Location, Location, Location!
The desert offers more gorgeous locations than you can toss a bouquet at.
Picture-perfect weddingday memories and a scenic, sunny backdrop are two reasons the desert will always be a beautiful place to get married. Some photographers go to great lengths to capture the natural environment, as Michael Segal did above.
Photo by Michael Segal Weddings
If you’re weighing getting married in the desert and elsewhere, what can we do to convince you? Sure, we’re biased — we love it here! But so do the hundreds of couples (and their guests) who declare the Palm Springs area as their ideal wedding destination. Minimum 350 days of sunshine, swimming pools, golf courses, and mountain views … why wait for the honeymoon?
We’ve heard it many times: “Don’t expect anyone you invite to a desert wedding to decline.” When they hear where you’re getting married, they book a room within minutes. It’s fun to think about flowers and photography and what you’re going to wear. But when it comes down to it, the most exciting part of hosting a once-in-a-lifetime affair is exchanging vows surrounded by your friends and family. The desert offers distinctive and distinguished venues and plenty of ways to make your wedding a destination event. From country clubs and golf resorts (laden with views, amenities, a spa for unwinding, and plenty of guest rooms) to historic private estates, funky-chic and exotic boutique hotels, and sites settled right into the natural desert landscape, we have a location you’re going to love.
Book yours as soon as possible so you can start planning around it. After all, the wedding date, size of the guest list, level of formality, and other details take cues from your locale.
Having a particular wedding style in mind will go a long way toward helping you plan. So will checking out our stylish list of some of the area’s great venues for weddings and receptions. The toughest thing about hosting a destination event here might be choosing from so many beautiful options. Enjoy the process — and the scenery — along the way!
CLASSICS FOR HISTORIC BLISS
This small, historic inn is a Spanish-style haven for classic romantics. The inside boasts antiques and fireplaces. Outside, a garden courtyard — where Cupid poses in a small pond — features towering trees, blooming pathways, and a poolside gazebo. The inn has hosted decades of Hollywood luminaries for weddings, honeymoons, and quiet getaways. (760) 325-0046.
The Willows Historic Palm Springs Inn and O’Donnell House.
These two restored properties exude an “old Palm Springs” hospitality and graciousness with refined elegance and contemporary amenities. The Willows is a Mediterranean villa with a veranda, hillside gardens, and pool area, while the O’Donnell House is a 1925 former residence with a tile patio and unrivaled views of the valley from its mountainside perch. Maximum guests: 75 for The Willows; 135 for O’Donnell House. (760) 320-0771.
Colony Palms Hotel.
Reputed mobster owner Al Wertheimer welcomed his first guests in 1936 at this Spanish colonial-style boutique hotel, which doubled as a speakeasy/brothel. In the late 1940s, Robert and Andrea Leeds Howard (owners of champion thoroughbred Sea Biscuit) took possession. A swanky renovation of 56 luxurious rooms, a Mediterranean restaurant, and Moroccan spa have given it renewed swagger. (760) 969-1800.
El Morocco Inn and Spa.
Step into a faraway land of exotic textiles, imported furnishings, and Moroccan-style pampering at this intimate Desert Hot Springs retreat. The 90-degree, spring-fed swimming pool is open 24 hours, all rooms face the inner courtyard, and evenings wind down with Moroccotinis under the stars. Weddings for up to 35 (with up to 14 adults overnight). (760) 288-2527.
Book the two Moroccan-flavor villas (29 rooms) at this complex with a pool and courtyard. Private, rustic, and transportive, the Korakia beckons with citrus blossoms, olive trees, fountains, and a waterfall. (760) 864-6411.
Copley’s on Palm Canyon.
Popular for rehearsal dinners, this contemporary American restaurant hosts intimate receptions. Set on almost an acre, the building and garden courtyard were once home to Cary Grant. The indoor-outdoor flow works for dinner, dancing, and chatting around the outdoor fire pit. Maximum guests: 125. (760) 327-9555.
Part of the historic Villa Royale Inn, enjoy Continental cuisine with a charming European atmosphere. (760) 327-2314.
Le St. Germain.
For a taste of Paris, head to this local favorite in Indian Wells. Up to 140 guests can fill the garden patio with twinkling lights overhead and a glow from the outdoor fireplace. (760) 773-6511.
For more than 30 years, this romantic restaurant has specialized in French-Mediterranean cuisine. The main dining room and outdoor gazebo are perfect for smaller parties (up to 75 guests), while the charming patio with light-filled trees seats up to 150. (760) 325-5059.
Say “I do” on a grassy bluff, then continue the party by the pool, on one of two patios, or inside in the candlelit Bougainvillea Room with stone fireplace and indoor waterfall. Kirk Douglas, Dinah Shore, and Frank Sinatra all attended parties here. Options include valet parking, a harpist, and a Belgian chocolate fountain. Maximum guests: 250. (760) 325-2313.
