A Desert Wedding in the Canyons of Moab, Utah
Jeanette Romero met David de la Cal in 2011 through her sister, who's close friend that worked with David. One night, Jeanette remembers struggling to get in touch with her sister, and when she grew worried, she saw that her sister had tagged David in a picture on Facebook. She sent him a message asking him to have her sister call her back, and not even a week later, the pair went out on David's ATV on their first date.
Five years into their relationship, the pair took a cruise to Alaska, where David went to extreme lengths to hide an engagement ring in their tiny ship cabin to execute his plan of popping the question on a hike to Smuggler's Cove in Skagway, Alaska. "Given that neither of us want children, marriage was never anything we really discussed or had a timeline for," Jeanette says. "When he pulled the ring out, I repeated 'You're lying,' 'You're joking,' and 'No way,' for probably a minute straight!"
Selecting Under Canvas Moab to host their big day was an easy choice for this adventure-loving Miami couple. A desert venue meant they had a completely blank slate to make their vision come alive. "We had to bring literally everything for the wedding to the desert," David says. "There was nothing provided on site…which meant we had an incredible amount of freedom with layout, design, and timeline (no curfew out there!). The whole weekend felt so personalized and ours because of this."
They invited 90 guests to join them for a weekend's worth of celebrations, which culminated in their May 19, 2018, nuptials. Guests were asked to dress casually (which is uncommon for those traveling from Miami!), so guys left their jackets at home and the women went with flowy dresses to fit the overall feel of the surrounding landscape.
Jeanette and David initially weren't going to have a formal wedding, but when Jeanette came across Under Canvas Moab in Moab, Utah, everything changed. After asking a few friends if they would take a five-hour flight followed by a three-hour drive and sleep in a tent for two days for their wedding, Jeanette was surprised by how excited everyone was. "Every guest with the exception of maybe eight stayed on site in a tent," she says. For David, having their wedding in Moab checked a bunch of items off his bucket list. "When Jeanette found Under Canvas I was immediately all in," he says. "Even if it ended up being just us and our parents, getting married anywhere else after finding Under Canvas Moab was no longer an option."
The couple enlisted Nikkol at Refine Studio to create all of their stationery and signage on the big day. Guests received booklets with simple invitations that featured a sketch of the Utah landscape along with a camp itinerary for the wedding weekend.
The Welcome Dinner
The couple's welcome dinner, held at the same campsite as the wedding, was a highlight for the bride. "We wanted our wedding to be an adventure for everyone and in that moment during dinner, seeing everyone 'oohing' and 'ahhing' at the surrounding canyons—we just felt really proud, like we had lit this spark in everyone to travel more and explore," she says.
All About the Details
Jeanette and David wanted to devote their flower budget entirely to their wedding day, so their planner got creative and found nearby branches and rocks and arranged them with white vases holding sprigs of rosemary to create the welcome dinner's centerpieces.
Guests dined on barbecue beef sliders, corn bread with honey butter, mac and cheese, grilled asparagus, and an arugula salad with lemon olive oil. "A lot of people still talk about the food to this day!" Jeannette says. After dinner, attendees enjoyed a live band and a bonfire.
Embroidered Wedding Dress
Jeanette started hunting for her wedding dress over a year before the big day—and she certainly didn't expect to fall in love with a gown so quickly. She tried on six dresses, aiming to find a backless gown with sleeves, and when she tried on the Rue de Seine's "Luca," she knew it was the one. "I loved that, like the venue, the dress would speak for itself and I wouldn't have to do much in terms of hair and jewelry," Jeanette says. The formfitting gown featured delicate embroidery on soft mesh and tulle fabric, a boat neckline, long sleeves, a full skirt, beading, and fringe detailing. She paired her dress with nude Vince Camuto heels.
Leaves in Her Hair
Cuff Link Earrings
Lia Terni also turned David's grandfather's cuff links into stud earrings to complete her bridal look.
Jeanette chose bridesmaids' dresses that would fit the canyon landscape and desert theme. Her sister, Diana, and sister-in-law, Danielle, looked lovely in BHLDN dresses with lace short-sleeved tops and flowing purple skirts—and they were exactly what she envisioned. "These were so gorgeous to me I was almost jealous I couldn't wear them!" the bride says.
