Any of our more outdoorsy couples ever thought of tying the knot at your favorite campground or hiking spot? Jena + Sam love exploring, and a big, traditional wedding just never sounded right. So when they came across a few secluded campsites at Mount Laguna, suddenly it clicked. Together with fam and friends, they spruced up their little spot in the woods, invited 60 guests, and pulled off an intimate camp wedding on a major budget. And the fact that Jena’s talented sister Corinne Alexandra photographed the whole thing made it so extra special. She also coordinated + designed the perfect day for her sister, which is just about the sweetest thing ever, if you ask us!
Our groom, on the proposal… I had secretly purchased the ring Jena had been eyeing at her favorite beachside antique store. I had been holding onto it for almost two months in order to propose during our camping trip to Yosemite. We had a big hike planned, and I thought I would do it at the top of the waterfall. Both Jena and I are pretty private, so I didn’t want to make a scene in front of a lot of people—so you can imagine how nervous I was when the trail was way more crowded than I expected. I improvised and found a secret path off trail that led down to the base of another waterfall with absolutely no one around. It was the perfect place. I distracted Jena by pretending there was something in the rocks she should look at, and when she turned back around I was on my knee with the ring. I will never forget the look on her face!
Even though they live in downtown San Diego now, they both grew up surrounded by nature. Mount Laguna is their go-to escape, so they couldn’t have a found a more location to say I Do. They were able to pull it all off for $9K (rings included!), too. More on that below!
Jena’s bouquet by Ruby Bloom Florals was full of protea, eucalyptus, and blue thistle.
Their love story…
Jena: Sam won me over on our first spontaneous trip. Late one night I mentioned how I wanted to see Salvation Mountain. He said, “Let’s go, right now,” and we did. We slept in his car and explored around at sunrise. I loved how he was he was not all talk and actually follows through!
Sam: I fell in love with her when I was working in Alaska for a summer. She came to visit me and I planned a getaway to this magical community cabin nestled in a cove along a moss covered forest. I forgot to mention to her that there was no electricity or running water. She didn’t even care and just went with the flow. She is the best travel companion.
Jena says, We transformed a dusty campground into a romantic forest venue! It’s amazing what some string lights, greenery, and a lot of help from your family can do. My sister deserves the most credit—on top of photographing and coordinating the day, she made our invitations, signs, and decorated with her own collection of thrifted pieces. My aunt made a deliciously gorgeous chai spice cake with maple buttercream, topped with figs and dripping with salted caramel. Sam and I built our dessert table and sweetheart table together.
Here’s that aforementioned chai spice cake. Um, yum!
My absolute favorite moment was when Sam and I drove away in his convertible back to our cabin for the night. Sam made me a special playlist of our favorite songs for the drive. We had the top down, so I could feel the wind whipping my hair around and we could see the stars glowing through the silhouetted trees. It was so nice to be alone together and just take in the night.
We had 10 months to plan the wedding, which was plenty considering the small size and minimal frills of our wedding. Since I am an accountant, I made a detailed spreadsheet and kept track of our budget every step of the way. This really relieved any stress of spending money, because you knew it was part of the initial plan. It’s really easy to get carried away wanting to buy all these additional things as the wedding gets closer, but having a detailed budget helped me remember what items were really priority. If it wasn’t part of the original budget, then it wasn’t part of our true vision and priority for the day.
The one thing I would have done differently was I would have hired a day-of-coordinator so my family and I could have relaxed more the day of instead of worrying if we were staying on schedule.
Looks like everything turned out beautifully! Congrats, Sam + Jena!
Photography: Corinne Alexandra / Venue: (Now Private) Campground at Mount Laguna, San Diego / Florals: Ruby Bloom Florals / Hair & Makeup: Bride’s Cousin, Laura Hamilton / Invitations: Bride’s Sister, Stuck with Pins / Cake: Bride’s Aunt, Kathy Hamilton / Catering: Tacos Don Jorge / Chair & Bench Rentals: Abbey Party Rentals / Band: Desperado Bluegrass / Bride’s Dress: BHLDN Petra Gown / Engagement Ring: Vintage 1920s / Wedding Ring: Capucinne / Shoes: Sam Edelman / Groom’s Suit: Topman / Tie: Ties.com / Wedding Band: JewelryLetGo