September 23, 2019

Wed On the Playa: Grant & Laura in Black Rock Desert

I didn’t know much about these people before their wedding other than they were “Burning Man Folks.” I had never been to Burning Man myself, and so I had no clue what to expect. Over the years my hesitations about what the actual festival was and why I had, so far in life, avoided going were real despite everyone’s praises who had actually expereinced a “burn”. Burning Man was always something that held curiosity in my mind but was also a party I could never fully jump on board for. There are too many people in one packed place, I would tell myelf. I prefer nature in the quiet sense, un-distracted without production and consumption- Burning Man seems like the opposite. The list of “not for me’s” goes on and on. And yet like any human staring at a campfire I could easily see the beauty in all of the images of Burning Man people would share upon returned. I knew this place transformed people, and part of me was curious why. Yes, this was a wedding I was looking forward to because I hoped it would prove me wrong about my own notions.

The conceptions in my head were completely dissolved as we drove up to what we would call camp for the next 3 days. There, situated right offside the desolate road Frank and I squinted and made out the shapes of several massive tents in the distance. We stood on the roof of frank’s lifted minivan and howled with delight! Speckled on the expanse of what seemed like an endless white clay stage, the giant village of Grant and Laura’s wedding looked minuscule in scale but magnificent none the less.

We were greeted by guests in half states of costume and dress and brought immediately into the fold with hugs and intros. The sky was a charcoal blueish-black, storms brewed in the distance yet the sun shone right down on us. The earth below our feet was a clean white cracked clay.. stunning! An art car poured the buzz of a beat into our ears bumping music and setting the vibe at camp as a few people blazed off into the abyss on motorcycles. I felt like we were in a scene from Mad Max. Wild man! I thought. This place has a real sense of wild that I had never experienced in all my life.

I felt the force of it immediately and instantly understood what that hype was about in flash of instant sober consciousness. My happiness was overflowing.

Frank and I learned what the code of conduct was in the days that would come. We rode off on our bikes straight out to the middle of nowhere and laid on the ground for the first of many times where we would retreat to just go be in the middle of nowhere with no one but our own breath. We spent the next days in preparation for the wedding learning from the pros of Laura and Grant’s burning man camp known as “Shady Waffle” about the laws of “deep playa”. We day hiked over to hot springs and walked on train tracks. We shot guns with the groom and stood on the tops of tailgates saying to dancehall. We sped at top speeds in our car across the landscape with our heads out of the windows like dogs on the highway. We sat around a campfire and looked up at white stars in a sky as black as night as a roman candle fight ensued behind us. We closed our eyes and challened eachother to walk the furthest out into the desert without peeking like kids on a playground. All of this magic got us prepared for the actual insanity that would be the wedding ceremony.

Love at first sight.

On the day of Grant and Laura’s ceremony the weather was uncertain. Guests moved their cars and RVs close to the road so that in case of a flash flood they wouldn’t get stuck in the mud. If you have never been there is something insane about the skies in the desert. You can literally see a storm in the distance. It could be miles away but you can see it crystal clear and there is no way of knowing which way it will blow.

Good morning.. morning.

The morning was perfect. Guests enjoyed Yoga and Avo toast, taking little day tips here and there. But it because immediately obvious that the sky could break and shit down rain ANY. GIVEN. SECOND. people were taking it in straide. The clouds forming and golden rods of sun breaking through were gorgeous to look at.. but we were hoping that the rain would hold off as long as possible.

Photo: @melissagayleweddings | Planning: @causewecanevents 
Tents: @stouttent | Rentals: @redcarpeteventsanddesign | Catering & Bar: @bigblueqoftahoe | Art Car: @firedupmanagement @mystic.flyer.experience | Dress: @ruedeseinebridal | Restrooms: @quickspacenevada

Sound bathing.
Jessica and Gabby the muscle behind Cause We Can Events who put this whole thing together! These girls know how to plan a party!

Grant and Laura saw one another for the first time as they emerged from tents on the opposite sides of the camp. Nothing was better than that real first look as they took a long walk and met each other to greet all of their friends and family out in the middle of the playa.

As the ceremony carried on and Grant gave his vows the world’s brightest rainbow lit up the sky behind them. You can see in the photos here this was something out of one’s wildest imagination. Laura’s face lit up to match the display. She scooped herself off the floor to continue on with her own vows to Grant. Then just like that BAM! Another rainbow appeared without warning. SAY WHAAAAA a double rainbow?!?! No effin’ way! I had to blink twice. I was beside myself, like for real for real.

As the two sealed the deal with their first kiss as husband and wife, the sky released its approval for the union by opening up and dumping SHEETS of rain down upon us. As guests cackled and screamed with the delight of what they had just been witness to they also grabbed benches and chairs and made way for shelter. I, on the other hand, pointed into the storm, “YOU BETTER GO GRAB THAT GIRL AND RUN FOR THAT RAINBOW!! ” I shouted at Grant, already drenched to the bone.

THIS. IS. IT. I told myself… a witness to my own existence; outside of my body as stood and took this photo. the wedding of @toeppen and @laurapolkus was an ah-ha moment! A real life blessing. I thought to myself. THIS girl, is what you have worked so freaking hard for. You’ve marketed yourself in such a way, to shoot your face off, to be the best at what you do all so that these exact people would find you. They would ask you to document the most special day of their lives, in one of the most beautiful places on earth, under a double rainbow rain/sunshine storm. THIS. IS. IT. You’re meeting the moment girl! You’ve done it. Now sit back, and drink up every raindrop on your face!⁣ Thankful for this life I’ve been given.

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