David decided to rent pieces from The Black Tux for the big day rather than investing in a suit he wouldn't get much use out of. Instead of a jacket, he opted for a vest that fit the "casual and free" vibe of the day. The only parts of his look that weren't rented were his tie and his socks, which honored his dog Oscar who recently passed away.
The groomsmen, David's two best friends, also found their looks at The Black Tux; they donned tan pants and a matching vest with light purple ties for the occasion.
A Good Dog
The couple's dog, Whistler—they got the pup after they first moved in together in 2015—was considered a non-negotiable member of the wedding party. "Lots of training went into getting her to walk and stay put for the length of the ceremony," Jeanette says.
The First Look
The first look ended up being both Jeanette and David's most memorable part of the day. Jeanette was surprised by the amount of emotion involved. David has advice for couples who are trying to decide whether or not they should have a first look. "For anyone worried, it does not, in any way, take away from the whole walking-down-the-aisle reaction. Both are breathtaking emotional moments in their own way."
Welcome to the Ceremony
Guests were welcomed to the ceremony with a sign created by Nikkol at Refine Studio, who also created the duo's save-the-date booklets, a weekend itinerary, the menus, and some additional signage seen throughout the day. "We loved her because of her minimalistic approach to design," Jeanette says.
The Ceremony Setup
Clear chairs were set up on either side of the aisle facing stunning views of a mountain vista. The décor was kept minimal to take advantage of the natural desert landscape.
An Unplugged Ceremony
Jeanette and David had two main priorities for their ceremony—to write their own vows and to make sure it was "unplugged." "We've seen so many ceremonies where all you see are phones covering people's faces and absolutely hate it," Jeanette says. "We wanted everyone to listen to the ceremony and not worry about trying to record it."
David entered the ceremony with his mom and the couple's dog to Zac Brown Band's "Free." Shortly after, Jeanette made her way down the aisle with her mom to Adele's "Make You Feel My Love." The couple's non-religious ceremony was officiated by the bride's cousin, Elizabeth; each of their sisters were incorporated into the ceremony as grown-up ring bearers.
The Cocktail Lounge
The cocktail hour took place in the lounge area, where couches and tables were set up near the bar; hors d'oeuvres like chips and salsa and shrimp were passed around.
Parasols for Shade
When Jeanette and David noticed that the sun would be strong on their wedding day, they made a last-minute decision to provide parasols for their guests. "The temperatures out there drop significantly under the smallest amount of shade, so these were big life savers!" the bride says.
It was important to Jeanette to provide activities that would entertain guests throughout the day. Along with yard games like cornhole and a ladder toss, the couple's planner suggested inviting guests to choose their own rock to crack. "Our guests loved this table and were all able to take a little Moab souvenir home with them," Jeanette says.
The Reception Platform
A platform was created on the campsite for the reception, which was just a short walk from the ceremony space.
Pink baby's breath practically took over the reception platform, covering each of the four poles that held twinkle lights from corner to corner.
The Tabletop Details
Each table was topped with tea candles, rocks from the canyon landscape, and simple flowers from Soil & Stem for a pop of color.
The First Dance
The pair chose Afrojack's "10 Feet Tall" for their first dance because of the lyrics. "Most love songs talk about how the other person completes them but '10 Feet Tall' speaks about how love makes us bigger, stronger. It's about building each other up," Jeanette says. After their first dance as husband and wife, everyone enjoyed churros and cookies for dessert. Jeanette and David hit the road in an RV with their dog, continuing their trip across the country (they drove to their wedding from their home in Miami!). Jeanette says it was "honestly the best trip of our lives!"
Photography, Maria Lamb
The location, Under Canvas Moab
Event planning and design, Emmily Jones of The Gatherist
Flowers, Soil & Stem
Stationery and calligraphy, Nikkol Christiansen
Guest book, Artifact Uprising
Bride's gown, Rue de Seine
Bride's accessories, Lia Terni
Bride's shoes, Vince Camuto
Hair and makeup, Nicolette Paige Fratto
Bridesmaids' dresses, BHLDN
Groom's and groomsmen's suits, The Black Tux
Catering, Blended Table
Music, The Gatsbys
Rentals and lighting, Alpine Event Rentals