An Epic, Fashion-Forward Elopement in the Utah Desert
‚ÄúThis year has taught us to appreciate the relationships we have with the ones that are closest to us,‚ÄĚ says Serena Hampton of her wedding with Marvin Yates Jr.
Nothing exemplified that more than the couple‚Äôs elopement with 11 guests in Moab, Utah. After canceling plans for an estate wedding with 150 guests in Virginia, the Washington, D.C.-based couple swapped to the one place they knew they wanted to say ‚ÄúI do‚ÄĚ with an intimate group: Utah. They landed on Dead Horse Point State Park for its breathtaking views and unique colors of the rock formations, then set about fusing certain elements of their original day, like the flowers, with the Utah venue. They hosted the reception at the Airbnb where they stayed and added in activities like off-roading on ATVs to show their guests how much they appreciated their presence during a pandemic. But they were also quick to throw out any tradition that didn‚Äôt make sense anymore, including a white dress, and find unique ways, like a custom handkerchief, to represent family who couldn‚Äôt be there.
‚ÄúWe wanted guests to be wowed by the striking desert setting but also to feel like they were being treated to a luxe soiree that reflected our personal style,‚ÄĚ Serena says. ‚ÄúWe wanted our guests to have a great experience, especially after agreeing to share at this moment during a global pandemic.‚ÄĚ
‚ÄúOur vision embraced the adventurous landscape of our destination,‚ÄĚ Serena says of the day, which started with prayers with her bridesmaids and mother.
Green is my favorite color, so it didn‚Äôt take much persuasion for me to order this dress.
Serena admits she never envisioned wearing an emerald green wedding gown, but the dress ended up being the perfect look to represent her style. ‚ÄúGreen is my favorite color, so it didn‚Äôt take much persuasion for me to order this dress,‚ÄĚ she says of finally opting to press the buy button online for her Milla Nova gown. She worked with a friend over Facetime to source the headpiece and earrings from shops in Los Angeles.
‚ÄúWe planned this elopement in three months because we were adamant about getting married on September 6, 2020,‚ÄĚ Serena says.
This year has taught us to appreciate the relationships we have with the ones that are closest to us.
‚ÄúThe planning process was an adventure all in itself,‚ÄĚ Serena says. ‚ÄúPutting trust in people that you never met is another level of anxiety. You have to remain optimistic that everything will be fine.‚ÄĚ
Luckily, she says, it exceeded their expectations.
The ceremony took place in Dead Horse Point State Park, a park they picked because it wasn‚Äôt as touristy as others. ‚ÄúNothing prepares you for that type of beauty,‚ÄĚ the bride says of the venue. ‚ÄúIt‚Äôs an out of body experience.‚ÄĚ
Prior to the wedding, Serena shared mood boards of outfit inspiration for their guests. She hoped they would all don neutral tones so that the guests would coordinate nicely with the green colors of their outfits. She called the final result a ‚Äúmasterpiece‚ÄĚ as they all perfectly accented the landscape.
Serena‚Äôs mother escorted her down the aisle to meet Marvin at an altar space flanked by pampas grass and flowers. In fact, the couple‚Äôs arrangements were created by a florist in Virginia, disassembled and shipped west, then rebuilt at the park.
Marvin‚Äôs father got licensed in Utah just so he could officiate the wedding. It was one of the couple‚Äôs most favorite memories of the day.
The couple exchanged their own vows during the ceremony. ‚ÄúI was inspired at the Martin Luther King, Jr. memorial in D.C. during a morning run,‚ÄĚ Marvin says of writing his vows. ‚ÄúThere was a quote on the side of the statue, that says ‚ÄėOut of the mountain of despair, a stone of hope.‚Äô I thanked Serena for being my stone of hope.‚ÄĚ
Marvin creates balance and peace for me. I‚Äôm so blessed to spend forever with him.
‚ÄúMarvin creates balance and peace for me,‚ÄĚ Serena says. ‚ÄúHe is the most consistent man I have ever met. I‚Äôm so blessed to spend forever with him.‚ÄĚ
The guests looked on as Serena and Martin took their first spin as husband and wife to Stevie Wonder‚Äôs ‚ÄúRibbon in the Sky‚ÄĚ overlooking the Colorado River.
The party returned to the Airbnb for an outdoor barbecue of locally raised lamb chops, grilled salmon, and peach crisp. Everyone sat at one long wooden table, covered in massive pampas grass and palm frond arrangements, candles, and rose gold accents.
‚ÄúWe chose colors that complimented the desert landscape: warm neutrals, amber, peach, rusty orange, rose gold, and turquoise,‚ÄĚ Serena says. They added market lights and statement chargers to elevate the alfresco affair.
After dinner, guests munched on assorted sweets from a doughnut wall as one guest ran music through a portable speaker. For just a fleeting moment, Serena says, it felt like everything was normal once again. ‚ÄúIt was nice to have this time, despite everything going on,‚ÄĚ she says. ‚ÄúTo have our parents and friends come and support us on our wedding day.‚ÄĚ