Secret Location | Utah Desert

the hearnes » adventure wedding photographers

Keith and Brianna Madia’s Elopement-Style Vow Renewal celebrating their 10 year anniversary in the Utah desert with their dogs Bucket and Dagwood

If you follow us on Instagram, you’ve already seen what we were up to with our buddies Keith and Brianna Madia (and their dogs Bucket and Dagwood!) out in the desert this month! Brianna and Keith have been together for 10 years this summer and they planned a few simple, desert adventure days to celebrate! Brianna knew she wanted some photos too, so over a year ago she texted me to save her a date for her and Keith to “stand in a canyon and read some words to each other” this summer. As the date got closer and we actually started planning, Brianna told me she was considering getting a Rue De Seine dress to wear, and I reminded her that Rue De Seine would be LUCKY to have her wearing their beautiful dresses 😉 Sure enough, we got in touch with their marketing team and they loved our idea, so we got to collaborate with them and pick out three beautiful wedding dresses for Brianna to wear out in the desert. She had originally fallen in love with one dress, but once they arrived and she tried them on, her favorite ended up being the one I picked out (that she wasn’t so sure on when we ordered them!! What can I say — I know wedding dresses 😜). Brianna decided to keep the third (favorite) wedding dress a little bit of a secret from Keith and save it for the canyoneering day. On our first day, we photographed the first two dresses in two remote desert locations. Brianna is going to write the blog post for their “wedding” day, but I decided to share the other dresses as their own posts because each dress (and location) is so unique and can be inspiration to any boho bride wanting to plan a desert elopement!

If you need an intro to who Keith and Brianna Madia are, you can find them in some of our previous blog posts:

An Adventure session in the desert (the first time we ever hung out!)

An interview with Brianna Madia

A follow-up interview with Brianna Madia (a year later)

or, Follow Brianna Madia on Instagram

So, without further adieu, we’ll start with our stormy afternoon among the late-spring flowers and desert towers, somewhere in the middle of the Utah desert on a warm summery day. In these photos, Brianna Madia is wearing Rue De Seine’s West Gown. The West Gown is the perfect wedding dress for a bohemian bride that wants to make a statement (those tassels are a STUNNING detail) but keep it classic with a white lace wedding dress. The gown itself is more fitted than some of the other dresses in Rue De Seine’s Wild Heart Collection, but the tassels and the intricate lacework still give it a very flowy, boho vibe. Another favorite thing about this dress — the tassels are a separate piece, so the bride can easily take them off for certain events. I could see a bride wearing a long veil for her ceremony and then switching to the tassels for hiking and dancing! The train on every Rue De Seine dress is absolutely stunning and The West gown was no exception! We had so much fun playing with the train and watching it flow in the wind as the storm blew in.

Our good friend Val of Tellurian Events also made a bouquet for Brianna. She jumped at the opportunity to be creative with our difficult request — we needed an elopement-style bouquet that would photograph well (obviously), be durable and withstand high winds, hiking, traveling in the van down bumpy dirt roads, and the big kicker; it had to last a week between shoots to accommodate Keith’s schedule! Val came through (as always) with a beautiful bouquet made of dried flowers and desert plants that perfectly matched the vibe we wanted. She even when above and beyond making a little flower wreath for Bucket, a collar with some wheat for Dagwood, and a perfect little boutonniere for Keith! We reccomend Val to all of our Utah elopement and wedding couples because of how creative she is with the bouquets she makes! She always gets to know the couple and incorporates little details that have to do with them, and uses native Utah plants whenever possible so their wedding destination is represented as well!

On this day, we were driving from Zion National Park after Kristin + Jimmy’s honeymoon session (and had been in Bryce Canyon National Park for Courtney + Winslows session the night before) and we trusted Brianna and Keith to pick the spot since they spend their whole life out on these dirt roads. Side note — it was a little wild to work with people who knew Utah better than us considering we’re typically the experts with our couples!! Brianna sent me a pin on Google Maps and told me there were tons of wildflowers, so I knew I’d love it! Sure enough, we pulled up to our favorite little family chilling in some sand baking in the sun (as they always do), they handed us cold drinks from their Hydroflask cooler and we made our way out to the first spot.

Brianna changed into her dress with Bertha (their big orange van) as a bridal suite and Keith helped zip it up (side note, I love when couples help each other get ready for their elopement! Just another way to break tradition and spend the whole day together). Bri put on some make up in the side mirror and Keith put on his suit while the dogs ran circles around everyone and the wind blew little blasts of sand — something that might bum a “normal” bride and groom out, but just made our dear Madia’s feel right at home. As soon as they were ready, Keith helped Brianna climb up on top of Bertha and we started taking photos in the wild desert wind! We spent the early afternoon exploring around, feeling like the only people on earth as the sand blew through and the storm clouds got closer. We were high on a ridge between two desert towers when a big sandstorm blew in, strong enough to send us running down the hill to safety. We made one last stop at the wash that was blooming with wildflowers before making our way to the next location for sunset…and another dress, so you’ll have to wait for the next blog post to see! To be continued 😉

Note, while it is sometimes inappropriate to take photos in fields of wildflowers (for example, if they’re in a high-visitation area, or you have to trample flowers to get the photos), these photos were growing in a wash (where water runs during rains) so were not surrounded by Cryptobiotic soil, and they were spaced far enough apart that we were able to avoid trampling any blooms! It’s very important to know your area, know the visitation and the affects you presence might have on the space.

The Hearnes Adventure Photography is run by Abbi and Callen Hearne, a husband & wife wedding photography team with an emphasis on adventure. They live on the road as full-time nomads, allowing them to serve a large portion of the western US. You can typically find them in Moab, Utah or Yosemite National Park, California, with side-quests to Patagonia and Alaska. They believe love is the greatest adventure and strive to create photos that are epic, romantic, true, and timeless.