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A Romantic Desert Wedding in Tucson, AZ

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Anja & Ben in Tucson, AZ
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Anja paired her unique yellow sapphire gem engagement ring with two wedding bands -- one in white gold and the other in rose gold. Ben's band is hammered palladium.
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The couple's letterpressed invitation suite was paired with a custom watercolor envelope liner -- painted by Ceci New York -- inspired by the Arizona desert setting.
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Anja wore a custom gown designed by Melissa Sweet. "Everything about it was bespoke -- from the flutter sleeves to the open back and appliqués," she says. "About two weeks before my wedding, I decided I wanted to wear a veil," Anja recalls. "Melissa Sweet made me a very simple cathedral-length veil. It was gorgeous."
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Anja's five bridesmaids wore similar dresses with different necklines. Her maid of honor stood out in a dress made in the same color but with a tone-on-tone pattern. To accessorize, each bridesmaid wore simple drop earrings in light pink and turquoise.
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The bride's turquoise suede shoes fit in perfectly with the southwestern scenery of her venue. Tanque Verde Ranch is set against the Rincon Mountains and the Saguaro National Forest, and the property varies from cacti to cottonwood trees.
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The groomsmen wore their own gray suits and wore matching skinny navy ties and brown shoes. Ben stood out from the rest in a a navy suit from Top Man.
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Before the ceremony, Anja and Ben took photos in and around Tanque Verde Guest Ranch.
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The ceremony took place in the desert up near the Rincon Mountains just before sunset. "We wanted to get married in the dirt surrounded by the desert," Anja says. They exchanged their vows between two cacti in the shadow of the Rincon Mountains.
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Neutral paper parasols and fans (from The Knot Shop!) were on hand for guests during the ceremony.
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The bride wore vintage-style mother of pearl earrings from BHLDN and a turquoise-painted bracelet she borrowed from her mother.
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Set just beyond the dinner table and in front of the outdoor dance floor was this modern white lounge. Clear coffee tables filled with candles and cactus pulled in the desert setting and created a chic place for guests to relax.
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At cocktail hour, guests were treated to a Tucson favorite -- small cups of Eegee's (a frozen fruit drink).
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Anja and Ben's first dance was a classic -- Otis Redding's "That's How Strong My Love Is." The outdoor open-air dance floor had been created by hand out of four giant saguaro cactus ribs and string lights.
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A champagne toast was a festive way to end the evening -- especially because the couple dramatically poured the bubbly into a tower of vintage coupe glasses. "The idea was to celebrate classic wedding elements," Anja explains.
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Just as guests arrived from all across the country, they received these simple welcome bags tied off with bright orange paper flowers and a custom monogrammed stamped tags. The bags were filled with local Arizona favorites like prickly pear candy, chocolate covered espresso beans and orange slices.

Anja & Ben in Tucson, AZ

Anja Winikka, 30, is hardly the average bride—she’s the site director for The Knot.com! So when she started planning her wedding to Ben (31 and a high school teacher), we knew something special was in the works, and her springtime nuptials did not disappoint. The Arizona native used a color palette of oranges, pinks, neutrals and browns with pops of turquoise for her desert destination affair. She created an ombré effect by beginning the day with a muted color scheme of white, greens and browns for the ceremony, before moving to coral and peach for the cocktail hour and ending with a bang—bright pink, orange and turquoise—for the reception.
- Meghan Overdeep
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