.
The couple wanted plenty of photos of guests enjoying themselves. Sara even resumed her Camp role and helped guests into the zipline.
After a lovely, relaxed lunch, there was a game of kickball! The boys really got into the sports as they play a lot of rugby at home. Any chance to kick a ball around and they’re there ; )
After that, Sara and Chris donned their wedding attire, ready for the celebration in the Amphitheater. This was another unique touch for the couple’s day. Instead of having a traditional wedding ceremony, they opted for sharing memories.
The group then decamped to the outdoor seating area for a beautiful dinner under the stars. All meals are included in your rental, and prepared by Camp Mendocino’s awesome in-house chef.
Rentals were provided by French Events Rents [2023 edit: no longer in business], giving their tablescapes an elevated touch.
Multi-colored glass goblets, red lanterns and fresh wildflowers adorned the long redwood tables. Family members helped to place the finishing touchings to the tables.
Unique features of Camp Mendocino
Though every wedding venue is unique, Camp Mendocino truly stands apart. It’s the home to so much activity, life, nature and history.Having a wedding at a summer camp means plenty of activities to choose from. The full list, available from the relevant page on camp’s website, is:
- high ropes
- zip line
- rock climbing
- arts & crafts
- theater space
- communal campfires
- and much, much more!
The main thing to bear in mind when booking your Camp Mendocino wedding is the date. Camp Mendocino only takes wedding bookings during the months of May, August, September and October.
That’s right, no weddings during the popular wedding months of June, July and August – it’s a summer camp!
Lodging at Camp Mendocino
Another key factor to bear in mind when planning your wedding at Camp is the lodging. As it’s so far from the nearest town, down a long, winding dirt road, all guests should sleep on site.
There are lodge rooms with heating and bathrooms that can be described as ‘rustic hotel rooms’. That was where I slept during my stay, and it was positively luxurious – much warmer and cozier than I was expecting. The room was very spacious, too and could have slept 4.
There are also cabins, camper cabins, and tent camping. For open-air camping, up to 400 visitors can be accommodated depending on the group’s exact needs and logistics. Each rental is bespoke.
Check out similar redwood wedding venues around the Bay Area and beyond
Photos of Camp Mendocino wedding
About Zoe Larkin Photography
You can learn more about my services at the link below. I specialize in photographing authentic, meaningful weddings for rad, modern couples all over Northern California and beyond. Hoping I’ll be back at Camp Mendocino soon, photographing your lovely wedding!