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You're Going to Tonopah? On Purpose?!

Elite Trading Post Eloping Goldfield Mitzpah Hotel Nevada Tonopah Tonopah Brewing Company Vanderfords Goldstrike Whitney's Bookshelf

John and I decided to elope. We were excited to be married, and looking at the expense of a traditional wedding, we decided to instead invest the money in our beautiful little 1919 Craftsman house. It has good bones, and with a bit of work we can transform it into a place where we'd be proud to have our reception. Next year.

We debated back and forth about where to have the civil ceremony. We wanted to choose a place that would be memorable, not too far away but far enough to feel like a honeymoon, a place that held special significance for both of us. Tonopah, Nevada was the obvious choice. I first discovered Tonopah as I was driving back across country from Chicago in 2008. I visited a bookstore, called Whitney's Bookshelf, which instantly became my favorite. The owner, Larry Whitney, is an interesting man who, when he retired, wanted to find a town that didn't have a bookstore or AA meetings, and Tonopah was that place. His well stocked bookstore is now at 139 North Main Street and AA meetings are regularly held in the back.

I have driven out of my way to come back here every year since 2008 - Larry has even opened the store for me on days he was closed. Whitney's Bookshelf was one of the deciding factors in starting my map jewelry line - at Whitney's Bookshelf, I found a wide assortment of vintage atlases, dictionaries and encyclopedias which gave me the variety I needed to launch the line.

Last year John and I stopped in Tonopah on our drive to and from New York - on our return trip, we stayed at the amazing Mizpah Hotel. A mizpah signifies the bond between people who are separated, either by distance or death. You know those heart shaped pendants cut in two with a zig-zag line? And you keep one half and the other goes to your BFF? That's mizpah jewelry. The Mizpah hotel was built in 1906, and has been restored to its original beauty. We totally loved it.

When we first stayed there, we had a regular king room, but when I made the reservation for our wedding weekend they insisted we book the Lady In Red suite. They were totally right!

This picture hardly does it justice! Much bigger than the king room, it was all velvet and antiques and jewel tones and beautiful. It was exactly the mix of romance and luxury we hoped for. We arrived in town Saturday, and had dinner at the new Tonopah Brewing Company, which was pretty good. On Sunday we took a drive to nearby Goldfield, where we explored the Elite Trading Post, an unexpected gem in this semi-abandoned ghost town.

This antique shop was filled with treasures, from furniture to old radios and glass bottles and books and curios and ephemera - the owners, Malek and Jody, were so kind, so welcoming! I bought railroad date nails (for cufflinks) and they gave us a couple shot glasses when we told them about our upcoming nuptials.

We traveled to Goldfield in search of a wedding ring for John - we'd bought mine months ago and his...well, we kind of forgot about it. Malek recommended that we go across the road to see Bill of Vanderford's Goldstrike - we passed it when we drove in to town and, *reluctant* to stop. His jewelry shop was a eclectic assortment of weather beaten wooden structures, designed to look like an old time mine - or maybe it once was? Bill himself was a salty figure, with religious mementos and keep out signs as decorations, and a wide array of turquoise and gold jewelry.

He was helpful and knowledgeable, and when we told him why we were in town, he said the unforgettable line, "You're going to Tonopah? On purpose?!!" Although we didn't find the right ring for John, we did buy a couple of ice cream cones and headed back to the Mizpah.

On Monday we got up bright and early and went to the Nye County courthouse to buy our marriage license and returned later that afternoon for our civil ceremony. Larry from Whitney's Bookshelf was our witness, and we were married by the awesome Judge Klapper, who was sunny and bright and very sweet. She read traditional vows, and at the end of the ceremony she gave us a Pauite blessing and a couple of bags of locally mined tuqrquoise. And in case you were wondering, we improvised John's ring - we took the keys off my keyring and used that. It worked!




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  • Karen Laffey on

    Congratulations Adjowah and John. We met at the Mill Valley Arts Festival; I took your card. Today I visited your website today for holiday possible gifts and read that you stayed at The Mizpah during your wedding weekend. The owners, Nancy and Fred Cline, also own the winery where I work in Sonoma. With your permission, I’d like to pass along your story (a wonderful one) and should you return to The Mizpah, please contact me prior to your visit. I’d enjoy providing wine for your weekend. Maybe an anniversary toast? Let’s stay in touch…Cheers!

  • Malek & Jody Davarpanah on

    We are happy for your true love and thank you for sharing your adventure with us. Great pictures and we look forward to seeing you again soon.

  • marcia@MARZ on

    congratulations, great story

  • Joan on

    Congratulations and best wishes! I adore your story — if you ever get bored with jewelry making, become a writer ! Hope you two have a glorious future together.

  • Riquelle on


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