Derek Pashupa Goodwin


Writings on yoga and photography by Derek Pashupa Goodwin

Burning Man Wedding Photography

Ben and Sarah get married on the playa at Burning Man 2008
Ben and Sarah get married on the playa at Burning Man 2008

2008 Was my third year at Burning Man, and the trip revolved around my friends' wedding on the Playa. I met Sarah when she was already a burner and spent a fun year as her roommate. She was always building crazy things in our kitchen and having Princess Parties and spinning poi in the neighborhood park and keeping me amused. She talked a lot about a boy named Ben she had met carpooling to Burning Man. Since he lived somewhere far away I never met him until we had parted apartments. Once I did, I could see why she was all worked up over him, he was a burner.

The next year (2006) was my first trip to Black Rock City, and I finally found out what all the fuzz was about. I felt like I had found my tribe and a place to fly my freak flag. I went back again in 2007 in a full-sized school bus converted to run on veggie oil, barely making it there but having the adventure of a lifetime. Sometime after that Sarah and Ben announced their plans to get married at Burning Man and asked me to be their photographer.

 The bride having her makeup done before ceremony

The bride having her makeup done before ceremony

In the spirit of gifting, I offered to do the work in exchange for a cow costume with working udders, which i could use to put any kind of (vegan) drink into that I wanted. The thought of such a thing really appealed to me for some reason. Sarah loved to make crazy things, as I mentioned, so it was a deal.

A floating monkey balloon peeks in through the hole at the top of our yurt at Spiral Monkey Camp
A floating monkey balloon peeks in through the hole at the top of our yurt at Spiral Monkey Camp

Sarah and Ben had a wedding camp at Burning Man called Spiral Monkey and they actually convinced a good number of people from their families to come. It was really fun to share the experience with a group of people who you wouldn't expect to see there. What the critics of Burning Man don't know is that there truly is something there for almost anyone, and endless ways to be entertained. Of course if you are allergic to nudity or can't live without creature comforts it is probably not the place for you. Otherwise I think it is good for people to get outside their comfort zones, and Burning Man takes just about everyone outside of their comfort zone in one way or another.

The wedding camp had a yurt that Sarah and Ben built, and it was a great hangout space, especially due to the insane dust storms that year that kept forcing us inside. The playa was extra soft and hard even to bike on. I was celebrating the love of my dear friends while going through a breakup, and having moments of disconnect from the whole event even though the beauty and awe of it often floored me unexpectedly. Such is Burning Man.

The wedding itself was beautiful and intimate. A neighbor with a sweet structure let us hold the ceremony there, and it was close enough to our camp that no one got lost on the way. Sarah, who was a raw foody at the time, made some cakes that somehow were kept preserved and made for an amazing reception treat. I will let my photographs tell the rest of the story.

Thank you Sarah & Ben for the wonderful opportunity to photograph your wedding, and for the cow costume!

To anyone getting married at Burning Man 2013 - I would love to come take some photos for barter, or for free! If you are reading this some future year, and I am still alive, the answer is yes I would love to!

Here are some links to Burning Man wedding resources: