Though it’s a well-known art destination, Marfa, Texas, is not an obvious choice for a wedding. The nearest airport is 190 miles away, and the weather is notoriously wild: dust storms, heat waves, deep-freeze nights. But the desert town was perfect for Marika Shioiri-Clark and Graham Veysey, who spent their first date bonding over a desire to visit the town. Two months later, the couple—she’s an architectural designer and he’s an entrepreneur—went on a two-week road trip to Marfa from their home in Cleveland.
“In my mind, if we were still happy after that epic drive, it would be a testament to our relationship,” Marika says. And five years later, when Graham proposed by taping a ring to the back of a painting, they quickly decided to get married in Marfa as well. “We wanted the wedding to be someplace that felt special to us as a couple,” she says.
And it was! Keep reading to see how Marfa, Texas, was the spot for a creative, colorful, and totally cool wedding weekend.
The bride created a logo for the event and had a local artist enlarge it on the old Holiday Inn sign outside their venue.
Marika selected a silk gown by Indonesian designer Biyan for her big day. "I spent countless hours looking at wedding dresses, and had a very hard time finding one that I felt was simultaneously elegant and interesting," she recalls of the dress-shopping process. But once she did find the dress—"I loved the unique silhouette and intricate beading," she adds—she had it altered so she could wear the sleeves rolled up in the Texas heat.
And as you can see, the bride added some major accessories. “I love Frida Kahlo and decided to pay homage to her with a big, bold floral headdress and a bright lip color,” Marika explains.
The creative couple was hands-on during the planning process. In fact, the bride designed all of the weekend's printed materials, including the ceremony programs. "We brought a portable printer with us to Marfa, and printed all of the programs directly onto small wax paper bags from our hotel room at the Thunderbird," she says.
The ceremony took place at 9 a.m. on a hot August morning, with the groom in jean shorts and the bride in her gorgeous Biyan gown. Gracey, the couple’s rescue mutt—and only member of the wedding party—walked the groom down the aisle and wore a flower crown around her neck.
The couple's friends Courtney and John, who are married, co-officiated the ceremony with a custom script. "They are both prolific writers and public speakers, so we knew we were in great hands with them," says the bride.
After Marika and Graham exchanged handwritten vows, they sealed them with a dip-and-kiss!
And the newlyweds made an equally dramatic exit. "Our first dance was really down the aisle after the ceremony," Marika says. " 'Pata Pata' by Miriam Makeba is one of our favorites and is one of those songs that always brings a smile to our faces!"
The fun-filled ceremony kicked off an action-packed day with a Tex-Mex brunch, field games, and a tour of the Chinati Foundation’s modern art. “We wanted to make it unique so people wouldn’t be mad at us for dragging them all the way there,” Marika says.
Brunch took place at the Capri, an industrial space and outdoor garden containing more than 170 plant species native to the Chihuahuan desert.
At brunch, all 180 guests found their table assignments on old Dewey decimal cards, and seat assignments on cement bricks that were applied vinyl as a nod to Donald Judd. Marika also worked with her friends at Urban Orchid to decorate the ceiling with greenery garlands and custom-made Mexican papel picado flags (featuring their names and wedding date).
The couple's friends Jason and Alex used their Airbnb's kitchen to make almond travel cakes for everyone!
Marika and Graham rented out El Cosmico, a hotel that has vintage trailers, tepees, yurts, and safari tents, for the afternoon events. “It’s a gem of a place,” she says. “It’s glamping at its finest.”
There they hosted a field day of contests, including an egg toss and sack race. "The competition was fierce, and at one point a stray golf ball nearly hit a border patrol vehicle driving by," Marika recalls, laughing. Guests were rewarded with picnic fare, buckets of Modelos, and customized trophies.
After hours of friendly battle, the group broke apart for the rest of the afternoon. Nearly 100 of the 180 guests went on formal tours of the Chinati Foundation, while the rest lounged by the hotel pool or explored town.
But everyone came together for the night portion of the wedding, which kicked off with a surprise show by the All American Cowgirl Chicks, a trick-riding troupe from Dallas. “They were racing around, half hanging off their horses. I can’t even imagine what my Japanese relatives were thinking!” says Marika, whose mom is from Japan.
The rodeo was followed by an sensational dinner-and-dance sesh, where everyone was asked to dress in specific attire, like Lady Gaga–style sequins. “We saw the costumes as great icebreakers,” says the bride. “These events were meant to bring people from different times in our lives together so they could meet each other.” And for Marika, the most memorable part of the wedding was just that. “You don’t realize until you’re in the moment how crazy it is to see everyone who’s so special to you in the same room at the same time,” she says.
“That was amazing. And the rodeo was pretty cool too.”
Venues: Thunderbird Hotel; Capri; El Cosmico || Bride's Dress: Biyan || Groom's Attire: Toms || Flowers: Urban Orchid || Catering: Food Shark || DJ: Simone Rubi || Entertainment: The All-American Cowgirl Chicks || Photography: Jennifer Boomer