Guests don’t mind rustic seating in Joshua Tree when the scenery is this good.
PHOTOGRAPH BY MARISSA JOY
There’s more than one obvious reason elopements and micro weddings have become all the rage in recent years. Complicated family dynamics, travel challenges, the potential cost of a bigger bash, and a desire for more privacy have contributed to making it completely copacetic (and increasingly stylish) to trim that guest list down to a nub.
It appears that elopements and “micro weddings” are here to stay, and hotels and planners are on board.
Four new event lawns were unveiled as part of the recent multimillion-dollar renovation at Hyatt Regency Indian Wells Resort & Spa, accommodating 20 to 600 guests. The property’s An Intimate Affair package for up to 20 includes a custom menu, libations, Champagne toast, cake, florals, ceremony and reception set up, and a newlyweds’ poolside cabana for the day after. Other hotels, such as Kimpton Rowan Palm Springs, have rolled out a “virtual vows” option to include everyone via live-stream.
Even the most minimalist parties deserve fresh ideas and expert coordination of all the details. Three planners share the insights they’ve been offering their clients.
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Longtime fans of the #GoSmallButGoBig hashtag, the women behind Desert Pop Up provide inclusive elopement services curated with a perfected bohemian style. These “tiny wedding enthusiasts” combine the photography of Christina Frary of Matthew David Studio with the styling, floral, and preacher lady skills of Trish Jones of The Walk Down the Aisle.
“A Desert Pop Up wedding often starts with getting ready at a Palm Springs Airbnb followed by the couple’s first look together,” Jones says. “Then, we journey up to Joshua Tree National Park for vows and Champagne in the sand among the boulders and Joshua trees. We wrap up with an epic private dinner back in Palm Springs, just for two or up to 20 guests.” The duo believes in helping couples express their distinctive voice, no matter how unconventional. They relish the flexibility that elopements offer to ditch the day-of timeline and be carefree and spontaneous. “We always emphasize there are no rules,” Jones says. “We love couples who do the day their way with no regrets.”
PHOTOGRAPH BY DESERT POP UP
PHOTOGRAPHS BY JUSTIN CRITZ
At this Alcazar Palm Springs wedding, guests were enveloped by the romantic setting the planner fulfilled for the bride.
Infuse magic and romance on any scale.
At the 34-room Alcazar Palm Springs boutique hotel, Brigitte and Daniel blended a fairytale morning ceremony with a poolside brunch reception. The couple exchanged vows in front of a water feature and a draped arch; guests sat beneath a canopy of branches and ribbons, with 32 chandeliers strung from the trees.
Not one for an evening of dancing, “The bride wanted something romantic and magical,” says Tiedeman, whose dual careers as an event planner and interior designer overlap both in design and in getting to know people so she can discern what’s most important to them. A smaller wedding, she says, creates an opportunity to play up some of the finer, more luxurious details. “They can have everyone closest to them present and offer specialized catering and drinks and more emphasis on the décor, florals, and tables. Even with a modest head count, couples still want — and can have — their desired look, which will shine in the photos forever.”
PHOTOGRAPH BY MELISSA BANDLI/MELL BELL PHOTOGRAPHY
Intimate outdoor events at venues such as Casa de Monte Vista take advantage of the Palm Springs climate and historic architecture.
Mix private spaces, live music, and bright flowers.
Chicagoans Timothy and Michael wed in the 1920s Old Spanish courtyard of Casa de Monte Vista, surrounded by 20 guests from the Midwest. The party moved to family-style tables under the pergola where a private chef introduced each course and its wine pairing.
“These intimate affairs warm my heart,” Jones says. “When the guest list is your closest bubble, everyone is so full of love and appreciation. It doesn’t matter how many people you invite, it’s about enjoying the togetherness.”
Jones says she leads couples to discover beautiful courtyards and backyards at private estates and a quiet enclave under an olive tree at La Quinta Resort & Club. From a guitarist to a quartet, musicians are heightening the experience. “When you walk into this secret garden and hear the violin and cello, you’re washed away to a new place,” Jones says.
Bright, happy colors, especially in abundant florals, have been making a comeback. Zoom calls for 300-plus guests in cocktail attire have ended with a virtual send-off of party poppers. “Even if it’s small, it’s still your wedding,” Jones says. “You can have the father-daughter dance on the lawn at sunset, the toasts, and a golf cart getaway. People are embracing it. They’re saying, ‘I’m still marrying the person I love; let’s have fun with it.’”