When Shelly Fairchild and Deborah DeLoach first met in 2013, they had an instant connection. Though it took a few years before they started dating, they exchanged promise rings within weeks once they did. “We knew we wanted to marry each other, but wanted to take a little time before getting officially engaged,” says Shelly, a country artist who has toured with Rascal Flatts, Keith Urban, and Tim McGraw. The day finally came during a trip to Europe last May. “We got engaged under the Eiffel Tower in Paris," Shelly remembers. “Then we headed to the Pont des Arts and attached a love lock to the bridge and tossed the key in the Seine.”
And just as the women knew they wanted to marry each other, they also knew exactly how they'd do it: By eloping to a glamping site in the mountains of Colorado. “When we first started dating, I told Deborah that I wanted to run away with her to a tent in the woods,” says Shelly. “One morning, we stumbled upon a website full of glamping pictures—and that’s where we found Collective Vail.” They envisioned a peaceful, spiritual celebration with a bohemian vibe, and no guests—just the brides, their officiant, their photographer, and their pup Mazzy Star, of course. On July 29, 2017, after an epic road trip from their home in Nashville, Deborah and Shelly tied the knot as Mackenzie Neville served as both their photographer and witness.
Keep reaching to see how these brides created the intimate, DIY elopement they'd always dreamed of!
The hardest part of planning their elopement was being so far away, but Deborah and Shelly were in great hands with the team at Collective Vail. “We kept our décor simple, because the location itself is so stunning,” says Shelly.
The brides crafted their own bouquets with lavender, sage, succulents, and wheat from a friend’s garden in New Mexico. “We drove from Nashville to Colorado, stopping in Arkansas and Santa Fe along the way," Deborah explains. "We cut flowers from our friend’s garden, then carried them with us all the way to Colorado!”
The couple’s border terrier, Mazzy, was the ring bearer. Shelly created a collar using fabric and buttons from her late grandmother’s collection of baubles.
An Egyptian rug from the women’s home was unrolled over the ceremony site, where a branch (found on a hike in Nashville) served as the threshold to the space. The women also personalized the space with a circle of stones they'd gathered in New Mexico.
The brides approached the ceremony space together, both with bare feet so they could "feel the earth beneath them." “Before we stepped over the threshold, our officiant Susie asked each of us what we wanted to leave behind that didn’t serve us in our relationship, as well as what we wanted to bring into our new lives as a married couple. Speaking those things aloud was incredibly emotional and sacred,” says Shelly.
Shelly succulents and sage into her hair and wore an ivory lace dress from Free People, with a flowing silhouette and bohemian accents. Deborah donned a slightly more glam Thread & Needle dress, with a deep V-neck and an intricately beaded bodice.
After their vows were sealed with a kiss, the brides shared a dance to “How Sweet It Is” by Marvin Gaye. “It was just the two of us—and Mazzy, of course!” Shelly remembers.
Following the ceremony, the brides (and their pup!) wandered the ranch for photos, even making a stop to visit horses on their way back to their tent on property. “We didn’t have a traditional reception, but instead changed into comfy clothes and had a delicious farm-to-table dinner for two on the porch!” Deborah says.
“It was so special to be married outside in such a vast, open space," Shelly remembers. "It felt like we were the only people in the world!”
The women loved that their elopement was intimate and stress-free. “So many people we know who have gotten married have spent thousands of dollars to make it perfect, and were happy it was over once they were finally married,” Shelly describes. “We’re so happy to be married, too, but we also really loved the process.” The takeaway? Find a way to really focus in on each other. Says Deborah, “It’s so worth it!”