Start Slideshow View Grid Start Slideshow 26

This Couple Eloped at Ghost Ranch in New Mexico Shortly After Getting Engaged

By Shayna Seid | Photography by 

Patrick Chalmers

Now that it’s crystal clear that hosting a big wedding at this time is just not possible due to the spread of COVID-19, we’re sharing the experiences of real couples navigating the re-scheduling, cancellation, and civil and commemorative wedding processes in an attempt to help others make informed decisions and to spread our support to all during this time.

Model Mika Van Winkle and her husband, Michael Blum, got engaged while they were quarantining together and soon after decided to elope in New Mexico. They had only been dating a few months, when he invited her on a family ski trip to Deer Valley in March. It was only supposed to be a six-day holiday, but they ended up staying in Utah and New Mexico for months and returned home as husband and wife.

“While I never expected Michael to propose so soon, there were no doubts,” Mika shares. “I think we were both at a point in our lives when we knew ourselves and what we were looking for, and the pandemic just sped things up.” After Michael proposed with a ring fashioned out of a wire-tie from Whole Foods, they realized it would be complicated to plan a wedding in the near future with friends and family, since they’re all over the world. The engaged pair decided to elope in New Mexico and throw a reception at a later date.

Everything was planned in around 10 days. The county clerk’s offices were all closed in May, and once they opened, Michael called 10 different counties before finding out that Mora County would issue them a marriage license. As for the rings, Michael’s friend Liana Engel, director of celebrity and influencer management at Cartier, was luckily also staying in Sante Fe and kindly offered to help them get rings, even though the boutiques were closed. She connected them to Friso Cramer from the Beverly Hills Cartier, and after several rounds of fittings on FaceTime, the rings were FedEx-ed two days before the ceremony.

When the couple visited Ghost Ranch in Abiquiu, they were sold on the location for the ceremony, and their friends and quarantine neighbors, Conor O’Neil and Maggie Cohn, became their officiants and witnesses. They booked out the nearby The Grand Hacienda for their very small wedding party and set the date for May 30th.

Because Mika and Michael drove straight from Utah to New Mexico, they were still living out of their ski-ready suitcases, so she ordered an Ulla Johnson dress online, and they headed to Lucchese, when it reopened, to grab two pairs of suede cowboy boots. Liana also helped the bride find a florist, Bloomstream Bridal, to create a beautiful bouquet. The groom found his whole outfit downtown Sante Fe; he wore black RRL jeans and a white shirt and blazer from Corsini Brothers.

On the morning-of, the group had a guided meditation session with Ally Bogard, who Mika had studied with in New York. “I can’t express how much her gift meant to us,” the bride remarks. “It had been such a whirlwind, and she truly helped us process our emotions and be present for the day.”

Before the ceremony, the biggest rainstorm the desert had seen all year hit. The couple took that as a good luck sign, and they arrived at the ranch as the showers broke. Conor led the two in a short and beautiful ceremony, and Mika and Michael wrote their own vows.

After being announced as husband and wife, champagne was popped, and everyone headed back to the bed and breakfast to toast with 50 of their friends and family on Zoom. “We were 40 minutes late, but my brother did an incredible job hosting and keeping everyone entertained,” Mika explains. “We had people in every time zone, from Denmark to Japan.”

Now, the newlyweds are looking forward to getting friends and family together to celebrate when it’s safe. “I could not be more grateful to have Michael by my side,” Mika adds. “If we can get through this, we can get through anything!”