When it comes to jaw-dropping scenery, it’s pretty difficult to top Arizona’s Arcosanti. With the help of Mike Olbinski Photography, A Day to Cherish, and Avant-Garde Floral Design Studio, Melanie and Craig took advantage of all the surroundings had to offer and created a memorable wedding day filled with modern southwestern inspiration.
From the bride, Melanie: I was so excited the day Craig asked me to marry him. For most of that day I could barely think straight. That night we went out for a romantic dinner, and that was when I was finally able to form coherent words and sentences. We started talking about the place we would like to get married. The year we started dating, I lived in Houston and Craig in New Jersey. Instead of always traveling to one of the two cities to see each other, we picked places we had always wanted to visit and met there. On one of these trips to Scottsdale and Phoenix, we visited Arcosanti. I am an architect, and Paolo Soleri’s experimental city in the desert had always intrigued me. Both Craig and I fell in love with the blend of architecture and ecology, the passion of the people involved in building the city and the dramatic landscape that surrounded it. It was also a city that was constantly evolving, just like we hoped our relationship would. That night at dinner, it was an easy decision.
Arcosanti is a very eco-friendly place. When we wanted confetti, I searched around and found beautiful confetti on Etsy that could be customized and would melt away in the rain. For our send off, we picked white LED balloons that looked amazing lit up and wouldn’t end up being an accidental fire hazard in dry Arizona. The guest book was something we put a lot of thought into. Since this would be one of the only physical things that we would bring back with us from the wedding, it was important that it be something that won’t just be put away somewhere in a closet and forgotten. With our passion for travel, it seemed appropriate that we use a vintage globe as our guest book. The guests who travelled to our wedding loved being able to pick a place special to them to write a message. We have it proudly displayed in our living room today. I also wanted to bring some Indian elements to the wedding. When Craig and I visited the Taj Mahal last year we came across these beautiful parasols just outside the mausoleum gates. One look at them, and I knew we had to have them for the bridal party portraits! They added and element of color and drama to our pictures and shaded us quite well from the sun.
One of our monumental undertakings, and this was mostly Craig, were the wine bottle hurricanes on the dinner tables. We held our reception under the double vaults at Arcosanti. The vaults are magnificent in itself – 30 feet high, with beautiful murals created with natural dyes in orange, white and brown and overlook the beautiful valley below. We didn’t want to detract from the architectural drama of the space but still wanted to provide an intimate setting for dinner. I came up with the idea of introducing lighting elements as opposed to flowers. Craig bought around 200 clear wine bottles and set about cutting the bottom off the bottles and notching them to allow air flow for the candles. It took him four weekends to get them all done and another four to package them just right to ship them to Arcosanti. Craig and I also designed all our wedding stationery and this was a very fun project for us to do together. Our invitations, table numbers, seating chart, place cards, instruction cards in our welcome boxes and menus all reflected our personalities and the spirit of the venue.
If I had to pick one favorite from the day, it would be the ceremony under the apse. Our ceremony was very simple, but special. Right before we said our vows to each other there was a moment where everything was completely still. Through the silence we heard the whisper of the wind in the valley followed by the chime of Soleri bells. These bells designed by Soleri, and made in the foundries of Arcosanti, are a major source of funding for the experiment. Though I have never been a believer of omens, I certainly realized in that moment the enormity of the day and the happiness it led to.
Wedding Location: Mayer, AZ / Photographer: Mike Olbinski Photography / Event Planner: A Day to Cherish / Floral Design: Avant-Garde Floral Design Studio / Venue: Arcosanti / Hair and Makeup: Pooja Mehta Makeup Artistry / Caterer: Heidi’s Events and Catering / Wedding Cake: Honey Moon Sweets / DJ: Desert House Productions, Inc. / Rentals: Classic Party Rentals Phoenix / Vintage Rentals: Modern Revival / Wedding Invitations: Bride and groom / Wedding Shoes: Miranda Marie