A Magical Elopement in the Moroccan Sahara Desert
Stephane and Roberta met one night in Mexico, and they have been together ever since! Stephane was from France and moved to Mexico over 25 years ago, while Roberta was from Italy and came to Sayulita, Mexico 12 years ago. Since meeting, however, they have opened a successful scuba and snorkel tour company, and have had a beautiful daughter together.
After more than a decade together, Stephane proposed on Christmas morning. Although the proposal didn’t quite go as planned (their daughter accidentally opened the ring box thinking it was one of her gifts while Stephane was in the kitchen), Roberta, of course, said yes! Keep scrolling to see all of the magical photos of this vacation turned into Moroccan elopement at Paradis Su Sahara by Dekker Photography, and make sure to click here to experience the full gallery!
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Surprising the Bride with an Elopement
The two week trip to Morocco had already been planned, but a few weeks before the trip the idea to turn it into their elopement came up. The idea of a big wedding wasn’t something that Roberta was excited about, so a few weeks before the trip, family friend and photographer Dekker Photography and Stephane planned a surprise wedding for Roberta during the day and night they would be staying in a lovely Berber camp in the Sahara desert. His answer was, "YESSSSS!!" It was a perfect location to have a totally intimate and beautiful ceremony with just the two of them, their 5 year old daughter, and a couple of camels.
Finding an Officiant in the Desert
The manager of Paradis Su Sahara, the Berber camp we were going to be staying in outside of Merzouga Morocco and asked if he could help us set up an elopement ceremony the afternoon we arrived. He was wonderful with making sure we had camels to be able to use and and an officiant in traditional Bedouin dress to perform the ceremony.
The Bride Found Out in Marrakesh!
While initially the idea was to have the elopement ceremony as a total surprise for Roberta, Stephane told her the idea on the first night of the trip in Marrakesh. After a surprised moment, she said let's go for it!
The Markets were Perfect for Dress Shopping
There is no shortage of shopping for beautiful things in Morocco, so they spent a day wandering in the Medina in the old city, finding all the perfect elements for the day. They found beautiful and colorful traditional dresses for Roberta and their daughter Emilia, as well as a traditional Moroccan outfit for Stephane. The idea was to have colorful, traditional Moroccan dresses that could contrast with the colors of the golden sand of the desert. They also found all sorts of perfect little details including jewelry, shoes, flower baskets, and more to add to the beauty of the day.
Dried Flowers for a Desert Ceremony
For the flowers, the manager of the Riad where they were staying in Marrakesh let them know how to get to the local flower market. They knew that they would have to travel with whatever they chose for several days before getting to the Sahara, so fresh flowers were out. But for the setting of the ceremony, in the middle of the dunes of the Sahara, dried flowers would be perfect.
The flower markets were absolutely full of the most incredible dried florals, grasses, palm fronds, and all sorts of different colors and textures. Using the bride's and flower girl's dresses as inspiration, Roberta designed a beautiful bridal bouquet, a flower crown for Emilia, and a stunning ceremony piece. All of this travelled with the couple in a huge box on top of their luggage in the back of the Land Cruiser for 4 days!
The couple arrived to the Berber camp to a huge wind and sand storm and worried there might not be a ceremony after all! Thankfully the storm calmed down, and the camel guide from En Sahara and the tour guide from Merzouga Desert Travels were amazing at helping to set up the ceremony space in the dunes, using some beautiful traditional Berber rugs and pillows to add to the dried florals brought in for the ceremony.
While Stephane, Roberta, and Emilia got ready in the luxurious tents they were staying in, the officiant put on his traditional clothing, which included a 9 meter long turban! The ceremony was short, sweet, and in Arabic, and the bride and groom exchanged antique rings bought in a little shop in the medina Marrakech. It was witnessed by the two camels that calmly sat on either side of the "aisle" (although one did think the dried flowers were his afternoon snack!).
After the ceremony, the couple and their photographer were able to use the camels again for some of their photos, capturing the wonder of the Sahara. They even decided to get up before sunrise the next day, get into their wedding outfits again, and take some more photos with the rising of the sun.
The camp had a delicious dinner set up for them afterwards, where they watched the sky get dark and the stars come out, lit only by traditional lanterns along the sandy paths in the camp. They joined the other guests that were staying there for a night of music filled with drums and other traditional instruments, and with endless laughter and dancing. It was absolute magic in the Sahara!
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