Local Wedding Vendors Refuse to Let Pandemic Delay Vows

Local vendors team up to offer elopement packages

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“The wedding planning?” said bride-to-be Izzy Palmieri. “That’s been the bitter part of it all.”

She said, “Yes” to Dylan Van Vleet in March just as the pandemic said, “No” to the world.

“It’s been stressful to say the least,” sighed Palmieri.

The Woodland Hills couple planned to get married in April of 2021.

“‘There’s no way this is going to go until then,’” Palmieri recalled saying. “We were wrong.”

The couple canceled their wedding plans.

“I think we just wanted to play it safe,” said Van Vleet.

“I just kind of looked at the year and said, ‘This year sucks,’” laughed Sara Whittaker.

Palmieri and Van Vleet hired Whittaker’s Desert Born Studios to shoot their engagement photos and their wedding. She shot their engagement photos but lost the wedding.

“Then I started looking at my friends who are (wedding) vendors and their year all sucked,” Whittaker said. “Most of us wedding vendors, we’re not in it for the money. Let’s be honest. We’re in it because we love what we do.”

Whittaker said she had an idea midway through 2020 to bundle a wedding package for couples who still wanted to get married and make it special. She created an “Elope in the Desert” package that included a safe, socially distant wedding with photography, videography, hair and make-up, decorations, and even a minister on some private property in Joshua Tree.

“They don’t have to worry about deposits to this vendor and this vendor and this vendor,” said Whittaker.

The couple would be allowed to invite fewer than 15 guests to make sure everyone could stand apart.

“It’s definitely something that we weren’t planning on. It’s very different,” said Palmieri.

She and Van Vleet became the first couple to sign on to elope with Whittaker and company in December.

“We get to get married now, even a little earlier than expected, which is great because I don’t even want to wait anymore,” said Van Vleet.

“They just want to marry each other,” smiled Whittaker. “So, we’re going to make that happen.”

Palmieri said it also gives some small businesspeople a much-needed boost.

“It’s definitely a cherry on top,” she said.

Van Vleet said they’ll have a big party with cake, food, and friends once the pandemic is over.

Whittaker’s “Elope to the Desert” plan costs $2,500, which is considerably less than a regular wedding. Her Desert Born Studios partnered with Pause Creative Collective, Petra de Luna, Studio Palma, Kendie Russell, and Corie Ambert.

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