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Arizona Desert Wedding

— Ashley & Rob


9 May 2015


60 people


Paul Simon

Ashley & Rob by Paul Simon
Ashley & Rob by Paul Simon

Inspired by the vast intimacy of the Arizona desert, Ashley & Rob decided on a sunrise wedding, an altar scattered with long stemmed candle's glimmering as the pastel hues of dawn emerged, illuminating the oasis of desert flowers. The bride classic in a feminine lace gown accompanied by a bouquet of native florals. 

A breakfast reception followed, stone linens layered with bronze details and an uninterrupted theme of tangerine citrus, with guests seated amongst a garden of orange tree's.

Their ceremony beautifully captured by Paul Simon.

NAMES: Ashley Lauren Stephens & Robert Johnston Conger

WEDDING DATE: May 9, 2015


HOW WE MET: At a Vanderbilt football tailgate

OUR ENGAGEMENT STORY: We were in Beaver Creek, Colorado, on a family ski trip, and Robert asked me to marry him as we were skiing down the mountain to attend après ski with our family. As the sun was setting behind the mountain, Robert asked me to stop and take a picture, and he then popped the question. It was fitting because the name of the trail was “Home Run.”

WEDDING LOCATION: We were married at the Royal Palms Resort and Spa in Phoenix, Arizona. We fell in love with the location as soon as we walked through the front doors. The resort was, at one time, a private residence and still has a small feel. It’s very intimate and secluded, which made it feel like all of our friends and family were staying at a home together. 

THEME/STYLE: We wanted to allow the beauty of the venue and Arizona landscape to take center stage. The idea was to keep everything natural and simplistic in the sense of enhancing the already-breathtaking Alegria Garden and grounds of the Royal Palms. Janna Brown of Janna Brown Design handled the overall creative vision, direction, aesthetic and all the details for the day. Intimacy and elegance were emphasized throughout—from the small number of guests and cozy size of the ceremony garden venue to the luxe place-setting details and farm-to-table breakfast served among the trees of the venue’s orange grove. Great attention was paid to every detail—from the flow of the day’s events to the whimsical calligraphy of our wedding “logo” and custom-made 70’ linen table runner.

(Interview continued beneath gallery)

PHOTOGRAPHY: Paul Simon photographed the wedding.

BRIDE’S DRESS: My dress was “Galina” by Robert Bullock Bride—a strapless Alencon lace and tulle ball gown.

BRIDE'S SHOES: Badgley Mischka - Ivory ‘Jeannie’ Crystal Trim Open Toe Pump

WEDDING RINGS: Engagement Ring- Cushion cut center stone accompanied by pave diamonds on all 3 sides of the white gold band. Wedding Band- gold band with pave diamonds (not pictured in wedding photos)

GROOMSMEN ATTIRE: Suit and tie were purchased in NYC at Suit Supply. Robert wore a navy blue suit accompanied by a light gold/navy tie.

HAIR: I wanted a very natural look. My hair was half up/half down with soft curls at the ends. Hair was styled by Lisa Fresa Palacios of Scottsdale, Arizona.

MAKEUP: I wanted to be the best version of myself but also wanted a very natural look. Makeup Artist: Cristina Jaramillo of Tom Ford

STATIONERY/INVITATIONS: My stylist, Janna Brown, commissioned a variety of work from two amazing calligraphers for my wedding. Both Kara Anne Paper and Linen & Leaf brought classic elegance and whimsical touches to everything from our wedding crest and monogram (which appeared on napkins, koozies and more) to silk ribbon name labels to plank-mounted lunch menus for poolside dining. Linen & Leaf also created a beautiful breakfast menu on a large chalkboard placed at the entrance of the Orange Grove. Lisa Webb of The Lyrical Pen, addressed our wedding invitations with the most elegant touch.

FAVORS/BONBONNIERE: My favorite special touch that we presented to our guests was handwritten letters placed on their seats prior the wedding ceremony. We wanted each guest to know how much they have meant to us throughout our lives. That said, guests were encouraged to open their letters before the ceremony started. We also provided our guests sunglasses and koozies during the pool party. Because most guests stayed at the hotel for four nights, the mother-of-the-bride put together extravagant welcome bags.

FLOWERS & BOUQUETS: My stylist, Janna Brown, curated a look of organic, un-fussy florals in shades of white and ivory, accented with pops of orange and tangerine-colored fruits (kumquat) and framed with lush greenery. Posies Florals executed this vision with a lovely creative hand and the utmost excellence.

