Nuptials + Festival = Nupfest!

So…we threw ourselves a music festival. (and a wedding)

  • Ourselves
  • Festivals
  • Live Events
  • Brand Strategy
  • Creative Direction
  • Identity Design
  • Brand Communication
  • Experience Design

Here at Vs., we subscribe to the model of work-hard play-hard, and Nupfest is a great example of that. We’ll have our two founders, Steve Thompson & Alexis Oakland, jump in to explain this one in more detail:

Alexis: Well hello there :) So yes, we’re co-founders of Vs., co-Creative Directors (I lean more Strategy, Steve more Design) – and, we’re actually partners in life as well. 💕

Steve: So, when it came time to throw our wedding, we knew we’d want to put a creative spin on it. Both Alexis & I are huge music fans, and we’d hosted concerts at our loft several times, so we started there: What if we threw our own music festival with all sorts of bands and DJs? We knew it’d be a lot of work, with a ton of unknowns to figure out, so we treated it like we would any other Vs. project: Discovery + Strategy + Creation.

Alexis: We knew we wanted it to be over several days, near water like a lake/river/ocean, and in a pretty remote location so our guests could be off devices and chiiiiillin. And we wanted to keep most things a secret so people could just say “yes” and show up. Through word-of-mouth we found out about a town you could rent in the Feather River Canyon called Pulga, visited, and it was perfect: On the river, no cell service, with a bunch of “forest cabanas” and old houses on the property.

Steve: Let’s do this!


Project info

Steve: We approached it like a full-blown festival! We set up a website, launched an Instagram, and sold tickets for 3 or 4-day passes. We sent out badges and a festival map, booked buses to get everyone there, and got everyone RFID bracelets for easy food and drink scanning. Plus, we brought in all sorts of cool vendors - a vintage-style photographer, a tie-dye crew for classes, and even a masseuse for massages by the river.

Alexis: And we had so much fun figuring out and designing all the merch! We had totes printed, so we could give our guests a merch bundle when they arrived, and filled each with a water bottle, mini flashlight, beer koozie, stickers, a custom tie-dyed bandana that we had our hand-drawn map screen printed on, and a t-shirt. Cool thing about the tee? It matched the posters we had stapled to trees around the property…making it very “meta” to stand by a poster on a tree wearing your shirt with a poster on a tree… 🙂



Steve: For the website, we made sure it had every piece of info our guests would need, so they had a single source to refer to. We worked with our production team to set up ticketing, integrated with Stripe, and set it up so guests could buy tickets directly on the site; we created a super-robust FAQ to answer everything that came up; and we included an inspiration page for dressing up for our Gold Rush Night, which was all about metallics and sequins. Hey, we were in Gold Rush country, so it only seemed appropriate.

Alexis: One of the more gratifying things to plan out was our Instagram feed, because it was like a months-long buzzy lead-up to Nupfest, where guests would comment and react to our posts. We got a dedicated handle (which is still live) @nupfest, where we teased out information, hinted at the location, showcased activities and vendors, unveiled all the food options, and shared clips of the bands as the festival got closer. And we used Instagram to answer questions from our guests, and then added the Q&A to our FAQ on the website…How’s that for some solid customer service? :)


Steve: And then there was the art! We hired artist Benjamin Burke to create an experience around the river....He met with us to understand our overall vision and vibe for Nupfest, and wanted to know a bit about our guests. Then, he asked us for a photo of each guest, and worked his magic.

Alexis: What Ben created was so special, and a complete surprise for us. He made a “treasure hunt” for guests to discover as they walked down to the river, where the “treasure” ended up being each person. Ben’s map led everyone to structures he built along the shore, with panels of photos showing each guest’s smiling face. The best part: if you swam across the river, you’d find the “swimming gallery” with photos and sculptures nestled into rocks along the opposite shore. All so thoughtful, and 100% about our memories with our friends and family.


Steve: Now, the music. I worked with our music manager to source and book bands, and we searched for largely Bay Area talent, spanning all different genres – funk, electronic, blues/folk, rock ‘n roll, alternative. We ended up booking 8 bands and 4 DJs, perfect for music across Friday & Saturday nights. 

Alexis: And at Nupfest we had two stages, the Boat Stage “downtown” that was on a literal boat structure that had been built for Burning Man and then transported to Pulga and converted to a stage; and the Schoolhouse Stage up the hill, which was a literal schoolhouse from the early 1900’s. Every single band crushed it, and we’ve become close to many of the various band members since!

Steve: One of the funniest things, in retrospect, was at the actual ceremony….

Alexis: So, we asked our guests to all wear white, and then Steve & I wore color – I was in a fun rainbow-y dress, and his suit was lined with colorful fabric. 

Steve: BUT, we did not think about what it would look like with tons of people walking into a meadow and encircling us…wearing all white. A little bit culty, right? Ha! Ah well, Alexis & I would lead a fun cult :)



Alexis: Gold Rush Night was definitely less-culty, more all-out wild. Everyone fully understood the assignment with their attire – sequins, gold body paint, silver onesies, golden wings, tinsel, glitter-galore.

Steve: And we even had one couple come as metallic gold miners. Extra points!


Steve & Alexis: We needed to sleep about two weeks after we were done, but we still smile about Nupfest to this day. Definitely one of the hardest projects we’ve dreamed up, but easily the most rewarding. Such a special event to share with our friends and family. Now, we just gotta start planning for a reunion (anniversary)… 🌈