Home » A Music-Led Rockstar Wedding in the Arizona Desert

A Music-Led Rockstar Wedding in the Arizona Desert

by Staff

Maria Margarita Chon and Sam Endicott met in 2014 “the good old-fashioned way,” Maria says. “At a bar in Hollywood!” They instantly had a lot to connect on—Maria is a music manager and the brand manager for Halsey; Sam is the frontman of rock band The Bravery.

“We got engaged on a morning hike in Idyllwild, California, during the pandemic in August 2020,” Maria says. Just over a year later, they said “I do” in Tuscon, Arizona. And just as music had set the tone for their relationship, so it did for their wedding day. “We are both massive music lovers—that’s partially what brought us together as a couple—and with that, we knew our wedding needed to have a killer DJ and carefully curated playlist,” Maria says. 

The couple used music to articulate every detail while planning, from fashion—think Mick and Bianca Jagger—to day-of timeline. Their plan? “Music should be groovy and psychedelic during the day, but then a dance party at night,” Maria says. “Daytime ’60s and ’70s classic rock plus neo-psychedelic like Tame Impala, Khruangbin, and Allah-Las; nighttime ’80s dance music (Blondie, The Psychedelic Furs, Prince) and ’00s post-punk (Franz Ferdinand, The Strokes, Yeah Yeah Yeahs).” 

Considering their jam-packed schedules, including rehearsal for the groom’s upcoming tour, the couple needed a planner whose vision and vibe aligned with theirs. They found her in Kelsey Finland of Jane in the Woods. “Working with Kelsey was a dream—and that’s saying something for a couple like Sam and I, who are particular when it comes to aesthetics,” Maria says. “We initiated the process by sending her inspo photos of decor setups, flowers, dresses, and suits. She came back to us presenting a gorgeous deck with some exciting ideas. Right away, we could tell she understood the assignment and had a great eye. From there, we let her run with it and the final product exceeded our expectations. It’s truly gratifying when someone fulfills your vision!”

And so, on October 23, 2021, 95 guests gathered for “a vibey party in the desert,” as Maria describes it. Read on to see all the cool details, planned by Jane in the Woods and photographed by Hailley Howard Photography.

Much like the wedding color palette—“minimal, neutral, earthy tones that would complement the scenery’s natural beauty”—the bride’s makeup was natural and chic. She tapped makeup artist Eleven Rasco to execute her vision of bronzy eyes, dewy skin, and an accent of peach. She knew highlight would be the perfect pop. “I used about-face beauty’s Light Lock Highlight Fluid and powder on my cheekbones, brow bone, nose, and cupid’s bow,” says Maria, who works with the brand founded by Halsey. Her look was complete with a gel manicure in Ballet Slippers and a spritz of Gucci Bamboo.

As soon as it was zipped up, everyone in the room just looked at one another smiling. It was undeniable.

Surprisingly, finding the gown was the easiest part of wedding planning for Maria. “I found my dress in less than an hour at Kinsley James!” she says. Netta BenShabu’s Lexie gown features a bodice top with asymmetrical tulle straps, sparkling embroidery, and a full tulle skirt. “I just knew based on how I felt in it, plus the reactions from my mom and sisters. As soon as it was zipped up, everyone in the room just looked at one another smiling. It was undeniable.”

“If you know me, you know I have a hairstyle that’s kind of become my signature: long, natural dark hair with a French fringe, with some wave texture,” Maria says. “I knew the photos taken of me that day would be looked back on by future generations of my family. I wanted to make sure to look like myself on my wedding day, so my children and grandchildren could remember me that way.”

Having an outdoor wedding was dual-purpose. “We wanted an outdoor wedding so everyone would feel more comfortable because of the pandemic, but also because Sam and I are both very grounded and happiest in nature,” Maria says. “We chose Tucson because I was born and raised in Arizona and have always had a profound love and reverence for the desert, its energy, and natural beauty. The Saguaro National Park is so uniquely stunning and serene, we knew it would make a perfect place to host the wedding.”

For the ceremony, “We wanted the space to be organic and complementary of nature,” says wedding planner Kelsey Finland. “The ceremony install was earthy and full of texture. Malori Maeva of Form Floral and I worked in tandem to create the desert-vibes statement piece of Maria’s dreams without distracting guests from the couple’s stellar aesthetic and the actual desert landscape.”

She goes on: “I incorporated simple rugs for Maria and Sam to exchange vows on, and maximized the ceremony space with strategically placed benches in an hourglass shape. There is nothing perfectly level about mountainous ground, so it was important to play off of those imperfections in creating a cohesive aisle.”

Groom Sam’s custom Balani three-piece suit was white linen and inspired by Mick Jagger’s wedding photos. “He wore a sick pair of ’70s-style Ray-Ban aviators, a pearl dangle earring, and a pearl necklace,” says Maria. “Sam is a rocker, so we wanted to make sure to maintain his edge and style while walking down the aisle!”  

“Fracture” by Stephan Moccio began playing as the couple’s family processed in for the ceremony. “My adorably sassy two-and-a-half-year-old niece, Luna, was my flower girl,” Maria says. “She wore this precious sage dress with little brown cowboy boots. Apparently, she was very focused and serious when it came time to throw her flower petals down the aisle. My guests loved it!”

