Fashion / Weddings

An Intimate, Serendipitous Palm Springs Elopement in the Pandemic

A Fossil Photoshoot and The Parker Hotel Create the Perfect Backdrop for a Dallas Couple

BY // 12.16.20
photography Tom Shirmacher

Alessandra Antenucci and Nicole Arias Baez met at a New York City bar the day before Halloween. Nicole asked Alessandra to dance and made it clear she wanted to see her again.

“Well, unfortunately, I’m not really interested in getting involved with anyone because I’m moving in three weeks,” Alessandra recalls saying.

“Well, then I have three weeks to make you fall in love with me,” Nicole replied.

They made the most of the next few weeks, doing the most touristy things possible before saying goodbye to the city. (Nicole was planning to return home to Santo Domingo to continue her career in medicine). They visited the Empire State Building, museums, and attempted to find the best pizza in New York (they landed on Rubirosa in Nolita). When Alessandra officially got her offer to become the head of global brand marketing for Fossil, she asked Nicole to come to Dallas to help her find a place. 

“Don’t you have friends to do that — people that know you better?” Nicole asked.

“Yeah, but just come.”

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They did long distance for 10 months before they moved into a downtown Dallas apartment together, adopted two dogs, and eventually found a charming 1920s home in need of renovating along Lower Greenville. On Alessandra’s birthday last year, Nicole proposed in the backyard of their future home surrounded by string lights and the sounds of Leon Bridges.

Capture_462 (Photo by Tom Saunders)
The brides in custom Levi’s jackets.

The plan was to be married in California wine country on June 28 (the anniversary of the Stonewall riots), with yurts, little casitas, and family flown in from New York, Florida, and the Dominican Republic. Just as they were set to sign the paperwork, Texas closed due to the Covid-19 pandemic, so instead, they began dreaming up ideas for eloping. It was a tricky pandemic-era task for a duo that wanted a marriage license beyond Texas borders, a mission that became even more important after the passing of Ruth Bader Ginsburg.

“We wanted to get a marriage license in a blue state because we don’t ever want it to be caught up in litigation in the future,” Alessandra says. “We don’t think they’re going to reverse gay marriage, but that is a real thing you have to worry about when living in Texas.”

_DSC0990 (Photo by Tom Saunders)
Nicole Arias Baez (left) and Alessandra Antenucci at their Palm Springs wedding. (Photo by Tom Shirmacher)

Like they did that night before Halloween, the stars aligned once again. This time in the form of a last-minute Fossil photoshoot in Palm Springs, California. Fossil’s creative director Randy Saunders was planning the shoot at the Parker hotel when Alessandra asked, “Should we just elope in Palm Springs?”

He replied, “Have you seen the Parker? Yeah, you should elope in Palm Springs.”

Everything came together in just 10 days. They found wedding gowns at a Nordstrom sample sale that miraculously needed no alterations. The Levi’s flagship in Legacy West turned around custom denim jackets in just two days. “They were super supportive and hyped that they were making our shotgun wedding jackets,” Alessandra adds.

Ultimately, it was a team effort. The photoshoot set designer secured bouquets and succulents for the cake, made by the Parker’s in-house chef. Randy’s husband Felipe Lee, who does hair and makeup, was already planning to be at the shoot, and longtime Fossil campaign photographer Tom Shirmacher volunteered to capture the intimate wedding. They found a wonderful ordained minister who, in Alessandra’s words, “acted like she had been our parishioner for the last 10 years.”

Capture_519 copy small (Photo by Tom Saunders)
An intimate gathering followed the short wedding ceremony on the grounds of the Parker Palm Springs. (Photo by Tom Shirmacher)

Crew members and a handful of friends who lived in the area were able to attend the short ceremony, along with a select few who received a Zoom invite the night before the wedding. “Everything just seemed perfect,” Nicole says. “I was relaxed the entire day, and it’s precisely because the whole experience was unplanned, so it was already way beyond our expectations.”

Ultimately, the couple plans to gather their friends and family from afar for a celebration when it’s safe again.

“We keep talking about how fun it’s going to be because it’s just going to be about the partying. But also, what matters now is so different,” Alessandra says. “It’s not going to be about having the perfect embroidered napkin. It’s about the fact that you can be together again, and feel what that will feel like.”

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