She wasn’t looking for a boyfriend. Don’t all great love stories start out that way? But she couldn’t resist his personality and when he asked her on a surfing date, intrigue got the best of her. It was just the beginning for Spencer + Ashtyn:
We actually started tandem surfing with each other and got quite good over the course of the summer. I like to say we fell in love in the ocean. We started traveling the world together in search of waves. He and I had always wanted to go to Morocco—more so to surf, than anything.
When we got engaged, we decided we’d stick to what was “us” and elope to a place with waves. It was important to us to have a day just to ourselves—to express our love and travel the world together. I’m so glad we did it this way, as well. When we had the ceremony back home in California I was so nervous to stand up in front of everyone that I barely remember what happened. Getting the chance to say our own personal vows to each other in Morocco—without being nervous about onlookers—meant so much to me both in the moment and in hindsight.
The Wedding Department helped design the day and Claimy at The Souk Department handled the planning for the creative couple (Ashtyn made her dresses!) as they wandered from the cultural hub of Marrakech to the magical desert for a very special vow exchange.
S + A chose their dream photographer from The Netherlands, Studio Phylicia, to capture the day. Let’s head to Morocco!
First Look in Marrakech
The couple got ready for the day in an authentic riad, a traditional Moroccan house-turned-hotel built around a courtyard. An old law in Marrakech prevents buildings to be built higher than the palm trees, creating some amazing rooftop views. The ideal spot for a first look!
It’s true—Ashtyn made her own dress…es! First up, this bell-sleeved wonder with a plunging neckline and sleek silhouette!
First things first.
The colors of Marrakech are unreal! As far as breathtaking photo backdrops, you can’t do much better than Morocco.
Lovers in the Medina
Following the first look, Spencer + Ashtyn walked through the Medina (the old town of Marrakech) to take photos. As Ashtyn tells it, the locals were surprised that Americans would choose to get married in Marrakech, setting the stage for several funny and kindhearted conversations!
I made three dresses for this event (dramatic, I know) so changing into each one and showing Spencer was so fun. Wild at Heart let me borrow the Daughters of Simone Gaga Cape which I paired with a short white dress and I have to say—I felt like a queen wearing that thing.
Can you say iconic?!
Vows in the Desert
Following the jaunt through the city, Spencer carried his bride-to-be off to Terre Des Etoiles, a magical desert camp, for the vows!
My absolute favorite part of the day was arriving in the desert just before sundown and exchanging vows we had written for each other—we both broke down and ugly cried. It was perfect.
It wouldn't have been a typical wedding in Morocco if thousands of things didn't go as expected. We had rain, the driver showed up late, the police pulled us off the road etc. Therefore we only had one hour in the desert to do the pictures and the vows. But because we arrived that late, the light was gorgeous and it made a perfect setting. These are the best memories: when you think everything goes wrong, but in the end, it's even better than you ever could've imagined.
Don't make three wedding dresses (joking). I'd say my biggest advice for brides planning now is to just start planning early. That date will creep up on you faster than you think.
Also, stick to what you want to do. People were confused as to why we decided to elope before we had our official ceremony while others rolled their eyes at the fact that we were essentially having two weddings. But I wouldn't have done it any other way. Having a day only to ourselves, not having to worry about anyone else, was so special. Then coming back to our hometown to celebrate with friends—and focusing on all our visitors—took the pressure off of having everything perfect. It was a lot of planning and working (thank God for Claimy and Yaira) so I wouldn't recommend it to everyone, but I'm happy as hell we did everything the way we did.
If you dream of a destination wedding please pursue that dream and make it happen. If Marrakech is on the list, you should definitely hire Claimy from The Souk Department because she knows everything and our day would not have never been the same without her. And don't limit your photography budget. We choose Studio Phylicia, a photographer from the Netherlands. Sounds strange, but why limit to a country when you really love someones work? We are so thrilled with the pictures and still can't believe we're the people in the photos.
DREAM! Congrats to Spencer + Ashtyn on their beautiful union!
photography: Studio Phylicia // venue name: Terre Des Etoiles, Marrakech, Morocco // event design: The Wedding Department // planning: The Souk Department // florals: Le Kiosque à Fleurs // wedding dress: the bride // bride's shoes: Raye the Label // groom attire: John Varvatos and J.Crew // paper goods: Studio Lona // bridal cape: Daughters of Simone Gaga Cape from Wild at Heart