Pop-Up Elopement in the Desert – Styled Shoot Inspired by True Romance!

Anyone who knows me personally knows that my favorite movie is cult film, True Romance. It’s a classic, it’s ingenious, and it’s everything. It was written by Quentin Tarantino. People who have seen it either love it or they never think about it ever again so anytime I meet anyone who has seen it and they love it like I do, we instantly bond and become friends forever.

When it came time to start planning a styled shoot to promote some wedding talent, I knew it had to be different from all the other styled shoots I see floating around on The Knot, Styled Me Pretty, Carats and Cake, etc. Yes, they’re all very beautiful, but on most days, I can’t tell whether or not I’ve already seen that photo of that gorgeous deconstructed cake atop rustic wine barrels, surrounded by succulents and mason jars. Admit it, we’re all thinking it.

I definitely consider myself a unique person, always wanting to look and be different, but that doesn’t mean I’m not as equally talented as other wedding pros so my whole schtick is blending my “punk rock” side with my “Martha Stewart” side. My tagline is “Lifestyle, Wedding, & Travel photographer by day, Concert photographer by night.” so that should tell you a lot right off the bat. In an industry so saturated with talent with the same interests and goals, I know I need to stand out and this is me!

I’ve been wanting to do a shoot inspired by this film for a long time, and a light bulb went off as soon as I realized I had to do a styled shoot soon and this would be the perfect opportunity for that. In the movie, the couple eloped, and this would be a styled elopement shoot inspired by the movie, getaway car and all! Micro weddings are in right now. Just about everything fell into place perfectly for this, almost like it was meant to be. Truly serendipitous!
I first contacted Kari of Feathered Arrow Events to see she’d be interested in doing this with me. I didn’t think she would, but to my delight, she was immediately on board! I have worked with her once before and thought she would be perfect to work with again for this. The next thing I knew, we were putting a list of potential vendors together, and began planning our styled elopement shoot!
If you have seen the movie before, you know the beginning takes place in a cold and gloomy Detroit where Clarence & Alabama elope and then leave for sunny and warm LA in Clarence’s purple Cadillac. I knew if I was going to do this and make it look great, it would obviously have to be in California somewhere so this shoot sort of proposed that what if they did a unique “pop-up” elopement in the desert, just outside of Los Angeles?



Palm Springs was the perfect location for this elopement.  The setting allowed for us to drop small hints of “Las Vegas” and some Southern California desert vibes into the mix. Year-round, Palm Springs offers some really beautiful weather, topped with really magical desert sunsets. Also, based on Alabama’s new funky wardrobe, it looks like they had just come from Vegas.

The location I had gotten the permit for was PERFECT. It looked remote, it had the mountains in the background and was totally close to bathrooms. When we showed up that day, I was almost literally knocked over by the 60 mph gusts of wind the moment I got out of my car. On the inside, I was about to have a meltdown, completely devastated at the idea of rescheduling. On the outside, I was like “We need to move the shoot. We can’t reschedule. That’s all there is to it.” Too much time and money went into this production and I just made all these vendors and two models drive out 2 hours to the desert. My fiancé (who I had built a custom bar and create signature drinks for this shoot) suggested we drive about 10 or 15 min south where it may not be as windy. I’m thinking “Yeah right if it’s windy here, why wouldn’t it be windy down the road?” To my surprise, after driving for about 15 min and finding a new spot that would work, it actually wasn’t windy at all and the weather was warmer. Apparently, the mountains blocked a lot of the wind. Phew! Even though we had now lost about two hours and the whole timeline was shot, I was so relieved we wouldn’t have to reschedule. I wasn’t even 100% positive my permit from the city for the last location would be ok in our new location, but I didn’t even care. As soon as we began setting up and started shooting, the day just flew right by. I didn’t have a chance to do anything except shoot, it seems. It was almost harder than any real wedding I’ve shot. Everyone was so amazing though. It was a pleasure working with everyone involved!

This bright and vibrant styled shoot captures a young and adventurous couple who elope in the desert. Inspired by film, True Romance (written by Quentin Tarantino), the shoot’s theme loosely proposes a setting where the couple elopes somewhere in between Vegas and Los Angeles.
The couple, Anjelia & Shea, perfectly embodied Alabama and Clarence from the film. They had never met prior to this shoot, and the instant they met, their attraction was magnetic, just like in the movie! I was a little worried about how I’d be posing them and working with them so they would look like an actual couple to some degree, and to all of our astonishment, they needed none! All the vendors were looking at each other and whispering to each other “Oh my god, what is happening right now?!?!!”
The bride, Anjelia, donned a bright fitted red pencil
dress with nude heels while her shiny golden locks by Cheek to Cheek Artistry glistened
in the sunshine. Shea, the groom, went with a more relaxed look and
wore a nude tux by Friar Tux paired with a floral print shirt,
similar to the one Clarence famously wears in the film. Special
thanks to California Cowboy Apparel for the “aloha”
High Water shirt.
All the details pay homage to the film. Elvis plays a role not only in the
movie but also in this theme. You’ll find some hints of “Vegas
Elvis” lightly peppered around the décor. The couple rocked some
gold Elvis sunglasses, there’s a subtle Elvis bust on the table, as
well as some vinyl records laid out by the turntable.
The Flower Chef used a lot of texture such as thistle, Veronica, protea, ranunculus, and roses to match the summer desert landscape and the bold table cloth.
Calligraphist & Lettering Artist, ErinMiller Williams, wrote the menus, invitation, and detail card on plexiglass with gold metallic painted across the surface.
Pies were essential for the theme, as well as playing a role in being non-traditional, unlike the wedding cake. Pies and delicious macarons by Pastry Chef, BritanyBuckett.
Designer, Corrie Sullivan, hand-crafted this one-of-a-kind ceremony backdrop with a paper “Vegas star” curtain with a fun retro feel.
Signature Drinks & Pop-Up Bar
CPBEvents created “his and her” signature craft cocktails.
Getaway Car
What would an elopement be without an amazing getaway car riding off into the sunset? 1969 Pontiac Firebird provided by DriveVinty.
Photo: Kelli Hayden – Kelli Bee Photography – @kellibeephotography
Coordinator: Kari Dirksen – Feathered Arrow Events ​- @featheredarrowevents
Video: Anchor Pictures – @anchor.pictures
Bride: Anjelia Pelay – @anjeliapelay
Groom: Shea Lewis of Mixology Flaired – @shealewisdotcom
MUA/Hair – Cheek to Cheek Artistry – @cheektocheekartistry
Florist – The Flower Chef – @theflowerchef
Installation: Corrie Sullivan – @corrie.in.color
Calligraphist/Lettering: Erin Miller Williams – @erinmillerwilliams
Bar Installation/Signature Drinks: Adrian Aguilar / CBP Events – @cbpevents
Pastries: Britany Buckett – @britanybuckett
Dishes: Dish Wish – @dishwishgirl
Party Favors: For Your Party – @foryourparty
Tux: Friar Tux – @friartux & @friartux.la
Groom’s Shirt: California Cowboy – @cacowboyapparel
Bride’s Dress: Kelli Hayden
Shoes & Accessories: Jasmine Betancourt – @jasmine_betancourt
Getaway Car: Drive Vinty – @drivevinty
Location: City of Palm Springs – @visitpalmsprings









talk to you soon!