Camp Wedding Location for Your Destination Wedding: Camp Wandawega

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Have you thought about a camp themed wedding?  Perhaps disconnecting, reconnecting and saying “I do” in nature?!  Well, we just visited the absolutely perfect place for you if that’s your style.  How about a destination wedding in Wisconcin?!  Yep, on Lake Wandawega.  I recently spent a few days at the secluded oasis, Camp Wandawega, for an amazing wedding industry conference called, appropriately, Camp Wedding.  And what I discovered is that a camp wedding could be just what couples need to fully connect their families.  Think about it, no pretense, no fancy formal events, just beauty in all its forms.  But not to worry, there’s still hot running water, a roof over your head, and comfy beds to tuck into at night.  I wouldn’t call this glamping, but it’s not exactly roughing it either.

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Camp Wandawega was built in 1925 and originally housed a speakeasy, among other things.  Those original buildings remain today, now peppered in between hammocks, a tree house, tents and even a teepee to sleep in if you so choose!

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The small lake can be accessed from two small docks or a tiny beach on the property, complete with canoes for your taking any time you want.  There’s also archery, hiking trails, huge fire pits for late night bonfires and plenty of exploring to do throughout the camp.

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The beautiful venue also has wide open grass areas, perfect to put up a tent and celebrate under like we did at Camp Wedding.  You can setup ice breaker games by day and dancing under the stars by night!  Either way, just be sure to end the festivities with some s’mores by the campfire!

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The vibe at this one-of-a-kind camp is one that’s relaxed, quiet, comfortable and fun – it might remind you a little bit of summer camp as a kid.  So if you’re up for anything and looking for a totally unique destination wedding experience, one that is routed in nature and totally private for you and your loved ones, then call Camp Wandawega home for your big day.  About an equal distance from Chicago and Milwaukee, there are plenty of ways to get there, but we’re warning you, you may not want to leave.

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First Three Images: Camp Wandawega, All Other Images: Lexia Frank Photography

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Temecula Wedding Location: Pechanga Resort & Casino

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Did you know that Southern California has a wine country?  And a beautiful one too!  Temecula is home to rolling hills, boutique wineries, and even a fabulous resort to call home for your destination wedding!  Set just outside of the wineries, a few minutes from the vines is Pechanga Resort & Casino, the perfect place to wed when heading south for an outdoors wedding in wine country.  I recently got to test drive what a wedding would be like here…and let’s just say, I’ll be back!

You may think you want to say “I do” among the grapes, but once you set foot on Pechanga’s private garden ceremony site, you may think again.  A beautifully manicured lawn and garden with a raised platform just for you, your ceremony point will be protected by trees yet overlook the beautiful golf course and valley beyond.

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Then head to the patio nearby for a fire pit-clad cocktail hour (perfect for s’mores) and enjoy a jaw-dropping setting complete with old-fashioned bridge just beyond, where most brides and grooms can be found taking portraits in a place unlike any other.

For dinner, dine under the stars or indoors at Journey, a swanky restaurant the property shuts down just for you and 180 of your closest friends and family.  You’ll enter by a large, two-story stone fireplace and head into a space that’s already dressed up so you need not do much to make it picture-perfect.

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Then it’s time to eat.  And eat you will!  The food at Pechanga Resort & Casino is something to write home about.  Wow, it’s better than good.  Your first meal as newlyweds will be one you remember.

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But a destination wedding to Southern California’s wine country isn’t all about the wedding day.  What I love about Pechanga is all there is do on property AND nearby.  You can take your guests to a comedy show in their comedy club instead of hosting a stuffy rehearsal dinner.  If there’s a concert in town, you can catch that too in their theater.  If you like to gamble, there’s a major casino on property.  And if you don’t, it’s housed a shuttle ride away from the wedding space so you’ll never even know it’s there.  But if you do like to play a little, might we suggest a family round of bingo or a poker tournament for your group?  Pechanga can set up gaming activities for your group too – even lessons for those needing a little help!

Then don’t forget to arrange a shuttle to the wineries for some tastings along the way and perhaps even a day after trash the dress session!