Wally’s Desert Turtle.
Beveled-mirror ceilings, Peruvian artifacts, and hand-painted murals create a warm ambiance at this timeless destination. Private rooms are ideal for intimate groups. Wally’s service, atmosphere, and cuisine are a local standout. (760) 568-9321.
Empire Polo Club.
Fantasy weddings come true in Indio at three romantic venues: a rose garden with fountains and 7,000 bushes in bloom; landscaped gardens with a bird aviary and waterfalls; and a tented setting with stone paths and a waterfront gazebo. (760) 342-2762.
It’s hard to beat these scenic surroundings. A favorite among local hikers, the canyons are a great fit for fans of Mother Nature. (760) 323-6018.
The Living Desert.
This zoo and gardens invites small affairs (45 or fewer guests) into the rustic elegance of the District Commissioner’s House with stucco walls, thatched ceiling, and windows peeking into the leopard exhibit. Gardens and patios are available for up to 400. (760) 346-5694.
Moorten Botanical Gardens.
Get cozy with 3,000 examples of desert cacti and other desert plants at this rustic landmark. (760) 327-6555.
A sleek, Palm Desert boutique hotel, this quiet little resort has 14 rooms where white is the color and poolside parties reign. Lucite and chrome accents make the whole place gleam. (888) MOD-1970.
Parker Palm Springs.
Savvy couples always find Jonathan Adler’s “The Parker.” The ballroom has floor-to-ceiling glass windows and space-age daisy chandeliers, but the palm tree-studded grounds offer big mountain views and plenty of areas for sneaking off in the shadows for a justmarried moment. Chic, eclectic, and exciting for up to 330 guests. (760) 770-5000.
Viceroy Palm Springs.
Outdoor weddings are the specialty at this modern hotel with an intimate feel. Grounds are divided into spacious courtyards and cozy nooks with two pools, a lounge, and several indoor spaces. Fresh white and sunny yellow are the signature colors; décor is crisp, clean-lined, and dramatic. Maximum guests: 175. (760) 320-4117.
MIDCENTURY MODERN AND RETRO STYLE
Del Marcos Hotel.
Built in 1947 by iconic desert architect William F. Cody, the angled architecture of this Palm Springs gem combines with a dramatic mountain backdrop. (800) 676-1214.
A laid-back modernist compound built in 1952 with the pool as the centerpiece, has an easy-breezy setting with detached rooms and mountain views. (760) 323-1858.
This Palm Desert hideaway is actually pre-midcentury (1940s), all charm and authenticity. With 24 rooms and suites, it has a casual, old-fashioned feel when everyone gathers in front of the courtyard gazebo. Wake to breakfast by the pool, then walk to the nearby shops on El Paseo. (800) 391-1104.
Once your guests are sure you didn’t misspell this hotel’s name, they can loosen up and enjoy a poolside reception at this midcentury hideout. Tour the town on their retro cruiser bikes — or use the bikes to make your exit at night’s end. (760) 323-3585.
As kitschy as they come, this B&B takes the 1950s theme full tilt. Up to 50 guests can gather poolside on the blue Astroturf for vows, cocktails, and retro fun. (760) 320-1178.
GREEN-FOREVER GOLF CLUBS & RESORTS
Cimarrón Golf Resort.
Dramatic golf course and mountain views attract couples to this Cathedral City resort. Reasonably priced packages can host up to 400 guests. (760) 275-7549.
Wed on this golf course designed by Arnold Palmer, then celebrate in the Tuscany-inspired clubhouse. More than 5,000 pine, California pepper, and olive trees are scattered on 30 acres with a lake, other water features, and 14 stone bridges. (760) 601-3679.
Desert Springs J.W. Marriott Resort & Spa.
Enjoy the royal treatment of arriving by boat across the lake to walk down a rose-petal aisle. White-gloved butlers make the rounds at your cocktail reception, while a harpist plays nearby. With golf, spa, and luxe rooms, guests may take a honeymoon of their own! (760) 341-2211.
Desert Willow Golf Resort.
After your ceremony on a lakeview terrace or on the fairway-views lawn, move inside for delicious cuisine with panoramic views at this Palm Desert resort. Maximum guests: 200. (760) 346-0015.
Hyatt Grand Champions Resort.
This golf and spa resort with seven pools in Indian Wells offers lush lawns for the ceremony and three ballrooms or a terrace for your reception. Weddings from two to 200 welcome. (760) 674-4040.
Indian Wells Country Club.
Ten private event spaces let you tailor your affair in the 70,000-square-foot clubhouse. Options include a ballroom, dining rooms, lounge, and veranda on the 18th hole. Up to 200 guests. (760) 345-2561.
Indian Wells Resort Hotel.
Built by legendary celebrities Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz, this resort offers great indoor-outdoor flexibility. (760) 345-6466.
La Quinta Resort & Club.
