5 Mod Steps to a Midcentury Modern Wedding

Pay homage to an iconic era for architecture, design and fashion by tying the knot like modernistas

Lisa Marie Hart Weddings Planner 0 Comments

Butterfly chairs surround a fire pit at 10,000 square foot event space, Laut 47, which sits adjacent to the John Lautner-designed Hotel Lautner in Desert Hot Springs.


If the recent 10th edition of Modernism Week in Palm Springs gave you a greater appreciation for midcentury architecture, it’s not a stretch to take those thoughts a step further and think modern wedding.

There are plenty of ways to work the Rat Pack swingin’, cocktail chillin’, architecturally significant midcentury modern vibe into your swanky celebration any time of the year. This is the most natural place on earth to do it.

These five steps lead the way:


1. Book a Midcentury Modern Wedding Venue


The 4-room Hotel Lautner, designed by legendary architect John Lautner in 1947, makes the perfect midcentury hideout for the bride and groom and their bridal party, who often buy out the property and its outdoor event space, Laut 47, for a full-on wedding weekend.


For a hotel or private estate that will effortlessly transport your party back in time, check out our list of midcentury modern options below. Even outdoor weddings can receive authentic treatment, confirms Tracy Beckmann, co-owner of restored midcentury jewel Hotel Lautner and adjacent open-air event space, Laut 47. “Take inspiration from design classics,” she says. “Create the perfect wedding backdrop with color blocking and patterns taken from the iconic Eames House and hang Nelson bubble lamps inside a beautiful white tent.


2. Lounge on Appropriate Furniture


The Parker Palm Springs offers midcentury-inspired backdrops for wedding photo opps, including an assortment of eclectic furnishings.


Some venues come equipped with an arsenal of period furnishings or nice reproductions. At Laut 47, for example, guests recline in butterfly chairs (a style originally designed in 1938) that encircle an outdoor fire pit. Rental companies, such as Archive and Yeah! Rentals, offer an abundance of options for creating groups of seating and more. “Our couples love to use Eames molded fiberglass chairs with Eiffel Tower bases rather than traditional folding chairs for the ceremony,” Beckmann says.

3. Play up the Theme


A recent wedding at Laut 47 featured gleaming white Eames molded fiberglass chairs for ceremony seating, paired with columns lining the aisle that were topped with bright flowers in mod acrylic boxes.


Think: music, invites and mod signage. Add vintage touches—maybe even your own collectibles—from candle holders and barware to styled vignettes of art glass and boomerang ashtrays. Savvy local planners are especially skilled in putting together this look.


4. Dress the Part

Complete your look with 60s’-inspired hairstyles and classic fragrances. Pick up gloves and throwback make-up for the bride, cuff links and a tailored suit for him. Suggest guests don their best Don Draper looks, too. Alternatively, a photo booth with fashionable of-the-era props and costume pieces—fedoras, skinny ties, women’s vintage hats, neck scarves, and necklaces—adds another dash of style.


5. Toast to the Era


Juicy cocktails or mimosas and retro throw pillows add a splash of mod flair to any occasion.


Classic, hard-edged cocktails have rolled back into style like a 1965 Lincoln Continental. Old-fashioneds, Manhattans, Sidecars, and Moscow Mules have been making the rounds at retro cool weddings. Choose your fave or create a signature cocktail inspired by the masters of the martini’s heyday. (Thank you, Sean Connery.)


And don’t forget to… Have a mod honeymoon. Take a midcentury modern architecture tour on a Segway. Dine at Copley’s restaurant, Cary Grant’s 1940s estate. Shop the Uptown Design District. Pick up a midcentury modern landmarks map at the Palm Springs Visitors Center and design your own whirlwind tour past the architectural greats dotted throughout the neighborhoods.


Top 10 Modernism Venues for Weddings and Special Events

Couples have flown in from across the world to say “I Do!” enveloped by the midcentury architecture of these hotels and private estates.

Laut 47 and Hotel Lautner, circa 1947, 67710 San Antonio St., Desert Hot Springs, (760) 837-1800 x 200, www.hotellautner.com

Orbit In and The Hideaway, circa 1957 and 1947, respectively, 562 W. Arenas Road, Palm Springs, (760) 323-3585, www.orbitin.com

Del Marcos Hotel, circa 1951, 25 W. Baristo Road, Palm Springs, (760) 325-6902, www.delmarcoshotel.com

Gene Autry Residence at Parker Palm Springs, circa 1960s, 4200 E. Palm Canyon Drive, (760) 770-5000, www.theparkerpalmsprings.com

Desert Riviera Hotel, circa 1951, 610 E. Palm Canyon Drive, Palm Springs, (760) 327-5314, www.desertrivierahotel.com

Desert Hills Hotel, circa 1957, 601 Arenas Road, Palm Springs, (760) 325-2777, www.desert-hills.com

Century Palm Springs, circa 1955, 598 Grenfall Road, Palm Springs, (760) 323-9966, www.centurypalmsprings.com

Frederick Loewe Estate, circa 1956, (800) 777-4606, www.ps4rent.com

Frank Sinatra Twin Palms Estate, circa 1947, (877) 318-2090, www.sinatrahouse.com

Arthur Elrod Escape, circa 1962 (877) 318-2090, www.beaumondevillas.com


Lisa Marie Hart has been writing about weddings since serving as an editor at Bridal Guide magazine in New York City in 1999. Since 2006, she has been editor of the annual Palm Springs Life Weddings & Honeymoon Planner. Away from the laptop, she creates tiered cupcake stands for weddings and celebrations at www.highteaforalice.com

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