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Burning love: Couples tie the knot in Black Rock City

Jared Mechaber/Burning Man

Nevada has always been a destination for couples looking to exchange vows. Some of those weddings are elaborate affairs, while others head to chapels for a quick ceremony.  

Well, it’s no different in Black Rock City, Burning Man’s temporary metropolis in the Northern Nevada desert. This week, couples across the playa are tying the knot amongst friends and fellow burners.  

State of Nevada’s Paul Boger has this story from Black Rock City. 

There are a few traditions at Burning Man.

For starters, many longtime participants like to howl at the moon at sunset. Another is making a dust angel on your first burn. The one that seems to be catching on is Burning Man weddings,

Roughly a mile east of the Man, Emily Stewart and Gabe Hilton are surrounded by friends as they exchanged vows. About 20 friends surround the couple for the celestial union, all of them wearing headbands with aliens on them.

Like many of the couples who exchange vows on the playa, the ceremony is mostly symbolic. They officially tied the knot in Reno shortly before the burn. But they say it's important to both of them to have something planned for this week in Black Rock City.

"This place is so important to me and also to Gabe," Stewart said. "Yeah, I grew up going to Burning Man. And I found myself here. I haven't been going as long as Gabe, but it is a really amazing, unique place that is so full of loving energy everywhere you turn that it only makes sense to me that we would have a union in this place."

And that's obviously a sentiment shared by many.

Across town, another wedding. This time, Jessica Wolf is serving as the wedding coordinator for the afternoon at her camp, Dream Wedding, a little chapel where couples can come by and get hitched.

She said when they announced their plans to host weddings on Facebook, they expected a few responses.

"Providing a wedding venue, we spread the word in advance. We had a coordinator who booked everything with everybody. We knew what they wanted to do, we told them who would be on point for them. We built this beautiful stage for them. And then all they have to do is bring their officient and themselves and, you know, do their thing," Wolf said.

Everywhere you look, you see love in action, whether it's the act of creating art, gifting hot food to passers-by on a cold night in the desert, or simply meeting and sharing experiences with people from around the globe.

For Wolf, love is what makes Black Rock City special.

"I think it's a wonderful place to make a commitment to another person," she said. "It's a wonderful place to make a commitment to yourself, to how you want to show up in the world. We just wanted to make something beautiful for people, to have a beautiful moment in a place where ... it's meant to overwhelm your senses in every way," she said.


Abbi Dadon and  Jessica Wolf, coordinators, Dream Wedding theme camp

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Paul serves as KNPR's producer and reporter in Northern Nevada. Based in Reno, Paul specializes in covering state government and the legislature.