This Couple Made Sure Their Intimate Wedding in Sedona's Red Rocks Was All About Their Guests
For Stefanie and Terrel, who knew each other for years before falling in love over shared volunteer work, a destination elopement in Sedona, Arizona, presented an opportunity to share their most important beliefs with their closest friends and family. Over the course of a year—after Terrel proposed on a surprise trip to Napa—the Dallas-based couple worked on putting together a one-of-a-kind weekend for 18 guests that included sightseeing and hiking in the red rocks, luxurious rooms and meals at L'Auberge de Sedona, thoughtfully chosen gifts—hiking sticks, art prints, and pashminas—and even a few unexpected surprises.
"We envisioned and developed it together with the idea in mind of gifting our friends and family a special experience alongside our celebration," says Stefanie, who owns her own destination event design company. "It was an intimate celebration infused with worship, quality time, sentiment, and love." But though she had more event planning experience, Terrel, a chemical engineer, became a willing participant. "I learned how intentional I had to be in order to help with the planning," he says. "This meant setting aside specific time to talk through possibilities and ideas, but research and develop well-thought opinions of my own. I enjoyed how putting in this effort supported and encouraged Stefanie."
By the time they officially tied the knot on November 5, 2018, at a remote peak in the red rocks, they had thought of numerous ways, both small and large, to make their guests feel loved and valued—and to share their own joy with everyone who attended. "Bringing our people from a number of different cities together in one location for an extended period of time was incredibly special to us," says the couple. "We believe strongly that God has graciously gifted us each other to live life together, and we wanted to find ways to express His kindness and thoughtfulness through gifting."
Out of the Box
The couple's guests received boxed invitation suites from The Idea Emporium that included a handmade velvet folio with the ceremony details, a scripture verse, rose rocks—the state rock of Oklahoma, where both Stefanie and Terrel have roots—and RSVP cards tied with personalized wooden pens. "We wanted the experience of the celebration to feel like a gift to our guests," says the couple, "and that started with the experience of opening the invitation." Calligraphy by Isidore & Augustine and an array of carefully curated stamps helped the boxes make an impression.
A Warm Welcome
As guests joined the couple in Sedona, they were greeted with welcome bags curated by Luxe Little Love that included wooden cheese boards, French Laguiole cheese knives Stefanie brought back from a trip overseas, local cheese, crackers, and cactus jelly. A custom guidebook offered suggestions for local activities and laid out the weekend's events.
His and Hers
Stefanie worked with stylist Maradee Wahl and garment engineer Sara Rothan to customize a blush Needle and Thread wedding dress. "I didn't really try on anything," she says. "I had an idea of the color and style I loved. I knew I didn't want to go with a traditional white gown, but wanted to wear something flattering for my very pink skin tones." The resulting ensemble—a flowing skirt and bodice with a sheer, flower-embellished overlay—was the perfect fit for both the bride and the setting.
Terrel's bespoke black tuxedo from Culwell and Son coordinated with his traditional accessories—white shirt, black bow tie, black shoes. "Nothing cute," says Stefanie. "Very classic!"
Head to Toe
With These Rings
Stefanie and Terrel chose and customized her engagement ring together, and—with Dallas jeweler David Shaw—designed a diamond and rose gold wedding band to complement it. The groom's band wasn't as easy to find, says Stefanie: "We sourced Terrel's ourselves. It was a bit of challenge to find tungsten with a rose gold interior to coordinate with my ring set."
Stefanie's loose bouquet from Bows & Arrows, inspired by the colors in the surrounding scenery, included vanda orchids, garden roses, lisanthus, scabiosa, and cosmos in varying shades of pink and red, along with draping leaves for a natural, organic feel.
Up in the Air
The couple didn't feel tied to the tradition of seeing each other for the first time at the ceremony: Not only did they share breakfast together on the morning of the wedding, but they posed for formal portraits on a natural bridge earlier in the week, before their guests arrived. "We designed the flow of the days we had with our guests around little moments of surprise and delight," says the couple, "spending as much quality time with them as possible."