For her own entrance alongside her father, Ralph Chon, Maria added a chapel-length Spanish tulle veil by Toni Federici. Of course, the song choice was beautiful. “‘Moon River (Original Main Title)’ by Henry Mancini played when I walked down the aisle,” Maria remembers. “When I say everyone was bawling, everyone was bawling.”

When I say everyone was bawling, everyone was bawling.

“Our ceremony script was a group effort between my best friend and officiant, Peter Glatzer; my husband, Sam; my brother, Rafael; and me,” Maria says. “The script was pretty straightforward and we used traditional vows. However, we did include a special Apache blessing and also paid homage to the stunning land we were celebrating in.”

We walked back up the aisle, arm in arm, crying and cheering to that infectious guitar riff.

“Arguably the most memorable and special moment of the day was when we concluded the ceremony with our kiss,” Maria says. “Sam and I had our DJ cue David Bowie’s ‘Heroes’ for our recessional, which has always been our song. We walked back up the aisle, arm in arm, crying and cheering to that infectious guitar riff and Bowie crooning ‘I, I will be king, and you, you will be queen.’ It was a sacred moment I’ll remember for the rest of my life.”

To nail his look, Sam turned to wardrobe stylist Lyn Holmes, who works primarily with musicians, and hair stylist Cassondra Nelson. His unique boutonniere blended with the ivory suit and played off the desert landscape. 

“I technically didn’t have a bridal party, however, our moms, my two beautiful sisters, and my little niece all wore dresses in various shades of sage,” Maria says. “I wanted a color that was neutral enough but also complemented the desert landscape. They ended up matching the cacti perfectly!” The men—their fathers and Maria’s three brothers—wore classic black suits. “I wanted something chic but simple for them.”

It wouldn’t be a rocker wedding without an outfit change. “I had an amazing second look designed by Marcell Von Berlin. I absolutely loved the dress; it was so chic but sexy, and most importantly easy to dance in,” Maria says.

“With my second look, I also wore a delicate gold pin of sapphires and pearls, a family heirloom given to me by my mother-in-law, Abbie Endicott. The pin was originally a gift from Sam’s grandfather to his grandmother when they wed in the 1930s. It carries so much love with it, I knew it would make the perfect accessory.” 

The bride’s engagement and wedding rings are also family heirlooms, a Charles Schwartz & Son set dating back to the 1800s. 

The newlyweds’ entrance to the reception signaled a moment of joy. “It’s easy to get caught up and stress about the minor details, but trust that everything will work itself out,” Maria says of the planning process. “Try to ground yourself in the present and enjoy the process with your partner.”  

“The reception felt like the ultimate al fresco dining experience,” says planner Kelsey. “From the custom linen tablecloths to the neutral tones of the tablescape, everything was an absolute vision. White concrete taper holders were filled with dried florals and candles; these minimalistic pops gave an elevated feel to artisan craftsmanship. We kept the glassware simple with no etching or color. Once the sun started to set, it was stunning to see the perfectly clear glasses against the candlelight and reception lighting.”

Freja Creative crafted minimalistic menus and The Hostess Haven provided chic plates and chargers. “There were pops of green to bring out the cacti elements and slightly blush bronzed hues in the napkins and alternating plates,” Kelsey says. It all came together perfectly to create “the dreamy and chill desert-nights party that Maria was envisioning.”

“It was important to stick to my roots when it came to our menu,” says the bride. “My father’s family is from Mexico, so we chose to serve carne asada, pulled pork pastor, chicken mole, and a vegetarian option, along with fresh tortillas, chips, and guac.” Being a public national park, the venue didn’t allow liquor, so the bar offered up wine and cerveza with lots of lime and beer salt. She adds, “In the spirit of the desert, we served prickly pear lemonade.”

One particular guest was a big hit. “We had an adorable beer burro named Pancho who walked around the reception with beers stashed in his saddle,” Maria says. “It made quite the photo op.”

I remember looking around at all these shining faces from different chapters of my life, coming together in dance and music—the energy was incredible!

“Prior to the wedding, Sam and I sat down and curated a playlist for the cocktail hour, dinner reception and dance party,” Maria recalls. “We paired ’80s dance music with ‘00s post-punk, which proved to be a stellar mix.” They handed the playlist over to DJ Sarah Lewitinn, aka ultragrrrl, who made it her own and got everyone on the dance floor. 

“I remember looking around at all these shining faces from different chapters of my life, coming together in dance and music—the energy was incredible!” Maria shares. “Then, like out of a movie, the full moon came out and we all peered up. It was like it rose just for our wedding party, casting this gorgeous glow across the desert scenery. It was truly magical.”

The duo nixed some traditions, like the ceremonial first dance—who needs one, when the playlist is so on point—but kept others. Maria danced with her father to U2’s “With Or Without You,” and tossed the bouquet to her girlfriends. 

Another tradition they made their own? The cake cutting. “During the reception, Sam and I finished eating dinner early and stood up to grab a drink,” Maria remembers. “We realized everyone was still seated and very preoccupied with their food and talking amongst themselves. We figured it could be a sweet time to sneak away and do the cake cutting, just us two and the photographer. So we grabbed Hailley and headed for our stunning four-tier caramel dulce de leche cake!” It was a moment to take all the happiness in. “Looking back, I’m still so glad we did it. It was the perfect time to have a breather from the festivities and enjoy one another—it was our only moment alone!”

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