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The rooms at Pechanga Resort & Casino are lovely, the staff knows their stuff, the activities are endless, and the wedding spaces and menus are surprisingly unique and delightful.  Home run if you’re looking for a domestic destination I do and a wine country that’s a little more relaxed with a lot more to do.  Oh, and did we mention Pechanga is undergoing a 285 million dollar expansion and renovation?  That means this time next year, you’ll find even more to do on property with even more luxury at your fingertips.  Booking now means getting in before it’s booked later.

{Photos: Image 1: Pechanga, Image 2, 3, 6: Hulse Photo, Image 4, 5: Jenna Joseph Photography}

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Best Place to Bachelor/Bachelorette in Los Angeles

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Summer is right around the corner, which means here in Southern California, it’s bachelor and bachelorette party time!  If you’re planning your bachelorette weekend or getaway bachelor party, then look no further than sunny So Cal and the bright lights of Los Angeles!  The trend to getaway for a bachelorette party is taking the country by storm – no longer do guys and gal pals go out for just one night, they get in the car or hop on a plane for a quick ride to somewhere special for a few fabulous days with friends.  And Hollywood is one happening place to do just that!  If you want a spot that marries (pun intended) hip nightlife with sun tanning and spa, then check out the newly redone W Los Angeles – West Beverly Hills.

This posh property has everything a weekend away with friends could need – a popular pool and poolside restaurant for cabana living and dare we say, a little day drinking; live local music certain times of the month in the swanky lobby lounge known as the Living Room Bar, a celeb-favorite steakhouse, STK (complete with it’s own DJ and entertainment), and even a Bliss Spa on property to help you recover from all the fun you had the night before!

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Located within perfect proximity to Hollywood nightclubs if you want to go out, but complete with all the social scene you could need within the walls of the hotel, the W Los Angeles – West Beverly Hills is the ideal home to dance all night, lounge all day, and celebrate those last few days of single life with those you love most.

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If you’re organizing a little soiree during the weekend or you’ve got a good size group, consider staying in the E Wow Suite, a lavish party palace complete with a tufted wall-clad screening room, floating bed, and bar in the living room.   It’s got good times written all over it!

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With a recent renovation, all the rooms are inviting, modern, and made for fun, regardless of the suite or size room you select.

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But even with a room as wow as the E Wow Suite, you won’t want to spend too much time tucked away with a happening lobby and lounge scene like this.  Head downstairs to celebrate in style and don’t forget to dine and indulge at STK when you do!  Just ask the W Insider for help, they’re goal is to provide you Whatever / Whenever you want it and make your bachelorette weekend a breeze to plan!

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If you want to get some sun before the big day, see the City of Angels by night, and experience some of the best food and drink in LA on your bachelor or bachelorette weekend, then W Los Angeles – West Beverly Hills is the place to be.  You might even spot a celeb or two during your stay!

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For more information on parties, dinning, spa, and getaway weekends in Los Angeles, check out the W Los Angeles – West Beverly Hills for more ideas and great rates.

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Historic Destination Wedding Location: The Mission Inn Hotel & Spa

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Historic wedding venues provide epic backdrops for your big day. A place rich in experience, typically grand in design (even if it’s because it’s in ruins), and a sense of place and story that most people want for their wedding. Well, if this fits the bill for you then one destination wedding location in Southern California has got to be on your radar. The Mission Inn Hotel & Spa in Riverside (not too far from Disneyland if you want to make a day trip) is an old-world gem that is back on the map again. With architecture and design unlike anything I’ve ever seen, setting foot here will take you back to a time and place you may not have know existed.

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Built originally in 1876, this property has relics from the 17th century and statement pieces from around the world. And it also has a chapel! That’s right, you can get married in a stunning non-denominational chapel for 160 (or opt for a smaller ceremony in the St. Cecilia Chapel for just 15). A big bonus for couples getting married here, I highly recommend a ceremony in the St. Francis of Assisi Chapel, followed by cocktails in a beautiful courtyard framing a fountain, before heading into dinner and dancing in one of eight ballrooms on property.

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Then when it comes time to retire, you and your guests will delight in different rooms for each! No two hotel rooms or suites (out of their 238) are the same, many of which were even designed and built during different eras. For newlyweds, the Keeper of the Inn Suite, the Amistad Suite and Alhambra Suite are most popular. Whereas I stayed in a Mission Room on the top floor, complete with fireplace, high ceilings and a rooftop garden out front and I found it perfectly romantic for any pair in your bridal party.

