Couple Marries at Burning Man Festival Surrounded by Strangers

Photo Credit: Steph Grant Photography


Kat and Daley

“A connection” is hardly enough to describe what Kat and Daley felt the first night they met.

“It was this deep, eerie, unexplainable familiarity- like we’d been connected in past lives. I thought, I know him, but I have definitely never met him, but I KNOW him.”

When Kat first spotted Daley across the room at a work conference, she couldn’t help but feel distracted by his presence. It was as if they were magnets, being pulled closer and closer towards each other as the night went on.

They danced together for a little bit that night, but soon quit the dance floor so they could talk. And talk, and talk, and talk – about life, past relationships, and every other topic they could think of. They talked until the early hours of the morning, when their deep emotional connection turned physical.

“We both thought we had shared what was just a one night stand, but it ended up turning into this life-changing love. It could have easily been an isolated event, but instead, what followed was texting like teenagers, meeting up in each other’s cities almost immediately, and saying ‘I love you’ within weeks.”

After only a few weeks of knowing each other, the couple were absolutely certain they didn’t want to be with anyone else ever again – so they proposed to each other. But perhaps the most unique part of their story is where they would end up saying their vows.

Kat and Daley were already planning to attend Burning Man, and the more they thought about having a wedding there, the more excited they became about the idea. They both feel a deep connection to so many spiritual and hippie communities, and they wanted their union to reflect that. The festival is all about radical love and acceptance, welcoming everyone with an open heart, and respecting the earth – and so much of that is at the center of their relationship. Plus, at the previous year’s Burning Man, Kat had made a wish that a man exactly like Daley would come into her life, and just a few months later, they met. With the couple’s plans to attend Burning Man together, everything just felt like it was coming full-circle. It felt meant to be.

“It was pretty amazing to have a wedding on the playa, surrounded by dust and our closest friends, plus literally whoever else wanted to attend.” Steph Grant Photography

Burning Man is about thousands of people building a pop-up, temporary community in the middle of the desert. Everything physical about the festival – which is a community, a movement, a love and hug fest, a place stripped of judgment and status, an endless exploration, an ongoing experiment, a place of radical self-expression, and reliance on strangers for survival – is designed to disappear. When the festival is over, there is nothing tangible left to show that it ever happened, except for the lasting impact it leaves on attendees. The memories, epiphanies, and life lessons learned are as permanent as it gets.

“I like to say Burning Man is like a tattoo in invisible ink on your soul. That’s exactly what the love between me and Daley feels like too.”

“To have so many people there, literally next to us while we read our vows to each other was one of the most magical experiences of my life.” Steph Grant Photography

Their wedding was magical. But Kat and Daley also know that relationships take hard work. They know they can’t ignore each other or their bond, not ever. They’re constantly trying to figure out ways to communicate their love for each other, even if that has to happen over text or Skype when one of them is traveling for work. They consider themselves students of each other, always learning about one another, but continuously growing and evolving independently, too.

In their short time together, the pair has had their fair share of tests – from health scares, family issues, big life decisions and that crazy month and a half when Daley rowed across an ocean (yes, that really happened.) But in each situation, no matter how tough, sad, inconvenient, messy, painful or maddening, they showed up stronger for each other on the other end.

“It really feels like a team – that you can always trust, that is powerful, and forever committed.”

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