Simi and Ryan’s wedding not only took place in the middle of the Utah desert, but the couple rented out an entire glamping resort so guests could to stay together on site all weekend long. “We bought out Under Canvas Zion for a weekend,” says Simi. Adding, “we wanted our guests to bond and form memories with each other. That, to us, is the biggest celebration of our love.”
Ensuring both of their families felt welcomed and represented at their wedding was definitely Simi and Ryan’s top priority when planning their weekend-long bash. Event planner Gabby Pinkerton of Cause We Can Events was hired to help blend their two very different backgrounds throughout their celebration, which she says “one for the books!” The wedding consisted of a fusion event where Simi’s favorite aspects of an Indian wedding, such as mendhi, colorful dresses, Hindu prayers, and Indian food, were incorporated along with some modern customs, such as their heartfelt vows and poetry readings. “That, combined with our common interests (exploring National Parks, feeling “off the grid,” and camping with friends) resulted in a “Desert Glamping Boho-Chic Indian Fusion Wedding” right outside Zion National Park,” says Simi. Along with their Indian fusion details and decor, the evening concluded with live music, and most importantly, lots of dancing underneath the desert stars. See more of their weekend-long affair captured by the talented Nola Fontanez below!
Simi always knew that she’d wear a lehenga instead of ball gown on her wedding day. She’s half Indian and also half Chinese, but says she has long admired Indian fashion—especially the more traditional pieces. So, after getting engaged she found a boutique in Artesia, California to custom make her bridal lehenga, which featured a gorgeous blush silk embroidered with numerous pastel colors. Her leading ladies also wore traditional lehengas that were custom-made through a shop in India. To pay tribute to her Chinese heritage, Simi accessorized with gold earrings in the shapes of the Chinese Dragon and Phoenix. She also donned her mother’s pearls to complete her look.
The dress code for the wedding included either Indian or boho chic attire. “The patterned/embroidered detail of boho chic complimented the Indian attire so well,” says Simi.
The morning breath work on the yoga platform overlooking the Zion mountains was the perfect way to set the tone for our wedding day. We went about our duties for the rest of the day calmly and mindfully. Ryan enjoyed spending the day with his groomsmen in a suite tent, while I enjoyed watching my ladies get their makeup and hair done while keeping me calm and in good company. Walking down the aisle with my mother towards my father and future husband was the most memorable moment of the day for me. I know everyone stood up as I walked down the aisle, but all I could see was Ryan's face looking back at me. I couldn't get to him fast enough!
It had been so long since we had danced with a bunch of people since COVID had affected our social life so much. We had a blast gettin' down on the dance floor with our loved ones.
Another favorite part of the weekend was sharing s'mores with our friends and family around the campfires and looking at the stars late at night.
Ryan and his groomsmen opted not to wear Indian attire on the actual wedding day. Simi says Ryan wore a Nehru jacket as a nod to her heritage on the welcome night, but stuck to a traditional Chambray suit for the wedding ceremony and reception.
Fun fact! While Simi, Ryan, and their wedding party got ready for the big day, guests were able to head into Zion National Park to explore and spend some time before the ceremony.
Processional: "Walking on a Dream" by Empire of the Sun performed by Patrick Sieben
Recessional: "Everywhere (Fleetwood Mac cover)" by Roosevelt
As for wedding colors, the couple chose a spring-inspired color-scheme with the help of pretty pastels. “I envisioned popping pastels of color for a Spring wedding with the red rocks of Zion in the background. As you can see from the photos, the colors popped, indeed,” says Simi.
Don't be afraid to ask for help. I am the kind of person who tries to get the job done herself, but building a wedding in the desert takes a village. Planning this wedding was good practice for me learning to "let go." Finding a wedding planner who is comfortable with planning adventurous weddings is key; ESPECIALLY on the day of the wedding.
Be flexible when planning a remote/outdoorsy/adventurous wedding. Weather can change and your resources to get things perfect the way you envisioned may be limited. Realize that that is part of having a nontraditional wedding and work with what you have.
Try to use local vendors! I am so happy with all the vendors we found in the small towns outside Zion National Park. You'd be surprised how much more accommodating and customizable and even negotiable your options and prices can be with smaller businesses compared to larger companies. It was also great that they were all very familiar with our unique venue choice. Everyone locally was a joy to work with.
Another favorite part of the weekend for Simi and Ryan was sitting around the campfires at night with their friends and family. They shared s’mores together, stargazed, and just enjoyed each others company. Cheers to the newlyweds! See more real weddings #onGWS here.
photography: Nola Fontanez Photography // venue name: Under Canvas Zion, Virgin, Utah, USA // planning: ‘Cause We Can Events // florals: Jocelyn’s Floral Design // videography: Prestwich Films // catering: Red Fort Cuisine // specialty rentals: Legacy Event Rentals // music: DJ Lex (after party DJ) // cocktails: Copa Bar Service // welcome party dj: Festival Sounds // rentals: Taylor Made Events