Willow House Terlingua Wedding with Kenyan Inspiration

Terlingua Texas Intimate Desert Wedding || Big Bend National Park and Marfa Elopement Photographer

Micah and Karri got married at the desert oasis of Willow House in Terlingua, Texas. Micah is a Kenyan born and raised safari guide of the Maasai Mara, and Karri is a Texan sweetheart NICU nurse. Their two worlds are so different but their vision and values for life could not be more aligned. Their wedding truly represented a perfect amalgamation of where they each came from and where they’re going together.

Micah’s family brought pieces of their Kenyan home and safari guide background to the harsh Texan desert. This included Samburu beaded bracelets that Micah and Karri wore, Maasai blankets for all, and a spear tunnel grand entrance as an homage to Maasai tradition. The spears showing up were a surprise that Micah’s brother/best man prepared for him. How someone transports multiple spears from Kenya to Texas, I may never know. It was a beautiful pop of surprising color to the understated boho vibe and neutral elegance that Karri curated so gorgeously against the desert landscape at Willow House. Throw in some classic Texan style, like Micah’s cowboy boots and Karri’s hat, and you’ve got a full-blown cross-cultural marriage. This is the life Micah and Karri are stepping into, so it was cool to see such seamless integration from day one. 

Willow House itself is a statement. It’s a series of modern, minimalist structures that lay across the desolate landscape of Terlingua, with the mountains of Big Bend National Park rising behind as a natural backdrop. Micah and Karri originally planned on getting married in Yosemite (where I photographed their proposal), but ultimately decided to have a “destination at home” so that family could be there. This space couldn’t have worked out more beautifully.

One notable thing about this desert landscape is how wild the wind gets. These were some of the biggest gusts we’d experienced in our lives, so the reception table settings didn’t entirely behave. Fortunately, Micah and Karri take everything in stride and consider it all part of the adventure and truth of living. They danced hard in the wind, Topo Chico in hand, to a playlist they made on a dusty desert dance-floor made of borrowed rugs.

Advice to couples planning now is to make sure there are pieces that are representative of who each person is, and pieces they’re excited to share together in marriage. A wedding, like a marriage, shouldn’t be all one person’s preferences and style. There are obviously more “obvious” ways to do this when cultures are coming together, but even things as simple as perfumes chosen by each person (Micah and Karri each chose a Le Labo perfume as their wedding-day scent) can bring really special meaning to the day.

Tips on Getting Married at Willow House in Terlingua

Terlingua is very remote, lying about a 2 hour drive from Marfa, the cultural and artistic hot-spot of West Texas, and 4 hours from the nearest commercial airport, Midland/Odessa (MAF). It serves as the gateway to Big Bend National Park, a wildly unexpected Texan gem. It is inherently a destination location, even for Texans. Keep this in mind when planning and making travel recommendations. And don’t worry –– the star-studded sky you’ll be rewarded with will make all the effort worth it. 

Being the Texan desert, the temperatures can get sky high. I highly recommend the winter months (November-March) for your Terlingua elopement or wedding. It does get chilly at night, but nothing some extra layers, a warm fire, and a good dance party can’t manage. Karri and Micah had their wedding in February, and the temperature was just perfect. The wind, however, had a mind of its own. The desert can be harsh, but it’s all part of the adventure! 

When you do a property buyout at Willow House, you get access to all 12 of the beautiful little casitas, which is the right amount of housing for a wedding party to stay on-site and celebrate all weekend. You also get exclusive access to the Main House, so you can cook and have a great communal lounge space. 

There are also lots of other beautiful AirBnBs and accommodations in Terlingua for your guests. I stayed in Casa Nuevo at Basecamp Terlingua and had a phenomenal time. The property was gorgeous and I even had an outdoor tub! The stuff of my dreams. Definitely recommend that your guests book early.

Like I mentioned, both Marfa and Big Bend are a short, beautiful drive away. If you want to extend your elopement adventure or add on a post-wedding adventure portrait session, either of these destinations would provide incredible photographic opportunities. Marfa has all the funky, artistic culture you could want –– installations galore, great food, and the iconic Marfa Prada stop. Big Bend National Park is incredibly underrated, and makes for some gorgeous sunsets, epic canyon hikes, and even an opportunity to walk across the Rio Grande into Mexican territory.

Overall, Terlingua is one of my favorite new wedding and destination spots, and Willow House serves as the perfect home base for exploring the area.