Ten Tips For Planning a Desert Event

Event planner and floral designer Joey Lizotte reveals his secrets for a successful wedding

1. Plan on yes.
If you’re going to invite people, plan on them coming. This is a beautiful destination with terrific weather, and regrets don’t happen as often as you’d think.

2. Timing is everything.
Weather-wise, September through June tend to be the best months for desert weddings. An off-season date can mean hot temps, and won’t save you much money. Cost-conscious couples might consider a Friday, Sunday, or Monday wedding. Venues usually can offer a lower price, and the unusual timing can set your wedding apart from the expected.

3. Be all-inclusive.
If your guests are flying in for the weekend, invite everyone to the rehearsal dinner and/or any other group events. Theme it and keep it casual (Bowling Night or Casino Night). Use a different caterer for each event. If you dine out one night, use a caterer the next. Out-of-town guests also appreciate an in-room welcome basket with a list of things to do.

4. Size it right.
Consider a boutique hotel or private home for a smaller wedding (less than 150) and country clubs, resorts, and larger hotels for affairs with bigger guest lists. Palm Springs’ venues tend to be trendier, modern, and more intimate.

5. Choose flowers that last.
Flowers must hold up in the desert heat. Hint: peonies are not a good choice. Orchids, roses, and mini calla lilies are all good bets. Succulents indigenous to the area keep the look local and can be artistically combined with flowers. Recently, I’ve created pool floats filled with flowers and candles.

6. Go with a pro.
A savvy planner who knows the area can save you time, money, and headaches by coordinating the details — everything from the linens and rentals to arranging for a suite and baby sitter for guests’ young children.

7. Mix it up.
Mix square tables with round ones; the look is more personal. You can also vary the height of the centerpieces to add uniqueness to each table. Assign each person to a table, but not an exact seat. For smaller weddings, couples like to name each table with a theme close to them, from old Hollywood movie stars to cities in Italy if that’s where they’re honeymooning. Table numbers work best for larger events.

8. Don’t dictate dresses.
Bridesmaides will feel better in dresses that fit them and look fabulous. Choose a color and a fabric, then let them choose their own style.

9. Keep them cool.
Most desert weddings take place around 5 or 6 p.m., when the heat of the day has passed but before the sunsets behind the mountains. Personalized bottles of water or a lemonade and iced-tea station make a nice pre-ceremony touch. We’ve also made programs in the shape of fans and used big market umbrellas or individual parasols to create extra shade.

10. Get here early.
Many couples arrive with their bridal party and stay for a week leading up to the big day. Between shopping and spa treatments, golfing and dining, it’s nice to get to know the area and spend time with your favorite people in an area built for relaxation.

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