A waterfall set among palm trees and a rose garden at this Mediterranean-style resort are sought-after settings. Smaller parties like the suite that opens onto a courtyard and a private home that Greta Garbo favored, while the clubhouse and ballrooms are great for grander-scale affairs. (760) 564-5773.
Miramonte Resort & Spa.
A ceremony in the garden or in the olive grove; a festive Mediterranean-inspired dinner on the piazza. Such are the dreamy options at the Miramonte, designed like a Tuscan village. (760) 837-1645.
Rancho Las Palmas Resort & Spa.
Head to Rancho Mirage to explore ballrooms, an esplanade, and the rooftop Starlight Terrace. Golf, play tennis, or enjoy the spa, set on 240 acres of lushly landscaped grounds dotted with palm trees and sparkling lakes. (866) 423-1195.
Renaissance Esmeralda Resort and Spa.
Choose from three ballrooms and a rose lawn. If you want to do it up big, the resort has 560 guest rooms, two restaurants, and a beautiful pool. (760) 836-1251.
NIGHTS AT THE MUSEUM
Palm Springs Air Museum.
Your guests will dine and dance among the airplanes of WWII and classic cars of yesteryear. The museum has hosted corporate events for up to 3,000. Weddings are rare here, but always memorable. (760) 778-6262 ext. 235.
Palm Springs Art Museum.
Close to downtown, the museum hosts elegant events in its art galleries, public spaces, and even on stage at the Annenberg Theatre. Maximum guests: 250. (760) 325-7186 ext. 159.
OFF THE BEATEN PATH
In Yucca Valley, in the hills above Palm Springs, sits an old-fashioned castle fit for a storybook affair. (760) 333-8368.
History buffs have wed with up to 200 guests in Wild West garb at this 1800s old mining camp replica. Featuring a dance floor, antique wagons, and walk-up saloon, it’s one site option at this 1,000-acre ranch on the San Andreas Fault. (760) 831-6910.
Joshua Tree National Park.
Secure a special-use permit to wed in this 800,000-acre park in Joshua Tree known for its vast views, desert landscape, unusual rock formations, and abundant Joshua trees. (760) 367-5545.
Living Free Animal Sanctuary.
This 153-acre nonprofit refuge for pets in need of homes doubles as a scenic locale for events. Set in pristine mountain country at the edge of a national forest, the grounds and gazebo frame the San Jacinto Mountains. Book your affair for up to 100 guests and help save the lives of furry friends. (951) 659-4687.
Palm Springs Aerial Tramway.
Guests enjoy a view-laden ride as they travel 8,516 feet in elevation to the cool, pristine wilderness of 13,000-acre Mount San Jacinto State Park. At the top, choose from an intimate room with a rustic rock fireplace for a smaller wedding, two patios with fresh mountain breezes and a spectacular vista, or a luxurious restaurant. Maximum guests: 275. (760) 325-1449.
YOUR OWN PRIVATE ESTATE
Couples love to take over this 1933 estate in Cathedral City for the weekend. A formal dining room, six bedrooms, and a bridal suite (with skylight and fireplace) make it an ideal all-in-one site from rehearsal dinner to honeymoon. Lawns, fruit trees, date palms, and gardens mingle with a black-bottomed pool, two spas, and tennis court. Maximum guests: 200. (760) 772-8313.
Corona Yacht Club at Rancho de los Sueños.
A manmade lake and lagoon with an island in the middle rest on 20 lush acres in a Coachella palm tree grove. The hacienda on the water, where swans swim by, is one of the desert’s best-kept secrets. (760) 398-0206.
Several agencies know the ins and outs of reserving the perfect private residence for your wedding style. Try Beau Monde Villas at (877) 318-2090 or www.beaumondevillas.com or The Location Connection at (760) 250-7175.
NEW TO THE SCENE
Riviera Resort & Spa
Everyone’s talking about this renovated resort offering ballrooms or poolside or garden affairs on 24 lushly landscaped acres in the heart of Palm Springs. The scene at Circa 59 Restaurant and Bar only adds to the draw of a new spa, two pools, and 406 lavishly modern rooms. (760) 778-6623.
Palm Springs Ace Hotel & Swim Club (Opens Winter 2009)
The recently renovated Travelodge — once a fine example of ’50s and ’60s-style motor hotel architecture of the era — opens by a company with other popular accommodations in Seattle, Portland, and New York City. (760) 325-9900.
Ritz-Carlton Rancho Mirage (Opens 2010)
Once a book-well-in-advance wedding favorite for its sweeping desert views from a 650-foot bluff, expect R-C-style, oldschool elegance, a new spa, and 260 rooms for all your guests. (760) 321-8282.
Need Help Selecting the Perfect Location?
My Joyful Wedding invites brides to call for free venue location assistance. According to principal and certified day-of wedding coordinator/officiant Rev. Richard Cadieux, “We can narrow a couple’s likely venue fit down to a handful of sites that match their budget and guest-count needs.” (760) 320-8141.