A Silicon Valley tech investor’s wedding at a famous Utah landmark left the site completely trashed, council member says
A Silicon Valley tech investor and his beauty pageant-winner-turned-AI-startup-founder bride held their September wedding at the base of a world famous natural landmark in Utah after promising land management officials the affair would be small and simple.
But the aftermath of the Labor Day Weekend ceremony — including leftover garbage and a multi-day clean-up process — suggests the couple misrepresented the size and scope of their event, a local council member told Business Insider.
“It’s a beautiful place. I don’t blame them for getting married here,” Pamela Gibson, a council member for the nearby town of Castle Valley said. “But whoever was responsible for cleaning up the area did not do the job they should have done.”
Andrew Chen and former Miss Ireland Emma Waldron tied the knot at the base of Castleton Tower, a well-known rock formation located about 30 minutes outside Moab, Utah, over Labor Day Weekend, SFGate reported this week.
The couple appears to have since deleted or made private all photo evidence of the event, though some screenshots and recordings of social media posts from the wedding are still on X.
Chen is the author of a tech newsletter popular with Silicon Valley founders, as well as a general partner at Andreessen Horowitz, the startup investor that backed Twitter, Airbnb, Reddit, and Lyft, among others.
He did not immediately respond to Insider’s request for comment.
The morning after the wedding, Gibson said she went out walking on her daily six-mile route that takes her past the base of Castleton Tower, a striking 400-foot sandstone rock formation.
The usually pristine natural site was instead occupied by workmen disassembling the remains of a wedding from the night before, Gibson told Business Insider.
Gibson said she was outraged and took photos of the remaining trash and broken glass that were scattered across the ground.
When she went back the next day to see if the mess was gone, Gibson said much of the trash was still remaining, including bags of leftover food.
“Animals had gotten into it and torn it open. Trash was everywhere,” she said. “I wasn’t happy about it.”
Gibson wrote a letter to the Bureau of Land Management asking about the event and sharing her photos.
In an email response to Gibson and Castle Valley Mayor Jazmine Duncan obtained by SFGate, the Bureau of Land Management said Chen and Waldron received permission prior to the event to have a “simple wedding ceremony with one small white tent” at the base of the site.
But rangers with the agency eventually had to collect “abandoned property and refuse,” according to the outlet, which cited the land management email.
The couple apparently failed to mention in their initial communications with the Bureau of Land Management that their “simple” affair would also include a generator, catering service, toilet facility, 24-foot cabana, and line of glass candles, Gibson wrote in a follow-up email to the agency obtained by Business Insider.
“They occupied the base of Castleton Tower and effectively excluded the public for the entire Labor Day weekend,” Gibson wrote in the email. “Had they been truthful and disclosed these plans to the BLM, we believe that the BLM would not have issued its letter of agreement.”
Gibson and other town officials are now asking the Bureau of Land Management to keep such receptions from happening in the future.
She told Business Insider she doesn’t want Chen and Waldron shamed for having their wedding near Castleton Tower — she understands why they would be drawn to such a locale.
“However, it was an inappropriate event. It shouldn’t have happened like that,” she said.
“It would be nice if the couple sent an apology,” Gibson added.