Meet Me in Marfa

 In Feature, Style

An artistic couple at heart draws on the culture of their West Texas location to create a masterpiece wedding.


Stephanie Ellison
Writer, Pilates and Dance Instructor

David Hsia
Art Director for Saatchi & Saatchi LA and Contributing Creative Director for ALIVE Magazine

THEIR STORY The journey to ” I Do” for Stephanie and David began 13 years ago in Los Angeles when their paths first crossed while working at the same public relations firm. First friends, it would take nearly seven years for the two to realize they were in love and for David to find his way to Stephanie in St. Louis. Finally together, they spent the next several years just making up for lost time.

When David was pulled back to LA by an advertising agency, Stephanie stayed in St. Louis to wrap up her own work and a semester teaching at Washington University. The couple frequently met for weekend travels, making the journey to Marfa, TX—the spot where they would eventually marry—for David’s birthday.

On another occasion, they rendezvoused in Las Vegas for Stephanie’s brother’s wedding. Though they’d planned to spend the entire trip together, David ended up working in the hotel room all day on a deadline, disappointing Stephanie. But as he finished his work and the two were rushing out to dinner reservations, David stopped her and apologized for the day, admitting how hard the year apart had been on them both. Then, in the doorway of their hotel, he pulled out a ring and asked a completely surprised Stephanie to marry him.

THE ROAD LESS TRAVELED Most important to the couple when planning their nuptials was that it was a celebration of the two of them and everything they loved about each other. So David and Stephanie designed a road trip wedding to Marfa, TX. The kind of place, they describe, as what you’d get if you were to mix “one part Stephanie Ellison and one part David Hsia,” Marfa was rich with artistic influence and absolutely charming—but completely out of the way for family and friends traveling from Taiwan, St. Louis and a few places in between. With a location three hours from El Paso (the nearest airport), David and Stephanie challenged their skeptical guests to make their wedding destination an adventure. The couple provided them with invitations (written by Stephanie and designed by David) in the shape of folded road maps, complete with a map of Marfa dotted with all of the interesting things to do and see in the area.

FRIENDS IN HIGH PLACES The couple tapped their friends in the creative community for a variety of elements for their big day. Stephanie found her dress on BLDHN for a bargain, but it wasn’t quite what she was looking for. So a costume designer friend in LA pulled it apart and created a form-fitting ivory Battenburg lace dress with asymmetrical tiers and elegant cap sleeves that fit in perfectly with the Spanish style of her location. Stephanie’s veil was Irish lace, held in place by a 1930s Eastern European gold wedding myrtle crown, part of a set. David wore a matching gold myrtle leaf boutonniere with a light gray suit from J. Crew. The couple also tapped close friends Wesley Law and Tuan Lee, both talented professional photographers and ALIVE contributors, to capture all of the moments of the day. David and Stephanie wanted to be sure that both photographers were guests first and photographers second, so they split up the duties, allowing Tuan to concentrate on the posed photos at the ceremony and Wesley to shoot all candid photos of the day. The couple chose not to have a wedding party; instead they kept it intimate, standing together at the 100-year-old adobe Mission Mary Calera Chapel.

TEX-MEX TRADITION The location also served as inspiration for the menu. Tex-Mex appetizers like skewered gulf shrimp and corn tortillas paired with fresh salsas were served during the cocktail hour and for dinner, while a pitroasted suckling pig was the centerpiece presented outdoors at sunset. The cake was chocolate, complete with espresso buttercream and a heavy Germanstyle whipping cream served on the side. As a nod to the Day of the Dead (a few days before the wedding), a skeleton bride and groom sat atop the cake. Sangria, cava, tequila and Topo Chico were all readily available for guests to sip and enjoy as well.

MAGIC IN THE AIR David and Stephanie chose “Magic in the Air” by Badly Drawn Boy for their first dance, and found a local artist to play guitar arrangements of some of their favorite songs for the ceremony. For the reception, the couple decided to create their own eclectic playlist of love-themed songs from various eras and genres, and a separate mix from the couple’s record collection played for dancing later in the evening.



THE BRIDE Stephanie Ellison Writer, Pilates and Dance Instructor THE GROOM David Hsia Art Director for Saatchi & Saatchi LA and Contributing Creative Director for ALIVE Magazine







Photo credit: Tuan Lee | Wesley Law

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