VIDEOGRAPHY: Jay Worsley of Everly Films

PREPARATION: Since our wedding began with a sunrise ceremony, I had to begin getting ready at 4 a.m.! This wasn't as bad as it sounds considering I really couldn’t sleep. It was nice to have my hair and makeup team arrive and get the party started. Pictures for our first look started at 6:30 a.m.! The majority of our guests were on eastern or central time, so an 8 a.m. wedding start time wasn't as painful as it sounds.

WEDDING PLANNER/ WEDDING STYLIST: The amazing Janna Brown Design

CAKE: We decided to forgo the cake at the breakfast reception and had 6 small cakes at the evening sunset celebration. One cake even had our vows written on the edges, again focusing on that personalized, detail-oriented touch.

ENTERTAINMENT: We had one musician play an acoustic set in the morning during our coffee hour and brunch reception, and we had a DJ that night for dancing during our sunset/evening celebration. A lifelong family friend (and very talented musician) played classical guitar for our ceremony music.

FOOD & BEVERAGES: During the post-ceremony coffee hour, we served Bloody Marys, Mimosas, Bellinis, beer and vodka, as well as coffee, orange juice, assorted juices and iced tea. As guests exited the ceremony garden, each were handed a Mimosa and servers passed yogurt parfaits. For our breakfast reception, guests were treated to a farm-to-table style meal, with diners choosing from three breakfast stations serving everything from Belgian waffles to Mediterranean Eggs Benedict.

HONEYMOON: We visited Santorini, Mykonos and Athens, Greece. Our favorite memory was a taking a semi-private yacht cruise around Santorini. It was beautiful, the food was delicious and the other guests were a blast.

GIFT REGISTRY: We registered at Frontgate, Williams Sonoma and Pottery Barn. My favorite gift from our wedding was given to me by my best friend. She had Robert give her a list of 365 things he loves about me, from which she created a unique presentation for each of those 365 things. I open one each day during the first year of our marriage.

CELEBRANT: The Honorable Theresa Dellick. Judge Dellick is a very good family friend who served as the officiant in the weddings of the bride’s sister and brother.

READINGS: We wrote our own vows.

ANY OTHER SPECIAL DETAILS: Our wedding was a little different. We wanted to spend the entire day with our friends, so we opted for a sunrise wedding followed by a “coffee” hour and then our guests enjoyed a beautiful, hearty breakfast with their choice of three breakfast stations. The food was out of this world. The breakfast reception was set at a 60’ table in an orange grove under the trees. After a little morning dancing, grey and navy beach balls (matching the colors of our wedding) were then thrown into the dancing crowd signaling that it was time to head to the pool. We sectioned off half of the pool and four private cabanas so our guests could all relax and celebrate together. We provided bold-colored sunglasses, koozies, buckets of beer and guests ordered freely from the food menu. We then had a brief afternoon break and then guests regrouped and joined Robert and I to watch the sunset, dinner, cake and some dancing.

I love our wedding logo (created with direction from Janna Brown Design by Kara Anne Paper). It was inspired by the Royal Palms Hotel seal. We really wanted to spend the entire day with our loved ones. We didn’t want the most important day of our lives to last for only five hours. Too much time, money and thought was put into this day for it to be over in a flash. I had multiple guests tell me they had not been sure about getting up so early for our sunrise ceremony, but they loved the idea because they had never attended a wedding like this before. I wanted our wedding to be memorable, and I think we accomplished that. I also think the early start time worked because our guests were on eastern and central time, so it wasn’t as much of a struggle to wake up.

A MEMORABLE MOMENT: My aunt, Marlene, lives in Phoenix, so she was by my side during the planning process. We spent an entire day looking at venues, and when we walked into the Algeria Garden (where the ceremony took place) we both started to cry. It was magical. That moment sealed the deal for us in knowing the Royal Palms was our perfect wedding venue.

ONE THING I WISH I KNEW BEFORE I STARTED MY WEDDING PLANS…We planned our wedding in just three months due to venue date restrictions. I’m here to say it can be done! No matter how stressful things seem at one time or another, everything ends up working out. 



WEDDING PLANNER: Janna Brown Design


BRIDE'S DRESS: Robert Bullock Bride

BRIDE’S SHOES: Badgley Mischka



HAIR: Lisa Fresa Palacios

MAKEUP: Cristina Jaramillo

CALLIGRAPHY: Kara Anne Paper, Linen & Leaf, The Lyrical Pen

FLORIST: Posies Florals

CAKE: Lily White’s Party Cakes 

CATERING: T Cook’s Restaurant, Royal Palms Resort & Spa

WEDDING VENUE: Royal Palms Resort & Spa 

DESTINATION: Royal Palms Resort & Spa, Phoenix, AZ


VIDEOGRAPHER: Jay Worsley, Everly Films

GIFT REGISTRY: Frontgate, Williams Sonoma

OTHER: Silk and Willow

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