A Surprise Ceremony
Though the weekend itinerary included details of the ceremony on November 6, Stefanie and Terrel couldn't wait any longer to get married. "I love a logistical challenge, and we both love a good surprise!" says Stefanie. Over brunch the day before, the couple read a poem announcing that the wedding would take place that afternoon. They gave their guests plenty of time to change their clothes and get ready, and then transported them over rugged dirt roads to Merry Go Round Rock, one of Sedona's more private locations, in bright off-roaders from Pink Jeep Tours. "After a year-long engagement, we wanted to spend time celebrating the marriage itself with our friends and family," says Stefanie.
The couple also gave each guest an engraved hiking stick for navigating the rocky Sedona terrain.
Just the Two of Them
Though the couple loved planning a weekend of adventures and surprises for their guests, Stefanie recalls "being together and praying together in the few minutes before the ceremony" as a particular highlight. "We didn't hide from each other before the ceremony," she says, "and these few minutes together were just a joy and delight."
A solo violinist from Jordan Khan Music Company provided music for the ceremony, with songs that included "Great Is Thy Faithfulness," "Be Thou My Vision," and "In Christ Alone." As Stefanie's parents walked her down the aisle, the violinist performed "I Will Look Up."
Faith and Love
Stefanie and Terrel asked their "friend and mentor" to officiate a Christian ceremony that they describe as "faith-centered and focused on worship and celebration." They wrote their own vows and had them printed in a custom book that they used during the ceremony, and asked friends to recite several scripture verses.
Bread and Wine
Stefanie and Terrel also included the sacrament of communion in their ceremony, personally serving the wine and bread to each of their guests.
An Intimate Meal
After the ceremony, the newlyweds and their guests decamped to L'Auberge de Sedona, a luxury resort on the river, for cocktails and dinner. The party sat outdoors at a single long table covered in custom blush-colored velvet linens from Party Tables, while strings of overhead lights from Glenn Roush Entertainment let the leisurely meal turn into a "long, lingering dinner party."
On the Menu
At each place setting, a velvet-wrapped letterpress card displayed the evening's menu, designed by the chef at the resort's Cress on Oak Creek restaurant: The six-course chef's tasting included pineapple braised pork belly, roasted beet salad, beef tenderloin, and crème brulee (in lieu of wedding cake). Each menu had a guest's name blind embossed on the velvet—so friends and family could find their seats without place cards—with a small Oklahoma rose rock accent.
The blush-colored linens created an elegant backdrop for chic place settings that incorporated custom white chargers, rose gold flatware, and glasses for the wine pairings sent out with each course.
Stefanie and Terrel commissioned a series of hand-painted red rock landscapes from tiny art specialist Leigh Anna Newell of Nell and Grey, presenting each guest with a mini memento in a brass frame. "We strongly incorporated artists and artisans into our design plan," says Stefanie. "Her work is incredible."
Centerpieces that included orchids, ranunculus, cymbidiums, garden roses, and scabiosa sat in custom pottery vessels, incorporating the shades and colors of the resort's natural surroundings. Stefanie also asked her florist to include pansies—a flower that reminds her of time spent in the garden with her mother and late grandmother. "The pansies have been pressed and framed in our home now," she says.
Photography, Sarah Kate Photography
Location, L'Auberge de Sedona
Event planning, Stefanie Miles Events
Flowers, Bows & Arrows
Videography, Candlelight Films
Stationery, The Idea Emporium
Calligraphy, Isidore & Augustine
Music, Jordan Khan Music Company
Rentals, Top Tier Event Rentals
Bride's gown, Needle and Thread
Hair and makeup, Claudia Mejerle
Groom's tuxedo, Culwell and Son
Lighting, Glenn Roush Entertainment
Transportation, Pink Jeep Tours
Gifting, Luxe Little Love
Jeweler, David Shaw
Linens, Party Tables
On-Site Coordinator, Caroline Events
Stylist, Maradee Wahl
Tiny Art, Nell and Grey