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And when planning a destination wedding, it’s important to think beyond just the big day. The Mission Inn Hotel & Spa has five spectacular restaurants to choose from. You could host a dozen events here, from rehearsal dinner and welcome party to bridal luncheon and post-wedding brunch and never set foot in the same space twice! But no matter what venue you choose, know the food will be fabulous! Tub-sized margaritas will greet you at Las Campanas, while Duane’s Prime Steak and Seafood Restaurant is ideal for a more formal gathering of the group.

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We mentioned this place has everything you need for a destination wedding weekend right? That includes a world-class spa, Kelly’s Spa, with couples suites complete with fireplaces and tubs for two and for others, a pool and deck where I’m sure an impromptu party or two have taken place. You can also opt in for a docent tour of the artwork and grounds that will give you a little lesson about the history you stand on.

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But it doesn’t stop there. When you’re ready for dessert or want something a little different than wedding cake, ring up Casey’s Cupcakes in the lobby for a selection of wedding themed sweets and even a cupcake injected with ice cream! Yum.

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Something else you might not know about The Mission Inn Hotel & Spa is that the warmth of the team starts with the family that restored it, preserves it, and runs it. It really is a family business here, with the spa named after the Mrs, and the cupcakery created by the daughter of the owners!

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And the owners have done a lot for the community, including creating a Festival of Lights during the holiday season with over 4 million twinkle lights to make for one amazing wedding backdrop. Hint: If you’re getting married in Southern California during the season, a honeymoon or wedding night or two here would be breathtaking, though just remember, during winter you won’t be alone!

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The Mission Inn Hotel & Spa is one of the most charming, unique, and memorable places I’ve stayed – and I’ve stayed a lot of places. We all want our weddings to be unforgettable, and I’m confident no wedding guest or host will ever forget this magical spot.

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For more information about getting married at The Mission Inn Hotel & Spa or for your honeymoon, check out their website here.  And don’t forget to celebrate the season in Southern California at their Festival of Lights this winter!

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Palm Springs Wedding Location: The Parker Palm Springs

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If you want a swanky place to wed in the desert of California, then your search may have just ended here.  One of our favorite places for a destination wedding in Southern California is sunny Palm Springs, and one of the best hotels in the region?  The Parker Palm Springs.  Beautifully manicured grounds, delicious cuisine, fire pits and places at every turn, a spa worth writing home about, and a retro chic style unique only to The Parker is what ultimately sets this special spot apart from the rest.

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Even the front drive is memorable – a giant decorative wall that you almost tuck into to get inside and check in for a relaxing, old world experience.  Once you get past all the eye candy in the lobby (where I highly suggest you return later to enjoy a drink by the fire), your room will be nestled away in one of several buildings that you’ll get to via a secret-like winding path.  What I love about this property is that it’s not small, 144 rooms, big enough for a large wedding party, but it feels incredibly boutique, without the hustle and bustle of a large resort.  But if you want big, they’ve got that too – with reception lawns large enough to fill a small county fair (they’ve built one for a private party before, complete with rides and all!).

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Weddings at The Parker have several options – outdoors under the stars of course (if it’s not too hot in the summer months), and two beautifully appointed ballroom spaces that need little else to dress them up other than the elegant decor already inside.  The Mafiya Suite, which is perfect for parties of 100 or less, has beautiful high ceilings, grand windows and drapes, and even makes for an intimate indoor ceremony site when need be.  For larger weddings, the Grand Ballroom can hold up to 200 for dinner and dancing and has a private indoor / outdoor space for when curfew calls.

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The Parker has charm, sophistication, and playfulness – including a spiked lemonade stand on property with a bike and cart for poolside delivery – all that you’d want in a Palm Springs wedding.  And with so many party places on property, you’ll never have to leave when celebrating your destination wedding weekend.  Shhh…that includes the spa too!  One thing not to miss is a day at their stunning spa, which, for just the right occasion, has been known to host a party or two.

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For more information on getting married at The Parker Palm Springs, check out their dedicated weddings site here!

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All Photos Courtesy of The Parker Palm Springs.

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