By: Natalie Eckberg

A love of what makes the Sun City unique was celebrated in newlyweds Mariam Yazdi Watford and Matthew George Watford’s stunning wedding.

“Classic El Paso chic,” said Mariam. “That was what we were going for, and what I feel we achieved.”

Indeed. All decisions — from the choice of venue to the cuisine to the color palette — was defined and informed by the couple’s desire to showcase the assets of the region they call home.

“Matt grew up in Maryland but when he moved to the area, he just fell in love with El Paso,” said Mariam. “He fell in love with the culture – how warm and welcoming it is. There is so much potential here, and he loves the architecture of downtown El Paso. So that became our vision — displaying all of that in our wedding. We wanted to exemplify El Paso’s classic elegance that is located in downtown while highlighting the beauty and history that El Paso has offer. We knew that we wanted to do that not just for Matt’s friends and family that would be coming in for the wedding, but even for those that were from El Paso.”

The couple met at New Mexico State University, where they were both studying nursing. Six months after they began to date, Matt proposed to Mariam in another city beloved by the two: Boston.

We were having dinner at a restaurant that was at the very top of a building, and it was easy to tell that he was getting nervous,” she said. “After dinner, he took us to Boston Commons Park. There are so many gorgeous trees, and Matt picked one. Then, he got down on one knee and asked me to marry him.”

It was really beautiful,” the bride continued, her voice warm at the memory. “His opening statement was that he knew it had always been my dream to go to Boston, and while he hadn’t planned on that being his dream, my dreams were now his and we would work towards our dreams together. I started crying immediately.”

After graduating, the two moved to El Paso where they began their wedding planning in earnest. The two chose to start their marriage and their love letter to the city at St. Patrick’s Cathedral.  The beautiful historic landmark, which was dedicated on Thanksgiving Day on November 29, 1917, is a blend of Byzantine and Romanesque architecture.

Walking down the aisle to her groom at the gorgeous Cathedral surrounded by family and friends felt spiritual and surreal, said Mariam, who was walked down the aisle by both her father and her mother.

“With every step, I had a different feeling,” she said. “At first I was nervous and clinging to my parents. Then, I began to feel amazed to see everyone who was there — I felt so appreciative of all who had come to celebrate and witness our love. And with the final steps, I saw Matt. He was in tears, and seeing him I began to cry instantly. At that moment, I just wanted to run to him and kiss him and hold him tight. Being at the altar with him — about to become one in marriage — felt so symbolic. We did it in the traditional way — both of our parents giving us away — and it felt right. We linked arms and whispered to each other: ‘We’re here. We did it. I love you.’”

After the ceremony, Mariam found herself confronted with a surprise from her new husband: a horse and carriage ride to the reception, which took place at on the rooftop of the Plaza Theatre, in the Alcantar Sky Garden.

“That ride over was perfect for reconnecting and regrouping,” she said. “It was exactly what we needed. During that time, we just melted in each other’s arms and shared all the feelings that had been building up.”

Arriving to the Plaza Theatre, Mariam and Matt felt proud and excited in the way their vision was unfolding. The Spanish Colonial Revival style Plaza Theater, designed by Dallas architect W. Scott Dunne, was completed in 1930 and reopened to the public in 2006. It stands as one of El Paso’s most beloved landmarks. The Alcantar Sky Garden is a rooftop reception area that boasts binational views and downtown scenery.

The 120 guests were greeted by hors d’oeuvres that reflected the flavors of the region — delicacies like jalapenos dressed in bacon and feta cheese stuffed mushrooms — and an elegant and understated decor that allowed the beauty of the venue to shine through. The bride and groom chose a neutral palette with a baseline color of cream with brown and accents of muted pink and gold. Dinner — guests had a choice of green chile southwest chicken breast or steak with a side of rice pilaf and vegetables — was timed to begin at sunset.

“The venue itself was so gorgeous,” she said. “We had really wanted to main focus to be on the environment. And El Paso sunsets are so gorgeous that we wanted that featured. And it was so perfect. Guests were getting up and taking photos against the skyline.”

Friends and family were treated to live music courtesy of local jazz band Grau as well as fun history and trivia games. El Paso Question and Answer cards were placed throughout the venue. By taking the card to Wedding Coordinator June Martin, they were then treated to a little history lesson.

“It was important to both of us that our wedding guests have a good time,” Mariam said. “And they did.”

Planning for the biggest event in their lives was a humbling experience to see the way in which people wanted to help.

“Our wedding coordinator did so much work,” Mariam said. “She was incredible and used her own personal time and helped with decor from her own home. It meant so much. What’s funny is that I didn’t think I needed a wedding coordinator at first. I’d been to weddings. I know the deal — but having her fill in all the gaps that couldn’t predict was well worth it.”

Friends and family helped a lot, too, said Mariam — as well as showed their love in incredible ways. Lauren, one of the bridesmaids, spent days in a Chicago airport trying to catch the first flight to El Paso after her original flight was cancelled due to an area incident. She made it minutes before the ceremony, having dressed at the airport. Another bridesmaid created the bouquets. The Maid of Honor, Anna, crafted a special speech that captured all of Matt and Mariam’s qualities as well as their special love story.

The wedding party was made of loved ones who had been part of the couple’s lives for years, and included both bridesmen and groomsladies (friends of the opposite sex that the two wanted to honor as having a special place in their lives.

“Our parents also supported us tremendously,” the bride continued. “They did everything they could to make sure it was the best day of our lives.”

Mariam uses the word magical to describe the day.

“I had a picture in my head as to how the wedding would be during the planning process,” she said. “And it became more vivid as time went on and we got closer to the wedding. You see all these pieces come together. And how it actually goes is a little different sometimes — but in all the right ways. There are things that you can’t control but it will all flow as it is meant to. And looking back, I wouldn’t change a single thing. Some things were perfect. Some weren’t. But they all came together perfectly. I loved everything and wouldn’t change a thing. It was beautiful and perfect in its own imperfect beautiful way.”

Photographer: Cristina Navarro Photography

Stylist: Jessica Avila

Flowers: Debbie’s Bloomers

Catering: Plaza Theater (Alcantar Sky Garden)

Tables: Alcantar Sky Garden

Décor: DIY/Wedding Coordinator

Wedding Gown: Ella Blu

MOTB: Dillard’s

MOTG: Dillard’s

Coordinator: June Martin

Cake: Jazzy Creative Cakes of El Paso (sugar artist)

Music: Grau Jazz, FM Junkies